Winston still learning about good decisions

Aug 19, 2017 - 1:12 AM TAMPA -- Quarterback Jameis Winston continued his fast start this preseason, going 21-of-29 passing for 196 yards and leading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to three scores on the team's first three possessions.

But one play demonstrated how much he still has work to do protecting the football.

On third-and-goal from the Jacksonville 7-yard line, Winston's shoulder pad was grabbed by defensive end Dante Fowler as he and stumbled backward while defensive tackle Sheldon Day held onto his left leg.

Just before hitting the turf, Winston blindly chucked the football into the end zone as if it were a sweat band into the crowd. The pass was intercepted by safety Barry Church, but Winston was bailed out when it was ruled a sack because his forward progress had stopped.

When Winston made it to the sideline after his horrific decision, head coach Dirk Koetter didn't look like he was having much fun. Hard Knocks may need to run a couple warnings for adult language prior to Episode 3.

"Not what we're looking for. Elite quarterbacks don't make that play," Koetter said.

According to Koetter, Winston attempted 29 passes and made 27 good decisions Thursday. He threw an ill-advised bench route to Chris Godwin that was late and into double coverage. Then came the wedding bouquet toss in the end zone.

"In the heat of the moment, when those plays are going on, Jameis feels like he can save the day, that he can turn it into a play," Koetter said. "And then there's plays like last night when he makes it worse. That's just a hard lesson to learn because he's done it successfully before."

Winston was hard on himself after the game.

"This team did so good, that's the only play we're going to sit up there, and coach is going to write it three times: You can't do it. You can't do it. You can't do it." he said. "Especially with a good drive like that. We've got a field goal in the bag. I'm beating myself up way more than coach is.

"Coach expressed his in words. I'm hurt. I'm disappointed in myself. But we still got the win, that's all the matters. Plus, that play didn't even count."

It didn't count, but it matters. This 2017 Bucs season almost feels like a referendum on Winston, who has 33 interceptions and nine lost fumbles in his first two years.

At 23, he's already begun to show signs that experience is his best teacher. He's completed 71.4 percent of his passes this preseason, which is about 11 percent higher than his career average. Koetter says the same accuracy has been charted in training camp.

"When we started (the game), they were taking deep drops," Koetter said. "I think he had five checkdowns in the first half. That's a good sign. We've been preaching patience to him and he started off that way."

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