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Dirk Koetter called a great game against the Texans

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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers could not score on offense against the Houston Texans, so naturally some fans have started blaming Dirk Koetter. After all, the offensive coordinator is always the easiest person to criticize, and wanting to replace the offensive playcaller because his calls are "predictable" is a time-honored NFL tradition. But, as is often the case, such critiques are misguided in this instance.

One statistic shows just how good Koetter's playcalling and gameplan were against the Texans, despite the team's inability to run the ball. Jameis Winston was sacked exactly zero times. Not only that, but I only counted four plays where Winston faced pressure affecting his throw. The Bucs came into this game determined to minimize the impact of J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney, and they succeeded.

The Bucs did so not just by having a good game along the offensive line, but by the design of the plays and pass protection. Winston was frequently asked to get rid of the ball quickly, before any pressure could happen -- exactly how the Titans and Texans stifled the Bucs' pass rush. On deeper throws, the Bucs kept in extra blockers -- that means having fewer receivers out running routes, but that didn't prevent Winston from frequently finding open receivers. In all, Winston only threw away the ball twice, and failed to find an open receiver only twice more (once on the interception). On 37 dropbacks, that's some impressive work from a play design perspective.

So what went wrong? For one, the Bucs couldn't run the ball. That wasn't necessarily the fault of playcalling. While people like to call runs up the gut predictable, the Bucs primarily ran outside zone plays -- runs aimed outside that are cut back inside when those outside options are taken away. The team couldn't consistently cope with J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney and Vince Wilfork -- but that was more a consequence of the blockers' failure than a playcalling failure. When you can't block defensive linemen, it really doesn't matter what runs you call.

The other thing that went wrong was a consistent failure to connect with open receivers. Some of that was the fault of receivers dropping passes or failing to bail out Winston by making tough catches. Others happened because of outstanding plays by Jonathan Joseph, and yet others happened because Winston's throws were off-target -- especially on slants and quick out routes. The latter may have been a timing or communication issue rather than simple inaccuracy, but that's a moot point: both are execution and not playcalling breakdowns.

The Bucs only scored nine points on Sunday, but that wasn't because of Dirk Koetter -- or at least not his playcalling. He called a terrific game, consistently putting players in the position to be successful, and it was the players' execution that failed him.