It’s rare to get honesty from NFL coaches about player evaluations, even if it’s after the fact and especially if it requires humility.
But along with Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter saying he initially preferred quarterback Marcus Mariota to the guy he got, now the Bucs offensive coordinator admits he wasn’t sure about Jameis Winston at first.
According to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, Bucs coordinator Todd Monken took some time to come around.
“It’s who he is, how he’s wired,” Monken said. “I think that’s one thing that’s a misnomer. I think from the outside you would’ve looked at it with all the things that were publicized in the past about him and who he is. I was dead wrong. He wants to win as much as we do. He’s a competitive joker, man, he’s smart, he’s intelligent…you can win a lot of games with guys like that.”
Monken said that after a year of working with the former No. 1 overall pick, he’s been able to overcome the preconceived notions of what Winston was all about.
“I think that’s just general in life, especially with social media today, but even before then,” Monken said. “Without knowing a person, we make judgments without ever being around them. I think that’s just common, that’s not just Jameis, that’s people. You make thoughts, impressions when you meet someone on Facebook or Twitter or [Snapchat], you think you know them. You think you’re a part of their life, you have no idea what they’re like until you get around them and you’re around them day to day and see what they’re about. That’s in terms of life, not just him.”
But now that they’ve gotten to know him, they know better what to expect, and expect better in 2016. Winston threw for more than 4,000 yards last year (which was partly a function of the Bucs being behind so often), but they want to see him become more consistent and accurate (after he completed 58.3 percent of his passes last year).
Coming to camp in better shape than last year helps him focus his time on other areas, and it also shows his coaches he’s serious about his work, which they might not have thought a year ago.