"Jameis Winston, who was supposed to be pro-ready, is not playing at an NFL level at all," Tarkenton said in an interview Thursday on 620 WDAE in Tampa. "And he needs to get his act together."
Tarkenton, a former quarterback who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1986, shared his criticism after Winston's worst game as a professional. The rookie completed 26 of 43 passes for 287 yards with two touchdowns and four interceptions in a loss to the Carolina Panthers in Week 4. Winston also failed to collect a snap from center Joe Hawley on the game's second offensive play.
In all, Winston's mishaps led to 27 points for Carolina as Tampa Bay fell to 1-3.
Tarkenton has been critical of Winston before. After Marcus Mariota -- selected one spot after Winston in the draft -- starred in the Tennessee Titans' victory over the Bucs in Week 1, Tarkenton told the Tennesseean that Winston "was a deer in the headlights. He was uncomfortable. He didn't know where to go with the football. He threw his first pass for a pick-six."
On Thursday, it seemed clear that Winston has done little to change Tarkenton's opinion of him.
"He's an NFL quarterback," Tarkenton, who was also critical of Houston's Ryan Mallett, said on 620 WDAE. "People are playing a lot of money to come to the games. People expect, if you can walk on the field, you're an NFL-ready player or you shouldn't be on the field. And Jameis needs to play better than that because if your quarterback doesn't play at a certain level, your team has no chance to win."