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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs GM Jason Licht- “Jameis Winston will be here”

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
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On the day after the Buccaneers fired third-year coach DirK Koetter, general manager Jason Licht met with the media to discuss the coaching search, but also revealed a very important piece to “the 2019 Buccaneer puzzle.” No matter who the new coach is, quarterback Jameis Winston will be brought back for next season.

The announcement was not completely unexpected, as Winston finished the season as a starter and at times played well, even though the Buccaneers lost their remaining four games. Also, with Winston only being 24 years of age and the Buccaneers still having the fifth year option on his rookie contract, it makes sense for them to give him one more season with a new coaching staff.

However, this was the first time that anyone with any authority to definitively said that Winston will be back.

Licht answer questions for approximately 15 minutes Monday afternoon:

 

Licht conveyed the obvious, that the Glazers made their decision on a coaching change mostly based on the lack of winning over the course of the last two years. Koetter was 5 and 11 in both 2017 and in 2018. He was directly asked whether he had been concerned for his own job and about still being in charge for the Glazer family after this year’s dismal finish and responded, “I feel very fortunate to still be standing here and leading the organization.”

Licht was also asked about whether the hiring of a new head coach might be complicated, if that coach was not interested in bringing Winston back for next season? He repeated that Winston would be back at quarterback to the play for the new coach they hire for 2019.

While Winston’s contract option is for nearly 21 million dollars next season, it does by time for the Glazer family, Licht and the new coach to determine what to do long-term at the quarterback position.

Winston began the season with a three-game NFL suspension for the personal conduct policy violation in March of 2016. He came off the bench to start 3 games in the middle of the year going 1-2 before being benched, again. He replaced backup Ryan Fitzpatrick for good in the starting lineup for the Buccaneers six remaining games.

They won the first two over San Francisco and Carolina but dropped the remaining four games, including Sunday’s finale defeat to the Atlanta Falcons.

Dating back to last season Winston’s record as a starter is 6 – 16. He also has lost his last 13 road starts dating back to the end of the 2016 season.

Clearly, Winston has to deliver more wins this upcoming season or his time in Tampa Bay will be up.

And once Licht, who has had only one winning season in five years in Tampa Bay, makes the coaching hire, if the Bucs aren’t winning next season, his future may be in jeopardy as well.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs repeated blunders lead to London defeat

Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports

Despite traveling over 4000 miles to London, it was a day to forget for the Bucs in their rematch with the Panthers on Sunday. Tampa Bay and QB Jameis Winston had enough misuses for a month of football, including 7 turnovers, as they dropped a 37 – 26 defeat at the hands of Carolina.

Winston was the biggest culprit, as he threw five interceptions (a career high) and also lost a number fumble in what was one of his worst performances of his five year career. And, even though his final stat line showed a 400 yards passing, Winston, with shaky from the very beginning. He threw an interception on the first play of the game to Panthers DB James Bradberry. This while trying to hit WR Mike Evans (catchless last week) over the middle.

Carolina only got a field goal though to make the game 3-0. And, after two Bucs punts on the next two possessions, Carolina marched 99 yards and ended up with in a short Christian Mccaffery one yard TD and a 10 – 0 lead.

One of the few breaks the Bucs got at Tottenham Hotspurs Stadium Sunday came when Carolina punt returner Ray Ray McCloud fumbled early in the second and Tampa Bay recovered. A short time later, Ronald Jones got the Buccaneers on the board with a five yard score to close the Carolina lead to 10-7.

Little did the Bucs, Winston and coach Bruce Arians know that it would be the closest they would get the rest of the day.

Later in the second, Winston had his arm hit by the Panthers Bruce Irvin and his pass was picked, again. And, it set up McCaffery’s second TD, a 25 yard catch and run to make it 17-7 Carolina in the half.

Then, after halftime,  the Bucs punted on their first possession and then, after a Panthers field goal made it 20-7, Winston once again threw a bad pass over the middle for his third interception of the game. This one to Pro Bowl LB Luke Kuechley, who ran it down to the Bucs 8 yard line. Next, WR Curtis Samuel scored on a handoff and at 27-7, the issue was basically decided.

Yes, the Bucs continued to scrap and Winston actually got them in the endzone  twice in the fourth quarter and finished with 400 yards passing, on the number. However, most of that was against softer coverage while Carolina led big in the second half.

Besides the five INTS, Winston also fumbled away another red zone scoring opportunity after he was hit and sacked. Then, a fourth quarter Bobo Wilson muffed punt led to Panthers field goal and the game back to an easy double digit lead. Again, -6 in the turnover margin was as horrific as it gets for Tampa Bay.

The Panthers are now rolling, including second year QB Kyle Allen getting his fourth straight win in relief of the injured Cam Newton. Plus, Carolina got their revenge from a loss a month ago in Charlotte by winning in their first ever trip to the U.K.

However, this day was more about a Bucs offense, and Winston specifically, that both looked so good in a 55-40 win two weeks ago in L.A. doing the exact opposite for most of this Sunday in a bad defeat.

Tampa Bay now stands 2-4 headed to their bye and knows that the turnovers must stop, or the year will get more sour and very quickly.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs in London leads our Sunday NFL primer

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

For one of the rare times this season, all three state NFL teams are in action on Sunday early and one of them very early.

First stop, the Buccaneers rematch the Panthers. This time in London at the newly rebuilt Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

The Bucs come off of a tough loss 31-24 in New Orleans last week, but do have a win in week two at Carolina 20-14.

In that game, Tampa Bay’s defense took advantage of an injured quarterback Cam Newton and also stuffed running back Christian McCaffrey on their way to a division road win. Newton has been replaced the last three weeks by backup Kyle Allen and he has lead them to three consecutive victories, including road wins at Arizona and Houston.

Meanwhile, Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston (photo above) will try to ignite his connection with receiver Mike Evans, the Pro Bowler was held without a catch in last week’s loss at the Superdome.

Next up, the Jaguars will host those Saints at TIAA Bank Field. Jacksonville has performed well with rookie 6th round pick quarterback Gardner Minshew leading them That includes a week ago in Charlotte, as Minshew threw for two more touchdowns in a narrow 34-27 loss to the Panthers. Minshew is 2-2 in his starts.

Also, third year running back Leonard Fournette has rounded into form with back-to-back good games including over 100 yards and his first touchdown of the season in a loss to the Panthers.

The Saints come in with three consecutive victories under backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who riddled the Buccaneers for four touchdowns last week. The Saints top target is wide receiver Michael Thomas and it’s unknown, whether Jaguars football defensive back Jalen Ramsey will be healthy enough/active to cover him in this game.

Finally, in Miami it’s a pair of winless teams, as the 0-5 Redskins visit the 0-4 Dolphins. Washington fired their coach Jay Gruden earlier in the week and replaced him with veteran assistant and former Raiders head coach, Bill Callahan.

Meanwhile, first-year coach Brian Flores and the Fins come out of a bye week with a chance at extra preparation in looking for their first win of the season. Flores maintained this week that second-year quarterback Josh Rosen has the starting job, not just for now, but for the foreseeable future.

In their last game two weeks ago, Rosen led a touchdown drive that actually gave Miami their first and only leader of the season at 10-6 against the Chargers However, L.A outplayed them in the second half to keep Miami without a victory.

Both of these teams have looked poor through much of the first part of the year, but one of them will get to celebrate, at least in the short term, with a Sunday win.

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