The Buccaneers showed us the glimpses of what their future could be -- even when a sea of yellow and a rolled ankle reminded us that, for now, it's still more of the light at the end of the tunnel.
Rookie quarterback Jameis Winston was sharp in his first home start, despite having some nice plays wiped away by his teammates' errors. Winston even got banged up along the way, too.
All in an August night's work for a No. 1 overall pick. Before the game, Bucs coach Lovie Smith explained why Winston was ahead of the curve for a rookie.
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"He's handled everything we've given him so far," Smith said in an interview. "That's about all you can ask for right now."
Smith also said Winston looks like a natural leader. You can see below that he's already running the show in the pregame.
Winston's poise was evident on the first drive, which couldn't have gone any better for the Bucs and Winston.
The rookie was 3 for 3 for 27 yards and capped the drive with 1-yard touchdown where he got creamed going over the pylon. Winston showed ability to go through his progressions, especially on a check-down to running back Doug Martin for a gain of 9 yards.
"It's not too big for him," wide receiver Vincent Jackson said later during a TV interview. "You can see that he comes out here and he's composed. ... The way Jameis has taken hold of this offense it's been fun."
Winston certainly looked better when he got some help.
Martin, who had 61 total yards on the first drive, looked like the runner he was when he burst on the scene in 2012 to the tune of 1,454 yards and 11 scores. In the past two seasons, Martin has just 950 yards and three scores. If he can return to form, Winston won't have to win games with just his arm.
The drive went 80 yards in eight plays in 4:06. For his first drive in front of his new home fans, it seemed to be right out of a Hollywood script. Or, well, offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter's script.
The Bucs looked to continue their mojo on the second drive, but Winston overthrew receiver Mike Evans on a deep play-action pass that could have gone for a touchdown. Still, it showed Winston wasn't afraid to challenge the defense.
On the next snap, offensive pass interference by Jackson called back a play where Winston scrambled to his left and made a pinpoint throw to the sideline. That wiped out a 17-yard gain. That was one of six offensive penalties the Bucs had while Winston was in the game.
The flags negated positive gains four times and wiped out momentum for the rookie quarterback and the offense.
Winston finished the night 8 for 13 for 90 yards through the air, but none of his completions were prettier than a first-and-20 seam pass to Russell Shepard for 22 yards.
Asked what Winston's best quality is, Jackson said: "His intelligence. His football IQ is amazing."
In his first game, against the Vikings, Winston got off to a rough start but finished strong. He was 9 of 19 for 131 yards and one interception, but Winston completed 5 of 6 passes for 64 yards and finished a drive with an 8-yard TD run.
"He made the right checks and things like that, looked comfortable in the pocket, especially at the end," Smith said after that game.
Winston did that again for an abbreviated stint on Monday night. And Tampa Bay can't wait until it can see him do it for four quarters.