It’s time for PewterReport.com’s 2-Point Conversion post-game column, which features two statements, two questions and two predictions based on the latest Bucs game. The Bucs had a golden opportunity to score a big upset on the road at Lambeau Field with Jameis Winston’s return to action, but fell to 4-8 on the season after a 26-20 overtime loss to the Packers.

TWO BIG STATEMENTS

STATEMENT 1: Winston Has A Solid Return To Bucs’ Lineup
After a three-game absence due to an injured throwing shoulder, Bucs starting quarterback Jameis Winston returned to the lineup and had a fine day in a 26-20 overtime loss at Green Bay. Armed with a great game plan from head coach Dirk Koetter – perhaps the best of the year – Winston hit several screen passes to Peyton Barber and Charles Sims and hit all four tight ends on the roster with at least one pass, including Cameron Brate, who had two touchdowns on his two receptions, which covered 39 yards. Winston finished the day 21-of-32 for 270 yards and two touchdowns with a 112.8 QB rating.

Winston started the game looking poised, settled and confident while throwing 4-of-5 for 60 yards, including a 28-yard touchdown pass to Brate. Then the Packers brought pressure and that really befuddled Tampa Bay’s maligned offensive line, which was missing starters in center Ali Marpet and right tackle Demar Dotson. After spending the week practicing with Joe Hawley at center, Evan Smith at left guard and left guard Kevin Pamphile at right tackle, Hawley became ill on Saturday and wasn’t able to play. That meant Smith had to go to center, Pamphile back to left guard and second-year player Caleb Benenoch stepped in at right tackle.

Winston was sacked seven times on Sunday and was hit 13 more times.

“I thought Jameis played good, I thought he did a good job except the one play,” Koetter said. “We didn’t protect Jameis nearly as well as we’ve protected this year. That was probably our worst protection game we’ve had all year. Some of that credit to things Green Bay did. And some of them – two that I can remember – we just flat turned guys loose. That’s communication. Jameis was under duress, but he did a great job of competing, as he always does. He did a great job scrambling. He really only had the one negative play.”

Packers DE Dean Lowery – Photo by: Getty Images
Packers DE Dean Lowery – Photo by: Getty Images

Unfortunately, that one negative play led to a Green Bay touchdown in the first half. Pamphile was beaten by defensive tackle Kenny Scott, who sacked Winston. But instead of taking the sack, Winston tried to do too much and throw the ball. As he was being slung to the ground, the ball flew up into the air and into the arms of defensive end Dean Lowry, who raced 62 yards for a touchdown to put the Packers up 17-7.

“I don’t even know how the ball came out,” Winston said. “I think when I ran back he hit a guy’s butt or something. I don’t even know. I know I was going out to the right and I was actually throwing it away.”

Tampa Bay Times Bucs beat writer Rick Stroud tweeted out a true, but damning statistic about Winston: QB Jameis Winston has 39 INTs and 11 lost fumbles in 41 games. That’s 50 turnovers in 41 games.

Winston certainly contributed to the Bucs’ point production with his two touchdowns, but he did give the Packers a key touchdown, too.

“I can’t turn the football over and give their defense, give their team free points,” Winston said.

Koetter agreed.

“We’ve talked about this many times,” Koetter said. “Jameis is going to make some plays. He made a couple of really nice scramble plays today. That particular one there – and like I said he was under pressure all day – in a perfect world he would have gotten the ball out of his hands more. But they were on him quick. We have to remember that he’s 23 years old and experience is still the best teacher.”

Will Koetter be around next year to keep teaching Winston, or will Winston’s penchant for turnovers contribute to him being fired?

STATEMENT 2: Bucs’ Second-Round Pick Evans Was Worth It
It didn’t generate a lot of favorable buzz when it happened, but the second-round selection of safety Justin Evans has turned out to be a very good one for Tampa Bay general manager Jason Licht. Fans and some pundits were hoping for a passing rushing defensive end, a running back or an offensive lineman, but the Bucs did need a safety, one that could make plays in the secondary against the pass, especially in a division that features some of the NFL’s top quarterbacks in New Orleans’ Drew Brees, Carolina’s Cam Newton and Atlanta’s Matt Ryan, who is the reigning league MVP.

Evans got off to a slow start due to injuries that hampered him in the offseason during the OTAs and he was slow to make plays in training camp and during the preseason. But once he got his first start against New England, picking off Tom Brady, he’s become a much more confident player. Evans came into Sunday’s game at Green Bay with two interceptions and 52 tackles, which ranked third on the team. He added another interception against the Packers on an overthrown pass intended for Jordy Nelson, and finished with six tackles, which was second behind linebacker Lavonte David on Sunday. Now Evans is the second-leading tackler in Tampa Bay with 58.

He’s still missing some tackles, taking a few poor angles and needs to work on his run fits. Evans is also not a finished product in pass defense, either. He’s given up some touchdowns and big plays, but out of the Bucs’ three other safeties – Chris Conte, T.J. Ward and Keith Tandy – he’s the only one making splash plays, like Sunday’s pick of Brett Hundley, or his diving interception in the end zone against Miami three weeks ago.

Evans had five interceptions and 11 pass breakups in two seasons at Texas A&M, and his junior season saw him as the top safety in the country against the pass with four picks and eight pass breakups. That’s why the Bucs pounced on him midway through the second round.
Evans’ big plays aren’t just limited to interceptions, either. Near the end of regulation, Evans came flying in and tackled Nelson just short of the first down marker to force a fourth-and-1 situation and a game-tying field goal. The Texas A&M product appears to be on his way to having a bright future in Tampa Bay.

TWO PROBING QUESTIONS

QUESTION 1: Why Did The Bucs Think This Offensive Line Was Good?
During the entire offseason both Licht and Koetter used every available opportunity to sing the praises of the existing personnel along the offensive line, which we reported, while others were calling for the Bucs to upgrade their line in the draft. The thinking was that moving Marpet to center and inserting J.R. Sweezy in at right guard following his return from back surgery was going to boost the play of the O-line.

That hasn’t happened. The pass protection has been decent this year, but the running game has been absent on a consistent basis – until Sunday in Green Bay.

That’s when the Bucs’ make-shift offensive line surrendered seven sacks, yet powered a ground game that had a season-high 165 yards and a 4.7 yards per carry. Sweezy was still at right guard, Donovan Smith was still at left tackle and Pamphile was at left guard full time. The only two changes were putting Evan Smith at center and Benenoch at right tackle.

I don’t get it.

How did that unit help Peyton Barber rush for a career-high 102 yards?

“We did great from an offensive line standpoint – we dominated the line of scrimmage,” Winston said. “They were in a new situation. We found out the day of the game that we weren’t going to have Joe, so hats off to those guys. They’re resilient and did a great job.”

That’s Winston being Captain Hyperbole. The offensive line did great run blocking. In pass protection? Not so good. Winston was sacked twice on two missed assignments. Donovan Smith doubled down to help Pamphile on one play and allowed Clay Matthews to record one of his 2.5 sacks. Sweezy doubled a Packers defender with Evan Smith and allowed Lowry to come free on a sack.

Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Getty Images
Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Getty Images

Here comes Captain Hyperbole again.

“Evan played an amazing game,” Winston said. “We just had a miscommunication there.”

No, Smith didn’t have a great game, and Winston was talking about a fumbled snap inside the red zone. Smith’s rough return to Green Bay, where he played for five years, also included two fourth quarter penalties – a holding call and a very costly illegal block above the waist penalty that negated a 20-yard gain on a screen pass to Charles Sims.

“That was a double cadence and Evan snapped it on the wrong snap count,” Koetter said. “Evan just missed it.”

As for Smith’s penalty on Tampa Bay’s final drive before overtime, Sims’ 20-yard reception set the Bucs up at their own 40-yard line, needing just 30 more yards to get into Pat Murray’s range to possibly kick a game-winning field goal to break a 20-20 tie. Instead, the Bucs faced first-and-20 from their own 10-yard line.

“That one would have been about a 50-yard penalty,” Koetter said. “To have the drive start there, then all of a sudden you’re first-and-20, backed up and the crowd is at its loudest right there. That was a tough call that went against us right there.”

“If the guy calls it, he calls it,” Winston said. “I know Evan was distraught from that because he knew he didn’t do anything.

“I think we had like two miscommunications,” Winston said. “They just found out today that this was going to be our offensive line. I don’t think it’s right to be able to say that they did sub-par when they overcame so much.”

The Bucs offensive line was both good and bad, but in the end, it wasn’t good enough. Had Winston had more time in the pocket, he wouldn’t have lost the fumble that was returned for a touchdown, and the Bucs might have scored more than just 20 points.

Marpet, Dotson, Donovan Smith and Benenoch will be back next year. The team will have to decide the fate of Evan Smith and Pamphile, who will unrestricted free agents, as well as Sweezy, who hasn’t come close to playing up to his $6.4 million salary this year. Sweezy is due to make $5.25 million next year.

QUESTION 2: Why Not Start Barber The Rest Of The Year?
I’ve seen enough of Doug Martin. You know, the guy that hasn’t rushed for 100 yards in the past two calendar years?

Martin missed the Packers game with a concussion, which gave Barber his first chance to start in the NFL. He responded with a career-high 102 yards rushing and also led the Bucs with four catches for 41 yards on screen passes. His 143 total yards also represent a personal best, as well as the most combined yardage any Tampa Bay running back has produced all season. Barber’s 100-yard game was also the first time any Bucs back has topped the century mark all season.

“Peyton Barber played an amazing game – he was magnificent,” Winston said. “When you are running the ball and you are able to get yards off screens, your offense has success.”

Barber runs with power and decisiveness, which Martin lacks. Barber doesn’t dance around in the backfield. He fights for yardage and knows that a two-yard gain to set up second-and-8 is much better than second-and-12.

Bucs RB Peyton Barber - Photo by: Getty Images
Bucs RB Peyton Barber – Photo by: Getty Images

“When you can run the football everything opens up,” Winston said. “We were able to get some screens off the play-action and we would get in empty and get some screens. Coach Koetter called a great game, but when Peyton Barber and that offensive line is dominating the running game, you can do anything on offense.”

Barber reminds me of a young Earnest Graham. We’ll see what this outing does to his confidence and his overall game. I’m not sure how high his ceiling is, and I know that Martin is a more talented back, but I’d rather have a north-south runner like Barber starting for me down the stretch if I’m Koetter.

I’ve already gone on record in saying that the Bucs need to blow up on their backfield next year – except for Barber. So with the season essentially over at 4-8, it just doesn’t make any sense to start Martin down the stretch. At age 29, Martin shouldn’t be in the team’s future plans at running back.

TWO BOLD PREDICTIONS

PREDICTION 1: The Bucs Win Their Last Game Of The Year Next Week
Tampa Bay beats the visiting Detroit Lions next week at Raymond James Stadium. The Lions are 6-6 after losing at Baltimore and Matthew Stafford suffered an injury to his throwing hand in the game. The Bucs play better at home than they do on the road, so I think they’ll upset the Lions next week.

But that will be Tampa Bay’s final victory of the year. I don’t expect the Bucs to beat the Falcons at home on Monday Night Football the next week. What a crazy atmosphere that will be with Jon Gruden in the house to call the game for ESPN and to be inducted into the Bucs Ring of Honor.

I wonder how the pre-game production meeting will go between Koetter and Gruden with all of the Grumors flying? Can you say “awkward?” If the Bucs lose that game, as I expect them to, can’t you see the Glazers and Gruden having a “chance encounter” in the bowels of Ray-Jay after the game?

I don’t see a strong motivation for the Bucs to board a plane and fly to Carolina to play a Panthers team that will need a win to stay in playoff contention on Christmas Eve, do you? I also don’t see how they can beat the juggernaut that is the New Orleans Saints – even at home – the following week. The prediction here is a 5-11 record for Tampa Bay.

PREDICTION 2: Winston Plays Even Better Next Week
I said the Bucs are going to win, and Winston will be a big reason why. I really like how he came out focused in his first game back from a three-week hiatus due to his injured shoulder. I think that continues.

“We played great, we just came out on the short end of the stick,” Winston said after the loss to the Packers. “Sometimes that’s how football works, but when we look back on that film we’re going to say, ‘Dang, we could have done this better or that better.’ It felt good. It felt good as an offense. It felt good as a team.

Bucs QB Jameis Winston - Photo by: Getty Images
Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Getty Images

“Offensively, we have to build off this game. The running game was impeccable. Peyton Barber did an amazing job and our offensive line was very dominant in that aspect.”

I like the game plan that Koetter armed him with at Green Bay and didn’t feel like Winston was really out of rhythm at any point in the game. There was a strong running game for Winston to lean on and he was able to work the play-action passing game off that. Winston had some bad throws under duress, but didn’t miss open receivers.

I have no idea why, other than a gut feeling, that Winston has a three- or four-touchdown game against the Lions. The biggest thing he has to do is avoid turnovers, of course, because Detroit can make you pay. Although the Lions only have 11 interceptions, they have three pick-sixes, and two fumbles returned for touchdowns on eight fumble recoveries.

They’re an opportunistic defense. Winston needs to make sure he creates scoring opportunities for the Bucs – not the Lions.

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Scott Reynolds is in his 23rd year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds enjoys giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]

48 COMMENTS

  1. The problems with the OL are obvious.

    When Marpet was at OG, Hawley/Evans couldn’t anchor all that well. When Marpet moves to center he is better as an anchor and moving into space. But Marpet’s departure from RG opens a new hole as Sweazy simply is very ordinary and nothing special.

    My prediction is D. Smith is moved to LG. Pamphile may be re-signed if he can show he can play at RT. A new LT and new RG is very real possibility.

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  2. Okay I’m looking at the positives; we have some young players on this team who can play; problem not enough of them. In the off season time to make a plan to find more draft picks. We have a couple players we could get something for them or make a swap which would be good for both teams. We need a LT in the 1st or 2nd round and move D. Smith to LG. I believe that would solve the OL and we should draft another one in the middle rounds for backup and future. We need DE’s and a DT and this where it gets tough to find them in the earlier rounds. Got to trade further down in the 1st round and pick up a 2nd rd pick. Hey we are tough Buc Fans and we can support this team. One more year and we will be close enough to surprise some teams. Go Bucs! I’m not giving up; I’m just disappointed it was this year, but our time is coming soon.

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    • Agree Horse the Bucs will have to trade somebody.
      Mike Evans maybe that player? Godwin looks like he can step in to replace him.
      A linebacker could be traded also.
      We as fans would hate to see them go but we need quality Linemen on both sides of the ball.

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      • Trading Mike Evans isn’t a very good idea. You give up a top 5 receiver in the entire league. The problem with the Evans production has a lot to do with how he’s being used. The man can catch the ball down the field (go to Youtube and watch his highlight tape) but the Bucs have mysteriously chosen to only throw the ball to him on slant routes and curls. Koetter has basically turned him into a possession receiver this year.

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        • Agreed. ITS almost like like since they picked up desean Jackson, they use him as a deep threat and evans cathes everythin underneath.

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        • You have to give up something to get something!

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        • Cody you are missing my point.
          I never said Mike was not a good player!
          He is a good player and we would get some good draft picks. In a perfect world a trade would not be needed but we have not added any DE’S for to long. We did draft Spence but to small and injured alot.
          The Bucs need high draft picks. They need 2 defensive linemen and 2 offensive linemen.
          If our GM would have addressed these positions instead of trading away picks for a kicker maybe we would not need to part with some players.

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          • I see your point. I just disagree with it. You don’t trade one of the best young talents in the sport for more draft picks. Evans has little to no injury history and is a player that should be a Buc for life.

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      • Buc 1976, agree; might have to go as far as trading Brate, Alexander, Evans.
        I believe Hawley, Martin, Ayers, Sweezy, Baker, McDonald, Conte, Tandy will be cut. I’m sure I missed some. E. Smith, Pamphile stay because they can play various positions on the OL as well paid back ups. I would sign Grimes for guaranteed one year contract with incentives such as games played, interception, caused fumble, etc.

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        • Horse there are some that understand you can’t trade someone like we will say Sweezy and get a high pick.
          NOLA traded Jimmy G. When he was a all pro. They traded. Cooks if that is his name not sure to N.E. and have turned the defense around and their Offense does not have to score 40 points to win.

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  3. Evans left his gap open on the OT TD, and I remember you being adamant and supportive of the Oline not needing any help this offseason Scott.

    Jameis did improve staying on the bench and think he’s gonna do some good things with Gruden

    The law of Earnest Graham undrafted backs don’t get to play until someone gets injured no matter how badly the guy in front of them performs

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  4. The Bucs play better at home, but I wouldn’t eat a W for next week just yet Scott. It’ll be an angry mob at Ray Jay next week, if anyone shows up at all, looking to stick a pitch fork in any Buc who screws up. Could feel more like a home crowd for the Lions. My question is, should we lose, do the Glazers fire Koetter, and spare him the embarassment of Grudens induction the following week? That would be an awkward production meeting for both men.

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  5. I don’t really understand why Jameis is getting a good review for this game.

    He put up a lot of yards and was a tough competitor throughout the game based on all the hits he took and the ankle injury.

    But he only got 20 points on the scoreboard against a Packers defense that isn’t all that great. He also had a running back that took some pressure off of him for the first time all season. I know a lot of the fault goes on the coaching staff as it should. But the Tampa defense gave the team more than enough stops to win the game yesterday. So I feel like this one is more on Jameis and Koetter than the defense.

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    • totally agree Cody, Jameis MUST improve his decision making. He is way to careless with the ball, both throwing and when under duress in the pocket. It was dumb luck he didn’t have several passes intercepted yesterday. No doubt he has talent, but he is just not consistent. Barely above average, nowhere near elite at this point in his career.

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  6. While I disagree with fans and critics who singled out Winston for causing the Bucs to lose the game in Green Bay, I also disagree with the notion that he had a “fine day” – that’s ridiculous. Instead, Jameis was the same old, same old inconsistent, Jekyll and Hyde player he’s been since his first start 3 seasons ago. That does NOT constitute a “fine day” for a player near the end of his third year, especially a no. 1 overall pick quarterback who’s started nearly every game in three seasons.

    On the two successful touchdown drives Jameis played like a seasononed professional. On the other drives he looked like the panickec, overly-emotional player who has no common sense on when to give up on the play. He holds the ball way too long rather than go through his checkdowns or toss it away, instead taking 7 sacks. Yes, the O line didn’t protect well, but a seasoned vet QB does not take 7 sacks, nor does he commit the 2017 version of the Butt Fumble, that made all the highlight vids and was singled out as the second “best” play of the day by NFL Red Zone. Listening to the play by play guys, who all complimented Jameis’s talents and his play during the two successful drive, they also kept coming back to repeat what virtually everybody in the league who is not a Bucs or Noles homer believes, i.e., that he just can’t stop committing head shaking dumb errors unbefitting of a third year vet.

    Jameis did not play, overall, badly. Overall, Jameis had a mediocre, same old same old game. Near the end of his third season, and being the no. 1 overall pick in the draft three years ago, that’s just nowhere near good enough, and nowhere near a “fine day.”.

    How much is it coaching and how much is on Jameis? I think most believe the coaching has not been good this year. But at the same time, it’s the player who plays. Judgment is not something that can be coached – it has to be internal. Maybe another coach can help Jameis to learn to make better decisions, and get his head straight during games. We should be willing to give another coach the opportunity to do that, and then decide if he’s a keeper or not. The JW fanboys will never admit anything and will continue to blame everything on coaching. That’s just how it is, here at PR and on other Bucs sites. But the facts are the facts, and do require testing to fully reveal them.

    Let’s get a new coaching regime, and then determine the facts.

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    • Lots to unpack here. I just signed up to reply to this post as I think it is representative of a lot of fans’ sentiment this season. First things first: we are a losing team. As such, everyone who cares about this team is looking to identify why we’re a losing team, which is an exercise in blaming.

      As the saying goes, QB’s get too much praise and too much blame. Prime example for me: Last year I watched Dak Prescott take 10 seconds at every drop back and go through his progressions 5 times before firing an accurate pass to an open receiver. Everyone praises him for it.
      One year later, remove an elite running game, drop some starter OL’s to injury and suddenly Dak can’t hit the broad side of a barn as he’s constantly under pressure. Go figure.

      Example #2: Everyone and their brother lauds the QB you could have had but didn’t take; in our case, Mariota. He was supposed to be more poised, more mature, less turnover prone, etc. How’s his season going? Let’s compare:

      INT’s: Mariota: 12, Winston: 6
      TD’s: Mariota: 10, Winston: 12
      Comp %: Mariota, 63, Winston, 62
      Yards/Game: Mariota, 220, Winston 243
      Passer Rating: Mariota, 80, Winston, 90

      Mariota adds more on the ground but has also suffered more injuries through 3 seasons so far.

      There is a lot to evaluating QB’s as many, many, many factors affect their perceived success or perceived failure. I thought JoeBuck made a good point regarding Winston on twitter yesterday. Referring to the second TD pass he said, few guys can throw into that window. My point: our team, not Jameis, went from first and goal at the 2 to 3rd and goal at the 11 from stupid, bonehead plays or freak accidents. Fitzpatrick isn’t making that throw, nor are many other QB’s in the entire league.

      My greater point regarding yesterday: THAT TD throw gave us the freaking lead against a team that had done absolutely nothing offensively all day. All we have to do is stop them and we have an opportunity to run the clock out. What happens? Our defense allows a long drive that ends in the game tying field goal. Then, our OL, again, is our demise on the ensuing drive killing penalty that effectively sent the game to overtime. And in overtime, our defense couldn’t stop a nose bleed.

      So rewind the tape. Jameis, in spite of all the freaking pressure and duress all game, leads what should have been a come from behind victory on the road and our defense and offensive penalties gave the game away as quickly as possible.

      If our defense stops them in regulation, we’re all talking about yet another come from behind win for Jameis Winston.

      Taking a sack fumble returned for a TD and looking at it through an emotional lense, you’ll blame the QB. But the same reason he threw that ridiculous TD pass is the same reason he sometimes gives the ball away, which we all know – trying to make a play. Inside that, though, I’m trying to point out how this coaching staff along with this offensive line are not doing the guy any favors in his development. He wants to win…badly. So his default mechanism is “make a play.” Yes, he needs to grow in his understanding of space and time relative to this mechanism, but if we don’t do something as a franchise to protect the guy and make that developmental leap more streamlined, we’re doomed – and it isn’t his fault.

      If you have the very same offensive staff and line problems, would you rather have “check down Glennon” or “make a play Jameis?”

      I’ll take Jameis 10 out of 10 times. He absolutely is a franchise quarterback. But we need to start treating him like that with his development and start taking protecting him in the pocket way more seriously. Last article I read on Tennessee, the staff is taking every measure possible to protect “their franchise quarterback” in Mariota. Tampa should be doing the same thing but we’re game planning like we don’t have the most porous line in all of the NFL.

      I can summarize it all this way: Put Jameis behind Dallas’ line and he makes Prescott look like a HS QB.

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      • Brian, Excellent analysis.

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      • Well spoken and excellent analysis Brian. I will warn you though since you’re a first time poster here, Naples is never wrong. You’ll get a long winded argument about espn QBR and how it’s the gold standard. He doesn’t take into account a garbage offensive line and ZERO running game.
        As for your points, Prescott has looked horrible this year , imagine that, no running game and the best offensive line in football had injuries. As for Mariota , I won’t even go there, I’ve spouted fact after fact to most of these people and they just ignore it. You also forgot to mention he played what is simply the easiest schedule in football this year. FACT
        No one is saying Jameis is perfect, far from it , but you have a group of people who hold Jameis to one standard and not the same standard for every other QB.
        Great post Brian, we hope to see you on here more often.

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      • Brian – thanks for your response, it is reasonable, but a bit misdirected.

        There is not a choice to be made on who should be the Bucs quarterback. The choice was made three years ago to draft Winston, to not draft Mariota, and to relegate Glennon to backup. The Winston diehards keep trying to relitigate the 2015 draft, because they think that paints their guy more favorably (though Mariota has a higher QBR, and a better Won-Loss leadership record, this season, and a higher career PR than does Winston). But none of that should matter to Bucs fans today.

        News flash! The 2015 draft ended two and a half years ago. We are no longer concerned with that long ago draft. What should matter to Bucs fans is Winston’s performance today – this season, his third – and what his performance will be in the future.

        And, the underperformance of the Bucs is not just due to Winston, any more than it is just due to the offensive line, or to the defensive line, or to the running backs, or to the wide receivers, or due to the coaching and playcalling, or to the drafting and recruitment and retention of veterans by the GM.

        What we see is a mish-mash of all of the above, and more.

        It’s not productive to continue non-productive debates. Mariota will never be the quarterback of the Bucs. Glennon will never again be the quarterback of the Bucs.

        Coaching and general management, however, are the gifts that keep on giving regardless of who is on the roster today. It is certainly possible, as well as highly plausible, that a better coaching staff could have gotten much more out of what most people, at the beginning of the season, thought was a very talented team, especially on the offensive side. Yet, the performance has not been there.

        Fixing the chronic underperformance of our roster has got to be the principal concern going forward. I don’t see anything that Jameis Winston has done or is capable of doing that will overcome poor coaching.

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        • I think what you perceived as misdirected was actually misunderstood altogether.

          I am not trying to re-litigate the 2015 draft; that was not my point in bringing up Mariota or Glennon. In fact, my principal comparison was really to Prescott. And the point of the collection of all of those examples was to point out that Jameis has shown many, many times in just 3 years that he is more than capable of being not just a franchise QB, but elite in the NFL. You can pick any QB in the league and I’ll draw a comparison of how Jameis has demonstrated he can very much hang in the elite talent pool – that is not hard to point out.

          My fear is that the franchise, in particular the coaching approach, does not seem to be making every effort to really focus in on a more streamlined development of our QB, who, again, I’m asserting is very much capable of being elite. They MUST focus on protecting this guy from getting destroyed from a porous line and protect him from himself (see my point on his “make a play” mental mechanism).

          However, if you were summarizing your thoughts in your final paragraph, I could not agree more. Essentially, we have an underperformance issue across the board. At several positions on both sides of the ball, in fact, we have some elite players; few of which have recognized their full potential and have been universally recognized by the NFL. So, yes, it is not just Jameis who is not being put in the best position to succeed – and that fact has to fall on the coaching.

          I do not know enough to have a strong opinion about whether or not this staff has had long enough to develop their culture, and I fully recognize the problem with a carousel of coaching staffs contributing to the losing culture, but something must change. There is a lot of talent on this team and it is a mystery as to why it isn’t coming together. The roster is significantly better than the record, in my mind. Or, the offensive line and defensive end positions are wildly more valuable than I ever thought.

          So, back to my original reply – Jameis absolutely had a solid outing, both statistically and contextually. His numbers were very solid (65% comp, 270 yds, 2 TD’s, no INT’s) and he led what should have been the game winning touchdown on the road. I would say that was in spite of a god awful job of protecting him all day. What else do you want from him as you recognize few QB’s in the entire league would have been able to pull that off behind that line on Sunday…

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          • I and nearly everybody who is knowledgeable of and a fan of the NFL disagrees with your assertion that Jameis is performing at an elite level, not even close.

            Elite quarterbacks don’t deliver the 2017 equivalent of the Butt Fumble in last Sunday’s game, where virtually every analysis in the media concluded that Jameis is crippled by a lack of decent judgment. Maybe in the homer’s world of some Bucs fans and all Noles fans, Jameis is elite – but virtually nobody else believes that.

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  7. This team never plays a complete game. Defense and Special teams terrible this time. It all has to end. Koetter and Licht need to go. We need to start over and rebuild around Winston and some pieces that should stay. Half the team needs to go. Monday night against Atlanta is going to be strange. The chants for Gruden’s return will be loud. Hire Gruden back. If they don’t he’ll be gone to another team. Give Derrick Brooks the GM job. He is already Winston’s mentor. You would have Offense with Gruden, Defense with Brooks. Give it a shot.

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    • I agree on firing Koetter. But Jason Licht has been an excellent GM outside of the Aguayo pick. No one expected the pass rush to be this bad last March. No one really knew what we would have with the offensive line since Sweezy was coming back and Marpet was going to center. Licht has done a great job in the draft and should stay. Even though I still wish we would have gotten Mariota instead of Jameis in 2015.

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  8. Jameis played behind a terrible OL and got hurt is the only take away I have from the game. Everything else is more of the same inept coaching we’ve seen all year. No ability to run the ball, then when we are productive we abandon it in the red zone. Almost 100 yards rushing in the 3rdQ but we passed on 5 of 6 downs inside the 5, sounds about right for these clueless clowns. The 6th play was the botched snap that looked like it was play action as well lol give me a break. Special teams still can’t block the guy closest to the ball to prevent a straight line run at the punter. Defense never gets stops or pressures when needed most. I could go on but why Dirk is gone, Licht definitely should be as well. Hopefully somebody sits Jameis before he suffers a season ending injury trying to overcome the deficiencies of this roster. Keep him healthy and his mind right heading what should be a busy and pivotal offseason.

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    • Why would you get rid of Licht? The only mistake he made last offseason was not spending $60 million on Calais Campbell. But that would have been a really risky move spending that much money. Especially when our team was successful getting to the QB last year.

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      • I would fire Licht for several reasons. First is the poor evaluation of Sweezy. How do you sign a guy with a bad back for that amount of money. Second reason is the Pick of Howard, is he a quality pick? Yes, but is that what the team really needed at that point. Third reason, how is his understudy picking better in Memphis than he is. They Fired the Coach in Tennessee for not protecting Mariota, where is the urgency in protecting our quarterback.
        Now I know everyone says that you can’t do everything in one draft. Well look at Minnesota and how they reshaped their line. As well as Tennessee. So it can be done. He just does not seem to have a plan. Which is why he needs to go.

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    • The mistake he made last offseason was not upgrading either line of scrimmage. He relied on JR Sweezy who graded out poorly his last healthy season and was fresh off back surgery. The other guard spot has no starter because both perform at a slightly above backup level. Everyone that could objectivity evaluate this team saw the flaws in Donovan Smith but front office lead us to believe that he just needed more time and that this was the season he “turned the corner.’ The only thing turning the corner are the DEs in hot pursuit of our QB. He inherited a DL that was lead by GMC and we still have a DL that is GMC or bust. We have Jameis as a result of the worst offseason in team history and both lines or scrimmage are unimproved. He’s nothing special, he hits on a few good players but obviously those players aren’t the ones that decide outcomes because the win-loss column does not reflect this growth. A wise GM would’ve seen that his best defenders were older in age on defense and put some more vets on that side of the ball to help them in their peak. We add TJ Ward when a player like Joe Haden would’ve helped much more. VHIII gave up the most yards in the league last year but we just hoped he would grow instead of adding a proven veteran to push him. He gambled on Doug Martin and I think it’s safe to say he was wrong. Doug Martin needed some legit competition in camp to keep him sharp and honestly to keep him fresh. He looks unproductive and worn down, the line does him no favors but Peyton Barber runs harder and is finishing his runs better. Licht has had an impact on the roster but not the winning column and after 4 years that should matter.

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      • I agree with what you’re saying about Sweezy and I always wanted Mariota ahead of Jameis in 2015. But the issue the past two years hasn’t been pass protection or run blocking. It’s been that we hand the ball off to Doug Martin rather than feeding the hot hand. That failure falls on the coaching. Going into last offseason the biggest needs on the team were definitely wide receiver and defensive backs. Tampa was adequate on the offensive line and actually pretty good on the defensive line. Licht went out and got the best receiver in free agency and two really good pass catchers in the draft. He also drafted Justin Evans and signed TJ Ward late. Coaching has been the issue in the secondary and injuries on defensive line.

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      • I still feel like we made the right decision in the draft, Mariota has been injured behind a better OL in TN, there’s no way he’d hold up behind our OL with this running game. We needed secondary help but not at safety. Evans could be a very good player but at CB we had the CB who gave up the most yards in football in VHIII, a 34 year old CB who was performing but still 34 and a guy we drafted in the 5th round that we played at safety last year yet we add nothing? The OL was adequate last year but we run an offense that relies on Play Action and the ability to run the game, being adequate isn’t enough. The defense as a whole benefited from turnovers last year but gave up plenty of yardage. The questions everyone had about this team were met with answers that haven’t proven to be correct. Sweezy being healthy was not the missing link, Donovan Smith has not developed, Doug Martin has not regained his form, Spence did not take another leap even prior to his injury, TJ Ward was not the missing link to the secondary and the list goes on.

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        • Spence got a sack in the only game that he played healthy this year.

          I think most people expected or at least hoped that Doug Martin would be better coming off the suspension. He hasn’t been.

          I think most people expected or at least hoped that Donovan Smith would take a big step forward in his third year. He hasn’t.

          I think most people thought TJ Ward would step in as a strong safety and be a pretty dynamic playmaker once he learned the system a little bit. He hasn’t.

          Maybe I didn’t have the foresight that you did last offseason. But I had pretty high expectations for Spence this year and definitely thought that Hargreaves, Martin, and D-Smith would all take a step forward. So I can’t blame Licht for the moves that he made outside of not signing Calais Campbell in the offseason.

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        • Spence doesn’t get a pass because nobody stays healthy, he was unproductive regardless of the reason. Everybody associated with the Bucs should know Doug Martin isn’t reliable. Jason Licht has seen 4 seasons of this, at what point is expecting Doug Martin to perform at an elite level for a whole season insanity? If TJ Ward was brought here to be a difference maker then he should’ve been starting from Day One so that he could’ve worked through the issues quickly, not spread the inconsistent play over 5-7 games while we half way acclimate 3 safeties to whatever their new roles were. I don’t claim to have any great foresight when it comes to VHIII and Donovan Smith I just watched the tape and saw bad football. Spences offseason hype was built on the lackluster play of Donovan Smith, nobody has stated that but Spence hasn’t dominated any LT I’ve seen him play this year quite like the reports indicate he did Donovan Smith all offseason. VHIII gave up the most yards in football, how much more of an indicator did they need that maybe we needed another option at CB in case he doesn’t progress as normal. We has drafted 1 impact player on either line in 4 seasons. Dot and GMC were already here, and since he was terribly wrong on Donald Penn we hasn’t really added to the talent, Marpet offsets the loss of a quality LT. We are no better off after 4 years, how much more do you need to see?

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          • So you expect TJ Ward to play in an entirely new system within a week of signing with the team? I don’t know I just feel like that’s asking a lot of a guy who hasn’t been around for training camp or anything like that.

            Spence does get a pass for being injured. He played through most of last season with a torn labrum as a rookie. Then he hurt it again in the third game.

            I agree with the other points that you made about Doug and D-Smith even though I think Smith isn’t a terrible LT. I just feel like your expectations are a little too much for TJ and Noah though.

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  9. I am sorry, I’m confused. The Packers can’t stop the run all day. We have a first and goal at the 4, three straight passing plays with a TD that luckily bails us out. What the heck is going on?

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  10. Just based off Jon Gruden’s history when he came to Tampa last time, I expect the Bucs to be very active in the FA and try to bring some Ol and DL talent in.

    Keepers:

    Jameis Winston
    Mike Evans
    Desean Jackson
    Ali Marpet
    Gerald McCoy
    Chris Godwin
    Lavante David
    Kwon Alexander
    Justin Evans
    Kendall Beckwith
    Cameron Brate
    OJ Howard
    Clinton McDonald
    Chris Baker
    Pat Murray
    Brian Anger

    On the Chopping Block:

    Doug Martin
    Jaquizz Rogers
    Evan Smith
    Keith Tandy
    Chris Conte
    Ryan Smith

    Last chance to prove it:

    Donavan Smith
    VH III
    Noah Spence
    JR Sweazy
    Robert Ayers
    Adam Humphries
    Demar Dotson (due to age)

    Probably leaving on their own:

    Brent Grimes
    TJ Ward
    Ryan Fitzpatrick

    I don’t think anyone alse on the team is of any consequense.

    FA and Draft:

    2-3 RBs
    1 LT (probably move D Smith to LG)
    1 RT
    1RG
    2 DEs
    3 CBs
    1-2 Safties

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    • That’s a lot of free agent and draft needs. Who do you want specifically in free agency and the draft?

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      • DE Ziggy Ansah
        LT Nate Solder
        CB Malcolm Butler and/or Vantae Davis
        RB Carlos Hyde

        Not enough to fill the needs but upgrades to what we currently have. Time to start using that cap space.

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        • Yeah I’d love to get Ziggy Ansah.

          I’m honestly a little nervous to pick up Malcolm Butler since Belichick has shown no interest in paying him big money.

          I think there are plenty of running backs in the draft so I disagree on Carlos Hyde.

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          • I agree about the RBs in the draft, but we need about 3-4 RBs on the active Roster and I don’t see Martin, Rogers or Sims being on the team next year. So we need to sign at least 1 as a FA, draft 1, and probably pick a few Undrafted FA after the draft and keep the best 4.

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  11. Destino 102 nailed it

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  12. Not thrilled with the game plan. When our QB is getting drilled like he did, I would like to see a lot more slants and 3 step drops. Too much pressure on a bad o-line for the 5 to 7 step drops.

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  13. Maybe Scott Reynolds watched Brady and Patriots and got games confused, not sure why he did not see the red zone drives finish with FG’s , maybe he missed the handoff to 300-pound man in green and yellow for 7 points the other way, maybe he missed the several passes that bounced off numbers of defence jerseys , maybe he missed all the punts .Maybe Scott does not see this team “does not “has any confidence in #3 and they do not play hard for him like they did Fritz , In short without 2 wins from Fritz this team would be in contention for number one pick in the draft, This team is last in NFC south and next to last in all NFC. And clearly, most on this site do not see the common denominator that wears #3 and eats his fingers to loss on national TV.

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    • So you have first hand knowledge that the team doesn’t play hard for #3? I’d love to see some proof of that. Otherwise your like a few others on here who like to speculate that they know what their talking about.

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      • I watched the games just like you but with blinders off.

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    • Another factless accusation from one of our pewter report trolls.

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  14. Uggghhh.
    Jon Gruden as head coach all promoted by Pewter Report.
    Didn’t Pewter Report also call for the Bucs to fire Lovie Smith and hire Dirk Koetter.
    Quit being a pack of lemmings and sheep like those dreadful souls who believe the racist traitorous Donald Trump can do no wrong even though there is ample proof he has sexually assualted women and consorted with the Russians before and during the election.
    I believe the Bucs should give Koetter and Licht onemore year to straigten this defensive mess out or its adios.
    First, from what I understand from Roy Cummings who covers the Bucs, this is the defense that Licht has given him.
    Cummings said on a radio show that Mike Smith wanted to sign Dwight Feeney when he became available but Licht nixed the move.
    That, in my simple minded opinion, is unacceptable as a season ticket holder. I don’t shell out $500 a season to watch losing football from the stands.
    That is watching your bottom line, not your W and L column.
    If that is coming from above Licht
    then my season tickets will not be renewed next season.
    Pewter Report needs to ask that question to Licht straight out. Is Bucs ownership imposing a lower salary cap than what the NFL allows. If not, why, when the Bucs desperately needed a pass rush, was Dwight Feeney not signed.
    All Jon Gruden and Bruce Allen brought here after his lone SB which I will agree was superbly done, was a bunch of up and down seasons with a slew of bad draft picks that left the cupboard bare.
    His game calling wasnt always so brilliant either since I recall his last playoff game loss.
    When the Bucs were eating up the Giants defense with a ground game, he suddenly went to the passing attack for no reason at all.
    The result was a loss and the Bucs were favored to win the game.
    Keep repeating after me: Michael Clayton, Gaines Adams, Cadillac Williams instead of Aaron Rogers.

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  15. Brian, excellent post.
    You used some fine statistics to back up your opinion as well.
    This stupid comparison between Winston and Mariotta will go on for years and it will prove absolutely nothing.
    You have what you have.
    The people who want to stay on the Mariotta bandwagon are only riding it so they can say, “I told you so.”
    They would rather be right than to see thier so called team win. It’s inane thinking from stupid people.
    I had no dog in the fight when the time came to choose because unlike many of these armchair GM’s, I have neither the time or the interest in trying to become an expert in the draft and players abilities and ceilings because it’s to late for me to start a new career and there is no money or reward in it for me.
    I do have eyes and common sence though and if anyone tells me Winston lost that game because of a scoop and score, they just have an ax to grind or they are just stupid.
    Winston no more lost this game than the special teams did when they made a more egregious mistake by allowing a blocked punt by a rusher up the mddle who was untouched.
    The defense lose this game like they have so many others in the past ten seasons when they couldn’t stop an offense when they were called to.
    But as so often happens in Tampa with their ignorant fans, it’s easier to put the blame on one player than a whole team.
    The Packers have a pretty good line and look how inefective Hundley looked yesterday against our terrible defense.
    Imagine how bad the score would have been yesterday if Winston had been playing for the Packers, let alone the Cowboys.
    And BTW, Prescott hasn’t looked like the world beater he did last year when he had a healthy offensive line and an All Pro running back.
    Instead, he looks more like a second year QB.
    Winston took seven sacks yesterday, and it wasn’t becuase he held on to the ball to long.
    Despite those seven sacks and being harrassed multiple times, he completed 65 percent of his passes and put together a QB rating of 100.
    But because of a defense and defensive scheme that folds like a tent when it is needed to arise, Winston is blamed for the loss because of one bad play.
    Sheer stupidity.

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    • Precisely.

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  16. Scott,
    Why don’t you tell Rick Stroud to look up Drew Brees first 3 full seasons with SD. He had a total of 52 turnovers in 42 games. That is 2 more turnover in one more game than Winston. I didn’t look up Eli but I bet it may be worse.

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