Buck head coach Dirk Koetter addresses the offense's second straight slow start.
If racking up points in the first quarter was easy, everybody would be doing it.
“I’m not going to talk about last year, but it is two weeks in a row in the preseason with this year’s group that offensively we’ve started slow,” Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter said Sunday afternoon from team headquarters, less than 24 hours after last night’s 27-21 win in Jacksonville. “That’s just a fact; it’s happened. How are we going to fix it? If I knew that it would be easy to do. I don’t know that exactly.”
Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Getty Images
Saturday night’s start was nowhere near the debacle in Philadelphia last week when the Bucs needed all of five minutes to put themselves in a 14-0 hole. That doesn’t mean it was good, though.
Tampa Bay’s first drive ended with a discouraging 32-yard missed field goal that rookie Roberto Aguayo pushed wide right. Despite starting from their own 32 after Donteea Dye’s 31-yard kickoff return, the offense needed a pair of 15-yard Jacksonville penalties on third downs just to get into scoring range.
The defense forced a three-and-out to quickly return possession, but the Bucs did more to help set up the Jaguars’ first score of the game than their own. Quarterback Jameis Winston’s third-and-10 pass to Cameron Brate went through the tight ends hands and resulted in an interception near midfield.
While the interception was more on Brate than on Winston, the second-year signal caller went 0-for-6 passing in the first quarter and finished his night 3-for-10 for 28 yards with a touchdown and the interception.
Koetter mentioned that starting fast will continue to be a focal point stressed to players and that it starts with the quarterback.
“We’ve got to talk to them about that, we’ve got to emphasize it and I think more than anything we’ve got to get Jameis off to a quicker start,” Koetter said. “He just started real slow last night. That interception, I would say, was more on the receiver than it was on the thrower. But still the very first play of the game we had Vincent [Jackson] wide open and Jameis has got to make that throw in his sleep.”
Playing from behind has been a concern that’s rolled over from the Lovie Smith era. Tampa Bay’s 3.6 first-quarter points per game tied with Oakland for 22nd in the NFL last year and that was an improvement from the 2.7 number the Bucs posted in 2014.
That stat is at 3.0 after two preseason games this year. Koetter and the rest of the coaching staff will continue emphasizing it to players, but bumping it up ultimately comes down to all-around execution on the field.
“Even though that was a sloppy start, as I also said last night, we still had a chance to go down there and get three points,” Koetter said. “Now that was not a pretty drive and Jacksonville helped us with a couple penalties there, but we’re going to talk to the guys about it.
“I don’t think there’s anything magic, but we’re going to work on it.”
Might Jameis be too jacked up to start the game? Before the game he had the guys all around him giving them encouragement. He was so excited his eyeballs were popping out of his head like Betty Davis.
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