It took Sammy Watkins to publicly demand more targets for the Buffalo Bills wide receiver to have his breakout performance through the second half of the season.
He promises to be heard from even more in 2016.
"For me, I need to become a more vocal leader, step up and talk. And that's something that I've got to get better at," Watkins said Monday during an appearance on "First Take" on ESPN2.
The former Clemson standout was part of the show's broadcast from Arizona, site of Monday night's college national championship game between his alma mater and Alabama.
"As a team, it needs to be more team-driven, not based on the coaches," Watkins said. "We need to control this team and come together as a group. And if anything happens or if the defense is doing bad, we need to address it. That's when we need to call people out, accountability, whatever we need to do, we need to get it done."
Asked what the Bills need to do most to improve on their 8-8 finish in 2015, Watkins said, "We've got to be a more disciplined team," although he didn't elaborate.
Here are some highlights from his interview:
(On demanding more targets) "It played out well. At the end of the day, it's a business, it's my career. And if you drafted up to get me (and) I'm not getting the ball, I mean, I'd rather go out with addressing the problem than (saying), 'Hey, either I'm in a good situation or bad situation' whether they got to get us the ball. Wideouts, they call us prima donnas and all that, but at the end of the day, we want to make a play and we want our opportunities."
(On what took him so long to speak out) "I just let it play out. It was different situations. We had a quarterback (Tyrod Taylor) that I hadn't been playing with and I missed preseason (with an injury), things like that. It was something I couldn't address. I missed a couple of games (while injured), and was frustrated, and I was like, 'Hey, I've got to come back on top.' I think I finished the season pretty solid."
(On the Bills' offense becoming more aggressive later in the season) "I think we picked it up at the end of the year. We did a lot of different things. We moved guys around from different positions. I had to learn three different positions just to hide myself from coverages. So, for me, it was kind of testing and different, but I just took accountability that, hey, I need to study more, get in the playbook. And at the end of the year, we just started passing the ball. We didn't have anything to lose trying to fight for the playoffs. Everybody was aggressive. I made sure everybody was aggressive and they made sure we (were) aggressive."
(On whether Tyrod Taylor is a franchise quarterback) "I'm sold, I'm definitely sold on him. He's just grown as a leader on our team. At first, he wasn't and now he's just come a long way with putting me in my place, putting the coaches, putting whoever needed to be put in their place. He's just a great guy to work with, and for me it was just doing the things that he liked and however I was going to get the ball, I needed to do it the way he liked it. He's an accurate thrower. I definitely think he can be the guy that we need and he's going to be elite."
(On the national championship game) "I've got Clemson winning, of course. It's going to be a tight game. I'll say, 24-17."