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Buccaneers’ Jameis Winston talks season’s first half, returning home

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The Tampa Bay quarterback assesses the team’s first half and how he feels about returning to Raymond James Stadium this Sunday.

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Seattle Seahawks Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The Buccaneers wrapped up the first half of their 2019 campaign this past Sunday, falling to the Seahawks in overtime, 40-34. The loss dropped them to 2-6 on the year and 1-4 on their five-game, six-week stretch away from home.

Quarterback Jameis Winston has had a strange season up to this point, looking very good at times (see New York, Los Angeles, Seattle) and very bad at others (see San Francisco, Carolina in London). The big question coming into the season was whether or not Winston would be able to prove that he deserves to be the first Tampa Bay quarterback to ever reach a second contract after his rookie deal expired. Through eight games, it doesn’t seem like we have that answer yet.

On Wednesday, Winston spoke with the media about the first half of what has been a disappointing season:

(On if his game has changed at all under Head Coach Bruce Arians)

“I’m not quite sure. I’ll probably be able to get you a better answer when the season is over, but right now I am just focusing on week-to-week and getting better. I can’t give you a correct answer.”

(On how the players have responded to Arians this year)

“We love him. He is relentless, he always has our back, he is always in good spirits and he holds us accountable. I think we feed off his energy, his optimism, his tenacity and just who he is as a person.”

(On his comfortability with the offense through eight weeks of the season)

“We are feeling good. We are getting into a rhythm. We’ve got to continue to open up that running game and be efficient in the passing game – that’s the key to it. We’ve been better on third downs and [in the] red zone the past two weeks, so we’ve just got to continue to build on that.”

(On if it has taken Offensive Coordinator Byron Leftwich some time to adjust to the strengths of his players and whether he has done a good job of that to this point)

“Yeah, I think he is. At the halfway point we all get a chance to learn each other, with this being a new coaching staff [and a] new scheme. That’s how it works. We’ll all continue learning. We will never stop learning [and] I’m sure the coaches will say the same thing. I know that we, as a team, are continuing to learn each other – learning which buttons to push, learning how we work best together, having a feel about plays that we love – plays that we can go out there, not second guess and execute. Coach does a good job of putting us in a good position to execute and we go out there and do it.”

(On his deep-ball accuracy this season)

“I’ve got to give props to Coach [Clyde] Christensen and John Van Dam, who do a lot of great work out there, and even having Duke Preston (Director of Player Engagement) out there running routes. We do a good job of just drilling, making things game-like and throwing those balls. B.A. (Bruce Arians) is strong on making sure that we aren’t overlooking anyone that is deep down field just to check a ball down. I guess it’s just part of the scheme and the hard work that we do in that quarterback room with Coach Tom [Moore] and Coach Christensen.”

(On if the amount of hits he has taken is taking a toll on him this season)

“I’ve got to look at myself from within and see how I can get the ball out quicker. I think we made a great step this week and continue to just help the big guys out up front [and] continue to work with those running backs on protections. I think we can all get better at that collectively as a team – me getting the ball out on time. Everyone’s got to do their job, but me personally, I’ve got to get the ball out on time to give us a chance and just throw the ball away. The past two games I’ve probably done a better job [than] I have in my whole career of just throwing the ball away. That’s just something I’ve got to do to help fix that problem.”

(On if he is becoming more comfortable with his decision-making in the team’s offensive scheme)

“Yeah, I think we are all starting to learn each other. As we learn each other that goes into the play calls, that goes into me understanding the concepts, that goes into me knowing when to throw the ball away if something breaks down, that goes into protection – me and Ryan Jensen being on the same page. We’re starting to get it. We’ve got to continue to get better, we’ve got to continue to learn from each other and we’re going to turn things around.”

(On how he will be evaluated over the next eight weeks)

“I think the most important part is just making sure I’m getting better every day and making sure that I am giving the team a chance to win. If I do that, we will win and that’s really it.”

Winston also talked about returning to Raymond James Stadium for the first time since Sept. 22 and his excitement level surrounding that:

(On how much he is looking forward to being back at Raymond James Stadium)

“I’m excited to be in front of our Bucs fans [and] just have a regular week routine. I’m very excited to be back at [Raymond James Stadium].

(On his feelings on the long road stretch after returning home)

“Well, we’ve enjoyed our golden tour, but we are happy to be back at [Raymond James Stadium]. We can’t focus on what’s behind us. We focus on this week, taking it day-by-day. It’s the midpoint of the season, so we are trying to turn this thing around.”

(On what it would mean to get a win at home)

“That’s what we are excited for – we’re excited to come back home and get some wins at home.”

(On if being on the road for so many weeks helped the team bond)

“We spent a lot of time together, and trust me being on the road isn’t going to make us [any] closer than practicing against each other every single day. Like I said, we were on the road for a long time, but what’s important now is that we get to be back in front of our home Bucs fans. I know they miss us. Think, it’s football season and we haven’t been on our home field in [over] a whole month. So, we are excited to be there and to get things rolling.”

*Transcript courtesy of Tampa Bay Buccaneers Communications