In the nine games prior to last Sunday’s 45-17 routing in Philadelphia, Jameis Winston sported a 45 percent completion rate in the red zone (20 of 44) with six touchdown passes in total.
After starting 0 for 5 inside the 20-yard line last week, the rookie quarterback settled in and connected on his next five attempts, all of which went for six points, showing rapid growth in the offenses’ most critical down and distance.
One of the reasons for Winston’s quick development in red zone situations, according Dirk Koetter, has been his trust in the receivers and their ability to finish the play.
“Jameis gave guys a chance to catch the ball,” the Bucs offensive coordinator said. “One of our things is give him a chance. Know where you are going, know what the coverage is, use your indicators and then give your guys a chance, like on the first fade route to Mike [Evans]. That was pretty well covered, gave him a chance.”
One by one, from the 13-yard toss to Vincent Jackson to the third-and-3 slant to Cameron Brate, Koetter went through each individual touchdown pass in Sunday’s game, saying “more than anything (Jameis) gave our guys a chance to make the play and they made them.”
Earlier in the season, when the Bucs pass-offense was stalling in the red zone, Koetter said that the most important thing a quarterback can do while throwing in tight spaces is make quick decisions and release the ball – no hesitation. Still a rookie, Winston has already shown improvement in that respect and his rapport with the receivers has grown increasingly with each passing game.
Along with building a better relationship with recent starters like Brate and Adam Humphries, Winston is now getting to throw to the original receiving corps, too, one that’s hardly been on the field at the same time this season.
“Basically getting that team feeling back that we had in OTAs,” Winston said of what it meant to have Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans finally on the field last Sunday. “That chemistry that we did develop that we kind of lost early in the season when we lost Austin [Seferian-Jenkins] and eventually Vince, but having him back is just having one of your best guys back. It’s like having another Logan Mankins on the field.
“That’s always going to help you out because Vince is definitely one of our leaders and he’s one of our veterans. As young players, we go to (Jackson), especially during the battle of the game to seek for any wisdom or, ‘what is he doing in this situation,’ so we can build off him.”
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
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