Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
A day after Tampa Bay’s deflating loss to the Los Angeles Rams, Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter let it be known that the decision not to stop the clock late in the game was completely on him.
About 15 precious seconds bled off the clock during the Bucs’ failed final drive, despite possessing two timeouts. Instead of stopping play at the end of running back Charles Sims’ reception with about 41 seconds left, Tampa Bay stayed on the field and didn’t get the next snap off until the clock was down 26 seconds.
As it was Sunday night after the loss, addressing that moment and asking if he would handle the situation differently was the first thing reporters asked Koetter to speak on Monday afternoon at One Buc Place. The first-year head coach came back with a lengthy, detailed response of the final drive.
“Oh, of course, of course,” Koetter said. “No one second-guesses my calls more than I do.
“So we had the weather delay, we go in, we think we’re going to get the ball back somewhere around the 35-yard line with one time out. They choose to throw the ball; they’re trying to end the game on that play. That was a choice they made and it saved us a time out. So we had our list of plays, we moved the ball down, we got off to a really good start, we’re in our 2-minute offense, we move the ball right down the field, we throw that ball to Charles Sims on the right sideline and we still got two timeouts. Charles absolutely does the right thing by going for yardage right there. I mean, he is so close to pulling out of that tackle and we’ve got Vince [Jackson] and Cam [Brate] ahead of him with one guy left. I mean, he pulls out of that last tackle, he’s going to score.”
From Raymond James Stadium immediately following the game last night, Koetter said his trust in the team’s 2-minute offense compelled him to keep the clock running at that moment. He went into further detail Monday.
“So at that point we have a guy in the press box keeping an eye on the clock management and he’s doing exactly what he’s supposed to do,” Koetter said. “He’s telling me time out, time out, time out. That’s 100-percent me. We had a play that I’d been wanting to get to the whole game in no-huddle that I thought had a chance to be the game-winner. I wanted to keep the defense from huddling, I wanted to keep them going. So I decided to not go with the time out and go with that play. We were a little bit slow lining up in between plays than we normally are in no-huddle, so it did cost us three or four extra seconds right there. We ran the play, it had a chance but we weren’t able to pull it off.”
The play went to Jackson at the front-right corner of the end zone and a better throw from quarterback Jameis Winston (coupled with an uncertain catch by the struggling veteran receiver) ends the game. Rams strong safety T.J. McDonald was bearing down on Jackson in the end zone but his only play on a catchable pass would have been to deliver a blow that knocked the ball loose. Cornerback Troy Hill and linebacker/safety Mark Barron were seven or more yards in front.
There was plenty of space to get Jackson the ball, but Koetter’s players failed to execute. Had they performed to expectations in that moment, clock management is a sidebar story, not a feature.
“After that point we still ran four more plays and we still had two timeouts and on two of those plays, actually the first two that we ran after that, Jameis has to make some tough decisions under pressure. But we were able to. Still, we had time to check the ball down and use timeouts if needed. The first play, Jameis took a shot in the back-left corner of the end zone to Vincent and then the next play, the one where we overthrew Charles Sims a little bit, was actually the same play that Charles scored on right before the half in Atlanta. Had we been able to get that ball to Chuck, I think he would have been able to get that ball down there pretty close, and, of course, we would have used a time out. When you go back and say woulda, coulda, shoulda, of course you can second-guess any call. And like I said, I beat myself up over that kind of stuff more than anyone else ever will. But when you’re going in the spur of the moment and you have just a couple of seconds to make it and I knew exactly why we were doing it, I have a lot of confidence in our no-huddle offense and the plays we have in there, so it just didn’t work out this time.”
I think he could have saved some energy and just said….yes, I messed up.
You didn’t read what he said. He clearly said it wasn’t just clock management, it was execution too.
Lessons for everyone involved , both on the sideline and on the field.
The most important thing, after this, only the 3rd game coached and played on the field by a new regime, will they see, analyze, adjust, and do better going forward?
People forget, or never knew, that our winning coach in Bucs franchise history, Tony Dungy, inherited a 7-9 team from the year before, then went on to lose his first 5 games as head coach, and lost 8 of his first 9 games in that 1996 season … and then Tony’s Bucs won 5 of their next 7 games to finish the season. The following season, Dungy’s Bucs went 10-6 and made a trip to the playoffs and won a wild card playoff game.
It’s hard as longsuffering Bucs fans to be told to remain patient, but that is what we have to do with a new coaching staff and many new and inexperienced players who are not playing anywhere nearly as well as they will in a couple or three more years. We have to be patient.
And given that Tony Dungy’s teams were most successful on defense, under Monte Kiffen as DC … it’s instructive that in their first season in 1996, Kiffen’s D gave up an average of 25 points a game the first five games (all losses) … and then in the remaining 11 games his defense averaged 13 points per game given up.
People expect instant success … it’s great when it happens (occasionally), but it’s not the norm … even when the coaches and players are developing an all-NFL defense as Dungy and Kiffen and Sapp and Brooks did in those days.
Yes, I agree. He blew it. Momentum my ass. Too important to save that time and maybe think about the play a bit. Hopefully he learned from this.
Yes Koetter, Aquaya, Mike Smith blew it.
Our brains are most affected by the last thing we saw and our most recent experience. Do not be misled! Clock management was poor – make no mistake about it. But it was the last thing we saw with the game hanging in the balance, but it was just one act in a four act play!
Our defense gave up too many big plays and is a sign of things to come. The Rams could not get close enough to kick a field goal or score one point on the hapless 49ers – a team I had penciled in as a Bucs win. Prior to playing us, the Rams in two games had never scored a TD. Granted DE Ayers was hurt, but where was DE Noah Spence – took just 12 snaps in the whole game. The Safety play was abysmal. In my mind, this was the most contributing factor in the loss.
Jameis Winston had a career day in some respects, but as usual in a big game a mistake or two can be fatal. Though not his fault entirely, 2 turnovers put 14 points on the board. LT Smith was beaten by Robert Quinn on the strip ball returned for a TD and a pass that caromed off the hands of RB Simms led to another score. Still a factor, but I would take Winston’s play all day every day!
Special Teams Kicking was a big time failure. You saw it so there’s no need to pile on. It needs to be fixed quick and in a hurry. Those missed points may have changed the game physically and psychologically!
That’s the whole play Mrs. Lincoln. A lot to think about. See the Gerber Poll.
Just an observation. Several Buc players bagging groceries Tuesday at various Publix stores around town after a horrific loss to the Rams seemed like poetic justice! lol
Can we please give Ryan Smith some playing time over the trash playing safety right now not like he can be worse
Good synopsis, macabee, as usual.
I would also take Winston’s play all day. Strip sacks happen to all QB’s and that’s the second pass Simms has let bounce off his hands for the second straight week. It’s beginning to happen to frequently. Also, as a third year pro he has yet learned how to move the ball to his protected side so he can deliver an effective straight arm. What’s up with that?
Defense, however, seems to be the main cause of defeat on Sunday. To let the Rams put up a 30 burger on us when they had only scored a combined 9 points previously in two games is outlandish.
Poor safety play is usually the result of a poor pass rush which we had very little of on Sunday and for the last 5 or 6 years.
The broken coverage on the first TD and the last however was safety originated though. Don’t know what Tandy was thinking but on the first TD Verner was obviously thinking he was going to get inside help and played it that way through his coverage but none appeared.
I was afraid this might happen during preseason. When you start using multiple coverages your communication has to be top flight or you saw what happened last Sunday when it isn’t.
Yep poor defense was reason we lost. Pass rush been issue for a decade and still is. With Ayers and Smith it was upgraded for sure and we saw it in Atlanta. We were also razor thin at so many positions and now we see what happens if lose couple DE’s nobody can even sniff the qb.
Yes, we need upgrade at safety also. Won’t beat a dead horse with the kicker but….could have got it this year.
I’m also getting irritated with Sims. He needs to catch the damn ball and quit tipping it to defenders! I don’t like the draft pick when we needed O line at the time. Didn’t like his running style. First year he got hurt and kind of stunk. Last year I had to eat some crow but he’s definitely looking like more 3rd down back and not much else as far as carrying a load or running between tackles which is fine I guess. Just need to pay him accordingly and have someone behind Martin that can carry the load, and For god sakes quit causing turnovers!
Fredster I agree with you completely in regards to our pass rush. I was ambivalent at best at first when Licht picked Arroyo but now I think it was a huge mistake. The kind that may cost him his job on top of the ASJ debacle. Of course my attitude might change if Arroyo starts hitting all of his kicks but that doesn’t seem likely although I hope it does.
In my last post I mentioned one of the safeties was at fault on the first TD pass but I just heard on Derrick Brooks’ Tampa 2 show that the defense that was called had Verner covering the WR one on one on the play.
Whether or not he got the 411 or not remains to be seen but he was definitely playing the wrong type of coverage on the play.
Whatever the case it still gets back to miscommunication and with all the multiple defenses the Bucs supposedly play, I mentioned this as one of my main concerns back during training camp.
Fredster, I am also distressed by Sims’ copper hands which appear at inopportune moments. He also tries to juke and stutter to much in the backfield. Make one cut and go is the rule of thumb in the NFL in the backfield.
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