Thursday, August 16, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs-Saints report card: Koetter’s crew didn’t quit after the season was lost

Yes, itís hard to call five wins instead of four a miracle.

But it sufficed Sunday.

The Bucs showed a lot of heart and a lot of gumption in a game New Orleans thought it needed. The Bucs played as if they were trying to save Dirk Koetterís job, though they didnít need to.

And they were rewarded, out of nowhere, with a 31-24 win when Jameis Quarterback led the Bucs down the field and hit godsend Chris Godwin for the winning touchdown with nine seconds left. The defense, so bad all season, showed some grit against Drew Brees and the Saints. That the Bucs lost the fifth pick in the NFL draft in the process seemed to matter little as they celebrated.

Let it be known that Koetterís crew did not quit after the season was lost. There was life after disaster. The Bucs did not go down fighting.

They went down winning.

Think Hard Knocks will be interested?

With feeling

No, Dirk Koetter wasnít coaching for his job, but his seat is already hot going into next season. But give him credit. Despite all the noise in the system, he had his team ready to play a game that had no bearing on anything. Hey, we got on Koetter when he didnít have his team ready (not even close in Arizona), so letís hear it for Sunday. Nothing epitomized it more than when Bucs Will Clarke and Kwon Alexander crunched Saints kicker Wil Lutz on a fake. They were all in. So were most of Koetterís players on Sunday. Grade: A

In Godwinís hands

It was the biggest catch of a decidedly lost season, but hereís to Godwin, who beat Saints cornerback Ken Crawley and hauled in the game-winner from Winston. Godwin has been one of the bright young faces on the Bucs this season. The third-round draft pick out of Penn State is one of the brightest lights heading into next season. Sunday might have just been the start. Grade: A

Special times two

Think the Bucs didnít want this one? Look at the play of special teams guys Josh Robinson and Isaiah Johnson. Robinson stripped New Orleans punt returner Tommylee Lewis deep in New Orleans territory, and Johnson picked up the ball and ran it in for a 20-17 Bucs lead. Sometimes it isnít about the state of a franchise, where itís going, where itís not going. Sometimes itís just two men playing with all they have and making something happen. Something to tuck away for 2018. Grade: A

Will he ever learn? Maybe

Winston finished his third NFL season Sunday. We donít know when his fourth NFL season will begin. That might be up to the league. Anyway, Winston had some good moments, including maybe his best rushing performance, and even managed to not fumble as he stretched for a second-quarter TD. But he also threw three awful interceptions, the second one despite having all the time in the world, the third one into the New Orleans. Then he threw that winning touchdown. What will 2018 bring? Grade: B

If only it was this simple

In the second quarter, on third down and 2 yards to go, Bucs runner Peyton Barber took a pitch from Winston and ran left. He picked up several blocks and easily made a first down. This is how a running game is supposed to work. This is how a running game should work. This is how a running game has to work if you intend to be any good. The Bucs need about four more Barbers next season, and a revamped line. Had to like the coming attractions. Grade: A

Their finest hour

The Bucs defense has been lousy most of this season. But it has had its moments, and there were several of those Sunday even when in the jaws of Drew and the Saints offense, except when Alvin Kamara had the ball. The Bucs defense quickly coughed up a long drive after the Bucs had taken a lead on that fumble return. Reminded us of the losing stands at Buffalo and Green Bay. But it banded together and stopped New Orleansí final drive on a Ö sack. Now thatís a punch line. Grade: B

Sign up for our daily Bucs Red Zone email newsletter here

Comments
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota share practice field

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota share practice field

The Bucs are in Tennessee for joint practices with the Titans, so Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota — drafted first and second overall in 2015 — are sharing the same practice field.What do they think of each other? Also, how did the Bucs ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota meet again. Sort of.

Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota meet again. Sort of.

NASHVILLE — Here at the intersection of Marcus Mariota Place and Jameis Winston Way, the quarterbacks of the Titans and Bucs continued to go in different directions.During the teams' joint workout Wednesday, the quarterbacks never got closer th...
Published: 08/15/18
Bucs receivers come out Ďsmokingí hot against Titans

Bucs receivers come out Ďsmokingí hot against Titans

NASHVILLE — DeSean Jackson turned Titans cornerback Malcolm Butler around and hauled in a deep pass from quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick during one-on-one drills. Mike Evans leaped over Logan Ryan, plucking the ball with two hands off the top of t...
Published: 08/15/18
Bucs pleasantly surprised at what a great leader they got in Jason Pierre-Paul

Bucs pleasantly surprised at what a great leader they got in Jason Pierre-Paul

NASHVILLE — The Bucs didn't know what they were getting when they traded for Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. They believed he would be a good pass rusher to help the league's worst defense.But they got so much more.The Bucs have been im...
Published: 08/15/18
This Buc was named to ESPNís Perfect 53-Man NFL Roster

This Buc was named to ESPNís Perfect 53-Man NFL Roster

If you were putting together the NFL's Perfect 53-Man Roster, you might overlook the Bucs altogether.If you were inclined to include a player, you might consider defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. Or wide receiver Mike Evans. Linebacker Lavonte Davi...
Published: 08/15/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Tony Dungyís message to the Bucs

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Tony Dungyís message to the Bucs

During a news conference Tuesday in Tampa, Tony Dungy spoke about what it means to him to be added to the Bucs Ring of Honor and what he told the current players when he spoke with them.Plus, Rick Stroud is in Tennessee, where the Bucs are getting re...
Published: 08/15/18
Bucs GM Jason Licht pays tribute to a mentor and friend

Bucs GM Jason Licht pays tribute to a mentor and friend

Perhaps nobody in pro football has had a bigger impact on Bucs general manager Jason Licht than Tom Heckert, Jr., who died Aug. 3 at age 51 after a long battle with amyloidosis. Heckert spent four years as the Broncos pro personnel director, helping ...
Published: 08/15/18
Bucs could use another Tony Dungy to spark culture change

Bucs could use another Tony Dungy to spark culture change

TAMPA —  It seems a little odd, but Tony Dungy is just now being installed in the Bucs' Ring of Honor, two years after his bust was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Leave it to his former team.As if it matters to this man. Dungy...
Published: 08/14/18
Updated: 08/15/18
Tony Dungy addresses Bucs and tells them the devil is in the details

Tony Dungy addresses Bucs and tells them the devil is in the details

Tony Dungy's team's were known for being disciplined and not beating themselves with penalties and blown assignments. But the ones that reached the postseason or went deep into the playoffs always played the game the right way.When Dungy addressed Bu...
Published: 08/14/18
Dungy says 2018 Bucs have talent, but need togetherness

Dungy says 2018 Bucs have talent, but need togetherness

Former Bucs coach Tony Dungy, set to be inducted into the team's Ring of Honor next month, talked with the current team for about 20 minutes on Tuesday morning, stressing the importance of them coming together this season."They have to have that toge...
Published: 08/14/18