Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston is definitely excited about Thursday’s showdown with Tom Brady and the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. Winston and he Bucs stand at 2-1, and welcome the Pats to Raymond James Stadium, where they have been winners of six straight.
New England (2-2) enters the match searching for answers on defense. The defending champs are trying to avoid falling below .500, beyond the second week of a season, for the first time since 2012. It’s not often that the Pats are vulnerable, and the Bucs are looking for a pirate-like plunder in Tampa in Thursday night.
However, Winston is not one to dismiss New England based on their recent defensive struggles. He understands the greatness that will will be embodied on the opposite side of the field. When asked this week about his chance to face off against Brady and the Patriots, Winston offered the following:
“I don’t like talking about me, but to get a chance to witness greatness in front of us with Tom Brady coming into town, it gets you pumped up. It definitely makes you think about how hard you worked to get to this point. I’m thinking about what I’m going to say to him when I see him and meet him.”
The former Florida State standout often speaks of having aspirations to someday be recognized as the best to ever play his position. At present, it is an arguable consensus that the spot is held by Brady. At 40 years of age, Brady has won more games than any quarterback in NFL history, including five Super Bowl championships. To Winston, this a chance to compete against the player he aspires to emulate most.
“His ability to protect the football and take advantage of opportunities when they are given to him is impeccable. Just studying him, just seeing how calm he is (and) how precise he is, is very impressive. That is the reason why every offseason, every rep I get during the season … I’m trying to (get) better and better because I know that he’s still out there playing. He’s still getting better and better.”
In just a little over two seasons, Winston has compiled quite the impressive resume. He has nearly 9,000 yards passing, with 56 touchdowns. For that reason, Winston is rightfully regarded as one of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL. It has also caught the attention of Brady and Patriots coach Bill Belichick, which was evident in Brady’s latest comments:
“He’s a great, young player. I’ve watched him since he’s came in and he’s got them going, so they’re headed in the right direction. I know coach (Belichick) talked … about their organization and what they’re trying to do, and Jameis is right at the head of that. He’s a great leader, has been since he came into the league, and he’s been really productive.”
The Buccaneers are keenly aware that winning against the Patriots is never easy. It’s true that they are coming into this game with the 32nd ranked defense in the NFL, and have been carved up by quarterbacks with less pedigree than Winston. However, they realize that each game is an individual contest, and no team in pro football has been better at the ‘one game at a time’ approach than the New England Patriots. Winston understands that better than anybody.
“It’s not like they’re just going to allow people to get yards on them. They’re going to come with a great plan,” Winston added. “They have a great coach, a great quarterback, a great defense. We’ve got to be ready to play and take advantage of the opportunities when they’re presented.”
While Winston and the Bucs are both respectful and somewhat awestruck by the Patriots success, they fully expect to be on the winning side come Thursday. Despite their recent struggles, the Patriots still represent the gold standard of the modern NFL franchise. For Winston, it’s the opportunity of a lifetime. As the great 16-Time world champion, Ric Flair, once said…”To be the man, ya gotta beat the man.” (Insert a ‘Whooo!’ here.) There is no better way for Winston to take a step towards being the man, than beating the best man in the game today. We’ll see on Thursday night.
-Mike D’Abate is the Managing Editor for cover32.com/Chargers and covers the Los Angeles Chargers. He is also a National Content Writer for cover32.com and covers the NFL and the New England Patriots.
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