If Jameis Winston is down to his last chance with the Buccaneers, new head coach Bruce Arians might be the man to revive his career.
Not only does Arians have an impressive resume of working with quarterbacks — he helped Andrew Luck win Rookie of the Year and got a career season from an aging Carson Palmer in Arizona — but he has a relationship with Winston that goes way back.
As a middle schooler in Alabama, Winston attended a football camp ran by Arians and his son Jake. Ever since Arians revealed his Steelers Super Bowl ring on that day, Winston has been driven to acquire one for himself.
“He’s one of the first people that gave me that dream of getting a Super Bowl ring… that was one of those times when I was just like, ‘Man, I want to get me one of those rings,” Winston, who is in the final year of his rookie contract, told the Tampa Bay Times two years ago before facing Arians’ Cardinals.
Through four seasons, that dream of a championship has gotten off to a slow start. Winston has more interceptions than starts, and split time with former Jet Ryan Fitzpatrick in 2018 due to ineffective play. Winston started the season with a three-game suspension over allegations he groped an Uber driver.
Still, Arians believes in the rising fifth-year quarterback.
“I’ve known him for a long time,” Arians said Wednesday on Rich Eisen Radio, according to The Athletic. “We all make mistakes. He’s made his. I’ve made mine. I feel like I’ve got a great feel for him, his excitement for the game. His willingness to work is unbelievable. He’s in the office at 5 o’clock in the morning. I have no qualms about that. There’s no doubt.
“The whole thing is going to be built around him. I think he can win it all. I mean, he has the intelligence, the toughness, and obviously the arm, ability to lead a team. We have to put the right pieces around him.”
There may be some reason to believe that Winston can turn a corner.
Despite his turbulent 2018 season, Winston actually seems to have made some progress. The quarterback finished with his highest-ever completion percentage (64.6) and his highest-ever yards-per-game mark (272.0)
Winston is far from the finished product, but Arians seems giddy to work with the polarizing signal-caller.
“Growth and unbelievable potential, how good he can be,” Arians said of Winston. “I’ve known him a long time and I’m really proud of his growth. He’s just going to get better and better.”