Jameis Winston said Monday that new Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians’ early and vocal support of him “means a lot” in the quarterback’s first public remarks since Arians was hired last week.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, there was excitement in Winston’s voice when he described hearing that Arians, who met Winston as a youth player and is known for grooming NFL quarterbacks, had been named as Dirk Koetter’s replacement.
As a teen, Winston attended a football camp in Birmingham, Ala., run by Arians and his son and his now-coach let the youngster slip on a Super Bowl ring won with the Steelers.
“It’s funny how things come around full circle,” Winston said. “This is the man that introduced me to the Super Bowl ring, so I definitely want to get one with him.
“It’s just neat that he’s my coach now. It’s really like it’s a surreal moment that how things have come back and forth.”
At his introductory news conference Thursday, Arians recounted his first meeting with Bucs players and coaches and telling them he plans to tell everyone that Winston is his quarterback and that this is his team.
“It means a lot to me, man,” Winston said. “And that’s just how he is, he stands behind his players and I’m happy our team gets to see that side of him. And I just can’t wait to get in the building and work with him.”
Winston, who is entering the final year of his rookie contract, was in and out of the Bucs’ starting lineup this season.
He was suspended the first three games because of an off-the-field incident involving an Uber driver and benched in favor of Ryan Fitzpatrick at one point.
Winston finished 3-6 as a starter, completing 244 of 378 passes (64.6 percent) for 2,992 and 19 touchdowns with 14 interceptions for a 68.4 QB rating, the best of his career but hardly the kind numbers around which a team typically builds — unless you’re Arians, apparently.
“I really just have to get back to playing Jameis Winston football, man,” Winston said. “That (2018) season, it was a very odd season. … The back and forth with the quarterback situation made the year even odder. Getting benched, it was an odd year. The good thing about that is it’s over. I can build off that and head into this New Year with a fresh start and definitely hopes for better results this season.”