Win­ston ex­pected to im­prove on deep passes

Tampa Bay Times - - Bucs -

TAMPA — Even though he has the arm for it, the long ball was one of Jameis Win­ston’s short­com­ings.

But deep passes, de­fined as trav­el­ing at least 20 yards through the air, will be back for the Bucs this sea­son.

Tampa Bay was the only team in the NFL that didn’t have an of­fen­sive play of 50 yards or more last sea­son. That led to the sign­ing of WR DeSean Jack­son to a three-year, $30.5 mil­lion con­tract with $20 mil­lion guar­an­teed.

Jack­son was one of the best home-run hit­ters in 2016 with 16 re­cep­tions of at least 20 yards.

A year ago, Win­ston com­pleted 22 of 69 deep passes for 646 yards and 11 touch­downs. Six of those passes were in­ter­cepted, but some of those throws — like one in Week 16 at New Or­leans — were the re­sult of a poor de­ci­sion.

Most of those plays were in­tended for Mike Evans, who has good speed but wins with his size and strength. Evans will still get his share of deep balls.

Quar­ter­backs coach Mike Ba­jakian says Win­ston has worked to im­prove on the deep ball, but there still are routes that need work.

“Hav­ing a guy like DeSean Jack­son who can run it down, es­pe­cially on the deep balls, gives you a lit­tle more mar­gin for er­ror in that you can throw it fur­ther out there and know he’s go­ing to run after it,” Ba­jakian said.

Jack­son has im­pressed play­ers and coaches with his rare abil­ity to track the foot­ball in the air with­out los­ing speed.

“It’s un­be­liev­able. And he can do it with­out break­ing stride,” Ba­jakian said. “Even when he has to turn his head.”

The Bucs did not at­tempt a deep ball to Jack­son in the pre­sea­son. He ran mostly curls, hitches and var­i­ous in-routes.

“What we have seen so far, we like,” of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor/re­ceivers coach Todd Monken said. “Now we’ve got to do it on Sun­day.”

Bucs

RICK STROUD

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