Can we all take a moment and applaud Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ rookie safety Antoine Winfield Jr. for earning a starting job?
Ok, but now it gets real. As impressive it is for Winfield to have beaten out both Andrew Adams and Mike Edwards for the number one spot without a rookie camp, without OTAs, and without a pre-season, it doesn’t matter anymore. What matters is how the second-round pick performs in the regular season.
This next step of course, starts on Sunday. Against the New Orleans Saints. And Drew Brees. Not a small task. Funny enough, the rookie now tasked with helping Tom Brady get his first win - even though wins and losses aren’t quarterback stats - with the Bucs, is using a familiar New England Patriots mantra to prepare for the game.
“My goal is just to go in there and do my job,” Winfield said, speaking to media on Thursday. “Try not to do too much or do anybody else’s job, just do mine and make any plays that I can make for my team to give us the best chance to win.”
It’s as simple as that, isn’t it? Just do your job. Own it. Just like defensive coordinator Todd Bowles told him to do when he informed the young safety he had taken the starting job.
Back to the tall task. Brees has made a career of making it look easy picking apart opposing defenses. Give him the short stuff, and he’ll take it - right Michael Thomas fantasy owners? Commit to stopping the short game, and Brees has no issue trying for the big play when the chances present themselves. Rookies are like a drug for veteran quarterbacks. Any quarterback, really.
When veterans see a rookie though, it’s like a big red button with “Don’t Press!” written on it: They just have to press it. And press Winfield is exactly what we expect Brees to do. Early, and every reasonable chance he gets.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a lot of reasons to be excited for their Week 1 match-up with the New Orleans Saints. A lot of hype to live up to, and a lot of expectations for themselves to accomplish.
For Antoine Winfield Jr. he accomplished one goal in April when he was drafted to the National Football League. Then, this week, he accomplished another by earning a starting job in Bowles’ defense. Now, it’s time to accomplish another goal, and help stop a Hall of Fame quarterback. Which is why he’s our Tampa Bay Buccaneers X-Factor for Week 1 of the 2020 NFL Season.