Lets begin with a preface:
- This season is over, the Bucs are not making the playoffs. However, that doesn’t mean tune out. There is a lot at stake.
- I’m a Bucs historian, Ive studied, followed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers since week 2 of 1979; There are people who know more about the Bucs locker room than I do, but there is only a handful who know the BUCS ORGANIZATION’s history like I do, and so that is the basis of this article.
- It wont be short, so cop a squat and get your read on!
RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW
The concept that Dirk Koetter was the driving force behind the Bucs turning the corner, winning 5 games in a row, is pure fantasy. Jameis Winston started to take over this team right about the same time, and it’s not obvious this team ebbs and flows as Winston does. For all the good Dirk Koetter did as Offensive Coordinator in 2015 setting Bucs records, when he became the Head Coach he added on a world of responsibility he has never had to accept before and the offense hasn’t been the same since.
The Saints game didn’t spiral out of control until Jameis Winston was taken out of the game with his injury. The score was 3-9 and the Bucs defense was getting pressure on Brees on this particular series, sacking him on 2nd down. But rather than get off the field on 3rd down, Brees hits TE Cody Fleener for over 30 yards. After that Kamara scores easy when Safety Evans whiffs on a tackle of his foot. Then..
- Fitzpatrick goes 3 and out
- RB Ingram 30 yard run, RB Kamara 10 yards, Thomas 10 yard catch, 2 plays later Kamara goes in for TD untouched. 3-23
- Howard fumbles the ball
- 1 play later Ginn TD
Very immature of the defense to collapse like that when things start to go bad, on a defense with a veteran presence at every level, and then thats it: game over- 30-3; Fat lady belts one to the front row in F minor.
Frustration set in; Where does the immaturity come from? Their leader, Winston.
You have to keep things in proper perspective. Jameis Winston is the No.2 QB in the league with 60 TD passes from QBs under the age of 24. The other plays tonight, Detroit’s Mathew Stafford. At 24 years of age, WR Mike Evans is the Senior of the Duo who set off fireworks in the dome Sunday while Winston is still 23 years of age. Think about that for a minute: when Drew Brees was taken as a Free Agent by the Saints in 2006, Winston was not even a Teenager (12). When Brees was drafted by the Chargers in 2001 to begin his career Jameis Winston was 7 years old, Mike Evans was 8.
Both of these players will be fine, not to take away from what they did; Evans should have been ejected, and the Bucs should suspend Evans one game so the lesson sticks. Mike Evans is a good guy, he does not want to earn a rap as a dirty player, nor do I think he will. For his role in the altercation, Winston was frustrated to not be able to do anything about the situation; his team, his players, and now he’s helpless, and so he reacted. Mike Evans may not have seen Winston’s point/finger push, so he was reacting to make sure he has his QB’s back. Without justifying or making excuses, listening to the clip, there were 20 seconds expired from play clock when you hear the crowd start to react. Saints DB Lattimore HAD TO STILL BE on the Bucs sideline when the 40 second clock was halfway done, your team should be getting ready to punt..What are you doing on the Bucs sideline? Jameis Kindly gave him directions to the New Orleans sideline 🙂 This is the second time, last year Winston Head butted a Dallas Cowboy (that actually made it funny, being the cowboys) during a frustrating time of the game. He will grow from the experience, but we learned a lot about this team.
Because the Saints were playing football, the Bucs were playing follow the leader. And by doing so, immaturity begot immaturity, and before you knew it, the Bucs quit (temporarily). Jameis/Evans incident fired up the Bucs sideline, and while its great Jameis is the emotional and spiritual leader of the team, its Dirk Koetter’s team first, or at least its supposed to be. The fact that its not, that he always seems to be clueless or too busy while the team is going through something, is another indication something is wrong.
Another sign of immaturity, not being able to handle the situation: Being favored, being the favorite.
This offseason after going 9-7, Every media outlet in the country fingered the Bucs to go to the Playoffs this year, and have a winning record. It was repeated over and over and over. The Bucs soaked it in, and the Bucs fans fed into it.
We know from last year they got cocky after the opening week win at Atlanta, and then were humiliated at Arizona. Going 2-1 and knowing full well they would be undefeated if they had a kicker against New England. But when things dont go their way, this Bucs team throws a tantrum. So either stick a pacifier in their mouth or give them a big grown up grow up lesson!
Sit Evans for a game. Sit Jameis until his shoulder is better.
ONE COACH, ONE JOB
Head Coaching responsibilities are no joke, and when they were added to Koetter’s resume, it may have simply been too much for him if he cant seem to focus on more than O.C. duties. Its with great pleasure that I read Pewter Report’s Scott Reynolds urge for calm and NOT rushing out to fire Koetter, but rather its time for him to give play calling to an offensive coordinator. Jon Gruden had one, so can Mr.Koetter.
IT STARTS AT THE TOP
Speaking of immaturity, lets get on the owners a bit here, something I never do. IF Dirk Koetter is fired this year, the next Head Coach will be the 6th in 11 years. Congratulations Glazers, you got a 2 for 1 deal. You bought the Bucs and the Cleveland Browns came with it.
Thats not how you get ahead in the NFL, you get ahead with consistency. Green Bay Packers, Dallas Cowboys, Pittsburgh Steelers, heck whose always at the top of our division? Either Saints Payton or Panthers Rivera, and with Fox before him, Fixtures in the NFL. Dirk Koetter is capable of learning how to be an excellent head coach, he has one on his staff with a headset on up in the booth in the form of the greatest Atlanta Falcons head coach in that teams history. All Mike Smith ever did for Atlanta was break a 3 decade drought of any back to back winning seasons for the Falcons.
The firing, if it happens, will show an immaturity in the boys that their dad who will be immortalized on the walls of Raymond James Stadium, never showed. He fired Tony Dungy after 4 consecutive years of starting out 3-4 and having to push to get into a higher seed. The Bucs defense was always stellar at home, imagine how many Championship or Super Bowls the Bucs could have been in had they opened with a home playoff game in Divisional round? But Mr. Glazer made the right choice rather than make a hasty pick. He checked with great minds in the NFL. The boys consulted facebook.
A few years ago, Koetter was on the wrong side of 55 when the younger Glazers/Bucs hired him, in an age when 35-45 year olds are finding success in the NFL with new minds, new ideas, new concepts; the Bucs hire an old mind who doesn’t like, look at, or pay attention to analytics because “He knows what his eyes see”… So do the fans Mr. Koetter. This is a day and age when fantasy sports is golden, the average fan watching TV with his Daily Fantasy slate in front of him knows more about 3rd WR Adam Humphries mismatch with his Saints counterpart more than the head coach? could it be?
Most people will recognize and agree that Lovie Smith was also a Lazy, Safe pick, but would Lovie have gone along with GM Jason Lichts trade up to get a kicker? Lets remember that Lovie Smith abandoned his DEFENSIVE background and drafted ALL OFFENSE in his first draft with the Bucs, and the second draft was also ALL OFFENSE (minus one defensive player (Kwon Alexander). The next draft was supposed to be all defense, or it should have been if not for Lovie not being here to make it.
Jason Licht is not without a little fire on his pants. He’s had some great moves here, of course its hard to fail when your picks are Mike Evans, Jameis Winston, Ali Marpet. OH WAIT… you CAN fail. There are serious question marks on player personnel decisions. Not getting any Wide Receivers last year, Doug Martins 4 of 6 years of failure at Running back, Failing with Austin Sefarian Jenkins while the TE goes on to the Jets and has a productive season…. catching balls from Josh McCown! There are many many more!
You can move an up and coming star at Guard over to Center even though he has never played a single down at Center in his life. Not even High School. Has Marpet done poorly at Center? Im not sure, but the O line has not set the NFL on fire thats for sure. Too many what ifs, and Bucs are going to be on the clock again for sure if they continue to lose, sooner rather than later on draft day and DEFENSE is where they need help. That, and an offensive coordinator that can focus JUST on the offense.
THERE IS A LOT TO PLAY FOR
Do not put it past these Bucs to overcome and finish with an 8-8 record. The team did not give up another point to the Saints who were so furious behind their coach that they wanted to run the score up some more. Or.. they could quit.
That is the reason to tune in, because in between the extreme, is the Bucs go 4-12 or worse and that means heads will roll. Whose head, and how far they roll, can make a big difference in the future of this franchise for years to come.
And if the Bucs do fire Koetter again, they are basically admitting they cannot hire coaches. Its time for the Tampa Bay Area to thank the Glazers for their wonderful presence in the Tampa Bay Area… but its time for them to admit they are not capable of providing for their businesses customer base all that they deserve.
Time heals all wounds, and Winning heals everything. Jameis Winston and Mike Evans and the rest of the Bucs will grow up, they probably started that process that last night after contemplation. With the Jets, Dolphins and Packers (minus Rodgers) coming up over the next 4 weeks, anything is possible.