Who can the young Buccaneers turn to for leadership?
The Buccaneers are a young franchise. It’s no surprise, as Jason Licht has made no secret about the fact that he wants to build a team through the draft. But who do then turn to? Teams need leaders. Who are they? Let’s analyze
Determining the offensive leader is pretty simple. Quarterback Jameis Winston is the leader of this offense and overall leader of this team. Quarterback is quite possibly the most important position in all of sports and having a strong leader at that position is very important to the team’s overall success. Winston, throughout his rookie season, progressed greatly and grew the trust of his teammates and coaches. He wants to win more than play well and the emotion that he displays is growing on the other players. His passion radiates throughout the entire locker room and it shows.
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This past team wasn’t much different from the 2014 team but he gave them a top-ten offense and a four game improvement. The best play to show his leadership was his late 3rd down run against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 13. If you don’t remember, Winston scrambled on 3rd and 19 and looked like he was stopped but spun out of it and gained an extra ten yards to and get the first down. Take a look:
He even said that he wanted to win the Pro Bowl, a completely meaningless game. He gets angry when he loses, as he should be, and ecstatic when he wins. He just wants to win. His mentality is something the Bucs haven’t had at quarterback in a long time, perhaps ever. If you try to tell me that Brad Johnson was the leader of the offense when the Bucs won the Super Bowl, I would laugh in your face. He wasn’t captain last year due to it being his rookie season, but there is a very good chance he will be a captain this season. The spotlight will be on him next season but under new head coach Dirk Koetter, and should only get brighter.
With time he should continue to grow as a player and a leader on and off the field.
This answer is not so simple. There is no one on this side of the ball with the leadership qualities that Winston possesses. There are plenty of skilled veterans including Gerald McCoy, Lavonte David, Alterraun Verner, and Clinton McDonald but none of them are super passionate spotlight guys, unless you consider Miko Grimes but she doesn’t really count. Right now, Gerald McCoy is technically the leader because he is a captain and multi time Pro-Bowler but the Bucs need a player that is super passionate pregame, during every snap, and post game.
Football isn’t supposed to be all fun and games, it’s a job and when you lose you have failed at your job. A new leader could be determined throughout the off-season under new defensive coordinator Mike Smith. He has a different scheme than Lovie Smith’s defense ran and players can be utilized differently that may help bring out a leader in one of these players. A player like Kwon Alexander has a chance to become that player. Starting off the new season coming off a four game suspension this guy can come out like a ball of fire. His speed and ball instincts make him an incredible on field player and his play can make others follow.
He doesn’t need to be as vocal as Winston but let his play speak for him, kind of like Luke Kuechly. You can see this guy has passion and drive and it showed more than anything else in Week 8 against the Atlanta Falcons. Just days after his brother was killed he had a career game with 11 tackles a fumble and two interceptions with one being called back on a penalty.
Games like this one should be huge motivators for the defense. If Kwon can put up more performances like that one he has the chance to become the defensive leader in his second NFL season. It wasn’t easy for him at the end of last year, with the four game suspension, but he seems super passionate about getting back on the field and the fans want him back as soon as possible. His potential is through the roof and should be a key for the Bucs for many years to come.
The Buccaneers are in a fantastic situation right now where they have two players coming off of their ROOKIE seasons with the opportunity to become leaders for the foreseeable future.