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DLT’s Doubloons – Bucs vs. Packers

Another week, another disappointing Sunday for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as they fell in overtime to the Green Bay Packers 26-20.

Pieces of Eight

1) Unfortunately, I missed a good portion of the first half of Sunday’s game. I saw Jameis lead the Bucs down the field on the opening drive for a rare early touchdown. I saw Green Bay’s response with a field goal. Then I was a little distracted.

This little guy was about a four to six footer but as an owner of two small dogs, his presence under my truck just wasn’t going to be tolerated.

Once the trapper arrived and removed the pesky reptile (don’t worry, he was relocated to a very wet place far away from our gated community), I got back in just in time to see Jameis’ fumble. Yay.

2) It dawned on me watching the Bucs meltdown and blow a very winnable game that perhaps my thoughts on the type of quarterback Jameis is was a little off the mark. I’ve always considered Jameis a Brett Favre type but I think I might be wrong.

I think the quarterback Winston is closer to is Jay Cutler. I know, I know. You’re totally ready to throw stuff at me. Old School is about to kick me off the site. Hear me out, though.

Take a look at this chart –

Starts Record Yds TDs Ints Total Fumbles
Winston 41 17-24 10,322 yds 62 39 25
Cutler 41 20-21 9,925 yds 62 42 29
Favre 41 23-18 8,293 yds 47 46 26

It’s actually a pretty surprising result, isn’t it? Winston’s numbers are much better than Favre at this point in their careers. Favre didn’t really become Brett Favre, Hall of Fame Quarterback, until his 4th year as a starter in the league. He got the accolades because his team won and made the playoffs despite him putting up some very average numbers.

One could argue Winston is better than Favre at this point in their careers.

Now, look at Cutler. The raw numbers are much closer between Winston and Smokin’ Jay. Cutler won more games, but Winston has him on yards. They both threw 62 touchdowns in their first 41 games, while Cutler through 3 more interceptions and 4 more fumbles than Winston at this point.

But what about with the game on the line? Once again, the Bucs had an opportunity at the end of the game for Tampa Bay to pull out a late victory, but a holding call on Evan Smith negated a huge gain and sabotaged the opportunity for Winston to add to his 4th quarter comeback and game winning drive numbers.

In 41 games, Winston has just 4 fourth quarter comebacks and 7 game winning drives per Pro Football Reference.

Cutler had 7 fourth quarter comebacks and 9 game winning drives by this point in his career. Favre had 6 game winning drives and 4th quarter comebacks.

Statistically, when the games on the line – at least early in their careers, Favre and Cutler were much more reliable than Winston. Now, to be fair, Winston has put the Bucs in position to win and brought the Bucs back several other times in his career, only to see the defense whiz it away.

Sunday, after the defense blew the lead Winston provided in the fourth quarter, Jameis never got to see the ball in overtime as the defense wilted like a cheese curd despite playing several less plays than the Packers defense at this point (more on that later).

So is Winston more likely to shoot up into the stratosphere like Favre or will his career tank like Cutler? In the end, the Bucs want their quarterback to be more like the Hall of Famer.

3) What is so truly frustrating about Sunday’s loss was Tampa Bay was clearly the better football team. The reason they came out on the short end was their tendency to self-destruct. The blocked punt, setting up the first Green Bay touchdown. Winston’s fumble-six (which was at least a 10 point swing as the Bucs were in field goal position). Drive killing penalties and missed blocks by the patchwork offensive line. Blown assignments, gap integrity and over pursuit by the defense. Inexplicable coaching decisions.

And where the hell was Mike Evans? You know, the unstoppable wide receiver whose been stopped way too many times this season?

The Packers didn’t win the battle of the bays, the Bucs just plain lost it. 12 weeks into the season, that shouldn’t happen but it’s a crystal clear reminder as to why this team is 4-8.

4) I honestly don’t understand what Dirk Koetter was thinking when he let 30 seconds run off the clock before using one of his three remaining time outs with 7 seconds left. The Packers were facing 3rd-and-18 with a suspect quarterback, the Bucs just needed a field goal, and there was absolutely no guarantee they’d see the ball in overtime, which of course they didn’t. He decided it was safer to let the defense get the ball back for them in overtime rather than try to use the few seconds left to win it in regulation.

To me, playing it safe ended any chance the Bucs had to win it at the buzzer and was an indication on how much faith Koetter has in Winston to help more than hurt.

5) What a disgraceful end to this one, huh? The Bucs defense wasn’t beaten by Brett Hunley, who would have struggled to hit the broad side of a barn on Sunday. It was beaten by the run. The game tying drive and the winner in overtime were on the legs of Hunley, Jamal Williams and Aaron Jones, who didn’t carry the football the entire game until the last play of overtime.

Nearly 200 yards rushing surrendered in only 29 attempts. The Bucs offense dominated time of possession and kept their defense off the field. When overtime began, the Bucs were fresh, not seeing that many plays on defense. It certainly wasn’t hot in Lambeau. So it couldn’t have been exhaustion.

No, it was terrible gap responsibility and over pursuit that led the Bucs to defeat.

6) So, behind a patchwork offensive line, Peyton Barber took advantage of his opportunity and kept the Bucs in a manageable down-and-distance while giving the offense balance by rushing for 102 yds on 23 carries. The Bucs on the day would finish with a season high 165 yds on the ground and Barber would be the team’s first 100 yd rusher since Jacquizz Rodgers went for 154 yds in week 7 of last season.

Play the kid more. Doug is done. He hasn’t had a 100 yd rushing day since week 10 of 2015.

7) I’ll admit it, watching Jameis take a beating behind the patchwork offensive line had me with second thoughts after supporting Coach Koetter’s decision to play him. Winston always walks with a little bit of a limp. I think it’s either the way he’s made or it stems from his ankle injury at FSU. It’s always there. Yet, the limp was much more pronounced by the end of this one.

Jameis has always been gumby when it comes to twist and turns. Tackles that would have other QBs pop ACL ligaments, Jameis seems to just pop up from. One day, he won’t.

I’m not mad at Koetter for playing Jameis. I’m mad at him for not devising a better game plan to get the football out of Winston’s hands a lot quicker and more protection for him with extra tight ends or backs blocking in the backfield. We didn’t see the adjustment of screens and slants until the Packers were 4 sacks in on a 7 sack day – and folks, they weren’t the Reggie White Packers defense.

I would say this, the Packers defense might be terrible, but they went down fighting, putting a beating on Winston and blitzing him relentlessly. Frankly, I’d love to see that type of gameplan from the Buccaneers defensive coaching staff.

8) Changes are coming to One Buc Palace. We all see it and sense it. The last month of the season will go a long way in determining whether or not it will be a few changes in the coaching staff or a sweeping regime change (again). It’s a formidable stretch, with the Bucs facing teams .500 or better in each of their last four. I really don’t want to see another reboot. I think the 9-7 season has earned Koetter the right to try to fix this next year, but 4-12 with a six game losing streak to end the year is hard to argue against. This team is much better than 4-12. There’s no way with the talent on both sides of the ball that they should be 4-12. Coaching may have cost this team two or three games already this season, including Sunday.

Koetter looked like a man without answers at his post-game press conference. It wasn’t a good optic. It was a defeated look, one resigned to his fate. He has four games to change the course.

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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