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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs coach Koetter demonstrated Monday “must win” trumps all

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Oct 28, 2018; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter stands on the sidelines against the Cincinnati Bengals in the second half at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Sometimes it all boils down to one simple thing. And, in this case with the struggling Buccaneers and their franchise quarterback repeatedly throwing interceptions and with a veteran quarterback in the wings who’s already proven that he can lead the offense to great things, the decision to go with Ryan Fitzpatrick came down to one simple thing.

Winning.

Third year coach Dirk Koetter made the decision, a seemingly easy and obvious one,  based on the only thing that matters for him to keep his job and that’s that the Bucs have to start winning games, again.

They started 2-0 and are now, 3-4.

Something had to be done.

Koetter met with the media mid Monday afternoon to make the announcement official:

Anyone that saw Sundays 37 – 34 tough loss to the Bengals knew that this was a virtual certainty.

Fourth-year quarterback Jameis Winston played another awful game, which have been too frequent over the last two seasons. By the time Winston had thrown his fourth interception, which was returned for a touchdown late in the third quarter, the Bucs were trailing 34 – 16.

And Koetter went to the 14-year veteran at Fitzpatrick, who immediately ignited the offense throwing for 194 yards, two touchdowns and three scoring drives that got the game tied with a minute to go.

When Koetter said that it was a decision “based on not turning the ball over,”  he was correct.

But, it’s bigger than that with Winston and everyone knows it.

Yes he was injured for part or all of 5 Games in 2017, but Winston’s record in the games that he started was 3-10. You couple that with losing 2 of the last three games in 2016 as the Bucs failed to make the playoffs, and Winston’s record coming into this year in his last 16 games started was 4-12.

Upon being reinstated as the starter after NFL suspension, Winston was unable to rally the Bucs in the Falcons game two weeks ago, throwing two interceptions in that one also. And even though the Bucs got by the Browns, Winston had a critical interception in the overtime in his own territory that could have spelled defeat against Cleveland.

So even though that was a win, it led to Sunday and a game where Winston threw two first-half interceptions as the Bucs fell behind 21 – 0. Kotter mentioned to the media post game Sunday that he had contemplated pulling Winston for Fitzpatrick, then. Again, that’s a coach looking to win and desperately trying to accumulate them to hang onto his job.

So, Winston is now 5-14 in his last 19 starts. and by the way, through Sunday, Winston has played in 14 quarters in 2018 and has 11 turnovers. That’s brutal for an offense and the morale of the team.

So, as we well  documented, Tampa Bay and the Glazer family that owns the team, are now in a difficult place with Winston in terms of the future. If they risk playing Winston from here on out and an injury were to occur that would keep him from being able to pass a physical by March, the team would be on the hook for his fifth year rookie contract option- guaranteed at $21 million.

So, this week in Charlotte, Fitzpatrick will try to do what he did in the two starts at the beginning of the year against the Saints and the Eagles And, that’s reignite the Bucs offense from the beginning of the game and lead them to a win that would level their record at 4 – 4.

Fitzpatrick was 2-1 as the Bucs starter last year, and is now 4-1 in his Tampa Bay career.

Realistically, if the Bucs want to make the playoffs they’re going to have to end up with at least 9 and maybe 10 victories. To do that, they’re going to have to win at least six and maybe seven of their remaining nine games.

Winning.

It isn’t easy, in the NFL and neither was the decision Monday to put the former number one pick on the bench because of poor play.

However, the Bucs want to win, and you can’t argue that starting and going with Fitzpatrick gives them the better chance to do it in the short-term.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs coach Arians again non-committal Tuesday on QB Winston

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It’s become increasingly apparent, that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are ready to move on from potential free agent quarterback Jameis Winston. And Tuesday at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, coach Bruce Arians gave the latest example that he and the Buccaneers front office will look at the other options available first.

Arians spoke at a podium on numerous subjects, but the most prominent is what Tampa Bay will do in the coming days with Winston?

Arians was asked directly about potential for a franchise tag for his starter a year ago and what the Bucs might proceed to do? But, he refused to endorse that option on the former number one overall pick Winston. And, the Bucs coach maintained that the team will possibly us the franchise tag for defensive end Shaq Barrett.

Further, Arians gave a pointed specific answer on Winston’s poor play last December as the team finished 7-9 and that has the team looking at other options,

Arians has consistently refused back Winston since the off-season began. This included at an NFL coaching seminar earlier this month in Tampa. He said to the media at that time:

“Really nothing has changed,” Arians said. “What’s Door No. 2? You know? Can we make the one we have better? All those things you go through right now.”

“You’re just sitting there waiting to see is there someone available? … Is he a better option? 

The Buccaneers faltered in the middle of the season to drop to 3-7 and then, Winston and Co. blew its final two games to finish 7 – 9 with Winston throwing a career-high 30 interceptions.

After their final loss at home to Atlanta in overtime, where Winston threw the game losing “pick six,” Arians was candid after the final game by saying about Winston’s play that it would have to be evaluated pass by pass and game by game in the off-season. Further, he told the media then, that there “was some great and some terrible…. and you have to decide, if the great outweighs the terrible.”

While Winston did throw for a career-high 5000 + yards in 2019, his interceptions and total turnovers continued to be his downfall throughout the season. The Buccaneers finished 1 – 6 in games against teams with winning records and Winston had 17 total turnovers in those seven games. He finished with the 30 picks that included 10 of them in the Bucs final four games.

Tampa Bay obviously will have the opportunity to go after a free agent quarterback or two, as there is much speculation about the likes of Tom Brady with the Patriots. Plus, Philip Rivers will not be re-signed by the Chargers and is available come March. And, now that Drew Brees has announced he wants to play at least one more year for the Saints, their backup Teddy Bridgewater will be in demand on the market.

The Bucs are also continuing the evaluating the QB class for the Draft the next few days in Indy, which could have some interesting names still available in the second and third rounds and beyond.

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Bucs confirmed Monday they will have new uniforms in 2020

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Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

On Monday, the Bucs confirmed what they have been hinting at, they will have new uniforms in 2020. But the real question is: what does “new” mean in this instance?

First, the team released another video with clues about them intending to change their uniform and potentially alter their logo:

The Bucs also released a statement through their website confirming that April will be the unveiling of the new uniforms, as well as, potential new color scheme, logo, etc. and had these comments from co – owner, Ed Glazer:

“We have heard the feedback from our fans loud and clear and have been working with the NFL and our league partners at Nike to usher in a new look as we enter this next decade of Buccaneers football. We look forward to revealing more details in the near future about our official unveiling event which will take place later this spring.”

As we wrote earlier this month, the Buccaneers have been hinting at trying to enhance their uniforms and there is some belief there will be more orange, the original color of the franchise. There is also educated speculation that the team may go back to a white helmet, which will enable them to have “throwback uniform games” that they’ve not been able to have for the last seven seasons.

This is because under league concussion protocol, players must have the same helmet all season and the Bucs primary one has been pewter in color since their chance in colors and logo in 1997,

The Bucs last altered their uniforms in 2014 by brightening the color red and slightly changing the logo and making it bigger on their pewter helmet. Teammates Ryan Jensen and Mike Evans are shown in the current color scheme, etc. above.

NFL teams have to submit changes in their colors and logos a year in advance. So obviously, this has been in the works for the Glazer family that owns the team for some time.

It should be noted that the Buccaneers NFC South Rivals, the Atlanta Falcons, have already made mention that they are changing their uniforms and color scheme. And, it’s believed that they will go back in 2020 to their original base color of red including possibly red helmets and potentially, primarily gray pants that they wore for over twenty years.

The Falcons have had black helmets for the better part of 30 years going back to Jerry Glanville changing the color scheme to primarily black jerseys in his days at the Falcons coach in the early 1990s.

Back to the Bucs. There is no other team in the NFL that has orange as their primary jersey color. The Bengals Broncos and Browns have occasionally worn orange “alternate jerseys” but not full time.

So, if the Glazers are again embracing a change to mostly orange jerseys, it will be unique. The video Monday showed a red jersey on a sewing machine, which could be a clue or could be misdirection of what the team actually intends to unveil in April.

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