While the NFL Scouting Combine is primarily a place to learn about the players trying to impress teams prior to the upcoming NFL Draft, it also provides the media with an opportunity for some face time with the head coach and general manager of the teams they cover.
Sometimes it reveals some interesting lesser-known facts. In this case, it was actually a startling revelation.
Following his time on the podium at Lucas Oil Stadium, Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter met with the Tampa Bay media off camera (NOTE:PewterReport.com arrived in Indianapolis after Koetter’s press conference) and told a handful of local Bucs beat writers that he was one of, if not the, last member of the organization to get on the Jameis Winston bandwagon.
Bucs HC Dirk Koetter – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
“I was probably one of the last people holding out going through the whole process last year,” Koetter told Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times and other local Tampa media. “There was plenty of other people convinced way before I was that this was the guy. And all the things people were telling us, all the way up to (Florida State coach) Jimbo Fisher and I’ve said this before, I’ve heard all that before. I’ve heard all those superlatives thrown around.
“I was only a holdout in that we were basically comparing two really good players: Jameis and Marcus Mariota. Both really, really good players. And my job that I was assigned was more the film evaluation part. So other people were evaluating all the other staff. But as we got to pro days and we got around the other coaches, you’ve got to remember, (Oregon coach) Mark Helfrich was a (grad assistant) for me at Oregon and was a quarterbacks coach at Boise and Idaho State. Mark is telling me, ‘Marcus Mariota, you guys are idiots, you’re not going to draft Marcus Mariota? You guys are stupid.’ Well, that’s a guy I’m really close to. Now, you’ve got to take that with a grain of salt the way you take Jimbo Fisher. But usually in this business, if you’ve worked with someone, you know if they’re BS-ing you or not and I’m not saying anyone is. But I guess the biggest point here is it became clear that both guys had good intangibles.”
Of course it didn’t take Koetter long to see that Winston was a terrific prospect, evidenced by his 4,024 yards passing, 28 total touchdowns, and finishing second to Todd Gurley in the AP Rookie of the Year voting.
“Until you’ve been in a season with someone and see what a guy will do when he’s getting hit and when the game is on the line and see it this close … we had a couple really bad games early when Jameis comes off the field and you learn so much about Jameis during the season,” Koetter continued. “What a worker he is, how much he cares about winning and cares about his teammates. I mean, Jameis made some plays with his legs that I was going, ‘I never saw that coming.’ He never showed me that in OTAs or training camp or preseason. I wasn’t expecting him to run and dive over guys in the end zone or to make that run he made in that second Atlanta game. That’s heart, that’s willpower and desire to win. Now, I’m a true believer that Jameis is off the charts.”
Earlier in the day Koetter was at the podium and was asked about Winston’s rookie season.
Photo by: Getty Images
“Jameis did have a nice rookie season,” Koetter said. “I think the great think about Jameis Winston is he always wants to get better. I think it was really fortunate that he was able to go out to the Pro Bowl and spend some time with the top players in the league at every position and I think all that did was motivate Jameis to continue to get better. As I said, with coaching I believe it with quarteback play as well — experience is the best teacher. So the fact that Jameis has a better idea of what to expect moving forward I think will enable him to continue to get better.”
To read more of what Koetter shared with the local media following his time at the podium, click here for Stroud’s full story.
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Everybody is making like this is such a great revelation, but was reported on by Andy Benoit of MMQB during training camp last year when everybody was still second guessing the Bucs #1 pick of Jameis Winston. It makes no difference who wanted who, but that we got the guy that looks like the right guy for the job!
I have no interest in re-opening that discussion and find little value in the story at this point in Winston’s evolution. Some may say it shows the honesty and forthrightness of Koetter, others will say that due to Lovie Smith’s stubbornness and inflexibility, that the Bucs have its first franchise QB.
I say it’s time to look forward and hope that Winston, Koetter, and the divine powers that be restore the Bucs to respectability. Onward and upward Buc fans!
Well Said Macabee and I have no doubts Koetter is the right man for the job. However, it does raise the concern on Koetters ability to recognize talent. Mariota is talented but not to the extent of Winston. Even with insider info/persuasion from his buddy, Koetter should have still recognized the potential of each quarterback. Especially, being an offensive guru. Hopefully, I am wrong and this does not translate to future player evaluations. Go Bucs!
I think the Bucs would have been in capable hands with either QB, although it has become clear that a voice in the huddle was needed. Jameis and Kwon provided that voice of leadership starting midway through the season according to the article Peter King posted on MMQB a week ago. Personally, I still think Marcus Mariotta would have been a great Buc, but now that Jameis has gone through a year without an incident while showing great leadership, heart and maturity, I am 100% on board.
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