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Former Bucs RB Doug Martin agrees to deal with Raiders

Florida Football Insiders

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Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

Turns out that Jon Gruden and the Raiders weren’t just flirting with recently released Bucs running back Doug Martin. On the second day of free agency, Oakland signed the former two time Buccaneers Pro Bowler to a one year deal.

Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network had news of the deal first:

As we wrote last week, the new Raiders boss was targeting and had reportedly met face to face with Martin about joining the Silver and Black. They were allowed to do this before Free Agency began this week, because the Bucs had released Martin and he had cleared waivers.

Martin had signed a lucrative five year contract after rushing for 1,402 yards in the 2015 season, but never lived up to the expectations that came with it. Martin’s off field issues began when he was suspended for four games at the end of the 2016 season for violating the NFL’s performance enhancing drugs policy.

Martin sat the final game of 2016 and he and the Bucs knew that the last three games punishment was looming at the start of 2017. He came to training camp in great shape and while eligible to participate in preseason games, looked good. Then, he sat the first three games, as required, but never regained top form.

He eventually began to give way to second year un-drafted back, Peyton Barber, who got more and more carries over the second half of the season.

That was in part because Martin suffered a concussion in the first half of the game in Atlanta in November and then, didn’t clear concussion protocol for the following week at Green Bay. Barber ran for over 100 yards in the loss to the Packers and only hastened the Bucs plans to use him more.

Then, prior to the Monday night game with Atlanta, Martin did something again off the field, and got himself suspended for the Falcons rematch December 17th.

The handwriting was on the wall at the point for Martin’s departure from the Buccaneers.

In Oakland he will compete now, as it stands, with veteran Marshawn Lynch and also third year running back Jalen Richard, as Gruden and the new coaching staff takes over.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs staying with Ryan Fitzpatrick doesn’t appear to be Koetter decision only

Florida Football Insiders

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Buccaneers are staying with veteran backup now starter Ryan Fitzpatrick for this week’s game with the Giants. But, the bigger story Monday was surrounding the announcement that coach coach Dirk Koetter made, and it appeared it isn’t only his decision.

That’s because, anyone with any experience in watching body language and how questions are answered, could tell that Kotter was not exactly convincing that it was only his decision. Judge for yourself, if you like early in the press conference here:

“We’re going to go with Fitz this week. Yeah. That’s how it’s going to stay,” Koetter said with his voice trailing off at the end.

He was then asked to follow up of how long it was going to stay that way? And, his answer was unconvincing with a simple, “Til we change.”

Finally, he was asked about why he was sticking with Fitzpatrick? And Koetter said, “I just think he gives us the best opportunity, (to win) right now.”

Fitzpatrick was 29 of 41 for 406 yards with no TDs in Sunday’s 16-3 loss to the Redskins, but continued with the Bucs recent trend of turnovers from the quarterback position with three more of them Sunday. And, they were all killers.

The first interception came as the Bucs had moved in the red zone on their opening drive of the game. The 35 year old veteran overthrew his intended receiver and was picked off by Josh Norman.

Later in the second quarter, the second turnover was another bad interception thrown, while locking onto a receiver over the middle and it led to a Redskins field goal and a 6 – 3 lead.

Fitzpatrick could not not be completely blamed for the final turnover, when he was blindside sacked by Patrick Smith and fumbled in the fourth quarter after the Bucs have driven inside the 10-yard line trailing 16 – 3.

Nonetheless, if the primary reason that Jameis Winston had gone back to the bench after three starts was his turnovers, which were abundant, the same argument can be made about Fitzpatrick.

He has five turnovers in the last two games and both are losses.

Still, this seems to be an overall strategy by the Glazer family that owns the team and it may even have the input of general manager Jason Licht, too. A strategy that the team has moved on from Winston for the future and will utilize Fitzpatrick in the short-term. And then, perhaps they turn to young back up Ryan Griffin for some playing experience at the end of the year, if the Bucs are officially eliminated from the playoffs soon.

Again, Koetter did not get into those kind of details at this news conference, but it’s rather obvious but if the belief was that Winston had a chance to help them and had a future in Tampa Bay, they have all the reason you need to go back to the former #1 overall pick now and stick with him.

Yet another complication in the decisions being made is: the Bucs have picked up the fifth year option on Winston rookie deal. That option is only guaranteed for injury in the event that he cannot pass a physical next March. And with Tampa Bay now 3 – 6, the discussion may be centered around “no need to risk it” in that scenario with a team that is not going to end up making the playoffs, anyway.

It’s entirely possible to Fitzpatrick could be really bad next Sunday in New York and if he is, we will very quickly find out whether Koetter alone can make a decision during the game to put Winston in. However, if that scenario plays out and he doesn’t bench Fitzpatrick during next week’s game, then you definitely have the answer that it’s not just “best chance to win” with Winston.

And it isn’t only Dirk Koetter’s decision.

No, the bigger question that would asked would be: have we seen the end of Jameis Winston, as a starting quarterback in Tampa Bay or not?

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Redskins take classless social media “dig” at Bucs coach Koetter

Florida Football Insiders

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

As if it wasn’t bad enough that the Buccaneers suffered through the humiliation of having 500 yards of offense and scored only three points in a loss to the Redskins Sunday, Washington’s digital staff decided to “rub the Bucs and their head coach’s nose in it,” even more.

Koetter had jokingly tossed “Bit-o-Honey” pieces of candy to members of the media saying that it was his favorite candy and he had gotten so much of it after Halloween that he wanted to share it with them by tossing it to them.

As you can see above in the doctored “spoof video,” the Redskins decided to insert an “L” for losses that Koetter would be tossing.

Most will view it as a childish classless move that is usually reserved for “wacky morning radio shows” and fans to put something like that on social media.

UPDATE: Sometime after 8 p.m. Eastern time the Redskins digital team, probably on orders from owner Dan Snyder, deleted the tweet.

Still for over two hours, the Redskins, who pulled out the victory to go to 6 – 3 on the season apparently, felt they needed to gloat about it and had the tweet out there for tens of thousands to see.

As of 9:00 p.m. Eastern time Sunday night, four hours after the social media dig, the Buccaneers still had yet to react publicly to their opponent clowning them on Twitter.

Maybe, they just decided to take their medicine and let their defeat (their fifth in six games) sink in Sunday, and figured the Redskins would take it down, which they did.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Remember – Give us 17 points and we’ll take care of the rest?

Roy Cummings

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Nov 11, 2018; Tampa, FL, USA; Washington Redskins defensive end Matthew Ioannidis (98) tackles Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) during the first half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Back in the good old days, when Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks and John Lynch were protecting the Buccaneers end zone and the Bucs won more often than they lost, the Bucs defense made a weekly promise.

 “Give us 17 points and we’ll take care of the rest.”

The current Bucs finally played a lot like those Bucs of old on Sunday. Now, they weren’t special in any way, but for the first time all year, the current Bucs gave up less than 21 points.

And guess what?

They still lost. The final score was a very un-Buccaneer-like 16-3 and it came despite the offense racking up 496 yards. So how did they manage to drop this one?

Here we go

This game came down to red zone play. In particular, it came down to the play of the Bucs offense in the red zone, where we’re going to say Tampa Bay went 1-for-6 on the day. And it was a bad 1-for-6.

The Bucs first red-zone opportunity, which came on their first possession, ended with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick throwing an interception on a ball he underthrew for running back Shaun Williams at the goal line.

Their second red-zone opportunity ended with kicker Chandler Catanzaro missing a 30-yard field goal. Their third resulted in Catanzaro actually making a 33-yard field goal, but then the real fun began.

On their fourth trip inside the Redskins 20, the Bucs got as far as the 16. Then on third-and-7, center Ryan Jensen fired his snap past Fitzpatrick for a 14-yard loss to the 30. Catanzaro then missed the ensuing 48-yard field-goal try.

Nov 11, 2018; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker Chandler Catanzaro (7) kicks a field goal during the first half against the Washington Redskins at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 11, 2018; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker Chandler Catanzaro (7) kicks a field goal during the first half against the Washington Redskins at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Bucs next advance into the red zone won’t go down as an official red zone possession because they never ran a play from scrimmage inside the red zone but we’re going to call it a red zone opp anyway and here’s why.

On a first-and-10 play from the Redskins 28, Fitzpatrick hit running back Jacquizz Rodgers with a short pass over the middle that Rodgers ran 10 yards with to the Redskins 18.’

It was there that linebacker Zack Brown came up from behind and popped the ball out of Rodgers arms so hard that the ball rolled in and out of the end zone for a touchback.

Finally, Fitzpatrick finished off the kind of game that got Jameis Winston benched as the Bucs starting quarterback by losing a fumble at his own 7 with a little more than three minutes left on the clock.

Score there and the Bucs have a chance to win this game, but that ended all hope of the Bucs winning what was yet another winnable game against yet another beatable team, which doesn’t bode well for coach Jason Licht’s future.

The Bucs are a team that simply can’t seem to put all the winning ingredients together on the same day. If it’s not their defense that lets them down, it’s their kicker and if it’s not their kicker it’s their red zone offense.

On Sunday it was the kicker and the red-zone offense, and given that Fitzpatrick was responsible for two of those blown scoring chances, you have to wonder if the time has come to go back to Winston.

The belief here is that it has. The switch back to Fitzpatrick has not provided the Bucs with the spark it was designed to and he’s not playing any worse (better) than Winston was when he was benched.

Granted, the Bucs lost on Sunday for reasons that stretch far beyond quarterback play. But that’s been the case all year.

So why not go back to Winston right now?

It certainly can’t hurt.

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