As players began packing up their lockers for the offseason on Monday, a few took a moment to reflect on the shortcomings of 2015 and the scattered success they need to put together on a consistent basis heading into next season.
One of those players was Jameis Winston, a much calmer version than the one seen post-game after the 38-10 season-finale loss.
While Winston wasn’t as outspoken in his tone, the message of developing a winning culture where everyone is on the same page hasn’t changed. Now going into his second year, Winston is excited for his first offseason as an NFL player, rallying his team together to start the building process early.
“Now that I don’t have to go to class or worry about grades, I’m focused on my craft,” Winston said. “This is my first offseason as an NFL player, and I’ve definitely learned from Vincent and Logan and other guys on how to be a professional, how to do things the right way. I’m definitely going to ask them for a couple notes when I start my offseason program. But you just continue to better yourself, get better every single day.
“It starts in the locker room,” he continued. “It’s starts with us bonding with each other. It starts with us playing for each other. It starts with us just being all in for each other. We had some shirts made in the beginning of the year that said ‘All In’ on it. It’s just really living by that.”
Coming into the league, there was concern about Winston’s character and questions of whether his personality would resonate in an NFL locker room. It’s clear, however, that the rookie quarterback has earned his teammates’ respect and he did it the right way.
Winston chose not to focus on the pre-draft criticism, but that’s not to say it wasn’t important to him to build a positive reputation, on and off the field. Along with becoming a leader on the team, Winston was active in the community during his first season in Tampa Bay and takes pride in all that comes with the title of franchise quarterback.
“Like I said, I have to be me,” Winston said. “I know these guys in the locker room love me, and it starts here. The opportunities that I had to spend time in the community with the kids, and especially going to the homeless shelter with the rookies, that was a big opportunity for me to show people who I really was.
“The biggest thing I’ve learned is just keeping everything simple. Whether it’s the media or on the field, just making the right decisions, making the simple decisions and just being yourself.”
In regards to 2016, Winston is confident the foundation has been set and the culture will change. Despite being on a team with five consecutive losing seasons, Winston doesn’t believe that any player is comfortable with losing and made sure everyone knew that his post-game “call-outs” started with him. Ultimately, Winston said, it’s about players getting on the same page and developing and ingraining a winning-mindset.
“I know everyone on this team wants to win,” Winston said. “It’s just the way that you do it, the preparation. It’s just having that mindset of ‘I want to win at all costs.’ Like I said, that has to be developed and molded into you.”
“It starts with actions. We have to have a good offseason and when the season starts, I have to limit turnovers. You just have to build on the positives and eliminate the negatives. If we’re serious about winning here, and serious about changing the culture, we will dedicate ourselves during the offseason so we can be successful.”
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: firstname.lastname@example.org