(Photos courtesy of the Tampa Bay Bucs)
Talk of Fame Network
The Tampa Bay Bucs had the first pick of the 2015 draft, and it was going to be a quarterback – which meant it was going to be Florida State’s Jameis Winston or Oregon’s Marcus Mariota.
As we know now, they were fixed on Winston from the beginning. They liked him then, and, according to coach Lovie Smith, they like him even more now. Calling Winston “the perfect fit” for Tampa Bay, Smith told the Talk of Fame Network what tipped the scales in favor of the former Heisman Trophy winner.
“First off,” he said on the TOF’s latest broadcast, “we feel like both players are going to be really good football players in the NFL. They’re both different. And for us it was just more about what we liked.
“You say, ‘What tipped the scales for us?’ It was just a little bit more about what we liked about Jameis. Great leader. You hear that term leadership thrown around. If you’re around Jameis a little bit, you kind of see. His teammates believe in him. He has a lot of confidence in himself. And I think as the quarterback — the guy that they’re looking to every play — guys need to know that, hey, it’s going to be OK. Get me in, and we can do this. And that’s what you get from Jameis right away.
“He’s vocal too. I think to be a leader at that quarterback position you need to feel comfortable talking and being out in front. He has that. But I think the way you judge great quarterbacks a little bit is: Can they throw the football? Jameis Winston has made all of the throws. We feel like he’s accurate. He had a couple of interceptions he would have liked (back) this last year, but we just think he can make all the throws that we want … and, I think, an NFL quarterback needs to make.
“And you look at his record. He won a lot of football games through it.. In the end, of course, he was the perfect fit for us.”
Winston takes over for Josh McCown, now in Cleveland, and Mike Glennon. The Bucs haven’t had a bona fide starter at quarterback since Josh Freeman led the team to a 10-6 finish in 2010, the team’s last winning record, but Smith is hopeful that Winston ends that drought – and, with it, puts the Bucs back on the map.
“As a general rule,” Smith said, “you have to find a way to win a football game, period. If you have a franchise quarterback that’s great, but you have to have other ways to do it. My thinking was that it’s quicker to get a good running game going, then play good defense. Then, if you can … if you’re lucky enough … to be with a guy like Kurt Warner or someone like that it’s a lot easier. But most of the time that isn’t the case.
“But playing here, (we had to) get a good running game going, get our defense up to par and then we had an opportunity to draft a guy we thought was pretty special in jameis Winston. You kinda jumped on it. The confidence level for Jameis, of course, is high right now, but he’s a rookie. So there are going to have to be some growing pains we’re going to go through.”