-Wide receiver DeSean Jackson has been battling a thumb injury and had been limited in practice earlier in the week. Ultimately, he ended up playing in Sunday's game against the 49ers, but caught just three passes. One was a nice gain of 14 yards from a reduced split, where he came back to the ball thrown by quarterback Jameis Winston in the third quarter. Other than that, it was a quiet day and Head Coach Dirk Koetter revealed on Monday that his thumb injury was part of the issue.
"DeSean's getting his thumb rechecked," Coach Koetter said. "He's got it rechecked by our local hand guy today and I think he's going to New York for a second opinion tomorrow. He made one really nice catch – that one right in front of our bench. The thing with DeSean yesterday is we just flat missed him five times. One of those was a tough over the top shot that Jameis [Winston] overthrew, but there [were] four other times that DeSean was open and we just missed him. Jameis, we didn't miss very many throws yesterday, but the ones we did miss unfortunately were mostly to DeSean."
-While the offense struggled to get the ball to DeSean, they still put up 27 points in the Bucs' win over San Francisco. Winston connected with eight different receivers on the day and topped 300 yards passing with two touchdowns through the air. The offense seemed at ease and a lot of it had to do with the fact that the defense stepped up, allowing just nine points all game and helping the offense play ahead the whole game. There was one goal the Bucs had set out to do on defense and that was get to the 49ers young quarterback Nick Mullens early. That's exactly what they did, getting to him right out of the gate. Coach Koetter pointed to that as one of the main reasons for the team's success.
"You know what I thought one of the biggest keys in that game was is we really hit [Nick] Mullens a lot in that first half," Coach Koetter said. "We're always talking to our guys about that how that leads to errant throws. We did get the two interceptions in the second half late, but there [were] like three or four other balls that were those balls that were it was kind of wobbling around."
Indeed, Mullens was uncomfortable, completing just 18 of his 32 pass attempts on the day. He had 221 yards but was sacked four times for a loss of 27 yards, pushing the 49er offense to under 200 net yards passing – the third straight opponent the Bucs have held to under the mark. Even though the defense has been hit hard with injuries, we may have Defensive Coordinator Mark Duffner to thank for the improved pass defense.
"I thought they really set the tempo in the first half and I thought Duff (Mark Duffner) did a really good job of mixing it up," Coach Koetter said. "I think we hit him seven or eight times in the first half and two of those were on pressures when the linebackers hit him. Devante Bond one time off the edge, when he was unblocked, they just beat the protection. We had the right thing on at the right time. The 49ers are a good running team with a good O-Line and [Matt] Breida is a good back, but we thought if we could get ahead of them and put pressure on their passing game then that was just – we were just fortunate the wide receivers thing where two receivers were down. We had no control over that, but I think that's also an added bonus there."
View Team Photographer Kyle Zedaker's top photos from the Buccaneers' Week 12 win over the San Francisco 49ers.
-The defense had one series that especially stood out and that was their goal-line stand in the third quarter with the Bucs ahead 13-7. San Francisco got down to the one-yard line and a score would have meant a tie game. Instead, the defense was able to hold them to a field goal after forcing a fourth-and-1 that the 49ers jumped on, calling them back five yards on the false start penalty and forcing them to instead kick the field goal. Right tackle Demar Dotson was on the Bucs Total Access radio show yesterday, talking about how much that inspired the offense and motivated them.
"That goal line stand was a game changer," Dotson said. "That motivates the offense. It was a momentum switch."
He also revealed that the defense may have had some motivation in the form of a Saturday night message from Coach Duffner. Dotson didn't go into too much detail but said the message was pretty simple: Get back to what you play this game for. Get back to your 'why.'
It capped off a particularly good week of practice as Dotson attested to.
"You could tell the whole week of practice, the energy," Dotson said. "Guys were just motivated to go out there and get a win. It don't matter who we're playing. Even though it was San Fran, guys were just motivated to go out here and play well and put a complete game; special teams, offense, defense, together. That was probably one of the best games other than the Saints and Philly that we put a complete game together and hopefully we can build on that."
-The running joke on the radio show with Dotson was how he's the longest-tenured Buccaneer in the locker room, having been with the team for the past decade. He joked about how old he feels at 33, saying it's more along the lines of 73 at times. He chalked it up to what he puts his body through, sure, but also noted that he doesn't exactly get jokes in the locker room or find any of the recent comedians funny. He even said he watched an entire Kevin Hart standup and 'didn't laugh not one time' he said with a chuckle. Yep, Dotson doesn't find Kevin Hart funny. What I would find funny is seeing the two stand next to each other, though. Dotson stands at a cool 6-foot-9.
Coincidentally, Dotson said that if he could meet anyone in the world, he'd want to meet Shaquille O'Neal. Yes, one of the only people that's actually taller than Dotson himself. Dotson grew up with basketball dreams and idolized Shaq. He said he still has Shaq posters in his room to this day. Wonder how his wife feels about that?
Dotson's basketball dreams weren't just dreams, either. He went to college to play basketball, not picking up football until his fifth year, and says he can still play. He said the only guy in the locker room that could maybe give him some competition is wide receiver Mike Evans. But in the same breath, he called Evans out, saying the 25-year-old receiver knows Dotson could beat him. "Mike will never admit to it, but he knows I'm better than him."
-Building on that what the Buccaneers started against the 49ers like Dotson talked about will mean taking on the Carolina Panthers at home this coming weekend. Dotson said one of the most frustrating things about the Panthers is linebacker Luke Kuechly. Dotson called him extremely smart because Kuechly has a knack for identifying what an offense is doing before they do it. Dotson said the last time the two teams played, he heard Kuechly call out exactly the play they were about to run 10-15 times throughout the game. Whether it's film study or just intuition, Dotson doesn't know. But when the defensive signal caller on the opposing team is yelling the play you're about to run at you, it's a little unnerving.
Speaking of Carolina, defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who eclipsed the double-digit sack mark this past Sunday, put out a challenge to the fans, saying the team needs their energy when the division rivals come to town.
"We're coming in strong too. It's our house. We should have homefield advantage and most definitely we need every fan out! We love the fans' support, but we need EVERYBODY here!"
So, see y'all Sunday?