INDIANAPOLIS – Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter is looking forward to the day when quarterback Jameis Winston walks off the field following an offensive series of plays and gives him an ear-full over one of the play-calls Koetter made.
Why would Koetter welcome such a potential strain on the coach-quarterback relationship? Because Koetter believes a moment like that will be an indication Winston has taken one of the next critical steps in his development as a young quarterback.
You see, it’s not that Koetter wants Winston to become confrontational the way he infamously did at times with Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher during his college at Florida State.
What he does want is for Winston to develop a savviness and level of confidence in his knowledge of both the Bucs offense and opposing defenses that allows him to instantly recognize a poor play call and, more most importantly, decides immediately to get out of it.
It’s all a matter of cutting the team’s losses in an effort to keep a bad situation from getting worse and whether that requires Winston calling a timeout, checking to a different play or simply throwing the ball away, Koetter is anxious to see Winston take that step.
“I’ve told Jameis, I’m going to be so happy when the day comes when you walk off the field and tell me ‘That was a blanket-blank play call you just made and I saved your ass,’’’ Koetter said during a break at the NFL Scouting Combine this week.
“I’ve told him, ‘I want you to say that to me.’ And really, I do. I want him to say that to me. And he goes, ‘No, no I would never do that,’ and I told him, ‘You need to do that, because I make mistakes, too, so you need to do that’ because not all the plays are the right plays.
“Sometimes it’s the design of the play or the defense called something different than we expected and we’ll have a breakdown somewhere if we run that play. Either way, the thing is, it’s the quarterback touching the ball every play so sometimes he has to make that call.
“And it’s not that he doesn’t run the play. But maybe he throws it away or something and then, if he comes off the field and asks me why did you call that play, that was a stupid call, well, that’s OK because the thing we’re trying to get across to Jameis is, you’ve got to cut our losses.’’
This an interesting request from Koetter but the truth of the matter is, it’s critically important to a team’s success that a quarterback, or any player for that matter, can be frank with his coach and let him know when he, too, has messed up.
Of course, should Winston reach that level, and there’s no reason to believe he won’t, sparks are sure to fly on the sidelines, and when they do the TV cameras are sure to find them and the situation will more than likely mushroom cloud into a great controversy.
Just know going in, though, that what you may be witnessing is not a situation in which the relationship between Koetter and Winton has suddenly become strained but one in which Winston has taken yet another important step toward becoming the franchise quarterback the Bucs need.