A week ago, Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter enjoyed a Gatorade bath after winning his first game as an NFL head coach in Tampa Bay’s 31-24 road win over Atlanta. A week later, Koetter has to regroup after a stinging 40-7 loss at Arizona.
Most Tampa Bay fans and media members that cover the Bucs would have accepted a 1-1 start before the beginning of the regular season, so the sky isn’t falling with 14 games left despite how poorly the team played on Sunday.
Yet, Koetter needs to find the right message for his team when he address the players later today as they review film and begin preparing for the visiting Los Angeles Rams (1-1).
If I was Coach Koetter, this is what I would tell the players in today’s team meeting:
All right, Buccaneers. Listen up.
We’re going to talk about Sunday’s loss to the Cardinals once and we’re going to burn the tape and forget it. When you talk to the media this week – it’s on to Los Angeles. No need to discuss the Debacle In The Desert with reporters. We’re on to the Rams. You got me?
I should be saying, “Quit reading your press clippings telling you how great you were after beating Atlanta,” but I actually want you to read PewterReport.com and the other websites. I want you to read how quickly you can go from being a hero to a zero in this league with one bad game. I want the negativity and the questions about you guys being potential frauds and pretenders to fuel you this week, and then take out your frustrations on the Rams.
This is a good, young Buccaneers team we have here. Believe that and show everybody that’s the case when L.A. comes to town this week.
I didn’t do a good job preparing the offense for a faster start in Arizona. Mike Smith didn’t do a good job dialing up pressure on Carson Palmer, but let’s start with the offense.
Bucs QB Jameis Winston and HC Dirk Koetter – Photo by: Getty Images
Jameis, you know we can’t have that many turnovers. The tipped pass that was returned for a pick-six wasn’t all your fault, and your last one on the Hail Mary was meaningless. But those other turnovers are on you and we can’t have ‘em.
I know we want aggressive, explosive plays, but we can’t manufacture them and force them. I shouldn’t have dialed up the pass to Mike Evans against Patrick Peterson in the first quarter. Peterson’s too good and we paid for it. We were moving the ball and we’ve got to be more patient. That wasn’t the right call to throw deep there and take a shot.
Jameis, I’ve got to do a better job of getting you settled in with more screen passes, slants and short-range passes to get you into a rhythm earlier. But when we have guys open – man, you have to, have to, have to hit them.
Vincent, I’m not sure what’s going on, but you don’t look like the Vincent Jackson we’ve all come to know and love. You and Jameis need to work after practice together to find some chemistry because it’s missing.
Adam Humphries, we’re going to stop running you 30 yards down the field because you don’t have the same catch radius as our 6-foot-5 receivers and that’s a tougher throw for Jameis to make. We want you to do your work on the short and underneath routes because you are more quick than fast.
Tight ends, I’ve got to get you more involved in the passing game and be more content with 5-to-10-yard, chain-moving gains rather than trying to force explosive plays down the field to our receivers.
Charles Sims, I know you’re not Doug Martin, but when Doug is out, you need to run like he does with more reckless abandon and a sense of urgency. You made strides as a runner last year with your tackle-breaking ability. Don’t take a step back now. We need you with Doug’s hamstring issue.
Jacquizz Rodgers, get ready for some more carries this week.
O-line, you’re going to be facing your toughest test of the year this week going against Aaron Donald, William Hayes, Michael Brockers and Robert Quinn. We need to win the line of scrimmage without fail.
As good as he is, we cannot let Donald’s penetration disrupt our offense. Kevin Pamphile, you need to play like a Pro Bowl version of Logan Mankins this week. This is a big week for you.
Let’s turn to the defense. We didn’t help you out too much offensively with the turnovers, but you guys on defense didn’t help yourselves, either.
Kwon, I love you, man, but Pro Football Focus said you’re a lousy tackler and you proved them right several times with missed tackles on David Johnson yesterday. We have to have those. We need the 17-tackle Kwon this week against Todd Gurley, not the 7-tackle Kwon we saw in Arizona.
Lavonte, do I really have to say anything? Come on, Pro Bowler. Zero tackles? Really? We all know you are better than that. Show us on Sunday.
Defensive line, I know we’re banged up. We lost Jacquies Smith in Week 1. Robert Ayers re-injured that ankle in Arizona. Will Gholston, Noah Spence and Howard Jones, you need to dial it up and bring the heat off the edge.
Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter – Photo by: Getty Images
Carson Palmer threw the ball 31 times and was only hit four times and sacked once. No wonder he threw three touchdowns and no picks. We can’t have that. It’s easy to blame Chris Conte for John Brown’s 51-yard touchdown before halftime, but without any pressure on Palmer we are hanging our defensive backs out to dry by asking them to cover speed receivers that long.
Speaking of picks, we need a damn takeaway, defense. This is ridiculous going two games without a takeaway. It’s killing us. This is not the same type of defense we saw in the preseason with 16 sacks and five picks in four games.
Brent, I know you had a tough assignment going against Larry Fitzgerald yesterday, but you’ve got to make that pick in the end zone. It hit you right in the hands.
Alterraun and Vernon, good games in coverage for the most part, but we need interceptions on defense. It has to happen this week against Case Keenum. We can’t let this guy beat us back-to-back years.
The Rams didn’t think he was good enough so they drafted Jared Goff with the first overall pick for a reason. Let’s not turn this guy into another Kirk Cousins on Sunday, okay?
The Rams have struggled offensively. They’re coming off a big win at home against the Seahawks and they are feeling pretty good about themselves – kind of like we were after beating the Falcons.
The reality is that in two games Los Angeles has just nine points and has yet to score a touchdown. Todd Gurley hasn’t really gotten going yet, and let’s make sure we keep it that way.
We’re giving up 28 points per game on defense, which is ridiculous. Something has to give. This should be our “get well” game on defense. Let’s not make it their “get well” game on offense, especially in our house.
If we’re going to make the playoffs this year we have to – and I mean have to – win our home games. We split our first two road games, and now we’re back home in front of our crowd – our fans. We’re 1-1 with a big opportunity to go 2-1 if we take care of business against the Rams. If we win our home games and split our road games, we’re right where we need to be, fellas.
Now let’s have a good week of practice, and get healthy.
Scott Reynolds is in his 25th 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 spent six years 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@example.com
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