Sunday, June 17, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Can Jameis Winston and DeSean Jackson finally connect?

TAMPA — Jameis Winston needs to get better at throwing the long ball. Nobody knows this better than WR DeSean Jackson, who consistently ran past defenders but did not have a deep impact on the Bucs offense this season.

"DeSean Jackson is a really good football player. His track record shows that, and if you just had an (isolation) camera on DeSean Jackson when he was on the field this year, DeSean Jackson wins most of the time," coach Dirk Koetter said. "When he is trying to get behind the defense, he can get behind the defense. We did not do a good job of getting him the ball in positions that he is used to getting it, which is over the top."

Jackson missed the last two games with an ankle injury. He caught only 50 passes for 668 yards, second fewest of his career. His 13.4 yard per catch average was more than 4 yards below his career mark of 17.7 entering 2017.

It wasn’t for a lack of trying. The average target to Jackson was 15.82 yards through the air. He failed to catch any of the seven passes thrown 40 or more yards to him.

Winston’s right shoulder injury didn’t help that production. The Bucs quarterback also says he talked with Jackson and plans to spend more time this offseason throwing with him.

"We have to get our work in, man," Winston said. "A lot of that has to do with just me being able to get him the football in the way that he likes the football. That’s gonna be important. So I’m gonna sit down and talk to him and go over some things with him."

The Bucs guaranteed Jackson $20 million of his $33.5 million contract, meaning Jackson and Winston will have more chances to hook up in 2018.

Teeing off

Patrick Murray stepped in and performed well on field goals after taking over as the Bucs’ kicker early this season, going 17-for-18 on field goals shorter than 50 yards.

He missed 3 of 5 from 50 yards and beyond, and Koetter brought up another concern Monday about his leg strength on kickoffs.

"Pat, his strength is not his kickoffs," Koetter said. "We have teams in this league kicking it 80 percent touchbacks, and if you just look at what a kickoff return really is, if you just took a touchback every time and took the ball to the 25-yard line, you are going to be in the top 10."

The Bucs had the NFL’s lowest touchback percentage at 35 percent in 2017, down from ranking ninth in 2016 with a 64 percent touchback rate when Roberto Aguayo handled kickoffs. Murray’s average kickoff went 60.8 yards, which ranked 25th.

Making matters worse, the Bucs gave up two kickoff returns for touchdowns in the final two weeks of the season — Carolina’s Damiere Byrd went 103 yards, then New Orleans’ Alvin Kamara went 106. Tampa Bay was the only NFL team to give up more than one kickoff-return touchdown in 2017.

"Part of kicking it to the end zone … is hang time, and that’s one thing Pat struggled with, is hang time on his kickoffs," Koetter said. "When a guy is getting the ball in not the proper hang time and you have to cover those kicks, it just makes it tougher on your coverage team. We struggled with that the last two weeks especially of the season."

Attendance down

Attendance at Bucs home games dropped slightly in 2017, by 2.4 percent in actual attendance despite the team going from 9-7 last season to 5-11.

Sunday’s final home game against the Saints had a season low for announced (55,376) and actual attendance (45,542) at Raymond James Stadium.

The season average for announced attendance — based on tickets distributed — finished at 59,952, down 1.1 percent from last year’s average of 60,625. The actual attendance — a turnstile count reported to the Tampa Sports Authority — averaged 51,912, down 2.4 percent from 53,176 in 2016.

The ratio of the two attendance averages reflects the turnout rate among fans with tickets. That figure also dropped slightly, from 87.7 percent in 2016 to 86.6 percent this season.

The Bucs finished 29th out of 32 NFL teams in average home announced attendance. That’s down one spot from a year ago.

Times staff writer Greg Auman contributed to this report.

Comments
Bucs journal: O.J. Howard poised to take off?

Bucs journal: O.J. Howard poised to take off?

TAMPA — There's always a lot of attention on the rookie class this time of year, rightfully so. There's a reason the Bucs focused on defense, and DT Vita Vea, CBs M.J. Stewart, Carlton Davis and S Justin Whitehead all look like they could have ...
Published: 06/16/18
Ex-Buc Kellen Winslow pleads not guilty to kidnapping, rape charges

Ex-Buc Kellen Winslow pleads not guilty to kidnapping, rape charges

Times wiresVISTA, Calif. – Former Bucs and Hurricanes tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. was jailed without bail Friday after pleading not guilty to nine counts of kidnapping, rape and other charges.If convicted on all counts, Winslow, 34, could face...
Published: 06/15/18
Bucs still don’t know when Jameis Winston will throw another pass that matters

Bucs still don’t know when Jameis Winston will throw another pass that matters

TAMPA — The last pass thrown by Jameis Winston in a regular-season game was his best. The perfectly arced, 39-yard strike to Chris Godwin for a touchdown with nine seconds left gave the Bucs a 31-24 win over New Orleans at Raymond James Stadium...
Published: 06/15/18
Bucs busy on next Ray-Jay renovation with East Stadium Club

Bucs busy on next Ray-Jay renovation with East Stadium Club

The first Bucs home game of the 2018 season is still three months off, but the franchise is busy getting Raymond James Stadium ready with the fourth phase of its $160 million renovation, highlighted by a new East Stadium Club.Construction continues t...
Published: 06/15/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Gerald McCoy sounds off

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Gerald McCoy sounds off

The Bucs wrap up minicamp as Gerald McCoy sounds off on the team getting help for him, defensive line coach Brentson Buckner yelling at the veteran defensive tackle and advice for the young players who now have five weeks off before training camp.Plu...
Published: 06/15/18
Gerald McCoy: ‘Stop saying Gerald got help. No, the Bucs got help’

Gerald McCoy: ‘Stop saying Gerald got help. No, the Bucs got help’

TAMPA — On the last day of minicamp, DT Gerald McCoy made it clear that the new additions to the defensive line are what the entire team needed, not just himself."It's not about me. It's about the team," McCoy said of the addition of five new l...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18
Bucs hit summer break with optimism, eager for training camp

Bucs hit summer break with optimism, eager for training camp

TAMPA — This week's three-day minicamp was the final push in the Bucs' offseason, with about six weeks now until the team reconvenes in late July for training camp and the real preamble to the 2018 season.So what, if anything, can be gleaned fr...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18
Maybe 2018 is the year the Bucs take that step forward

Maybe 2018 is the year the Bucs take that step forward

TAMPA — The Bucs wrapped up a three-day minicamp on Thursday.“I’m going on vacation,’’ Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said.The next time we see the Bucs will be in five weeks. Just around the corner. That’s when, official...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18
Ex-Buc Kellen Winslow arrested on suspicion of rape, kidnapping

Ex-Buc Kellen Winslow arrested on suspicion of rape, kidnapping

Times wiresSAN DIEGO – Former Bucs and Hurricanes tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. was arrested Thursday on suspicion of multiple sex-crimes-related charges, including two counts of rape, the San Diego County Sheriff's Department said.The departmen...
Published: 06/14/18
Sealed and delivered: Bucs RB Ronald Jones signs rookie contract

Sealed and delivered: Bucs RB Ronald Jones signs rookie contract

The Bucs' 2018 draft class is now all in the fold, with running back Ronald Jones, second-rounder from USC, signing his rookie deal Thursday.Jones, who won't turn 21 until August after the Bucs go to training camp, was the last of Tampa Bay's eight d...
Published: 06/14/18