TAMPA, Fla. (FOX 13) - New Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians and Jameis Winston go way back. As a kid, Winston would attend Arians' football camps in Alabama.
“I always looked him up when we played him and told him to keep on going and he’ll be fine,” Arians said during his introductory press conference Thursday. “This is actually the ring I showed him, I think, when he was in ninth or tenth grade. Evidentially it made an impression on him; he definitely made an impression on me in that football camp, that’s for sure.”
As Arians gets set to turn around a franchise that has not played in the postseason since the 2007 season, he'll zone in on Winston, who the Bucs say, will be the team's quarterback in 2019.
"He has accomplished more than most of the elite quarterbacks at his age," Bucs general manager Jason Licht said earlier this month.
In an appearance on the "Rich Eisen Show" Wednesday, Arians said he believes Winston has the qualities to lead the Bucs to the playoffs.
"I think he can win it all," he said. "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."
Arians also discussed Winston's off-the-field problems with Eisen. This season, Winston was suspended three games over allegations that he groped an Uber driver in 2016.
"I've known him for a long time," he told Eisen. "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."
Arians is known around the league as a "quarterback whisperer." He's worked with Super Bowl champions Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger and also coached Pro Bowl quarterbacks Carson Palmer and Andrew Luck.
Winston was number-one overall draft pick in 2015. Since then, he's thrown 88 touchdowns and 58 interceptions. But Arians has high expectations for his new quarterback.
“I want him to relax and play the game. Talent is no issue. It’s just becoming a little bit smarter. With Clyde Christiansen as his quarterback coach and Byron Leftwich, he’s going to be coached as well as he’s ever been, and more prepared than he’s ever been -- fundamentally and mentally” Ariand added. “It’s his team. And I’ll tell our players in the first meeting, it isn’t my team; it’s your team. You’ll be as good as you want to be.”