Mike Smith has been the Buccaneers' defensive coordinator for just a few months, meaning he's only had a handful of practices working against his new team's offense. Despite the limited action, he is thoroughly impressed with what he's seen of his team's signal-caller and believes the in-practice competition will ultimately make his defense a stronger unit.
"Boy, I'll tell you what - this is a quarterback driven league and I've been very impressed with Jameis," Smith said. "He's got great size and he's cut us up a couple of times. You guys saw it in our veteran mini-camp. I'm enjoying competing with him and have actually had a couple conversations with him about, 'Ok, what do you see in our defense? What does our defense look like?' Because that's going to help us because I want to know what the quarterback is thinking we're doing."
The competition will surely help Winston improve, too. The majority of the snaps that a quarterback takes come during practices, not during a game, so Winston will have an opportunity to spend his second season in the NFL working against a brand new defense day-in and day-out.
In addition to a new scheme, Winston will also be practicing against several new players. The Buccaneers signed Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes as a free agent this offseason and drafted another corner, Vernon Hargreaves, in the first round of the draft. The team drafted another defensive back, Ryan Smith, in the fourth round.
No practices have had contact, though, and the offseason is still young. When training camp kicks off in July, Smith will get a better look at his team's quarterback. But if mini-camps are any indication, he will have his hands full trying to contain Winston and a Buccaneer offense which finished fifth in the NFL in total yards a year ago. That competition will only help Smith, the Bucs' defense, and Winston continue to improve.
Photos of quarterback Jameis Winston from his rookie season.