Through the first four weeks of the season, Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston threw eight interceptions, second-most in the league at that point behind Jets’ Ryan Fitzpatrick, who had 10.

After throwing two early, critical picks against the Broncos in a 27-7 loss, Winston made a conscience effort to protect the football and he’s done just that. Over the last four games, the second-year quarterback has thrown just one interception to nine touchdown passes.

Head coach Dirk Koetter credited Winston’s improvement to patience and seeing the field better, leading to wiser decisions.

“He’s going through his progressions,” Koetter said after practice Monday. “He’s seeing the defense, going through his progressions better and taking what the defense gives him. He’s doing a good job of that.”

Bucs QB Jameis Winston - Photo by: Mark Lomoglio/PR

Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Mark Lomoglio/PR

While Tampa Bay lost decidedly to the Falcons last Thursday, the Bucs offense got off to a fast start thanks to the Winston and Mike Evans show. The latter’s 11-catch, 150-yard day has been well-documented, but save for two fumbles and Winston had a fine night, too.

Completing 23 of 37 passes for 261 yards and three scores, Winston delivered from the pocket and moved around and outside when he needed to. But that was nothing new.

Koetter’s been impressed with his mobility and knack for keeping plays alive all season.

“He’s done a really good job outside the pocket. His confidence is in that he’s seeing the field,” Koetter said. “He’s keeping his eyes downfield, he’s making good decisions on when to throw and when to run, and, for the most part, when he does run he’s making good decisions on when to get down.”

That last part about “when to get down” hasn’t always been the case, Koetter admitted. In fact, the head coach said the biggest issue with Winston moving outside the pocket has been the amount of hits he’s taken. In that category, he trails only Colts’ Andrew Luck with 66.

Winston’s night was finished Thursday after taking a shot to the back late in the fourth quarter, but benching him was more precautionary than anything. Winston quickly shook off any minor tweak. The effort, on a two-point conversion attempt that would’ve made it a 40-22 game with under four minutes, was just another example of how the young gunslinger refuses to give up on plays, no matter the score or down-and-distance.

“We want him to take less hits,” Koetter said. “That’s a work in progress.”

At the end of the day, Winston’s ability outside the pocket has been a pleasant surprise for Koetter. The first-year head coach admitted that he didn’t quite realize Winston’s mobility out of college, but by proving his athleticism at the next level, the Bucs have been able to open the playbook a little more and incorporate it into their game plan.

“I think pretty much everybody thought in college that he was primarily a pocket passer,” Koetter said. “And we still have work to do in that area. But our ‘bootleg game,’ for lack of a better term – the stuff where we do get him on the perimeter – those plays have been efficient. As an offensive coach, you’re going to continue to run plays that are efficient for you.”

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About the Author: Zach Shapiro

Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders. Contact him at: [email protected]
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macabee
macabee
5 years ago

I don’t doubt that Winston will continue to improve. But he needs help! Besides a dependable right and left tackle, a reliable RB might help more than anything. Koetter’s entire offense is built around successfully running the ball! Per Jenna Laine, Jaquizz Rodgers remains in a walking boot and has yet to resume practicing. Doug Martin (hamstring) didn’t practice Monday and is also looking doubtful for Week 10.This is where Jason Licht should make bold but not risky moves to salvage the season or we may be headed for another 6-10 season or worst yet 3-13. We’re playing with a… Read more »

Matthew
Matthew
Reply to  macabee
5 years ago

I agree i think Karlos Williams would be better than what we have now

scubog
scubog
Reply to  macabee
5 years ago

I always like that kid. Worth a shot.

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
Reply to  macabee
5 years ago

There’s little we can do about the roster midway through the season that will make much difference, other than to pick up a guy or two here or there to provide mediocre depth. The best we can hope for on the roster is that some of the key guys that are banged up can get back in the lineup – specifically Doug Martin and Jacquizz Rodgers and Russell Shephard on offense, and Clinton McDonald on defense. That isn’t going to be enough to propel us to the playoffs, likely, but we could still end up at or a little above… Read more »

Horse
Horse
5 years ago

Macabee, you are spot on. Take some shots at other teams PS. We’re going no where on Defense until we get a pass rush, but we are capable on the Offense in scoring 35-40 points a game with another RB and WR. Go Bucs!

surferdudes
5 years ago

We’re at that point in the season where we should be looking at getting better for next year. Had we given Pamphile some of Mankins playing time, we would’ve known we didn’t need a FA RG, who’s yet to see the field.

Matthew
Matthew
Reply to  surferdudes
5 years ago

I want to see what Pamphlet can do at LT, anyone but Donovan please

Matthew
Matthew
Reply to  Matthew
5 years ago

ugh auto correct Pamphile

drdneast
drdneast
5 years ago

macabee, good to see you back with such good intel as usual.
If the guy is healthy and ready to run I agree with you.

Brand G
Brand G
5 years ago

I agree with the sentiment to not only raid practice squads but to also sign Karlos Williams. I try to see the reasoning behind each decision made and often convince myself that the front office will supply an abundance of talent for the coaches to develop.
Winston needs a TE in order to take the offense the next level. I think we should be considering drafting a TE in the early rounds of this years draft.

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
Reply to  Brand G
5 years ago

I agree with the need for a quality tight end after losing ASJ, but there are so many personnel needs that are greater needs, it seems unlikely we’ll take one in the first or second day of the 2017 draft. Higher ranked needs include defensive line, both DT and DE; safety (at least one, two more likely); WR, to replace VJ, and at least one speedly slot receiver; and LT all rank higher in need than TE. If Doug Martin doesn’t make a full recovery from his hamstring injury this season, then RB is also going to be very high… Read more »

Bucnut2
Bucnut2
5 years ago

What Winston needs most is to improve his accuracy. It doesn’t matter how good your weapons are, if your QB can’t hit them, it doesn’t matter.

RootsCrew
RootsCrew
5 years ago

The Arizona game is completely changing the narrative of Winston’s year. Those 5 turnovers look so much worse than they are. Without those numbers dragging him down, we’d be talking about his progression. Out of the 8 INT’s the first four games, only four are truly on Winston. Let’s break them down: 1) VJax runs the wrong wroute 2) Ball bounces off Sims hands 3) Hail Mary at end of the game 4) Ball bounces off Sims hands So, 17 TD 5 INT looks a helluva lot better in retrospect. That’s why I believe Winston is playing better than his… Read more »

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
Reply to  RootsCrew
5 years ago

Roots – you’re minimizing Jameis’s two very, very bad games and cherry picking. The truth be told, he performed miserably against both Arizona and Denver, with passer ratings of 39 and 40 points, less than half what most people would consider to be even a half-assed decent performance in the NFL. Of all the quarterbacks those two defenses faced this season – and both are obviously very good defenses – Jameis Winston performed the worst of all, by quite a margin (he produced about 15-20 passer rating points below the average of all quarterbacks those two teams have faced this… Read more »

RootsCrew
RootsCrew
Reply to  Naplesfan
5 years ago

I’m not minimizing those games. He played very poorly against two of the best defenses in the league. Which was disappointing. I’m just looking at his turnovers & comp %, since that is what EVERYONE harps about as to why he’s terrible. I’ve told you before, Jameis will likely have 1-2 absolute stinkers a year. Just like Favre. Unfortunately, not everyone is Brady. And to your point of being consistent, he’s had more good games than bad at the halfway mark. Could he be better? Absolutely. Has that been difficult with what the offense has had to work with and… Read more »

Michael WestDominguez
Michael WestDominguez
Reply to  RootsCrew
5 years ago

Personally, I think his timing has been off, in particular with some of the deep balls to Evans which could have been home run plays but he has also thrown some ropes that were just dropped by multiple receivers.

RootsCrew
RootsCrew
Reply to  Michael WestDominguez
5 years ago

I truly believe he’s seeing ghosts. Dot & Hawley have allowed so much pressure in his face, that he’s rushing his mechanics. Causing high balls. Coupled with the fact that Dirk has a vertical passing game that calls for 5 & 7 step drops, disaster. OL has to be shored up.

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
Reply to  Michael WestDominguez
5 years ago

This reply is actually to Roots. It’s apparently not the pressures that are the cause of Jameis’s inaccuracy. He is actually a much more accurate passer this season when he is pressured, as evidenced in the stat splits. It’s really odd, because most quarterbacks are better when they have plenty of time in the pocket. This has been a head scratcher this season with Jameis. Is it that when Jameis has a clean pocket and plenty of time, he feels entitled to just chuck it out there and play hero-ball? It’s got to be mental rather than physical. He knows… Read more »

fredster
fredster
5 years ago

No doubt Winston needs more help. Our O line needs improvement. LT,center,RT.

I wonder if his accuracy will contnue to be issue if we get great speed WR on deep routes?

Anyways Agree on more reliable RB too. Love Martin healthy but it’s getting old never available….

If you would told me before season started:
Jackson would suck then get lost for season,ASJ get cut,practically whole D line hurt, lose 4 RB’s,etc I would said that’s not even possible it’s so crazy!!!!

Oh the life of a Bucs fan…..

bucballer
bucballer
Reply to  fredster
5 years ago

Agree fredster! You can’t make chicken salad out of chicken spit!

bucballer
bucballer
5 years ago

Ever tried to throw a football with accuracy with abnormally large men hanging on your legs? You’d throw the ball a little high too! I think the high throws come from Jamesis having to throw the ball before he is ready too. He is trying to make something out of nothing. He doesn’t need to try to win the game on every throw. Also, it appears he continues to take 5-7 step drops. Why not mix in some slant routes and quick throws that draw the DBs up close and perhaps enables them(WRs) to get some separation. Jamesis will be… Read more »