FAB 2. Less Talk, More Action From Winston

I’ve been waiting for weeks to write this, waiting for the perfect moment. Boy, did it arrive last Sunday in New Orleans before the Saints beat down the Buccaneers, 30-10.

When a wide-eyed Jameis Winston licked his fingers and told everyone he was going to “eat a W tonight” in a pre-game huddle prior to the Saints game I knew that he had gone off the rails. The Bucs quarterback has been giving pre-game speeches all season, even dating back to last year.

Yet on Sunday, Winston finally jumped the shark.

For those of you millennials who never got the chance to watch the TV show Happy Days, the phrase “jump the shark” refers to a landmark moment that was born from the episode when Fonzie was waterskiing in his leather jacket (and shorts, of course) and literally jumps over a shark, which was ridiculous. The phrase means when a show has lost its luster and desperately tries to regain it.

Winston’s pre-game speeches have lost their luster, and on Sunday in New Orleans he seemed desperate for some new material. The whole “eat some W’s” speech fell flat with his teammates, some of whom had shocked or blank faces while Winston was speaking.

Winston can still be a leader – the Bucs’ best leader – by saying less and doing more.

How about no more pre-game speeches?

This isn’t Pop Warner anymore, or high school. Heck, this isn’t Florida State. This is the NFL, and right now the 2-6 Bucs need fewer words and more action from Winston and everybody else.

With a few weeks off to rest his shoulder, Winston should step back and re-evaluate everything from his leadership style to the way he plays quarterback. Whatever he was doing this year wasn’t enough. Or perhaps it was too much?

Patriots QB Tom Brady – Photo by: Getty Images

Look around the league at the prominent quarterbacks. Tell me which ones give rah-rah speeches on the field before games?

Does New England’s Tom Brady do it?

Do you see Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers deliver fiery pre-game pep talks on the field?

How about some of the younger quarterbacks having early success in their careers?

Does Dak Prescott do this in Dallas? How about Carson Wentz in Philadelphia? Does Jared Goff act like Winston in Los Angeles before a game?

Even when Tampa Bay was on Hard Knocks, backup QB Ryan Fitzpatrick was saying that Winston’s pre-game chant with the quarterbacks in the locker room was too long and wordy.

If you think what I’m talking about is ridiculous and doesn’t matter, I’ll tell you that it’s the small details that matter in football. They add up, and this 2-6 Bucs squad doesn’t pay attention to details.

If second-year linebacker Devante Bond holds his block a split second more on Sunday, Bryan Anger’s punt wouldn’t have been blocked and returned for a touchdown.

For all of his faults, Greg Schiano’s “toes on the line” approach was right on. If your toes are over the line of scrimmage it’s offsides and you just cost your team five yards. Do that on third-and-4 in a game and you just gave your opponent a free first down.

Winston’s pre-game speeches are always flowery and positive because that’s the kind of guy he is. He’s being true to himself and I can appreciate that. But honestly, if I’m a football player I’d rather hear a pre-game speech that consists of “Let’s beat these *&[email protected]#%^ and kick their %#$!”

That’s what Hardy Nickerson and Warren Sapp would say back in the day.

That’s what I would expect Kwon Alexander, who has a harder edge than Winston, to say.

Winston says he studies Brady a lot. He even met Brady before the Bucs vs. Patriots game last month and had the perfect opportunity to study how he prepares for a game. Did Winston pay attention?

Here is what Brady’s current and former teammates have to say about the greatest quarterback in NFL history’s pre-game routine.

Patriots QB Tom Brady - Photo by: Getty Images
Patriots QB Tom Brady – Photo by: Getty Images

“To me, he’s normal, calm, just waiting to get to business,” former New England running back Kevin Faulk said.

After Brady comes out to Jay-Z’s “Public Service Announcement” at Gillette Stadium he pumps his fist up to get the crowd going and then he gets into the zone.

“He’s extremely focused, and he gets us focused,” Patriots wide receiver Matthew Slater said. “He realizes the task at hand, gets his mind right and gets the job done.”

Wouldn’t you like to see Winston come out extremely focused rather than hyped up? Maybe a more calm, focused Winston would translate into more productivity in first quarters for the Bucs points-wise.

How many times has Winston come out too hyped for a big prime-time game and been cold and inaccurate to start the game? Let’s review:

2015: 31-23 Loss at St. Louis on TNF
Winston: 29-of-50 for 363 yards (58 percent) with 2 TDs, 1 INT
First Half: 6-of-12 (50 percent) for 49 yards

2016: 17-14 Win at Carolina on MNF
Winston: 18-of-30 for 219 yards (60 percent) with 1 TD, no INTs
First Half: 9-of-14 (64 percent) for 85 yards

2016: 43-28 Loss vs. Atlanta on TNF
Winston: 23-of-37 for 261 yards (62.2 percent) with 3 TDs, no INTs
First Half: 13-of-19 (68 percent) for 136 2 TDs

2016: 26-20 Loss at Dallas on SNF
Winston: 17-of-35 for 247 yards (48.6 percent) with 2 TDs, no INTs
First Half: 6-of-12 (50 percent) for 81 yards, one INT

2017: 19-14 Loss vs. New England
Winston: 26-of-46 for 334 yards (56.5 percent) with 1 TD, no INTs
First Half: 8-of-16 (50 percent) for 71 yards

Winston even praised Brady’s calm, cool and collected ways prior to the Bucs vs. Patriots game earlier this year.

“He has won more Super Bowls than [any other quarterbacks], so to me, that is the most important part,” Winston said. “His ability to protect the football and take advantage of those opportunities when they are given to him is impeccable. Just studying him, just seeing how calm he is [and] how precise he is, is very impressive.”

So maybe Winston should take a page out of Brady’s playbook and settle down before the game and settle into the game plan in the first quarter.

Bucs QB Jameis Winston - Photo by: Getty Images
Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Getty Images

This isn’t Florida State going into Death Valley to play Clemson with a bunch of 19-year old true freshman who are nervous or scared out of their minds. This is a bunch of grown men and well-paid professionals.

Most football players are hyped up and ready to go before the game because they only have 16 opportunities to play in the NFL regular season schedule. Winston should save the pep talks for the sidelines when your team is down 9-0 early and needs to rally.

Remember when Donovan Smith said that the Bucs weren’t ready to play against the Panthers? I recall that Winston gave a fiery pre-game speech before that game, too.

Did it work? Was it effective?

After losing 17-3 and having just one play inside Carolina’s red zone all day, that should tell you – and Winston – something right there.

For the first time in his young NFL career Winston will watch a Bucs game from the sideline this Sunday. I would love to see a more calm and focused, more professional Winston change up his pre-game routine so when he returns to the field – whether it’s this year or next year – he’s prepared for more action and less talk.

The Bucs could use it.

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Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]
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RootsCrew

Jesus. Just trade Winston away and be done with it. The kid can’t do anything right. Check it down! No, throw it deep. No, complete 70% of passes while chucking it deep. Be a leader, but don’t say anything and don’t be yourself. Quit trying to change and neuter him. This culture of losing infects the entire locker room. Winston will still fight for every game. He expects his teammates to fight with him. GMC isn’t a pregame guy. Kwon doesn’t seem to give speeches. LVD? Nope. Mike? Nope. We let Shep, great pregame talker, leave for Carolina. Who else… Read more »

JustaBuc

Well said. While some of this Fab 5 is good, Scott seems to grasp at straws when explaining field play. It started with the training camp discussion and this whole Jameis pep-talk discussion is simply a continuation of that same line of thinking. Being soft in camp might have an effect 1-2 weeks into a season, not 10. In a same vein, if Tom Brady twerked for his game warmups, I’m sure he would be calling Winston out for not twerking because there is exactly 1 template to success for players in this game and if you don’t do it… Read more »

Horse

Okay he’s not going to be a top 5 quarterback probably not a top 10 quarterback. Why would you trade in? Do you think other teams are stupid. We’ve got bigger problems than Winston fur sure.

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RootsCrew

To be clear, Horse, I’m not actually saying trade him away. I’m a huge believer in Jameis. I was just typing out my frustrations at the never ending things he has to live up to or change or do to appease this fanbase. It’s absurd at times. He will be a top 10 QB. The scheme he’s in actually magnifies his flaws. It doesn’t limit them. And yes, we have bigger issues than Jameis. Even if he’s contributed to some of the issues on the team.

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Naplesfan

Jameis has to live up to being the no. 1 overall pick in the draft – that’s the burden that comes from such high expectations … and he has to live up to being the designated starting quarterback of a team that has given him more weapons to throw to than any other quarterback in the league today. Jameis has to live up to being midway through his third season, which most folks were calling his inevitable “breakout year”. Jameis has to live up to at least minimal standards of sportsmanship, which he clearly violated last Sunday with his dick… Read more »

EataW

we should ride with Jameis for at least another year. build an OLine in the meantime. I wouldn’t mind drafting Chubb but i’d be much more excited with Mike Mcglinchey OT, Notre Dame. He could be one of the best OT in the league plus it’s a position of need

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surferdudes

Trade Winston? That’s probably what the Falcons thought of a young Brett Farve, when they dealt the wild child to G.B.. It took a real coach, Holmgrem to mold him into a HOFer. I think that’s what Winston needs, a real coach, a real G.M. to put players around him that help him succeed. Expecting a 23 yr old to carry a sorry franchise over the finish line is unrealistic. Scott did you hear what Gruden had to say about Winston’s antics? Pretty much what you said. Gruden, I’d tell him to tone it down. I’d tell him to follow… Read more »

Naplesfan

Maybe,surfer. Maybe a new coaching regime will transform Jameis as he’s been into a beautiful butterfly. Or not. Each year it’s been a litany of excuses. His rookie year, well, he’s a rookie, and he passed for a lot of yards .. but didn’t score many points, and it was all blamed on his coaches under the Lovie Smith regime. Second season, it was all blamed on having no running game, and no offensive line (both of which were actually pretty good during his ineffective rookie season … but whatever), and most of all, Jameis had no “weapons” to throw… Read more »

Naplesfan

It’s clear from the totally-expected mumber down votes that there are more Jameis Winston fans here than Bucs fans. Bucs fans demand performance from everybody associated with the franchise. For Winston fans, that applies to everybody EXCEPT Winston – the “sacred cow”.

Jameis needs to be every bit as accountable as any other person on the team … no sacred cows, period.

He needs to shape up or ship out.

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Horse

Surferdudes you’re slowly winning me over; still not there yet. We would have to have a very seasoned GM who understands what it takes to have a good defense.

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Naplesfan

Good Fab5, Scott. I like your recommendations on free agents ….. nobody on the team now should feel safe, even the ones you like and I like. A test in the last half of the season is to see who is still giving their all, and who is mailing it in when the playoffs are not a possibility. The mailers need to be given one way postage out of One Buc Place. As for Winston, you said what most Bucs fans are thinking. I rather suspect it is exactly what most of Winston’s teammates are thinking too. Amongst a certain… Read more »

Buc 1976

Naples I was a BIG supporter of Winston!
I know he has been injured this season but I have to wonder if he made the choice to play and ignored med. staff to rest it a week or two. If that is the case not only did it cause him to be hurt worse but also may have hurt the team. I applaud his toughness but sometimes you have to do what is best for the team. IMO there are a lot of ??? MARKS with Winston.

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tnew

One guy they have to really start thinking about as well is McCoy. He is the highest paid Buc and tho under contract, he only would count $500K against the cap. He is in position for a restructure to a more team friendly deal or a trade and sign somewhere else. Given the contracts that are coming up, it would seem smart business to handle this with him sooner than later. I’m personally not sure what I would do with him. The more film I watch isolating on him, the less sense it makes to me sinking huge money into… Read more »

Destino102

This team this year has been all talk and no substance. We have the talent on both sides of the ball (except D-line, minus McCoy). We jsut don’t seem to know how to win games. We lose because of Kicking. We lose because of the Offense. We lose because of the Defense. We lose because of bad play calling. Players aren’t even sure what our identity is. Let me tell you what are identity is. We are Under Dogs. Since the inception of this franchise, we have always been under dogs. Even in our Super Bowl season, we were under… Read more »

tnew

As far as the “Winston sucks early in the game” argument. He is a young player who will continue to mature. The coaches and all of the captains need to help getting these guys motivated. That speech he gave in New Orleans was terrible, but even more terrible was the guys around him. That was the flattest group of guys (I’m saying before the whole finger licking thing) I’ve ever seen. Winston probably looked around and saw this, got desperate and failed miserably at a spontaneous attempt to get them going. Hopefully, someone else will emerge on this team to… Read more »

Naplesfan

If being a consistent first half failure is “more easily correctible”, then why hasn’t it been corrected?

Excuses excuses, always more excuses.

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tnew

Like I stated clearly. He’s a 23 year old maturing player.

And I clearly stated they are more easily corrected. Not easily corrected. I never said they shouldn’t be corrected. Fact of the matter, 4th quarter leaders generally have it or don’t have it.

Whatever

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BrianDorry55

Man, I am trying not to start thinking about the draft already, but you definitely got me excited about Chubb. This team badly needs some nasty. Speaking of nasty, I love me some Jameis, but the “always positive” schtick has worn thin on me. Facing a horribly disappointing 2-6 start is no time for rah rah pregame crap. Seriously, could there have ever been an easier time to choose the right words before a game? “We’re a 2-5 football team. We suck. Is that who you are? Are you a 2-5 football player? Are we better than 2-5? Lets go… Read more »

stlbucsfan

Jameis is 23 and maturing into his role as the leader of this team. Their will be growing pains but him being passionate is great maybe we need someone else to relay the message but that has been the problem since Sapp left. NOBODY ever delivers the message as a result it never happens. Jameis is not perfect but people so eloquently look at other young QBs having success and act like their offensive lines have nothing to do with it. Philly and Dallas protect their QB something Bonehead has still to get right. Our front office attempted and failed… Read more »

surferdudes

Good points all, it’s obvious it’s not just one thing, or one player that’s holding this team back. We traded Steve young years ago, let Doug Williams walk, both turned into S.B. MVP’s. I’m not giving up on a 23 yr old first round pick. Jameis had a running game, and a defense when at FSU, we have neither. Geoff was a bust until McVay came along, and I believe as good as Wentz is, he’d struggle on this team. Enough of first time H.C., and G.M.’s. Glazers need to hire someone, to hire someone. Tom Coughlin has done wonders… Read more »

Horse

Well here comes one of the things I have said many times before? We need a lot of draft picks especially in the early rounds. For me I’m trading down 10 to 15 spots for a additional 2nd and 3rd rounder or an additional first-rounder. I’m convinced we need a left tackle who’s going to protect Jameis in 2018 first priority; I know we need defensive ends too; that’s why I’m suggesting we trade down and still pick up one or two good DE.

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VinceC

We know their are problems across the board on thi team. However I believe that Smith’s defense is a joke. It is non aggressive with no imagination. 4 down lineman with linebackers 5 yards from the line, corners 5 to 10 yds off the ball and safeties playing centerfield begs for long gains. When he does blitz the other team knows it’s coming and adjusts for usually big gains. That’s because instead of 4 linemen he puts 5 or 6 which doesn’t happen very much. In Carolina game they never touched Newton. You got to be kidding. 8 sacks in… Read more »

scubog

Cam Newton must be searching for the towel he puts over his head when his spit goes bad because we Bucs fans stole it and have thrown it into the middle of the Ring of Dishonor to announce we have given up on the season. How quick we often are to flip flop or lay in wait for something bad to happen so we can regurgitate our previous bias. Here, we seek any sort of crumb so we can do as we have for 40+ seasons…………. blame the QB and coach. Oh, how easy that is to do. Now we… Read more »

Horse

Scubog, that makes good sense. I’m putting this on Licht because we have come full circle once again. Rather than obtaining additional draft picks by trading down and actually using them to build your team for the now and future, Licht always trades back up and there goes those extra draft picks.

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Mike.Seven

Jamies is in doubt by this ownership and management do you really think Bucs are going to place a franchise tag and pay 22-26 Million a year on a QB that has been a constant 87% QB rating with more losses than wins. Not a chance! The question is do you want to solve QB problem 2018 draft year or wait till 2019 after Jamies Rockie contract runs out. If they base this team next year on Jamies we will have good shot at first pick 2019. I would rather fix team new QB and coach end of this year… Read more »

surferdudes

Scott, those comments were from his call in last Weds, every Weds, around 7 A.M. on the Mike & Mike show.

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rob roy

The Bucs really need to nail the first three picks in next years draft. There are some very talented players in this draft and NC State’s DE Bradley Chubb is the top DE. The Bucs could pick as low as number 5 or somewhere between 5 and 10. Chubb may go as high as number 4. DE Harold Landry, Boston College and DE Arden Key, LSU, are both special players and should be available when the Bucs pick. If S Minkah Fitzpatrick (6-2 216) Alabama is still there when the Bucs pick, he will be difficult to pass up. He… Read more »