The Tampa Bay Buccaneers season comes to an end this Sunday when they travel to Carolina to face the division champion Panthers, and it couldn’t end any better for rookie quarterback Jameis Winston than to have another chance to go up against, and potentially beat, Cam Newton.
Winston and Newton entered the league with very similar pedigrees – havong won a national championship and heisman trophy while being drafted first overall – and Jameis hopes this isn’t the end of his comparison to Cam.
“One thing about that guy that you’ve got to love, he’s a winner and that’s what I want to be,” Winston said. “I want to be a winner, and what comes with being a winner is getting the other guys to want to be winners with you, and I believe that’s what he did.
“Yeah, I can be like Cam, but right now I’m not. That’s something I would love to be in the future.”
Both offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter and quarterbacks coach Mike Bajakian have influenced Winston a lot this season as he’s progressed by expecting a lot from him despite this being his first season in the league, and he’ll continue to learn from them (unless Koetter is hired elsewhere this offseason) and improve as he looked to become more like Cam Newton.
Winston has said before that he doesn’t like to look back at the season until it is over, but one thing he has done more than once is sit back and appreciate the hard work that has been put in by the guys around him to get this Bucs team to where they are today (well, minus the three-game losing streak).
“Every day I go out there on that field I’m just proud of our team and the way that we grew as a whole,” Winston said. If you look at this offense, this is our first year together. And I know in the NFL you always say that a third of those guys are going to be gone next year, but the way that those guys fought, the way that we overcame things, I look at the tough wins we had.
“You just think about how our mentality has changed as a group and the only thing you can do is sit back and smile, because you know those guys, they have got my back every single time and they know I’ve got theirs as well.”
The two things Winston has impressed Koetter with most are his resiliency and toughness day in and day out, but these won’t be the only things he’ll add to his resume that will impress Koetter.
Winston said he’s always been a tough guy – and that this is part of the reason he’s taken so many hits this season, as he said he just wants to be in on the action – and perseverance is something he learned early on in life from his dad.
“Playing in the NFL period you’ve got to be resilient because it’s such an up and down games and [you’re] going to have some plays where guys are just outright are better than you and some plays where you make some bonehead decisions, but in any case you have to overcome that, persevere,” he said. “My whole life my dad taught me to always persevere and never let anything hold you back.”
Jameis Winston has one more shot to go out there and make his mark on the league as a rookie and to him, the game being moved back and into the primetime slot where all eyes will be on the Bucs only makes it better.