Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter addressed the media to recap the 2017 season and look ahead to 2018, which will be a critical year for the embattled Koetter, who is coming off a disappointing 5-11 campaign in his second year at the helm in Tampa Bay. PewterReport.com’s Bucs beat writers were on hand to cover the press conference and ask questions.
Now it’s time to dissect Dirk, breaking down exactly what Koetter said in his press conference and ultimately went he meant when addressing the future of the Bucs as series of PR Analysis continues.
Koetter on DeSean Jackson’s first year with the Bucs:
“His track record shows that and if you just had an ISO camera on DeSean Jackson when he was on the field this year, DeSean Jackson wins most of the time,” Koetter said on January 1. “When he is trying to get behind the defense, he can get behind the defense. We did not do a good job of getting him the ball in positions that he is used to getting it, which is over the top. … I guess the point that I am trying to make on that is I think DeSean did his part. I see it out there in practice. I see it on the game tape.”
Koetter saying that Jackson did his job by going deep and getting past the defense, but not making the big plays he envisioned when Tampa Bay signed the blazing fast receiver with a career 17.4 yards per catch average is an indictment on Jameis Winston, and that’s true. Winston struggled with his deep ball accuracy this year – and not just hitting Jackson downfield, but also Mike Evans – and that could be attributed to his injured throwing shoulder.
Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Still, Winston is not the most accurate deep ball thrower, even when healthy, and he and Jackson didn’t connect as often in training camp as the team was hoping for. Jackson wound up catching 50 passes for 668 yards and three touchdowns, but his 13.4 average was underwhelming, especially considering the fact that rookie Chris Godwin averaged 15.4 yards per catch on 34 receptions for 525 yards with one touchdown.
Godwin also had the longest play on offense, a 70-yarder, at Carolina, and will figure more prominently into Tampa Bay’s offensive plans next year. However, Jackson likely won’t be going anywhere. He’s set to make $11 million again in 2018 and if the Bucs release him the team would face $7.5 million in dead cap salary money. Therefore the cap savings would only be $3.5 million, which is inconsequential because Tampa Bay already has in excess of $60 million in cap room in 2018 and can release other players that performed far worse to create more cap room.
But unless Winston can improve when it comes to downfield accuracy, Jackson will have to be used more effectively on underneath on slants and intermediate crossing routes by Koetter to take advantage of his speed and produce more yards after catch. Jackson’s longest play of the year was a 41-yard reception, and that came on a crossing route.
Koetter shouldn’t completely abandon the deep ball, but shouldn’t force it into the game plans and make it a staple either, unless Winston shows that he can hit it with greater accuracy. Instead, Jackson should continued to be used as an occasional deep threat decoy, but should be integrated into the passing game as a yards-after-catch threat on intermediate and shorter routes.