The Buccaneers’ defense has been clicking on all cylinders, but it’s been Jameis Winston‘s resolve and competitiveness that has sparked this four game win streak.
We all knew he was special. Whether it was because you were a Florida State fan and saw what he did there, a Florida or Miami fan and witnessed what he did against you, or just a college football fan that watched him under the national spotlight, Jameis Winston has had the “it” factor since he was a Freshman.
There were the Winston crowds, the Marcus Mariota crowds, and the “just don’t screw this up” crowds. Now? Well, now everyone is in the Winston crowd. If you’re not, you never will be and should probably pick a new team to root for.
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The magic that Jameis Winston provides is jaw-dropping week in and week out. His pocket awareness, his ability to extend plays, those “oh no, oh no, oh no – OH YES!” moments that have us rewinding our televisions a dozen times because you still can’t quite believe what you saw. On top of all that, the leadership he brings at 22-years old and his sheer joy of playing the game. I told a friend just yesterday that he reminds me so much of Brett Favre in that aspect – just a big kid who loves to play football.
It’s easy to take notice of Winston’s will to win and make plays – almost to a fault, at times. When speaking with the media, offensive coordinator and receivers coach Todd Monken spoke about Winston’s uncanny ability to perform when being pressured – defenders in his face – and how special that intangible trait is;
"“He’s tough – mentally tough and physically tough. Hell, we handed the ball off one time on third-and-20, he was down there trying to block the safety. Now, that isn’t very smart, but that just tells you who he is. It’s not smart, but his competitive spirit and his will to compete. So, no play is ever dead. You guys have seen it, I’ve seen it just one year and he’s going to continue to get better in the pocket and the other things that he’s developing.Dec 4, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) looks downfield to pass during the first quarter against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY SportsBut, some of those things that he does is out of toughness, out of will. He doesn’t panic in the pocket, you rarely see him go down without being hit. So, that’s a good sign, he’s calm in there, his feet have calmed down if you’ve watched him, he confident in there. A lot of that has to do with the protection, but when you have that component with also his ability to escape and get off guys with arms, it’s a real positive for your offense.”"
Winston is closing in on breaking more Buccaneers passing records and has completely shattered the NFL record for touchdowns by a quarterback to start a career – 28 straight games. Already, at such a young age and in only his second season – Winston appears to have set a record that will never be touched.
This is the most meaningful football the Bucs will have played in nearly a decade. Four games remain – three within the division and one in prime time against the odds-on Super Bowl favorite – and the Bucs control their own destiny.
If anyone can will this team to their first playoff berth since 2007, it’s Jameis Winston. Forget that he doesn’t have any major weapons outside of Mike Evans. Forget that the Bucs are trotting guys like Freddie Martino and Josh Huff out there to outscore the Saints. Winston makes every player around him better by putting them in positions to be successful.
He’s not going to panic. He’s not going to fold. Jameis Winston is going to take this team to the postseason.