Jimbo Fisher: Jameis Winston's clutch factor like Joe Montana's

Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher says quarterback Jameis Winston's clutch factor rivals that of a certain Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback.

In an appearance on NFL Network's "NFL AM" on Wednesday, Fisher brought up Joe Montana as a comparison for Winston.

"There are certain guys you just don't want to play against," Fisher said. "It's not just 'Can he do it?' But there are certain guys you don't want to play against. When you ("NFL AM" co-host Eric Davis) played with Joe (Montana), if Joe got the ball at the end of the game, what was gonna happen? Your team was gonna win. That's what this guy does."

Winston guided FSU to seven wins by six or fewer points in 2014, when the Seminoles finished 13-1 and lost in a semifinal playoff game.

Fisher said opponents "do not want to give him the ball at the end of the game. He can take his game to another level, and more importantly, what he does -- which very few guys I've been around that do this -- he makes the guys around him better because he's on the field. They know if he's on the field and got the ball, they're gonna play their tails off. Because you know why? 'We can win.'"

Fisher acknowledged Winston's interceptions total -- 18, which tied for the second-most in the nation last season.

"You talk about mistakes, and you talk about interceptions -- and I've heard that -- well, let me ask you something: How do you make big plays if you don't take chances?" Fisher said. "Every play is not wide open, and you make mistakes.

"This year, some of it, he forced the ball. Some of it was not all him. It was young linemen in the middle missing blocks, having to get rid of the ball early, or young receivers ... they had to grow. He was playing chess, and they were playing checkers."

FSU lost two starting wide receivers off the 2013 national-title team, and other than senior Rashad Greene, the Seminoles had an inexperienced group of receivers that included true freshmen Travis Rudolph and Ermon Lane. In addition, despite returning four senior starters, the offensive line struggled until mid-November, when left tackle Cam Erving was moved to center and the line jelled.

While Fisher evoked memories of Montana, Montana did not arrive in the NFL with any character baggage and that is a big part of any Winston evaluation. Forget the interceptions total: It's the off-field stuff that gives teams the most pause about Winston.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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