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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs waste no time-fire coach Dirk Koetter Sunday evening

Florida Football Insiders

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
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Any doubt about whether the Glazer family, who own the Buccaneers, would waste any time firing Dirk Koetter was erased on Sunday evening. That’s when they removed their coach after his second consecutive 10- loss season ended with Sunday’s 34-32 defeat to the Atlanta Falcons.

That loss concluded the year at 5 – 11 and was Tampa Bay’s fourth consecutive loss. Koetter (shown above leaving the field Sunday) finished 10-22 in the last two seasons and it had become obvious the Glazers were going to make a change.

The team released the news of Koetter’s firing via an email statement:

Koetter had been promoted to head coach in 2016 after a successful 2015 season as offensive coordinator with rookie quarterback Jameis Winston. In his initial season as head coach, the Bucs finished in 9 – 7 and narrowly missed the playoffs.

However, they regressed in 2017 and again in 2018, which ultimately cost Koetter his job.

This season the Bucs dealt with Winston being suspended at the beginning of the year for three games for violation of the NFL personal conduct policy.

Yet, veteran backup Ryan Fitzpatrick was tremendous in the two opening wins over New Orleans and Philadelphia, where he was named the NFC offensive player of the week for both weeks. But, the “2-0 euphoria” did not last long, as Fitzpatrick lost the next two starts with Pittsburgh and Chicago.

Koetter turned to Winston, who proceeded to lose two of the three starts he had and go back to the bench with the team 3-4.

The Buccaneers season never really recovered and finished with their ninth losing year in the last 11 years.

This is the fourth head coach the Glazers have fired in the last eight seasons dating back to their dismissal of Raheem Morris in 2011, followed by Greg Schiano after 2013 and Lovie Smith in 2015.

Only the Cleveland Browns have a longer playoff drought currently, than the Buccaneers, who’ve not seen the postseason since 2007, when Jon Gruden was their coach.

As the statement revealed, general manager Jason Licht will be kept on by the Glazer family and will lead the coaching search.

There had been questions as to whether Licht might also be fired, too. He was hired at the same time as Lovie Smith in 2014 and has had only one winning season as a general manager.

As we wrote earlier, the strong belief is the Buccaneers have to go to a proven NFL head coach with their next hire, as three of the last four coaches had never had any NFL experience/success or in the case of Morris, he’d never been a head coach at any level.

Ironically, Morris was on the sidelines in Tampa Sunday, as an Atlanta offensive assistant, when the Falcons came back in the final minute behind Matt Ryan and Julio Jones to kick the winning field goal with no time left.

A defeat that ended Koetter’s tenure in Tampa Bay.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs moving up in our latest power rankings

Jamil King

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
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With conference championships now over, all focus will shift to bowl games in college. Florida Atlantic was the lone state team playing for a title last week, defeating the UAB Blazers in blowout fashion. In the NFL, the Bucs made it three straight victories.

The Dolphins almost made it two in a row before the late-game drama. The Jacksonville Jaguars offense fell flat at home in a blowout defeat. That all leads into how our top 5 looks heading into this weekend:

Florida Gators- The Gators stay on top despite not participating in the SEC title game. They may not have played a game, but they still got a win by being selected to the Orange Bowl. Dan Mullen is now two for two in his Gators career in gaining entry into the “New Years Six.” Two seasons of a row with a big bowl win can only help the gators getting back to where they want to be, and that is competing for championships.

Florida Atlantic- The Owls were able to win the C-USA championship destroying UAB 49-6. This was the second title in three years for the Owls, and their great success under Lane Kiffin. All good things come to an end in this day and age in college football for non-power five schools. And so, Kiffin is now on his way to “the Grove” and will be the head coach of Ole Miss. The Owls reward is to play host to SMU in the Boca Raton Bowl.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers- The Bucs are riding a hot streak right now. They are now on a three-game winning streak. The offense continues to put up big numbers behind QB Jameis Winston. Winston, who threw for a career hight 456 yards Sunday, has the second-most yards and touchdowns, but leads the league in INTs by a large margin.

The defense has been playing very well during this winning streak. Next, the Bucs will go on the road to face a struggling Detroit Lions team.

UCF Knights- The Knights had a rare off week during the AAC Title game. They had won the previous two and Saturday the Memphis Tigers won this one, avoiding the Knights. UCF, however, still won 9 games and will look to make it 10 in the bowl game. They will head an hour south to play Marshall in the Gasparilla Bowl in Tampa.

Many wanted the Knights to draw an in-state team like FSU or Miami; instead, it will be Marshall. It is important for UCF to end the year strong with a decisive victory.

Miami Dolphins- The Dolphins didn’t win this past weekend over the New York Jets. They did, though, show a lot in this contest. For a team that looked down and out the whole first half of the season, they have completely turned it around.

If it wasn’t for a late review on pass interference, the Dolphins likely would have won their fourth game in their last six. Head coach Brian Flores was livid after the game, and that heart and passion has put his name in the running for coach of the year.

No, he won’t win the award, but what he and this team have done has been impressive with the lack of talent on the roster.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs QB Winston in limbo with injured thumb

Florida Football Insiders

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Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
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The Bucs are very much concerned and waiting to see the status of quarterback Jameis Winston injured thumb suffered in Sunday’s wild victory over the Colts.

And they have to be prepared to be without their starting quarterback this weekend in Detroit.

First, credit to Pewterreport.com which was at teammate Mike Evans’ charity bowling event Monday evening, and where the fifth year quarterback participated bowling left-handed with a brace seen on his right hand and thumb:

Winston injured the thumb at some point late in the second quarter of the 38 – 35 victory over Indianapolis. Coach Bruce Arians relayed after the game that Winston came out for the second half warm up and couldn’t grip the ball, when he was trying to get ready for the third quarter.

He went inside for an x-ray and backup quarterback Ryan Griffin ran the team for the first series of the second half. Winston returned and threw for over 200 yards in the second half including the game-winning touchdown to Breshad Perriman in the final five minutes of the game.

After the game Arians revealed that Winston had what he described as “a slight, slight crack in the thumb” that showed up on the X-ray.

On Monday afternoon at his regular news conference, the Buccaneers coach said that it would be day by day evaluation, that Winston had swelling on the thumb and would be getting a second opinion from a specialist:

The injury comes at a time of great debate about whether Winston will be kept on for the Buccaneers beyond this season.? He’s currently playing on the 5th year option of his rookie contract for $20 million.

As we wrote last week, Arians made it clear that the evaluation will begin after the season as to whether Winston will be back for 2020 and long-term.

The former number one overall pick is still leading the NFL in interceptions this season with 23, but he is also second in the NFL in touchdown passes and yardage. And, the Bucs have responded with three straight wins late in the year to keep their NFC wild-card hopes barely alive.

Tampa Bay had hoped use veteran Blaine Gabbert, if something happened to Winston, but Gabbert was hurt in the preseason with a separated left shoulder, placed on injured reserve and will not be able to be activated down the stretch of the season.

So that means if Winston cannot play, Griffin, a six year veteran who has played well in the last two preseasons, will be expected to get his first start Sunday.

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