Another week and another loss for the Buccaneers but this time it wasn’t for nothing. No not this week. This week the Tampa Bay Buccaneers took a loss that locked in a draft pick. The team took a loss that ensured a new coaching staff. This loss ensured change. There was a lot to react to after yesterday’s game against the Falcons here in Tampa. Let’s take the reactions to the game itself, the different sides of the ball and what the firing of Dirk Koetter means going forward.
Jameis Winston gave fans a final reason to believe in his on-field play going forward.
The headline above says it all. Positive takes from a loss to end the season can be hard to come by but for the Buccaneers there was honestly a lot to like and it begins with Jameis Winston’s play. Winston completed 62.8% of his passes for 345 yards and 4 touchdowns. Winston had a turnover on a tipped pass intended for Mike Evans but otherwise played a very good game behind center for the Buccaneers. Winston will be back in 2019 as the start in all likelihood and he should be. All bets should be on a head coach hire that suits Winston and the weapons this offense has at it’s disposal.
The receiving core came through in a big way for Jameis Winston as Chris Godwin, Mike Evans and Adam Humphries all having very good games of 5+ receptions each. Godwin and Evans both scored a pair of touchdowns each. It will be interesting to see where the team decides to spend it’s money this off-season given what has transpired with O.J. Howard going out. Howard is a dynamite weapon in several facets of the game offensively and Adam Humphries has arguably the greatest chemistry of them all with Jameis Winston. Could we see Cameron Brate on his way out a season after signing a hefty contract for a number 2 tight end to make way for an Adam Humphries new deal? My gut reaction leans heavy towards this happening. Last item on Sunday’s game for the receiving core is a big standing ovation to Mike Evans on his accomplishment becoming the single season all time leader in receiving yards.
Peyton Barber finished his season with a solid performance of 66 yards on 15 carries but failed to break any big runs. Looking back at Peyton Barber’s 2018 season shows that he is capable back who just lacks that next level gear to break a run big, something that Ronald Jones hopefully will be able to do under a new regime. The biggest reaction I have with the running game is the lack of lanes created by this offensive line and the lack of creativity given the skill sets of players like Barber and Ronald Jones. With a new staff set to be in place this coming season, the running game needs to pick it up.
Want a positive in regards to the offensive line? Here you go, Jameis Winston didn’t have to run for his life against the Falcons defensive front. Jameis had enough time to make things happen and for routes to develop in this ball game. Only once was Winston sacked and fans got to see what it’s like when Jameis has enough time to let the play develop. There was still some evading the pocket and getting the play to break down a bit where Jameis worked his usual magic, but the overall look of the line was much improved for the final game.
Has the defense seen the last of Gerald McCoy?
Jason Pierre-Paul came in and took over this defense, there is zero questioning that given his willingness to speak up and out as well as perform on the field. It’s only fitting for JPP to register the lone sack in the teams final game. As for Gerald McCoy, who is always a highly debated player given his generous demeanor on the field, it’s possible fans have seen the last of him. Where is this coming from you ask? Take a peak at this short clip and write up from our own Alex Salvarezza. McCoy sure sounded like a man that has played his last snaps in Tampa Bay. McCoy was visibly emotional leaving the field Sunday after a tough battle and if this is the end of the McCoy era... I say thank you Gerald for your service here. My reaction to this possibility is a sincere one... it’s disgust. Not with McCoy but with this franchise for potentially wasting a good players best years away by waiting till the tank is nearing empty to go get him the help he needed all along. Carl Nassib, thank you for coming in and being what this team needed. JPP, thank you for coming in and being a LEADER on the field and off of it. Vita Vea, thank you for finding that spark late in the season. For many years we have ended seasons with my instant reaction being “well our defensive line sucks” and for once... that has changed.
Speaking of wasting a players better years away... how about Lavonte David? For the 6th time in his career he tallied 100+ total tackles and after what some considered a down year in 2017, David looked like an All Pro at times again. Adarius Taylor stepped up his game in this match up and it was a pleasure to see. What’s an even bigger pleasure is knowing that this team should start 2019 with a healthy Lavonte David and Kendell Beckwith. Should the Buccaneers and Kwon Alexander find common ground on a new contract this off-season there’s reason to believe this defense can continue to steadily improve upon their finish to 2018.
How about Andrew Adams? Adams capped off his 2018 with another interception to give him 4 on the season. The rest of this defense combined for 5. That Brent Grimes fellow we brought back this season? Yeah he had 0. Instant reaction to that? Fairwell Brent. Another team and fanbase left questioning why you were out there playing down the tail end of the season. After a day that saw Julio Jones have his way with the defense... which is a common happening when Julio meets this team, I still find myself satisfied with the season that Carlton Davis has turned in. Carlton Davis earned his starting spot next year. There’s reason to believe M.J. Stewart has potentially earned his leaving us wondering what may have been had Vernon Hargreaves III gotten to play this same style of defense that Mark Duffner called once he took over the reigns. How would Ryan Smith look in this set up if given an opportunity to return and compete? The best thing that happened to this defense was the team moving on from Mike Smith. Players were able to show that the scheme mattered no matter how many individuals pointed fingers at a lack of talent. In the end, the scheme mattered.
The search is on for the next Buccaneer Head Coach.
Dirk Koetter has been relieved of his duties as head coach of the Buccaneers. While I wish the best for Koetter, his family and those associated with this staff, it also goes without saying that this needed to happen. Dirk was part of bringing offense to Tampa Bay and that should be applauded. As for him being let go, that also needed to take place. Dirk took the team as far as he could and the next head coach will inherit a talent rich offense that needs a remake of the offensive line. The defense has talent both young and energetic as well as veteran presences on the defensive line and line backing group. A young core in the defensive backfield is ready for growth.
Dirk was never able to grow into a well rounded head coach and his tenure his is stained with time management issues and a seeming crutch for friendship that tarnished this teams season early on defense under Mike Smith. If Dirk could do it all over we may have seen an earlier turn to Todd Monken as a play caller and a change at defensive coordinator but that’s all in the past now. Good luck to all of the coaches that put in their time over the last few seasons here.
As we look to the future here at Bucs Nation there will be many names thrown around but there is one coach that surely sticks out as good option to lead this team and it’s quarterback and that one coach is Bruce Arians. Having personal relationships with Jameis Winston dating prior to his college days and a relationship with Jason Licht thanks to his time in Arizona makes the initial connections a no brainer. Only time will tell what other names are brought in for interviews and as to whether or not Arians is willing to come out of retirement to coach this Buccaneer team. Keep an eye out for breaking news here at Bucs Nation.
The final reaction.
The ups and downs brought to us this season by the Buccaneers are just another microcosm of what has been football around this area since the teams Super Bowl win. My reaction to another lost season? It still stings. It still sucks. There’s still hope. It’s been an exhausting ride this year with so much hope surrounding the team as the off-season came to an end and it was all for nothing. This off-season will be interesting. The team still has a young quarterback and an explosive offense. There is talent on this defense. There is money to spend and let’s not forget... there is the 5th overall selection. Let the speculation on all fronts begin Buccaneer fans. The off-season is upon us.