Sunday’s road game against the Saints matters a great deal for the Bucs in the NFC South standings. But outside of that, it’s the first time that Saints quarterback Jameis Winston will start against the team that drafted him first overall in 2015.

We all know the story by now. The Bucs let Winston walk in free agency before the 2020 season and ended up signing the greatest quarterback of all time in Tom Brady. Tampa Bay went on to win Super Bowl LV. Winston stayed in the division, signing with the Saints to back up and learn from Drew Brees for a season. He then won the starting position this year.

Winston did appear in a game against the Bucs during the divisional round of the playoffs, throwing a 56-yard touchdown pass in his only attempt. Tampa Bay won the game, though, 30-20.

So what’s been the big difference between his only season with Bruce Arians in 2019 and his performance as a starter again in 2021?

Bucs QB Jameis Winston and head coach Bruce Arians

Bucs QB Jameis Winston and head coach Bruce Arians – Photo by: Getty Images

“Probably throwing it 15 less times a game,” Arians said. “They’re playing with a lead and we didn’t have that many leads back then. We had to throw it. He’s playing very, very well at the position.”

Arians has plenty of familiarity coaching him for a season, but because the Saints run a different style of offense that the Bucs do, there’s not as much of an advantage of going against a former player than you’d think.

“I think there’s a yes and a no,” Arians said. “If he was running this offense, you’d know what to expect more. He’s in a totally different offense. He sat behind Drew (Brees) for a year, obviously learned a lot. He’s playing the quarterback position at what I think is a very high level.”

It’s one thing playing against Arians, but there are players Winston has spent much more time with during his five seasons with the Bucs.

“Jameis is a guy I’m still super close with,” tight end Cam Brate said. “I talk to him all the time, always watch him when I can. It definitely will be different. Last year during the playoffs he went in for the one play and threw a touchdown pass. Obviously at the time I was pissed that we gave up a touchdown, but secretly I was like, ‘You know what? Good for Jameis. Making a play there.’ A lot of guys on the team are still close with him. Can’t say nothing but good things about our time with Jameis. Always wish him the best, just not on Sunday.”

Many players on the defensive side of the ball get to play against Winston in a live game for the first time in their career. Those in the secondary are looking for that big interception, while players on the defensive line are excited to get a couple of hits and sacks on their former teammate.

“I can’t wait, I’m actually going to text him and tell him to get ready,” outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul said.  “I can’t wait to play Jameis, it’s going to be fun. He’s like a brother to me. I remember when we were hiking in the offseason in Colorado, I can’t wait to hunt him down. Crazy, Jameis is a different type of breed.”

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About the Author: Matt Matera

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Iowabucfan
Iowabucfan
8 months ago

I’m excited, too. Maybe he’ll finally throw the ball to someone in a Bucs’ uniform.

Horse
Horse
8 months ago

I hope we show no mercy against the dirtiest team in the NFL!

Captain Sly
Captain Sly
8 months ago

I was the biggest Winston supporter on this site but it was never going to work here. BA’s “no risk it” style of offense was exactly what Winston didn’t need and don’t even get me started on Dirk Koetter’s offense. Disaster! Sean Payton has him throwing more high percentage passes in a ball control offense designed to wear down our defense. Anyway glad Winston found a team but now let’s go make him wish Taysom was starting this week. Go Bucs!

drdneast
drdneast
8 months ago

Jameis completed 55 percent of his passes against a Seahawks defense that is considered avergage at best. Ten of his completions went to his RB Alvin Kamara.

bucballer
bucballer
8 months ago

I like Jameis. He holds a lot of Buc’s all-time QB records, the ones Brady hasn’t already broke. But on Sunday I hope we cause him concern and panic! Pressure him like a yard dog.

surferdudes
surferdudes
8 months ago

He owes us a fumble, and at least two pick sixes!

scubog
scubog
8 months ago

Jameis is going to be in a real dilemma here. On one hand he’s going to want to execute a few big plays like he did on the inevitable Sean Payton trick play in the play-offs. On the other hand, he’s going to be careful not to fumble or throw an interception. In order for that smug-ass Payton to show he’s the real “QB Whisperer”, Winston will have to play mistake free and win this game. You can bet both are getting uptight just thinking about it. Of course Winston and the Saints know our defense well. Todd Bowles will… Read more »

twspin
twspin
8 months ago

People forget, Jameis came here as a savior without the benefit of an NFL mentor QB. I think that hurt him. And Arians is no QB whisperer like the TB area press tries to make him. Arians is a..win with the best at QB coach. And thats understandable. Sean Payton is bringing Jameis along just fine. And Jameis will get there. But I hope, not against my Bucs. Jameis will succeed in The NFL. Some players just have to..make the rounds.