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Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Jameis Winston (3) looks to pass against the Carolina Panthers during the second half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Dec. 24, 2017. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn)

Mike McCarn/Associated Press

Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Todd Monken believes quarterback Jameis Winston should tone things down a bit as he approaches his fourth season in the NFL.

The thing is what I’ve seen, irrespective of the physical stuff on the field, let’s not try so hard,” Monken said Thursday, per the Tampa Bay TimesRick Stroud. “He’s got natural leadership qualities. A toughness about him. Guys want to follow him. It’s okay to fail. He’s human. It’s okay to be hurt. It’s okay to have that side of you. Let’s just go. You don’t have to try so hard. Guys will follow you. Just be yourself.”

Stroud questioned Monken about whether his comments were referencing in part “pregame, rah-rah stuff,” to which Monken responded affirmatively. 

Winston’s pregame speech before a 30-10 loss to the New Orleans Saints in Week 9 immediately came to mind as an example about what Monken was referring to. Winston raised eyebrows by telling his teammates to “eat a W,” which Fox Sports: NFL shared in November:

Regardless of how they do it, Monken and Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter need to help Winston become a true franchise quarterback.

He battled a shoulder injury in 2017 that forced him to miss three games in 2017, so his 3,504 passing yards and 19 touchdowns were both career lows. He did, however, complete a career-high 63.8 percent of his passes and rank a respectable 11th in DYAR (defense-adjusted yards above replacement) among qualified quarterbacks, per Football Outsiders.

Still, Winston isn’t quite where many expected him to be after he was a Pro Bowler in his rookie year, and the Bucs could have a difficult decision about his long-term future with the team.

Tampa Bay picked up his fifth-year option for 2019, which will cost $ 20.9 million. Winston becomes a free agent after that, by which point the Buccaneers may expect some improvement before they feel comfortable committing to a massive extension.

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