For Jameis Winston, confidence has never been an issue. But it's impossible for a rookie to have the same outlook as a player who's started more than 30 games in the NFL. With two years of starting experience under his belt, Winston is looking at the 2017 season in a different light.
"I would say Jameis is different in that he knows he can play in the NFL," Head Coach Dirk Koetter said. "He knows he can be a successful player. Jameis – no one has higher expectations for his performance than he does. I mean, he's aiming to be elite, not just one of 32. And because he has such high expectations, and we have high expectations, it's a never-ending process. We're hard on Jameis and he's hard on himself. Always improving, but not where it needs to be.
"What's changed is, when you come into the league as a rookie, you had great success in college but you're playing with grown men now. There's just a lot more thrown at you. The disguise is so much different, the way the defense looks. He's been through 32 NFL starts. Experience is the best teacher, we've talked about this before. The Tom Bradys and Matt Ryans of the world have got a lot of reps on Jameis."
Winston has plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the Buccaneers' chances, including a receiving corps considered to be one of the most feared in the league. He has two new targets – wide receiver DeSean Jackson and tight end O.J. Howard – to compliment a group that already had one of the best wide receivers in the game.
And for the most part, the core of the Buccaneers' offense is young. Winston and Mike Evans are both 23 while Howard is 22. Two of the Buccaneers' starting offensive linemen – Donovan Smith and Ali Marpet – are under 24 and Doug Martin is just one year removed from signing a five-year contract. With each year, Winston grows a little bit. It'll only help that he's doing so with the same group for the next several years.