Expectations for Bucs’ quarterback Jameis Winston coming into the 2016 season were very high, from fans to the media, to even the organization. And while Winston has complied solid stats, the Bucs sit at 1-3 after four games and many are growing a little restless.

But don’t count offensive coordinator Todd Monken as one of those who is disappointed in his quarterback. In fact, he is one of Winston’s biggest fans.

“Well, first of all, we put a lot on a young player,” Monken said. “As coaches, as fans, an organization, because we need him to be great now. We certainly do. He is capable of that, we’ve seen it. Him playing at his best, he’s a tremendous football player as in week one, and in times last year. What do we need to do? We need to play better around him, we’ve got to be able to run the ball better, need to be able to run routes with better precision, we need to be up in the game, when you’re down in the game. He’s a very competitive young man. He’s always going to try to make plays, that help you win, so with that being said, I think that’s a great trait. Because the very first touchdown we score, we don’t get a blitzer blocked, he makes him miss and he runs it in, that’s pretty good.

“And then on the interceptions, again, if you take his full body of work. Have there been some bad decisions? Yes. First interception of the year we run the wrong route. Here, against the Rams, the ball is in Chuck’s hands, and it bounces in someone’s hands. One of the interceptions in Arizona was the last play of the game. Does that matter? No, he’s throwing it into the end zone. So sure, we have to be better, collectively, as a staff to not put him in those situations. Because one thing he’s going to do is compete.

“But I knew this was going to come up, if you talked about three quarterbacks in our division, their first two years, Cam Newton, 40-29 (TD-to-INT ratio), Drew Brees, 38-21, Matt Ryan, 38-25, those are their first two years in this league,” Monken went on to say. “Three pretty good quarterbacks, one that’s an MVP, one that’s been doing it for years, and Matt Ryan is leading the league in yards. Peyton Manning, 52-43, Brett Favre, 37-41, John Elway, 27-29, it happens, as they develop. Touchdown-Interception ratio, it happens. Now am I completely comparing him? No.

“All I’m saying is, I love that kid. Man, you talk about a competitive spirit and a will to want to compete and make every play, man, that’s who you want to build your team around. Is he there yet? No. Are we there yet collectively? No. But you’d rather have to try and reel a guy back in, then have to try and develop that toughness or will to win and competitive spirit. That’s what we have at quarterback. We need to embrace that and continue to mold that, and develop that. That’s coaching, that’s playing, that’s run the football better and him taking care of it better.”

Immediately following Monken’s press conference, Winston himself took to the podium. Despite the praise from his offensive coordinator Winston accepted the criticism and it was clear he felt he knew what the problem was. At least five times in his seven-minute press conference Winston mentioned protecting the football.

“Everything is a mindset on a football field, but it’s a choice,” Winston concluded his press conference with. “I have a lot of decisions out there, so my choice is I have to protect the football.”

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About the Author: Mark Cook

Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, the beach and family time.Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at [email protected]