Tampa Bay is coming off a 30-27 loss on Monday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The team simply couldn’t overcome the four turnovers in the first half. For a couple minutes in the fourth quarter, it looked like “Fitzmagic” was about to break the internet, but the comeback fell just short.
With Jameis Winston returning from suspension today, the big question surrounding the Buccaneers, is “who will be their starting quarterback come Sunday at Chicago?”
As expected, Head Coach Dirk Koetter didn’t give any clues during his day after press conference regarding the team’s quarterback situation.
“It’s great to see Jameis back in the building and he was here early and working hard. He assured me that he was ready to go, which I don’t doubt that for a minute,” Koetter said. “We know what we are going to do, both guys know what we are going to do. I hope everyone can appreciate that it doesn’t do us any good to tell our opponents what we are going to do.”
It’s a tough call for the staff to make. Fitzpatrick, is the only quarterback in history to throw for 400 yards in three straight games, but Jameis Winston gives this team the best chance to win football games. I would lean towards starting Fitz right now because of how well he is playing, but Winston can not ride the bench for the next month. He needs to be the week six starter, at the latest.
One positive for the Buccaneers last night was the performance of rookie cornerback Carlton Davis III. Davis, was matched up against arguably the best receiver in the NFL for much of the night in Antonio Brown. Koetter came away impressed with Davis and sees the progression from week one.
“First off, I though Carlton Davis was outstanding in the game. I think for the guys he was having to cover, he showed no fear, the game wasn’t too big for him,” Koetter said. “He played a lot of press coverage and got right up in their face.”
With the season-ending injury to Chris Conte, the Buccaneers will likely have three rookie players starting every week in the secondary, so there will absolutely be growing pains with this secondary.
On the other side of the spectrum, one negative game note was that Tampa Bay was simply not productive on the kick return game. The Steelers were forcing Tampa Bay to run it back and they failed every time. It feels like it’s been a franchise long problem for this team, and they haven’t been able to figure out how to get that consistent return man. The Buccaneers currently rank last in the league in kick returns. Koetter acknowledged the problem today.
“We were very poor in that last night. Our biggest issue last night was that our returner and blockers weren’t on the same page,” Koetter said. “We were blocking one way and returning it the other and that’s just not going to work. That was disappointing and obviously Pittsburgh challenged us to bring the ball out.”
You can understand a miscommunication on a kickoff here or there, but for it to happen every time last night, and seemingly every game, is a bit concerning and something that needs to be corrected moving forward. Teams will continue to do what the Steelers did to them last night until Tampa proves it can counter back.
It will be a short week for Tampa Bay in terms of recovery time, but the team will travel to Soldier Field to take on the Chicago Bears on Sunday at 1pm. Time will tell on who is the starting quarterback, as well as if the issues from this week will be corrected during practice.