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Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston to focus on checking down more this season

Jameis Winston, Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston is no stranger to playing aggressive and letting the ball rip. Possessing a rocket-launcher arm and a drive to put defenses on their heels, Winston is best described as a gunslinger. His head coach, Bruce Arians, shares a similar mindset; as he says, “no risk it, no biscuit.” Pairing the two is a match made in heaven for a struggling quarterback, as, Arians is the “quarterback whisperer” after all.

Though Arians’ offense is designed around aggressive play, Winston isn’t shying away from playing smart, specifically utilizing check downs. He told Tampa Bay Time‘s Rick Stroud,

Sometimes checking that ball down is the simple decision. It’s about moving the chains. It’s about a completion here and a completion there. And that’s how you know the game really slows down is when you’re able to do that, when it’s just second nature.

For a quarterback that averages 7.2 yards per attempt and 12.4 per reception, that’s a significant shift in focus. But a needed one; Winston’s gamer style of play has led to 58 interceptions and 38 fumbles in 56 career games. For Winston, he sees the shift from a quarterback that didn’t utilize check downs to one that does as a necessary part of growth for an NFL quarterback.

It’s not hard. It’s challenging at times because in terms of just wanting to make a play. But that’s part of growth at the quarterback position and part of the awareness of knowing when the defense did a great job. How can we protect us?

Winston is entering his final season on a rookie contract and doesn’t yet have an extension. Cutting down on his interceptions and moving the chains in an efficient — albeit less flashy — way may help him get that coveted second contract from Tampa Bay.