Bucs' Jameis Winston working on checking down more

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Bruce Arians once coined the phrase "no risk it, no biscuit" to describe his offense. Taking over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, that mentality seemed to fit well with quarterback Jameis Winston's persona.

Entering a pivotal fifth year, however, Winston has been working on checking the ball down and practicing patience with the offense.

"Sometimes checking that ball down is the simple decision," Winston said, via the Tampa Bay Times. "It's about moving the chains. It's about a completion here and a completion there. And that's how you know the game really slows down is when you're able to do that, when it's just second nature."

Unstated in Arians' "no risk it, no biscuit" sentiment is that by stretching the field vertically, his offenses open up the underneath for running backs to feast. Arians' offenses have always deployed prolific pass-catching backs that take advantage of the space created.

For Winston, it will take a persistent mental tweak to get used to checking down quickly when the big play isn't there at the snap. Far too often in his first four seasons, the Bucs QB held on to the ball way too long, resulting in too many negative plays -- sacks and interceptions (58 INTS in 56 career games).

Winston insists switching his gunslinger mentality from missiles to guns won't be that difficult.

"It's not hard. It's challenging at times because in terms of just wanting to make a play," Winston said. "But that's part of growth at the quarterback position and part of the awareness of knowing when the defense did a great job. How can we protect us?"

Winston can protect the Bucs by not turning the ball over and not taking drive-killing sacks. The biggest issue with the big-armed signal-caller early in his on-field career has been gamely brain farts, in which Winston makes a boneheaded decision that costs his team.

The Bucs' new staff is trying to coach these issues out of Winston, starting with preaching that it's OK to take the dump-off.

"It ain't always a money throw for me," Bucs offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich said. "It's a money decision. And that's what that position is all about. Everybody wants to see the big 40-yard posts. Trust me, that's there. But that's not what we're going to ask Jameis to do every snap. What we're going to ask Jameis to do is put us in the right position. Make the right decision more than not."

If Winston makes the right decision more than not in 2019, perhaps he'll finally prove to be the franchise QB the Bucs used the No. 1 overall pick on. If so, he's in for a hefty pay raise in 2020. If the boneheaded decisions persist, Tampa might choose to move on next year.

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