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DLT’s Doubloons – Bucs vs. Dolphins

Break up the Bucs! Tampa Bay gets their second straight victory with a much-belated victory over the Miami Dolphins.

Pieces of Eight

1) Okay, stop it. Let’s get this b.s. out of the way right here and now.

This stuff has got to stop. No amount of thinking man emojis is going to change the facts that A) Jameis Winston is a much better quarterback than Ryan Fitzpatrick and B) He is the quarterback of this team when he returns.  I don’t care if this team is on a four-game winning streak when Winston is healthy – he is the quarterback and he gives the Bucs the best opportunity to win games.

The situation in Arizona, of course, bears watching. It’s not a good look for a quarterback whose past includes some very disturbing claims that have haunted him since college. If there was one situation Winston couldn’t afford to find himself in – it’s this.

Even if Winston is cleared of any wrongdoing, in the court of public opinion he’s guilty because there are those who believe he was let off the hook by FSU officials and local police because of his celebrity (even though he was an unknown Freshman at the time, but I digress). They see a pattern of misbehavior and don’t see the young man that Tampa Bay has known for the last three years. The Winston out there at charity functions and doing good in the community.

This is not to victim-blame or demean the Uber driver’s serious claims. If they are true, it could end his career here in Tampa Bay. However, it’s going to be very difficult to prove one way or another. Ronald Darby, Winston’s friend from FSU (who also happened to be with him during the incident at Florida State and testified in Winston’s defense) claims he was with Jameis in the car and that nothing inappropriate occurred. What we can’t do here is rush to judgement. We have to let all the facts come out.

Attorney John Clune, who was the attorney for Winston’s previous accuser and is now the attorney for the Uber driver, sees a perfect opportunity here to destroy Jameis in the name of his current client and the former. He believes Winston is a sexual deviant whose gotten away with something terrible and by God, this time we’re gonna get him.

If there is a shred of evidence that Winston is guilty, Clune will drudge it up and Roger Goodell has been known to suspend on less. How long would that suspension be? 6 games like Elliot? Or would it be longer because of Winston’s history in college?

We just don’t know. What we do know is right now Jameis Winston, when healthy, is eligible to play quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. As soon as he is ready, he will.

2) Enough of that unpleasantness of that situation. Next, let’s talk play-calling. Both Dirk Koetter and Mike Smith nearly coached themselves to the unemployment line with some of their play-calling on Sunday. Koetter had an uneven game, where he’d call a brilliant play and then have five plays that made you wonder how any of his offenses ever got into the top 25 of the league.

Smith returned to his passive play calling, particularly on third-and-long situations and each and every time it led to a huge play by the Dolphins.

Mike Smith, please read this – YOUR TEAM DOES NOT PLAY ZONE WELL. When you can’t get to the quarterback with four rushers, which the Bucs can’t, zone is like, “Here, take the first down, we don’t really want to get off the field.”  I would much rather see the Buccaneers attack the quarterback, force him to make a quick decision and get burned rather than sit back in zone, let the guy have a cup of coffee, a donut, and a smoke, then throw it to a wide open receiver because someone in the secondary bit on a fake or slipped down or just blew coverage. He did that against the Jets and the results were a fantastic defensive performance. If it weren’t for Jay Cutler being Jay Cutler, that Dolphins game could have turned out vastly different because of Smith’s passive game plan.

Adapt to your personnel, Mike Smith. If they can’t play zone, don’t do it that often, and for the love of God, don’t do it on third and long.

3) Doug Martin was again ineffective, carrying the ball 19 times for a measly 38 yds and a horrid 2.0 average. Is it the line or is it the back? I say it’s both. I want to see Martin’s carries decrease while Barber and Rodgers carries increase. Martin isn’t even 2.9 Doug anymore. It’s become more and more evident that his two good years were the outliers and this is who he is, a below average running back. Considering what the Eagles gave up for Jay Ajayi, you have to wonder why the Bucs didn’t bother to try and address this situation instead of continue to pay Martin a ransom for subpar play?

Yes, a lot of this can lie at the feet of the offensive line, who have been terrible at opening running lanes for the rushers, but some of it is vision as well. There were a few lanes to be had if Martin cut back instead of putting his head down and running into the backside of his blockers, or in other situations, staying with the blockers instead of trying to bounce it outside. It’s decision making that has hurt Martin as much as it has been poor blocking. (EDITOR’S NOTE: Running into the assigned gap is exactly what he has to do more of even if it makes the author upset. Cutbacks with this shit offensive line execution are simply not there.)

4) No player on the Buccaneers has regressed as badly as Donovan Smith has this year. Now, Smith may very well be dealing with an injury that is contributing to his struggles, but he has been absolutely dreadful. I’ve been a Smith supporter in the past, as I felt he was playing a lot better than the bean counters at Pro Football Focus and other analytic sites were saying, but it’s not even close now.

The Bucs seriously need to address Left Tackle in the draft or in free agency and Smith needs to move to guard or flip to right tackle.

5) Smith isn’t alone in his regression. Kevin Pamphile in a contract year is putting on some bad tape, folks. JR Sweezy isn’t what was promised as a road grader. Marpet has been decent at center but he’s an All-Pro at guard, they miss him there. Dotson has played well until the last couple weeks where he has had his struggles as well. If Koetter is retained, I believe changes in the coaching staff are in order for the offensive and defensive lines.

6) It really is an indictment of the Bucs that Miami tied this game late in the fourth quarter. The Dolphins were terrible. Five turnovers, 17 penalties and the Bucs had to get a Patrick Murray field goal in the closing seconds and a fluky desperation lateral fumble in the end zone to provide the final margin of victory. As poorly as Miami played, they could have won this game and I think it’s all about the Bucs’ coaching decisions in the second half. Mike Smith went completely passive on defense, Koetter went conservative on offense and it nearly bit the Bucs in the backside. This is exactly the reason why Dirk and his staff are on the hotseat.

7) The guys over at Pewter Report talked about what it would take to save Koetter’s job.  I have to say I agree with the assessments. The Glazers never make in-season changes. They just don’t. They let the season play out and see how it ends. If it ends positively, there’s a good chance the current regime stays. If the Bucs crash and burn down the stretch, typically that makes them consider making a change. Koetter’s 6-2 finish last season showed a lot of promise and built a lot of optimism for this coming season. He needs that type of finish to save his job – and if it’s true that Jon Gruden wants to return to the Bucs – even that may not get the job done.

Look, the Glazers have been wanting to recapture the glory days for awhile now. Before hiring Lovie, there were rampant rumors they reached out to Tony Dungy to see if he would be interested in returning. The Lovie hire was in hopes of bringing back that Dungy magic. Koetter’s hiring was all about Jameis. They wanted Jameis to have continuity in the same offense and continue to progress. While Winston has improved a little this season, in other ways he’s definitely regressed and that is on Koetter.

If Gruden truly is interested in the job, it may take an unbelievable finish by Koetter to save himself. The Bucs haven’t been to the playoffs since Gruden. They haven’t even sniffed a division title. Gruden holds the team record with 3 during his 7 years here. Lord knows, no one brings the juice (both good and bad) like Jon Gruden does. Would Gruden be as attracted to the job if Jameis Winston is not going to be there for six games (or worse, at all)?

Personally, I’d rather see the Bucs stick with Koetter and give Licht one more shot at building the offensive and defensive lines rather than trying to go back in time. That never seems to work out the way you hope.

8) I know how they’ve looked. However, if the Bucs can get their crap together – the next few weeks lines up nicely for them. The next four games are all against teams they are competing against for the playoffs and are currently ahead of them in the standings. Win those games, starting this week in Atlanta, and you can legitimately start looking at scenarios as the Bucs would hold tie-breaker advantage on all of them.

Of course, the odds are long that they can pull it off, especially with Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback at least for the next week or so.

DLT’s Emotional Bucs vs. Dolphins Game Day Tweet of the Week

 

J.C. De La Torre

J.C. De La Torre

JC De La Torre is formerly a columnist/blogger for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers blog site BucsNation.com where in 2016, he was nominated as best sportswriter in Tampa Bay by Creative Loafing. Previously, he served as a featured columnist for Bleacher Report on Tampa Bay sports, an editor and featured columnist for SB Nation Tampa Bay covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Gators, wrote for NFL.com’s Blog Blitz and contributed to Pewter Report, one of the top magazines on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

JC is also a filmmaker, comic writer and rabid Whovian.

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