Dirk Koetter and his franchise quarterback struggled in Sunday’s loss to the Dallas Cowboys. Will they ever get it right?
As the season comes to a close, the two biggest question marks revolving the Tampa Bay Buccaneers future are head coach Dirk Koetter and quarterback Jameis Winston.
For Koetter, he is on one of the hottest seats in the NFL. The Bucs will likely move on from Koetter after three seasons without a playoff berth. Reports are brewing about his future, but it’s hard to imagine the Glazers keeping the same regime around for another season.
In Winston’s case, his mediocre play and lack of winning could turn off the next regime. Despite his exceptional stats, Winston’s knack for turning the ball over continues to haunt a talented offense.
With the spotlight shining directly on them against the Dallas Cowboys, Koetter and Winston showed precisely why they might never be part of a winning team in Tampa Bay.
The key word in the previous sentence, “might.”
Both could stick around and end up finally turning the franchise around. However, on Sunday they gave every indication that they are not going to be able to right the ship.
The blame for the Bucs most recent loss should lie on Koetter, who mismanaged the clock and was unable to find a way for Tampa Bay’s offense to get in the end zone.
Tampa Bay opened the first quarter on fire. The offense moved the ball rapidly down the field against what many considered to be a top-five defense in the NFL.
However, the Bucs were undisciplined. The offensive line continued to rack up penalties, including four in the first quarter. Instead of red zone opportunities, Tampa had to settle for long field goals.
The lack of discipline from a veteran offensive line is inexcusable. The players need to be held accountable. This isn’t a one-time issue either. Throughout the season the offensive line has single-handedly sabotaged drives.
Koetter can either hold his players to a higher standard or make offensive line coach George Warhop face the consequences. In all, Tampa finished with nine total penalties including a couple of back-breaking calls to set up Winston in long yardage circumstances.
More from The Pewter Plank
- Devin White posts cryptic message to Lavonte David on Twitter
- ESPN predicts surprising outcome to Devin White trade saga
- Updated Buccaneers depth chart after signing two players from rookie minicamp
- Todd Bowles sends clear message about Baker Mayfield’s role with Bucs
- The Athletic is wrong about Bucs one ‘must-watch’ game in 2023
The most aggravating aspect of Koetter’s performance on the sidelines came at the end of the game. Tampa Bay faced a fourth-and-goal at the one-yard line. As the play clock ran down, neither Winston nor Koetter had any idea that it was about to hit zero. Just feet from paydirt, the Bucs had to move back five yards.
A simple timeout would have given Tampa Bay time to settle themselves and get their best play call prepared with the game on the line.
Mistakes like that shouldn’t happen to third-year head coaches and fourth-year quarterbacks. That is why the Buccaneers sit with another terrible record. They lack attention to detail.
Most of the Bucs problems on Sunday were caused by themselves. The defense kept a lid on Ezekiel Elliot and Amari Cooper. The offense gained 383 total yards. But the Bucs still lost because of self-inflicted wounds.
Tampa Bay’s two turnovers, two failed red zone trips, and penalties all played a role in another painful loss for the Buccaneers faithful.
Winston deserves some share of the blame as well for the loss. The 24-year-old was slammed to the turf by Randy Gregory on a blindside hit, and Winston fumbled the ball. Jaylon Smith would take it 69-yards to the house for a Cowboys score.
Winston tried to play hero ball and make something out of nothing. Instead, Dallas would quickly grow their lead to double-digits. Tampa was behind the eight-ball immediately.
Not understanding the consequences of massive turnovers like that one is mind-boggling. In year four, Winston needs to realize that throwing the ball away or just tucking it and scrambling is the right move. While it may not look like much, it avoids costly mistakes like that.
On the surface, it may seem like nitpicking, but these are issues that have followed both player and coach for years. It looks like a revolving door. The same problems recycled over and over again, ending in sub .500 seasons and meaningless December football.
Winston and Koetter were fighting for their futures in Tampa Bay. Winston may have a longer leash, but if Sunday was any indication, the Koetter-Winston era needs to end.