Tampa Bay snapped a four game losing streak with a win over the San Francisco 49ers last Sunday. Sometimes it’s good to get to take out your frustration on one of the worst teams in the league and the Bucs did just that.
Sparked by the return of Jameis Winston, the Buccaneers put together 412 yards of offense while scoring on five different possessions. You have to wonder how Dirk Koetter is feeling after the head coach essentially hitched himself to Ryan Fitzpatrick. That didn’t work out.
Elsewhere, a Tampa Bay defensive lineman has finally reached double digit sacks for the first time since 2005. Jason Pierre-Paul has been excellent for this team all season.
1. Jameis Winston
Winston returned to lineup after Fitzpatrick’s meltdown in the Meadowlands and he was impressive. The fourth-year quarterback threw for 312 yards and two touchdowns with zero (!!!) interceptions.
It was just the SECOND game all season in which Tampa Bay hasn’t thrown an interception and the first since week one. Yeah, it’s been awhile.
Winston showed progress following his benching against Cincinnati and he looks poised to lead this team down the stretch.
2. Jason Pierre-Paul
As I mentioned earlier, Pierre-Paul has snapped one of the most disappointing streaks in Bucs history. It’s been 13 long years, but Tampa Bay finally has a player with double-digit sacks again.
Pierre-Paul is up to 10.5 sacks in 11 games after notching one against San Francisco. He’s vitalized himself with the Buccaneers following his stint with the New York Giants. JPP recorded just 16 sacks over his final 36 games with the Giants (2015-17).
3. Mike Evans
Evans continued to stay hot following his big performance a week ago against New York. He caught six passes for 116 yards, including a 42-yard deep ball in the first quarter that helped Tampa Bay take an early lead over the 49ers.
The former Texas A&M star has caught 12 passes for 236 yards and score over the past two weeks. He’s recorded 6 catches and 116+ yards in three of his past five games.
Evans is already on pace to break the franchise record for receiving yards in a season. He’ll get there faster with games like this.
1. Dirk Koetter
Once again, Dirk Koetter tops the loser leaderboard following Winston’s best game of the season. The third-year head coach seemingly attached himself at the hip to Fitzpatrick since Winston’s poor performance against Cincinnatti and it backfired badly.
Fitzpatrick’s most recent starting stent resulted in four touchdowns and seven interceptions in three straight losses. It was an extremely questionable decision, especially when this team was under a microscope. It’s another tally on the wall in a season that will most likely cost Koetter his job.
Maybe there’s an argument if Tampa Bay was a playoff team, but clearly they aren’t. At this point you have to start the 24-year-old who can improve rather than the 36-year-old who may be taking his last snaps in the NFL.
2. DeSean Jackson
Jackson had his worst game of the season in the win over San Francisco. He caught just three passes for 19 yards while adding a rush for six yards. It was his lowest output since a two catch, two yard performance against Cleveland in week seven.
Regardless, Jackson hasn’t recorded 100+ yards receiving since week four and he’s been held to less than 50 yards in four of the seven games since then. After the game against the 49ers, he took to Instagram and criticized the Bucs offense.
These last five games are probably the last we’ll see of Jackson in Tampa Bay. His attitude is quickly becoming toxic and he’s a candidate to be cut or traded this offseason, especially with no guarantee on his contract for next season if let go before June 1. The risk is no longer worth the reward.
3. Rush Defense
Tampa Bay played its most complete game against the 49ers. However, they did struggle stopping San Francisco on the ground.
The 49ers ran 24 times for 148 yards with Matt Breida doing most of the damage. The rookie running back recorded 14 carries for 106 yards while being a problem for the Bucs all game.
They’ll have to rebound against a Carolina team that loves to run the ball. The Panthers are averaging 138.4 yards on the ground per game behind star running back Christian McCaffrey.