Dirk Koetter spoke with the press on Friday afternoon, less than 24 hours after the conclusion of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' prime-time loss to New England. Koetter had an opportunity to review the tape from that game and gain a more detailed understanding of how the Patriots were able to hold off a Buccaneer rally and leave with a 19-14 win.
So, upon further review, here are a few things Koetter and the rest of us learned from – and/or what new questions were raised by – the Buccaneers' Week Five loss to New England.
1. The Buccaneers finished the game with 409 yards but only 14 points, and the problem early on was an inability to get into a rhythm.
Jameis Winston and the Buccaneers' offense cracked 400 yards for the second game in a row but got about 55% of that in the fourth quarter while trying to rally from a 16-7 deficit. At halftime, the Bucs had just 123 yards and had yet to convert on a third-down try. Tampa Bay's first successful third-down conversion came with just over a minute left in the third quarter.
"We started off our first eight, I think it was, we were oh-for-eight or something like that on third down, but we also, probably three of those were drops. If you're three-for-eight, you're right about where you should be, 45% is a good [rate]. If you're in the 40s, you're doing okay. I always look at it as a play-caller as it's my job to get us in rhythm, okay? It's my job to get us in a rhythm, and I had a hard time doing that yesterday. Sometimes in a game you don't always know why that is. After you look at the tape, you have a lot better idea of why you weren't in a rhythm. Sometimes it's play-calling and sometimes it's play execution and sometimes it's a combination of both."
Similarly, Winston turned a fairly pedestrian performance, statistically, into his third straight 300-yard game with a string of big plays in the fourth quarter. As has been the case for much of the first quarter of the season, the 23-year-old passer has combined some stunningly good plays with moments in which it is clear he is still developing as a top-flight NFL passer.
"[He was] spectacular at times, and [he] made some incredibly good throws, some pinpoint throws under tough conditions," said Koetter of his young quarterback. "And also, again, depending on who's counting, there's somewhere between six and eight drops in there, eight on a high end. Then there were some other times when Jameis, you would have liked to see him get through his progressions a little bit quicker. It's a continual progression."
](http://www.buccaneers.com/news/article-smith/Buccaneers-Lose-Under-the-Lights/05f74a9e-5b2d-416a-b8f6-aa92ca04592e)Wide receiver DeSean Jackson turned in his first 100-yard game as a Buccaneer, including 41 yards on a quick slant that he used to burst through the middle of the Patriots' defense. But he also got open deep down the sideline in the third quarter only to see another attempt at a long hook-up with Winston fall out of his reach.
"We have an explosive team, we had a bunch of explosives in the fourth quarter, we had nine for the game, but we also missed a couple that could have possibly turned the game around," said Koetter. "We talk to the guys all the time about [how] a handful of plays make or break every game and you don't know when they're coming, and that was the same in this game. So even though we did a lot of good things, especially on defense, we didn't do enough to get the win.
"We just have to put it all together on offense for four quarters and we haven't been able to do that consistently enough. That obviously starts with me."
2. The Buccaneers did better on first-and-goal than they had in the previous game, but that wasn't just because Doug Martin was back.
Four days before their narrow loss to the Patriots, the Buccaneers pulled out a last-second win over the visiting New York Giants. The Bucs had to rally in that one because they missed a series of opportunities, including a first-and-goal just before halftime that disappointingly turned into a short field goal attempt instead of a touchdown.
A behind-the-scenes look at the Buccaneers' Week 5 matchup with the Patriots.
That sequence occurred after a play that was initially ruled a touchdown by Mike Evans was reviewed and changed to first-and-goal. Tampa Bay's first after that was a pitch back to running back Jacquizz Rodgers, who was stopped for a two-yard loss. Coincidentally, the Buccaneers had a very similar situation in the second quarter on Thursday night when a nifty Doug Martin run was originally ruled an 11-yard touchdown before replay showed his knee was down at the one. This time, the first-and-goal was a direct dive over the middle by Martin, who punched it in for his 24th career touchdown.
Martin has three times as many career touchdown runs as Rodgers and would probably be considered the more accomplished goal-line back, although both are solid and tough at the point of attack. Martin also got 13 carries in his first game back from a suspension to Rodgers' three, but his return was not the main reason the Buccaneers fared better in first-and-goal on Thursday than they did on Sunday.
"Going back to the Giants game … we thought we had a good beat on what the Giants were going to be in in their goal-line defense," said Koetter. "When we broke the huddle on that play they were in a completely different defense and we didn't handle it well. I should've given those guys a better answer. Last night in that situation, the Patriots did exactly what we thought and we were inside the one and we ran it straight up the middle and Doug did a great job going straight over the top. Obviously if we could call them all after we look at the tape, we would've called a similar-type play in the Giants game."3. The Buccaneers have a little extra time to rest in the coming days but will soon turn their focus to the Cardinals.
Tampa Bay's season got off to an unusual start when Hurricane Irma forced the NFL to move the original Week One game at Miami to the two team's shared bye week in November. As such, the coming weekend following Thursday night's contest, is the only real break in the schedule for the players for the next three months. It's a short rest, though, and it's uncertain how much that will help the team's list of injured players, or if it will aid in the mental aspect of getting past a tough loss.
"They call it a 'mini-bye' after a Thursday night game," said Koetter. "We would have had this bye even if we didn't have the hurricane situation. So all we did was add one extra day to it. So it's hard to say how much it will help us. Again, let's remember on that bye-week thing, until we get to Week 11 it's exactly the same as it was going to be, other than we've played one less game than everybody else except Miami.
"As I said after the Minnesota game, I think players recover faster than the rest of us do. We'll take a few days off and then we'll start focusing on Arizona. We understand it's a big game for us. We did not play well there last year and we will go out there and try to do much better this time."
The Buccaneers were without four key defensive players on Thursday night: linebackers Kwon Alexander and Lavonte David and safeties Keith Tandy and T.J. Ward. They may or may not be back to face the Cardinals on October 15, but they will be back at some point and that will provide a big boost to a defense that still performed quite well on Thursday. Koetter has been particularly pleased with the play of Kendell Beckwith and Adarius Glanton in place of the team's two top linebackers, which suggest that the team will be very deep at that position when the injured players return.
"Kendell Beckwith had another big game as a rookie," said Koetter. "But, again, when you take Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander out - I'm real happy [with] Adarius Glanton [who] played a good game as well – I'm saying that as in, we've got some good players coming back. There's no cavalry coming to save you but when you've got some good players that are coming back that's always a welcome thing."