The Buccaneers are 2-0 on the season and sit atop the NFC South division standings, surprising many who expected the team to struggle early without quarterback Jameis Winston.

A player many expected to be a part of the team’s hoped turnaround was defensive end Noah Spence, who missed all but one game in 2017 with a shoulder injury. Despite the high hopes, Last week against the Saints Spence played just four snaps, and on Sunday Spence was inactive against the Eagles, causing a few raised eyebrows.

Bucs offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter believes having fun is essential to having success in the NFL – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Bucs OC Dirk Koetter – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Head coach Dirk Koetter said don’t read too much into it during his day-after press conference on Monday from One Buc Place.

“That doesn’t mean we’re down on him, it doesn’t mean he regressed,” Koetter said. “We have 46 guys on game day and we got to get the 46 that we think gives us the best chance to win that game. Special teams has to factor into it. So if you have five defensive ends on game day, just like five wide receivers, I mean four and five have to play special teams. There’s just not enough guys if you do it that way.”

Spence doesn’t start on special teams and Koetter said that is part of the reason he wasn’t active on Sunday, but that Spence is putting in the work.

“He’s working extremely hard to work on things that we’ve asked him to work on,” Koetter said. “We’re not down on Noah. It’s not about not trying hard enough, not working hard enough, not caring hard enough,”

“He’s disappointed,” Koetter said. “He wants to play, he wants to help, he wants to be a part of it. That’s a good thing, that’s all good”.

Koetter even mentioned that Spence with him on Friday after getting the news he wouldn’t be active and said that was a positive.

“He came up and met with me one-on-one and we had a productive meeting,” Koetter said. “That’s a sign of maturity on his part to come up and look me in the eye and talk it out man to man. I appreciate that, we didn’t agree on everything but we got a plan in place to keep pushing things forward.”

As to what specifically was talked about in that meeting, Noah Spence himself gave insight into that.

“It’s not more of a football aspect of it, it’s more mental,” Spence said. “Just not be so much in my head. Coach was saying I put a lot of pressure on myself, and it makes me think too much sometimes.”

– Matt Matera contributed to this report


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About the Author: Mark Cook

Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, the beach and family time.Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at
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2 years ago

This is one those times where coach is full of crap. They aren’t down on Spence but he’s not playing? Ok whatever Dirk. When I saw him in pre season unable to get any pressure on 3rd and 4th string guys that’s all I needed to see. He’s horrible for whatever reason. Maybe shoulder isn’t right? Maybe he just stinks who knows.

2 years ago

Noah it’s easy, you want to play? Start sacking the quarterback. You’ve been collecting a check for awhile now on potential, and your draft status. It’s time to produce. I will say it’s hard to sack the Q.B. if you aren’t active on game day. The Bucs need to put him out there, and if he can’t produce the way they hoped time to move on. Koetter uses the same excuse for not playing Rojo, he doesn’t play special teams. I say, why not? Rojo was never given a chance as a kick returner, why not? Spence can’t cover kick… Read more »

2 years ago

I still say this guy needs to be in a 3-4. I watched him a couple times in training camp and he’s extremely quick, fast. No idea why that’s not translating into pressure and sacks, but could just be he’s not a 4-3 DE.

2 years ago

I have no clue why Spence is still here; trade him or release him as this isn’t helping his career either. We should have never drafted him; should have gotten a bigger player. Pretty obvious why so many teams passed on him in the 1st & 2nd rounds.

2 years ago

I smell a Trade. I can think of several candidates. A TE, a DE, A Receiver. What could we get for Spence, Brate and one of our star receivers?

2 years ago

Funny, I read Koetter differently some of you. Yes, he uses “coach speak” at times. Yes, he is short with some reporters at times. I trust him overall, however. He seems to me to be honest and say “I can’t or I won’t say ‘such n such'”. He is very good at trying to be honest without revealing too much. (I am no mind reader so I have to trust he has good reasons for not revealing too much at a given time.) I have gone back and looked at what he said after I have had many questions answered… Read more »

2 years ago

I am so glad that Koetter supports Spence. We are winning and have for the first time in a long time good depth at most positions. Only 46 can dress and to me the guys that aren’t will get their chance as we get deeper in the season. No trades, no cutes, no tweaking simply play the hand we have. Injuries and suspensions are on the way and I hear all the time about new acquisitions forced to play 3 days after joining the team, Players like ROJO and Spence by mid-season will be in such demand. They are learning… Read more »