The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are coming off their second straight complete game in which they played complimentary football and to no surprise, they are 2-0 in the last two weeks.
The team currently sits at 5-7, and while the playoffs are still a long shot, if the Buccaneers win next weekend, they will be at most a game out of the sixth seed in the NFC. Of course, it won’t be an easy task as the New Orleans Saints are coming into town.
The biggest turnaround in the last two games have been forcing turnovers and not turning the ball over. The Buccaneers are +5 combined in the last two games in that category. Jameis Winston is arguably playing the cleanest ball of his career in the last two and a half weeks and head coach Dirk Koetter was praising Winston today and his ability to make big time throws during his day after press conference.
“When Jameis [Winston] stepped up, that’s something that Monk (Todd Monken) works with those guys all the time – Chris converted right away to scramble rules and that was it. That was a heck of a throw by Jameis.,” Koetter said. “That ball had a lot more juice on it than you might think. He had to throw it over the corner and back end zone and the safety was over there to the left. That ball had a lot on it, so that was a little tougher catch than it probably looked like.”
Winston was also the Buccaneers leading rusher yesterday as he finished the game with five carries for 48 yards. He has been really effective the last two games at recognizing when plays break down and tucking it and running. Another thing he has improved on while doing that is protecting the football. Koetter commented today on Winston’s ability to scramble.
“I think the key to those scrambles is that once you get through the traffic, how quickly you get your eyes back downfield. Then there a lot of moving part there’s because there’s always those guys chasing you,” Koetter said. “He’s gotten stripped from behind before, so he’s doing a lot better job of keeping two hands on the ball and then he’s keeping his eyes downfield and then very rarely now is he drifting and running sideways. He’s getting north and south and making quick decisions.”
A few weeks ago, Koetter stated that many teams do not go to their backup quarterback simply because they don’t like them, but the Buccaneers don’t fall under that criteria. Cam Newton looked similar (4 interceptions) to how Jameis Winston did against the Cincinnati Bengals a few weeks back. Since then, Winston watched from the bench for a couple of weeks and seemed to have learned and Koetter just wants to see him progress forward.
“I’m sure we’ll turn it over again at some point. I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of turnovers. You see what happened to Carolina yesterday. Cam Newton had been playing right at probably his MVP level from a couple years ago when he had four turnovers yesterday – could’ve had six. We had our hands on other balls. It’s fickle that way. I think as long as Jameis continues to make good decisions then he’s going to play good football. That’s really all we’re worried about, Dirk Koetter said.”
Koetter was certainly extremely pleased with Winston on Monday afternoon and rightfully so. If Winston continues to play the way he is and the Buccaneers win some more football games, Koetter might just buy himself one more year in Tampa Bay.