Bucs QB Jameis Winston was trying to hit Cameron Brate with the game-winning touchdown catch
SR’s Fab 5 is a collection of inside scoop, analysis and insight from yours truly, PewterReport.com publisher and Bucs beat writer Scott Reynolds. Here are a few things that caught my attention this week at One Buc Place and around the NFL:
FAB 1. INSIDE THE BUCS’ 2-MINUTE DRILL VS. RAMS
Admit it – you thought the Buccaneers were going to come back and beat the Rams.
Maybe not trailing by five points, 37-32, with two minutes left during the hour-long weather delay, but after the Bucs got the ball back at their own 45-yard line following an incomplete pass on third-and-11 and a punt you did – especially with two timeouts, right?
Once Tampa Bay got down to the Los Angeles 27 with 54 seconds left it seemed like Jameis Winston was going to do something special and pull out a miracle win in the team’s 2016 home opener. After the hour-long rain delay, I had some concerns about him starting off slow – as he is prone to do – once the players retook the field. I wondered if the final two minutes of the game would be like the first two minutes of the game for Winston and his slow starts.
Three straight completions to Vincent Jackson for 16 yards, to Adam Humphries for six yards and to running back Charles Sims for seven yards seemed to ease those concerns. But after a 12-yard catch down to the Rams 15, Sims didn’t get out of bounds and the Bucs failed to call timeout.
Bucs QB Jameis Winston and RB Charles Sims – Photo by: Getty Images
The reason why was because Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter had a special play dialed up that would have produced the game-winning touchdown and he wanted to keep the Rams in their Cover 2 defense by not calling a timeout and giving Los Angeles time to regroup and rethink their red zone defense.
More on that in a minute.
Let’s stick with Winston’s play down the stretch.
It wasn’t good, and the second-year quarterback admitted it after Sunday’s loss.
“The defense did a great job of getting us the ball back – great situation for us,” Winston said. “I’ve just got to complete the football. I missed too many targets and in moments like that, you’ve got to make those completions.”
When asked what was missing for the Bucs to get over the hump and win games like Sunday’s, Winston pointed the finger at himself.
“I think this game in particular, just quarterback play,” Winston said. “I’ve got to complete the football. That’s the main thing. I had Vincent Jackson wide open for a touchdown in the corner of the end zone. That’s just pitch and catch. I had Vincent Jackson wide open for another big completion. That’s just pitch and catch – I overthrew him. I had Charles Sims coming over on the check down – overthrew him. But I’m going to get better, I’m going to get better, I guarantee you. I guarantee you I’m going to get better.”
The excitable Winston has a tendency to get too amped up at times and it affects his accuracy. The team counted seven overthrown passes in the Rams game – four of which happened on Winston’s final four throws with the game on the line.
“Jameis actually made some really good throws in there and when you know that you need a touchdown, you sometimes have a tendency to throw the ball too hard and I thought maybe Jameis tried to throw the ball too hard a couple times and when you try to throw it too hard, it’ll sail on you a little bit,” Koetter said.
Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
What he meant by “good throws” is that Winston was making the right decisions with the ball. It’s just that his passes were too high.
Would a timeout by Koetter have helped calm Winston down a bit? Perhaps. That’s been talked about at One Buccaneer Place this week.
But Koetter had a play set up that would have won the game and wanted to keep the Rams playing Cover 2, which is why he didn’t call timeout after Sims’ 12-yard gain down to the 15 with about 40 seconds left. By the time the Bucs got the next snap off, the game clock was down to 26 seconds.
“We’re in our two-minute offense, we move the ball right down the field,” Koetter said. “We throw that ball to Charles Sims on the right sideline and we’ve still got two timeouts. Charles absolutely does the right thing by going for yardage right there. He is so close to pulling out of that tackle and we’ve got [wide receiver Vincent Jackson] and [tight end Cameron Brate] ahead of him with one guy left. He pulls out of that last tackle, he’s going to score.”
Koetter said his game management coach Andrew Weidinger was calling for the timeout when Sims failed to get out of bounds.
First and 10 at Rams 27 – incomplete pass to Vincent Jackson, who takes an inside release on the CB to set up a possible game-winning play two plays later
“So at that point, we have a guy in the press box that’s keeping an eye on the clock management,” Koetter said. “He was doing exactly what he was supposed to do. He was telling me, ‘Timeout, timeout, timeout.’ That’s 100 percent me. We had a play that I’d been wanting to get to the whole game in no-huddle and 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 timeout and go with that play. We were a little bit slower 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, thought it had a chance, we weren’t able to pull it off.”
That play would have been the game-winning touchdown if Winston had been more accurate. Koetter set that play up against the Rams’ Cover 2 two plays earlier when Winston missed Jackson with a high pass around the 10-yard line in front of the safety. The key was Jackson getting an inside release and working straight down the numbers painted on the field behind the cornerback, who had the flat area and had to come up and defend tight end Cameron Brate. This is a classic “2 beater” play against Cover 2.
On first and 10 at the Rams 15, Jackson takes an outside release on the CB on this Cover 2 beater
After Sims’ 12-yard gain, the Bucs hurried to the line and called a similar play out of the same formation with Brate heading to the flat to occupy the corner in Cover 2, but this time, Jackson didn’t go inside the cornerback. He went outside the cornerback down the sidelines towards the front right pylon.
The Rams safety now had more ground to cover racing to the sidelines and Jackson was open in front of the pylon for a touchdown in another classic “2 beater” play. Unfortunately for Tampa Bay, Winston’s pass sailed high and out of bounds, leaving just 21 seconds left.
After a costly five-yard penalty on left tackle Donovan Smith pushed the ball back five yards to the Los Angeles 20 with 14 seconds left, Winston threw his worst pass of the game, overthrowing Sims across the middle and leaving nine seconds on the clock.
Jackson gets by the CB, who has to pick up Cameron Brate in Cover 2, and beats the safety to the pylon but the ball is overthrown
“The one where we overthrew Charles Sims a little bit – actually is the same play that Charles scored on right before the half in Atlanta,” Koetter said. “Had we been able to get the ball to Chuck, I think he would’ve had a chance to get that ball down there pretty close, and of course, we would’ve used a timeout. But when you go back and say, ‘Would’ve, could’ve, should’ve,’ of course you can second guess any call that doesn’t work, you can second guess it.
“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 [a decision] and I knew exactly why we were doing it. I have a lot of confidence in our no-huddle offense and in the plays we have in there, so it just didn’t work out this time.”
When Winston was accepting blame for the Bucs’ loss during his post-game press conference it was hard to believe him. Afterall, he had just thrown for a career-high 405 yards with three touchdowns and had helped the offense complete 50 percent of its third downs while rolling up 472 yards.
But watching the film over the final two minutes sheds light on what he was saying. Winston was 4-of-9 (44.4 percent) for 41 yards on Tampa Bay’s final drive, including going 1-of-6 for 12 yards on his final six throws against Los Angeles.
“We had a lot of time left,” Winston said. “We had a lot of time left. Chuck, he made a good play. He got us that first down, which was needed. I’ve just got to hit open guys.”
Winston could have won the game – and not with an amazing scramble on the last play of the game. But with an accurate throw to Jackson with 21 seconds left, or an accurate toss to Sims with 14 seconds remaining.
“I know I was ready, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to complete the football,” Winston said.
If he does, the Bucs win and improve to 2-1 no matter how bad Tampa Bay’s defense is playing right now.
Should Koetter have called timeout? If Winston is accurate with his pass to Jackson, Koetter looks like a genius.
But in hindsight after Winston’s erratic throw, maybe it was better to use the timeout there. Not just to stop the clock – but to stop Winston’s adrenaline from taking over at a critical juncture of the game.
FAB 2. INSIDE THE BUCS’ FINAL PLAY AGAINST THE RAMS
Tampa Bay could have won the game against Los Angeles on the final play.
I’m not talking about the play where Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston couldn’t find an open receiver and scrambled 10 yards to the Rams’ 5-yard line before being tackled as time expired in L.A.’s 37-32 victory at Raymond James Stadium.
I’m talking about the untimed down that never happened because the officials blew an easy call.
Rams NT Michael Brockers drops into coverage on the final play as the Rams rush 3 DL
With four seconds left in regulation at the Rams’ 15-yard line, the Bucs had wide receiver Mike Evans lined up on the right side of the field with Vincent Jackson out wide to Winston’s left with Adam Humphries in between Jackson and tight end Cameron Brate, who was in the slot. Running back Charles Sims lined up to Winston’s right and stayed in to help pass protect.
At the snap, the Rams rushed three defensive linemen and dropped nose tackle Michael Brockers dropped into coverage along with seven other defenders. Eight Rams versus four eligible Buccaneers in the end zone are not exactly favorable odds for Tampa Bay.
What made it worse was that Brockers went straight for Brate, who 15 yards up-field and then cut in to the middle of the end zone was trying to get in between the Rams’ two deep safeties. The two collided at the goal line and Brockers clearly impeded Brate’s path.
An obvious illegal contact call was missed. It wasn’t a pass interference call because Winston never threw the ball.
Brockers runs straight for Cameron Brate and collides into him, disrupting Brate’s route to the middle of the end zone
“Yeah I don’t understand,” Brate said. “That should’ve been a penalty because Jameis wasn’t even … I don’t know the exact rules on that but I know they can get their hands on you once the quarterback rolls out, but he was still in the pocket.”
The officials missed an illegal contact penalty that had the Bucs seething after watching the film after the game. An illegal contact penalty would have given Tampa Bay five more yards, and another untimed down.
“I was more so trying to clear it out that play for someone else, but that would’ve been cool if they called a penalty and gave us another shot,” Brate said.
Brate may not have been the primary receiver on that play, but the film shows Winston was looking his way the entire time because the other receivers were double covered. Once Brockers hit Brate and prevented him from getting to an opening in the middle of the field, Winston was forced to scramble.
Brate was surprised when he saw Brockers come towards him in coverage.
“Yeah, definitely,” Brate said. “That concept, you kind of can use it all throughout the field – three receivers on the side, and we’re trying to clear up some space in the middle for an easier throw. We knew it was going to be a contested ball, if we got that pass off. They ended up dropping eight, I’m pretty sure. The D-tackle came out, so once I came out of my break I saw No. 90 – he’s huge and he ended up colliding with me. I’m pretty sure that’s a penalty, and once Jameis started rolling out I kind of could see that he was being chased from behind and thought it probably wasn’t going to end well. And it didn’t.”
Brockers has his back turned to Jameis Winston, who is still in the pocket and behind the line of scrimmage, and runs into Brate
An untimed down at the Rams’ 10-yard line would have increased the odds of Tampa Bay winning rather than from the 15-yard line because Winston, who is an effective scrambler, has more of a run-pass option. Winston’s highlight reel touchdown leap against the New York Giants came on a 10-yard run.
In fact, a miniature replica of Tampa Bay’s new BucVision6 video board featuring Winston’s rushing TD against the Giants was the giveaway to fans who attended the 2016 home opener.
“In that moment I’ve just got to give somebody a chance in the end zone,” Winston said. “But when I saw them drop basically the whole team, I was like, ‘Man, let’s see what we can do.’
“That was just dumb on my part. That was bad. I’ve got to get somebody a chance there.”
Alas, no penalty was called, likely because there were a total of 12 players in end zone and the officials couldn’t keep track of all the action, so Winston was left to try to scramble for a 15-yard touchdown before being tackled from behind by defensive end Robert Quinn.
“There are a lot of things about that drive that’s frustrating because I really believed we were going to win that game, I really did,” said Bucs offensive coordinator Todd Monken.
One of those frustrating things was an egregious illegal contact penalty that could have given the Bucs one more chance to win – but it wasn’t called.
FAB 3. BUCS DON’T HAVE ENOUGH TALENTED WINNERS ON THIS TEAM YET
There is no way out.
There are no shortcuts.
If the Bucs want to change their losing culture the only thing they can do is learn how to win. And then do it again. And again.
In order to learn how to win, you just have to win. Then you have to be able to handle the success that comes from winning. And prove you can win again.
New Tampa Bay head coach Dirk Koetter correctly identified the team’s problem following a 37-32 loss to Los Angeles in the 2016 home opener in a game in which the Bucs had a 20-10 lead in the second quarter.
“The lesson our team needs to learn is that every week is a battle and it doesn’t matter who the other team is,” Koetter said. “Our culture is not where it needs to be and that starts with me. I am the head of that so I am putting that squarely on my shoulders. There is something about our culture, I wish I could grab it, I’ve been on teams that have had it and you don’t want to let go of it but when you don’t have it is hard to figure out what it is but there’s something in our culture and it’s my job to fix it, along with the coaches, of letting games like this get away. Please understand that takes nothing away from the Rams because the Rams executed their game plan. I am concerned with what our team does and we just have to get over that hump, and we’re not there.”
Koetter addressed his “culture” comments again on Monday the day after the loss that dropped Tampa Bay to 1-2 on the season.
“Talking about the culture of our football team, I’m not talking about our organization, I’m not talking about ownership, I’m not talking about this building, I’m not talking about our fans, I’m talking about the 53 players, the 10 practice squad guys and however many coaches we have,” Koetter said. “The guys that are coming up with the game plan, putting the game plan together and trying to execute the game plan. The best teams that I’ve been on beat with one heart and they count on the guy next to them to do their job every time and they win and lose together. And maybe our fans have cheered for a team like that at one point.
“Hopefully all of our players have played on a team [like that]. I know when I’ve been on teams like that, you can feel it and man, you want to grab it and hold onto its tail because it’s elusive. When you don’t have it, you can also feel it. We’re just missing something, I feel like – and as my title suggests, it’s my job to speak up. I feel like sometimes we find too many ways to lose a game instead of creating ways to win a game. Now, when I say that, I put myself right at the top. I’m number one on that list, so I’m not calling out any player or any coach above myself, but that’s just how I feel. And until we change that, we’re going to have nights like last night.”
Bucs WR Vincent Jackson Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
He certainly doesn’t use clichés.
Koetter’s brutal honesty is refreshing.
When he said he hopes his players have played on teams that have had winning cultures, not many of the Buccaneers have experienced that in the NFL.
That’s a big part of the problem in Tampa Bay. The Bucs only have 10 players that have playoff experience on their team.
WR Vincent Jackson – four playoff seasons from 2006-09 in San Diego
CB Brent Grimes – four playoff seasons in 2008, 2010-12 in Atlanta
C Evan Smith – four playoff seasons in 2009, 2011-13 in Green Bay
DE Robert Ayers – three playoff seasons in 2011-13, including Super Bowl XLVIII in Denver
C Joe Hawley – three playoff seasons in 2010-12 in Atlanta
LB Daryl Smith – three playoff seasons in 2005, 2007, 2014 in Jacksonville and Baltimore
RT Gosder Cherilus – three playoff seasons in 2011, 2013-14 in Detroit and Indianapolis
DT Clinton McDonald – two playoff seasons in 2012-13, including Super Bowl XLVIII in Seattle
RB Jacquizz Rodgers – two playoff seasons from 2011-12 in Atlanta
CB Josh Robinson – two playoff seasons in 2012, 2015 in Minnesota
The player with the most recent playoff experience is Robinson, who was with the Vikings last year. But the issue with Robinson – and several other Bucs with playoff experience – is that he is a reserve player. In fact, out of the 10 Tampa Bay players listed above, Robinson, Rodgers, Cherilus and Evan Smith are backups.
Of those 10 Bucs with playoff experience, none except for perhaps Grimes has Pro Bowl ability – the kind of ability that can take over a game and close out a game with a big play. And even Grimes, who at age 33 was targeted by the Rams on third-and-11 coming out of the two-minute warning with a deep pass to Kenny Britt, may no longer have it.
Ayers is another difference-maker with Pro Bowl ability, but he missed the Rams game with a sprained ankle and his availability for the Denver game is in doubt with that injury. Injured players can’t have an impact on the game from the sidelines.
Simply put, there just aren’t enough Bucs that know how to win – and win consistently – at this level on this roster, evidenced by the 37-32 home loss to Los Angeles.
“Again, it’s elusive, it’s an elusive thing, it’s not something that you can reach out there and put your fingers on,” Koetter said. “I think our guys believe for the most part, but I talked to the guys a lot about this today in the team meeting and as I’m sure you can understand, a lot of that needs to stay between the players and the coaches. I know the fans are going to speculate – hey, this is our most popular game in the world. I get it. We’ve got to figure it out and we ask the fans to hang with us, it makes a difference. Man, those fans that were there at the end however many that was, those fans when we came back out, that was the loudest the stadium was all night, was when our defense went back out there for there for that third-and-11. Once again, it’s our job to give the fans something to cheer about during the whole game. We’ve got to find it and I just don’t think we should sit back and act like it doesn’t exist because in my eyes it does. I’ve been on those teams that have it and we’re going to keep looking for it until we find it.”
Bucs DT Gerald McCoy – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Perhaps one of the problems is that of all the team captains – Jackson, quarterback Jameis Winston, defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, linebacker Lavonte David and special teams captain wide receiver Russell Shepard – only Jackson has playoff experience. Bucs right tackle Demar Dotson has been on the team since 2009 and has never played in a playoff game. The same goes for four-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who was the team’s first-round pick a year later in 2010.
Winston, another one of the team’s captains, has received plenty of accolades from a Pro Bowl berth as a rookie to the Pepsi Rookie of the Year. As a collegian, Winston won the Heisman Trophy as a redshirt freshman in addition to a National Championship at Florida State. Winston was also the first overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.
Yet he’s only won seven out of the 19 games he’s played in at the NFL level.
“The competitiveness, not only of Jameis, but the whole team, there is nothing wrong with our competitiveness,” Koetter said. “We preach compete and our guys did that. I have no issue with where we are at competitive-wise but we [have to] play better, we [have to] execute better, in all phases.
“The lesson our team needs to learn is that every week is a battle and it doesn’t matter who the other team is. Our culture is not where it needs to be and that starts with me. I am the head of that so I am putting that squarely on my shoulders. There is something about our culture, I wish I could grab it, I’ve been on teams that have had it and you don’t want to let go of it but when you don’t have it is hard to figure out what it is but there’s something in our culture and it’s my job to fix it, along with the coaches, of letting games like this get away. Please understand that takes nothing away from the Rams because the Rams executed their game plan. I am concerned with what our team does and we just have to get over that hump, and we’re not there.”
Koetter indicated that building a winning culture is a work in progress for a young football that hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2007. None of the current Bucs were on that playoff team, either.
“That’s something that for any progress to be made, that’s going to be over a much longer period of time than three days,” Koetter said. “All we can do on something like that – all of us, starting with me – is do the little things right that we’re supposed to do on a daily basis. That has to add up to performance on Sunday, me, everybody else. And you have to build that over time, that’s just something that’s not going to be different overnight, but it starts, like anything else, it starts with awareness. Awareness is something that we need to work on. Do I think our guys are aware of what we need to do? Yes. Do I think our guys have the right mindset to attack it? Yes. But time will tell if we’re able to pull it off.”
Bucs LB Lavonte David – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith, who was the most winningest coach in Atlanta history and employed Koetter as the Falcons offensive coordinator from 2012-14, chimed in on the culture issue this week at One Buccaneer Place.
“An old coach told me, ‘You’ve got to learn to stop losing before you learn to win.’ There’s lots of teams that have a problem with that. And as a defense – and all I can really focus on is the defense – we’ve got to stop making the mistakes so we can start playing the type of football that we know we’re capable of playing. And as you guys know, you guys follow it, it’s a fine line, this is a fine line business. Whether the score is 40-7 or the score is 10-6, it’s a fine line.”
McCoy is a very good player, so is David. Both are Pro Bowlers and known as one of the best at their positions, but neither has helped a team a get to the playoffs. David has never been on a winning Buccaneers team, and McCoy missed the final 10 games of his rookie season in 2010 with an injury when Tampa Bay went 10-6.
Without a lot of players – star players – that know how to win at the NFL on the Bucs roster, it may take some time for this team to figure it out.
FAB 4. SPENCE IS A WORK IN PROGRESS
Don’t expect Tampa Bay second-round pick Noah Spence to win NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. In fact, don’t expect him to emerge as a starter during his rookie season.
At 6-foot-2, 251 pounds, Spence is too undersized to be an every down defender at the NFL level right now. And there are some days when his weight dips below 251.
An offseason of weightlifting next spring will help the player, whose game has been described as Von Miller-like, but right now, Spence is strictly a pass rusher for the Buccaneers.
If you’re wondering why Spence can’t hold up against the run, yet the 6-foot-3, 250-pound Miller can, keep in mind that Denver runs a 3-4 defense and that the 27-year old Miller plays outside linebacker whereas the Bucs play a 4-3 and the 22-year old Spence is a defensive end.
Spence spent the entire offseason, training camp and the preseason playing right defensive end where he recorded a sack against Cleveland. A season-ending knee injury to Jacquies Smith in Week 1 prompted the team to move Spence to the left side where he can replace Will Gholston on pass rushing downs while Howard Jones, who is even lighter at 245 pounds, comes in at right defensive end on nickel rush defense.
Bucs DE Noah Spence – Photo by: Getty Images
The abrupt move the left side in Week 2 has stunted his growth a bit, but he did record his first real NFL sack and lone tackle on the year against Arizona from the left while playing 24 snaps – or 36 percent of the defensive plays against the Cardinals.
“It’s a little different on the left side and I’m just trying to get adjusted,” Spence said. “I’m trying to learn more aspects of the running game and I’m just trying to get better.”
“It’s hand placement and feet, it’s just the opposite of what I’m used to,” Spence said. “It’s a polar opposite, but once I get it down I’ll be all right.”
Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith is pleased with Spence’s progress as a rookie and his sudden transition to the left side.
“I think he’s coming along very well,” Smith said. “I think he understands how to rush the passer. We’ve got to get him opportunities to rush the passer and last week [against the Rams] we didn’t get it and his play count was down. I think we’ll have a conversation next week, if they stay to what they’ve done in the first three games, that Noah Spence is going to have a bigger impact on the football game, simply because what they do. They’re still going to run the football, but they’re doing it from a spread out formation. They’re not going to have two tight ends or three tight ends in the ball game.”
Spence played just 12 snaps (18 percent of the defensive plays) against Los Angeles because the Rams weren’t in third-and-long very often, and when they were, they would keep tight ends in and use max protection. That will change this week against Denver, which uses more three-receiver sets.
“I don’t play too much in the running game right now,” Spence said. “It feels good getting to play, though. I’m getting better every day.”
Bucs DE Noah Spence – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
The plan is for Spence to develop into an every down defensive end, especially considering the team’s second-round draft pick investment. In the meantime, without Smith and Robert Ayers, who missed the Cardinals game with an ankle injury and could miss Sunday’s game against Denver, the Bucs will be relying on the rookie to come through on pass rushing downs and get to the quarterback.
“Yeah, those are two of the best edge rushers that we had going into the year, and losing both of those guys, it’s a big blow, but people are stepping up,” Gholston said. “Noah’s stepping up and he’s just got to mesh and gel with our guys. With Jack and Rob, we had them all OTAs and there was a good gel going. But once we get this new group formed up, we’re going to be okay.
“Noah has a lot of pressure on him, and I think he’s holding it and carrying it well,” Gholston said. “I think he’s consistent with his pass rush, you give him a few more seconds, I’m pretty sure he’ll have it. He got his first sack in Arizona. If you look at the moves that he’s deciding to make, he’s coming down to two moves that he wants to do to get after the quarterback. I’ve got a list, and you can go on and on about what he does, but the best thing about it is that he’s consistent in working in trying to get better.”
FAB 5. SR’s BUC SHOTS
• Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans has made an extraordinary turnaround from a year ago in terms of catching the football. Showing increased concentration and maturity, Evans is the NFL’s fifth-leading wide receiver through three games with 21 catches for 301 yards and three touchdowns.
Bucs WR Mike Evans – Photo by: Mark Lomoglio/PR
More importantly, he has just one drop in 39 targets. Last year, Evans led the NFL with 11 drops out of 148 targets, according to SportsCharts.com while catching a career-high 74 passes for 1,206 yards and three touchdowns.
The Bucs’ 2014 first-round pick is off to a stellar start and is on pace to catch 112 passes for 1,605 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2016. All of those stats would be career-highs for Evans, who is coming off a career-high 10-catch, 132-yard, one-touchdown performance against Los Angeles.
• Bucs third-string quarterback Ryan Griffin holds quarterbacks coach Mike Bajakian in very high regard. Griffin said he’s learned more in one year in Tampa Bay under Bajakian than he did in New Orleans, partly because of the young quarterback room.
“He’s very persistent on the details,” Griffin said. “I didn’t really get that as much in New Orleans. When you have an older guy like Drew who is established, what are you going to tell Drew Brees? He’s already a future Hall of Famer. Just having a hands-on coach that is pushing you to get better is great. I think he’s been great. I like how he runs his meetings and gets everybody involved. I’ve really enjoyed working with him and I feel like I’ve gotten a lot better.”
• The Pewter Report Watch Parties return to Hard Rock Cafe on Monday, October 10 for Tampa Bay’s big game at Carolina on Monday Night Football. The festivities start at 7:00 p.m. in advance of the 8:20 kickoff, so come to Hard Rock Cafe for dinner and drinks with the PewterReport.com staff before watching Tampa Bay play on a huge, 18-foot TV!
• Bucs general manager Jason Licht and head coach Dirk Koetter did the right thing in releasing tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, a talented but troubled second-round pick from the 2014 draft, after his DUI arrest last Friday morning. Seferian-Jenkins had worn out his welcome at One Buccaneer Place with his immaturity. Hanging on to players with more potential than production is what gets coaches and general managers fired.
Still, the news of Seferian-Jenkins’ sudden release shook the team, which was 48 hours away from hosting the Los Angeles Rams.
“We all kind of found out on our own with how the day played out,” Brate said. “With how social media is these days and all of our friends were texting us about it. Anytime you lose a player like that it’s definitely a shock, especially so late in the week when we are so deep in the game plan. The players and the coaches did a great job of adjusting.”
Brate and Seferian-Jenkins are good friends, so the news was personal to Tampa Bay’s starting tight end.
Bucs TE Cameron Brate – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
“That’s something that people don’t really think about or ask you about, but we’re humans, too,” Brate said. “Austin was one of my first friends down here and he’s always been great to me. He’s helped me improve as a player, so it’s tough to lose a friend like that. I’ll stay in contact with him and I’ll be rooting for him for sure. I can’t wait to see what he does in New York.”
Brate and Seferian-Jenkins were listed as co-starters at tight end on the depth chart before ASJ’s release, but Brate showed on Sunday that he could handle the increased workload with a career-high two touchdown catches.
“I’m definitely ready for it,” Brate said. “This summer I got a lot of reps in camp and the coaches have prepared me and the tight ends to adapt into any role we need to play. We all consider ourselves to be very versatile players, but each week is different. Who knows what this week holds in store for us?
“I’m more of an under-the-radar guy, but I’m looking forward to taking on the challenge of being more in the bright lights. Teams are more aware of me now in the red zone, and our coaches have done a good job of trying to create the best matchups for me they can.”
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Imagine Big Green Eggs lined up beside beautiful Tampa Bay. Now imagine you get to sample every delicious bite that is being cooked on those Eggs. Well stop imagining and get your tickets now. The “Tasting Ticket” includes entry to the event, samplings, entertainment and Big Green Egg demonstrations! We have some of the best Big Green Egg chefs coming from all over to enjoy a cold beer and eat some delicious food!
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Scott Reynolds is in his 23rd year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds enjoys giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Some good analysis in there Scott.
1 for 6 with the game on the line is not what we want from our QB, but we didn’t lose because of him…we could have won because of him, but we didn’t lose because of him.
I’ve been writing all week about how I believe our talent is as good as any team’s, but for some reason the Pats can win with a bunch of backups and we can’t beat the Rams with (most of) our starters. Maybe it’s playoff experience as the difference as you surmise, but I think that may mix up causation and correlation…I think players get playoff experience because they’ve figured out how to win (like Belichick’s boys have), rather than winning because they have playoff experience.
On ASJ, I respect your view that it was the right thing to let him go, but I respectfully disagree with the comment that “Hanging on to [ASJ as a player] with more potential than production is what gets coaches and general managers fired”. ASJ’s production was never a problem IMO. He recorded 18 games with us (a little more than a full season of work) and his production line is: 45 catches, 603 yards, 13.4 yard average, 7 TDs. While not Gronk-eseque, and respecting that half of those games came as a rookie, I think we’d take that production from our TE every day of the week and twice on Sunday. I think he had problems, but I don’t think production was one of them.
Production is also showing up for games … showing up for 18 games out of 34 games across two plus seasons is poor production. Factor in immaturity (acceptable to some degree as a rookie, but not acceptable in a third year player) and double-DWI was just too much.
I suppose one would categorize things as:
Production = everything you do on the field
Off field = everything you do off the field
Injuries = what keeps you off the field instead of on the field
So, again, I think his production was not an issue. The other things perhaps.
Jameis Winston definitely has a problem with his accuracy. For the game he was a respectible 36 of 58 for 62% and a passer rating of 93 … but in the two minute drill at the end he was only 4 of 9.
Completions aren’t the whole story either … even quite a few of his completed passes were inaccurately thrown and the receiver just did a very good job of hauling it in. Which inaccuracy on completed passes tends to limit the YAC, and also makes the play more susceptible to tipped balls and INTs (not a problem last week, but it was the week before when JW had his 4 INTs).
I’m surprised that Jameis’ inaccuracy is still a problem this year after all the work he put in last off-season, and his general improvement over the course of last season. Have heard a lot of excuses, such that Winston is more aggressive and throws more long balls than other quarterbacks who dink and dunk down the field … but even on the short passes Winston was often inaccurate this season.
I don’t say this as a Winston critic – he is our quarterback and I believe he is our long-awaited franchise quarterback, but he’s got to improve, just as he says he will improve.
This Sunday would be a fine time to show off that improvement. Much rather he throw less often and more accurately than to continue throwing 50+ times per game and suffering INTs, lost YAC, and failure to play clutch in the two minute drill with the game on the line. Making just 2 more completions, and going 6 of 9 could have easily provided the game winning TD last week.
Thanks for the reality . Bottom line, JW great leader, average QB. At times his accuracy is appalling
Interesting Fab 5.
I thought the zebras miss a few other calls during the game. I know they can’t see everything but some were blatant penalties.
Not calling the time out really pissed me off.
Cmon man get with the program.
Chemistry and the culture will change, as long as Koetter keeps telling it like it is. No smoke No BS. Total honestly and accountability will bring these guys around.
I’m not a big Belick fan, but that’s how he does it. No BS , just do your job. Sometimes I think that football players are to mollycoddled for their own good. The team has a gut check coming up. Grown men own up to their shortcomings and I see that is the case with the BUCS.
I’ve been thinking about the ASJ thing all week. Maybe the BUCS could have put him in rehab and tried to help him with his illness.
It’s a tough call anyway you look at it.
Hopefully he doesn’t have animosity toward the BUCS. He had his chances. Or, at least I hope he had chances. It’s a hard thing to tell your employer that you can’t stop drinking. Best of luck to ASJ.
I’m looking forward to the battle between Evans and Talib. Cmon Mike, beat his ass down. He’s good , but your better.
GO BUCS. STILL LOVE YOU. ALWAYS WILL
When you lose a lot then you have to look who has been the most involved in all those losses the last three years? Only one name comes up for me; Licht. Oh he’s hit on some picks, but has also blown others. I guess I can never prove he pulled the trigger early on some of our picks by using other draft picks to move up. I know he is learning as a young GM, but I hope he has learned from some of his mistakes. Now Mike Smith is the next concern. We need to acquire more draft picks, not less. Nobody wants Glennon; get something for him, please! The real problem is we still don’t have enough quality players because we’re still starting back ups as starters from the get go. I’m trying to figure how we are going to get to 6 wins this seasons; somewhere we’re going to have to beat a good team. Go Bucs!
“I’ve been writing all week about how I believe our talent is as good as any team’s, but for some reason the Pats can win with a bunch of backups and we can’t beat the Rams with (most of) our starters.”
I agree, but we are not a deep team and we have too many candy asses on this team. The Lambs won because they are tougher. We need some Romo’s (not Tony, another candy ass) and Dobler’s.
Also, we have too many candy ass fans. Left the game because of rain? Paleeeese. Only the true fans like scubog and family stayed. Tampa has become a transient town. These people have allegiances elsewhere. We’re LA Southeast. No more tailgates featuring bbq and PBR. Now it’s catered sushi and white wine with pinky’s up. If it rains or gets hot: let’s leave and go sailing.
Thanks for the props 76. Some might question my sanity……..but never my loyalty.
Could Winston have played better? Absolutely. But it doesn’t excuse the fact our defense gave up 37 points to the Rams (to the RAMS?!?!?!?!?!) or the fact that our hall of fame kicker missed an extra point and a FG (if he makes either of those, we would have had a FG to win or tie, and we are kicking at the 15. Of course, we might have missed that kick too). Yes there are times he is inaccurate, but the other part of our problem is we have one good big receiver-Evans….one shifty receiver-Humphries, and one tight end who catches passes when he is open. Another receiver or 2 would help, especially a speed guy who would free some of the other guys up. We just don’t have the talent to win-we expect Jameis to be perfect every week, and he isn’t quite there yet.
I would just like JW to be somewhat accurate, don’t need perfect
Hey SR- Stop making excuses for JW. While on one hand you say he is inaccurate, which he is, you excuse him by saying they should have called time out to calm him down. Bottom line, everyone sold us fans that JW is a franchise QB. If he is he would have found a way to win that game. All, what about the hole that our kicker put us in. RA was a major reason we lost. Do you not want to address that because you supported Licht on drafting him?I used to think you all did objective analysis, I now think you a a shill for the team. Like you guys a lot and respect you, but feel like you have lost perspective given your full throated support of Licht, Winston and Aguayo.
Admit it Bucnut, you wanted Mariota.
I don’t think SR was making any excuses, quite the contrary.
I was ambivalent about the non called TO but now that I know what Kotter was trying o accomplish, I completely agree with the strategy because it would have worked except for the overthrown ball.
Winston has to learn how to stay more composed and less exciteable. Perhaps Mike Glennon can give him a clue as to how he remains so dormant all the time.
However, what lost that game wasn’t Winston who had to toss the ball close to 60 times, it was our new and improved defensive scheme and anemic pass rush.
When I heard this defense was more complex than our previous defense – what wouldn’t be – I stated at the time that wasn’t the greatest thing in the world since we don’t have a lot of members of MENSA playing on that side of the ball.
Sure enough, it seems to be what has gotten this team in the most trouble as we have seen numerous big plays come to fruition due to blown coverages and miscommunication, mainly from the CB’s.
Still, I do have hope for this team if it can improve in making sure everyone is on the same page as far as the coverages being called. Also, I saw one play where McCoy was dropped back into coverage and I hope they never do that lunacy again.
As far as team captains our concerned, I just don’t have to much faith in McCoy. I saw his team speech last week and it sounded like he was leading his team into a church service, not battle, which is what an NFL game is.
Somehow the team needs a leader who is a starter on defense that can carry a fiery lance of speech and leadership like Winston can with the offense. Kwon Alexander anyone?
There is a big misunderstanding by many of our Buc fans about what is meant by calling someone a FRANCHISE QUARTERBACK.
A franchise quarterback is a quarterback who has shown he can operate at a high level of performance over many years. Jameis is not there yet! He won’t be next week or next month either! He may or may not actually perform at that level by the end of this season. He has much to learn and much plain old experience to acquire over time in order to reach his potential.
Just go back and check out a “franchise quarterback ” named Bret Favre . He threw many interceptions early on in his career. Check out Drew Brees’ career also. When would anyone be able to say he had earned the label of “franchise”. In the middle of his second season? After his third? His fourth. The labels are always easy to assign in retrospect.
My point is that it always premature to call an NFL quarterback “franchise” before at minimum two years. It is not really likely to be valid until after 3, 4 or 5 years.
Anyway, Jameis has shown a tendency to overthrow his target frequently in his first 19 games. He may have gotten away with those throws in college but he can’t in the pros. I am sure that his coaches are working with him to break bad habits. This is why the word “repetitions” is so prevalent in “coach speak”.
Patience with Jameis and with the team is needed. They are working their butts off. Keep up your support. Don’t expect miracles this year.
Very true Winter. Farve was a party boy similar to Johnny Football and Brees was a so-so QB with an injury. What they and young Jameis have is moxie. The skills and knowledge of the game can be taught and developed over time. It’s that “it” that the player either has or hasn’t. Few can deny Winston’s “it.”
To quote Nick Saban, “We need to find more players that can play winning football.” (He made this statement after Alabama’s season opening blowout of USC in Dallas.) His statement certainly can be applied to the Bucs. They simply do not have enough good NFL football players on the roster. That is why this team continues to find ways to lose instead of ways to win. To find these players, it must start at the top of the organization. Ownership must find and hire people who know how to find players who can play winning football at the NFL level. General manager, college scouts, and pro scouts. The Buccaneers are getting terrible results from their work in the college draft over the past decade. Look at how many draft picks in rounds 1-4 this team has failed on. Here’s a rundown:
2005 (round 3): OT Chris Colmer (never played a down for the Bucs)
2006 (round 3): WR Maurice Stovall (no impact as a WR, only started 11 games at WR in 5 seasons with Bucs)
2006 (round 4): CB Alan Zemaitis (couldn’t play at NFL level; never appeared in a NFL regular season game)
2007 (round 1): DE Gaines Adams (a bust for a player drafted #4 overall; spent just 3 seasons on team)
2007 (round 2): G Arron Sears (out of league within three years)
2007 (round 2): S Sabby Piscitelli (started just 20 games in 4 seasons with Bucs, out of league after 5 seasons)
2007 (round 4): S Tanard Jackson (couldn’t stay on the field due to substance abuse, gone after 5 seasons)
2008 (round 1): CB Aqib Talib (talented but couldn’t stay out of trouble off the field, gone after 5 seasons, now a star in Denver)
2008 (round 2): WR Dexter Jackson (never caught a pass in one season with Bucs)
2008 (round 4): DT Dre Moore (0 starts, 11 tackles, 0 sacks in one season with Bucs)
2009 (round 1): QB Josh Freeman (if he was worthy of this pick, he would still be on the team, instead, he’s currently out of the league)
2009 (round 4): DE Kyle Moore (7 starts, 0 sacks in two seasons with Bucs)
2010 (round 2): DT Brian Price (out of league after two seasons due to hip injury)
2010 (round 2): WR Arrelious Benn (gone after three seasons with Bucs)
2010 (round 3): CB Myron Lewis (recorded 1 start, 0 interceptions in three seasons with Bucs)
2011 (round 1): DE Adrian Clayborn (two productive seasons in 4 years with Bucs)
2011 (round 2): DE DaQuan Bowers (just 7 sacks in 5 seasons with Bucs)
2012 (round 1): S Mark Barron (3 interceptions in just 2.5 seasons with Bucs before trade to Rams)
2013 (round 1): pick traded to Jets for CB Darrelle Revis, who was released after just one season with Bucs)
2013 (round 2): CB Johnthan Banks (good rookie season, but playing time now diminished to the point that he did not play a defensive snap in Week 4 loss to Denver)
2014 (round 2): TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (released after 18 games in a Bucs uniform due to off field and character issues)
2014 (round 3): RB Charles Sims (has not shown ability to run between the tackles effectively, but good receiver)
These are players who should be forming the core of your roster over this period. The Bucs won-loss record during these years: 70-110 (including this season’s 1-3 start). Playoff appearances: 2 (2005 and 2007 seasons). Playoff victories: 0.
These are absolutely horrible results with premium draft picks (rounds 1-4). It should be no wonder why this team finds ways to lose instead of ways to win football games. The Buccaneers simply must do a much better job acquiring NFL-caliber talent in the college draft. That is the only way to get the results on the field to change.
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