Jameis Winston threw his 28th touchdown pass of the season on Sunday, a tie-breaking 10-yard strike to Mike Evans in the fourth quarter of a 17-16 victory over the Carolina Panthers. That was enough to break the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' single-season record for scoring passes, and it was enough to hold off Panthers in the season finale, but as far as Winston was concerned, it wasn't enough.
"I'm going to be looking to build," said Winston. "We can break more records now. I know I've got to throw more than 28 touchdowns as a Buc. The future is bright, we just as a team have to get better."
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As the first quarterback in NFL history to open his career with consecutive 4,000-yard passing seasons, Winston has certainly done a lot to impress in his first two pro seasons. He already has 50 touchdown passes, fifth most through a player's first two campaigns, and he made big strides in his second season, particularly in making plays outside the pocket. But what has impressed his teammates and coaches the most is his will to win and his constant desire to improve. It was Winston who talked openly before the season about the team needing to affect a culture change.
"Well, you can see that we had more wins, so that developed pretty good," he said on Monday, one day after that season came to an end on a positive note, if not a playoff berth. "But [it's about] always having the attitude of being a perfectionist; it can never get too good. We fell short of our goals as a team, not just my goals. I [will] just do whatever I need to do to help this team out."
Winston broke the team's single-season passing yardage record in 2016, too, with 4,090 after recording 4,042 as a rookie. His completion percentage, yards per game, touchdown rate and passer rating all improved from his first season to his second, but his interception rate also went up a tick and the Bucs' offense produced fewer explosive plays in 2016.
"When I … talk more in-depth with coaches about what I need to specifically improve on, not just my typical improvements that I think I need to get better at, I'm going to do my best to eliminate the negative parts of my game," said Winston. "I believe that getting better every single year is instrumental to being a great quarterback and leading this franchise."
The Buccaneers missed out on a postseason spot on a tiebreaker against the 9-7 Detroit Lions. Winston said he planned to watch the upcoming playoffs because that's something he wants to experience soon. In fact, he said, "I'm going to experience that.
"Any time we get an opportunity, we've got to take advantage of it. We fell short of that, but I don't see us falling short in the future. That's why I'm excited for the offseason and I'm ready to do whatever it takes to make sure that we take more positive strides next year."