Saturday, April 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Dirk Koetter assesses Jameis Winston and Bucs' offense

TAMPA — Bucs offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter is an opinionated straight shooter, and his candor is refreshing in a business where everything is as secret as the snap count. So when he gave what amounts to the state of Tampa Bay's offense in his last media address of the season Wednesday, no truth serum was used to get him going on Jameis Winston, whether he'll lobby for the team to re-sign Doug Martin or what caused the collapse in the past three games.

• On his honest (if biased) assessment of Winston:

Koetter has done a great job with the Bucs' rookie quarterback. Winston has passed for 3,717 yards and 22 touchdowns, both the fourth-most by a rookie in league history. With 283 passing yards Sunday at Carolina, he will join Cam Newton and Andrew Luck as only the third rookie in NFL history to throw for at least 4,000 yards.

What has impressed Koetter the most about Winston?

"No. 1, is his resiliency," Koetter said. "This guy (has had) ups and downs, some incredible downs, where you would think he would be really in the tank. He's got a really unique ability, we've said it many times, to put the last play behind him, put the last game behind him and move on to the next play. That is a huge characteristic to have. Then his toughness. Even though our sack numbers are good, Jameis has taken a lot of hits and he gets up. He's scared me a few times on the sideline. I'd say, 'Hey, are you okay?' And he is tough as nails. That is also something you need in this league."

Rams running back Todd Gurley, Raiders receiver Amari Cooper and Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota will all give Winston a run for the Rookie of the Year award. But Koetter thinks his guy should win, and it shouldn't be close.

"Let me preface that by saying to those other candidates how extremely biased I am," Koetter said. "With that said, I'll do my politicking right now. I think when you've got a guy who touches the ball every single offensive snap of the season, that guy is going to be really tough to beat because not one other guy you've mentioned has touched the ball on every offensive snap of the season. You look at everything Jameis has done, his numbers for a rookie quarterback are pretty darn good. … For a guy to play every snap of his rookie season and do the things Jameis has done, to me that's a no-brainer."

• On what happened to the Bucs' offense the past three weeks:

After a 6-6 start, the Bucs have lost games to the Saints, Rams and Bears because the offense hasn't shown up. They scored a total of two offensive touchdowns in the first half of those games. They turned the ball over five times, and third-down conversions were 36, 30 and 25 percent.

"So in the last three games, you combine five turnovers with not converting your third downs, there's your answer," Koetter said. "I think we had 10 possessions in the game against Chicago. One of them was a one-play possession on the blocked punt. We had three turnovers, so that's four of your 10 possessions. We had another one where we had a third down and got a penalty. There's five of the 10 where you're not giving yourself a chance. That's beating yourself. … It's turnovers and third down."

• On running back Doug Martin, who is second in the NFL in rushing with 1,354 yards:

Martin also has five lost fumbles, the most of any back in the league. He will become a free agent after the season ends Sunday.

"I'll lobby hard," Koetter said of the Bucs' decision to re-sign Martin. "The guys that make those decisions, they'll make the decision that's best for the Bucs. I mean, heck, as a coach you want all your guys back. … People with higher titles than me have to make harder decisions on personnel."

• On Vincent Jackson, who was placed on injured reserve Wednesday. At 32, he played in 10 games due to a knee injury, the fewest in a non-holdout year of his career:

"We've missed Vincent. Vincent is the glue to our passing game. He can play all the positions. He always knows what to do. He's one of the hardest workers on the field.

"When I came here a year ago, I thought Vincent was very similar to Roddy White when I went to Atlanta a couple years ago, a do-everything receiver. Can go deep, can go across the middle, can go inside and block. … I mean he's had a heck of a career, I hope it isn't over, but Vincent did not disappoint me in any way. I think the guy has got plenty of ball left in him and it's hurt us as an offense that he hasn't been at full strength this year."

 
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