Friday, April 20, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Koetter: Bucs need to recapture homefield advantage at RJS

TAMPA

Facing a critical three-game home stand, coach Dirk Koetter indicated Thursday that the Bucs at Raymond James Stadium don't have the same homefield advantage as other NFL teams.

He also said Tampa Bay's 3-15 home record since the start of 2014 is largely responsible for it.

"Every place is different. Every place you play on the road is different as far as how hard it is to play there and how hard it is to hear there," Koetter said Thursday. "We're not fooling anybody that some teams travel a lot better than others.

"And, you know, players notice. Coaches notice. That's the truth. And I'm 1,000 percent aware that the more you win, the better it gets. But with that said, do we have a homefield advantage? That's our job to create it."

After the Bucs' 34-17 win at San Francisco on Sunday, Koetter pleaded for Bucs fans to fill the lower bowl of RJS against the Raiders, a team that has a national following similar to the Denver Broncos. In fact, Broncos fans outnumbered Tampa Bay fans by the end of the Bucs' 27-7 loss at RJS on Oct. 2.

"Go take a picture of any of them," Koetter said. "Denver, Chicago, Giants. Take a picture. See what you get.

"We've got to take care of the stuff on the field, but some places are harder than others."

To that point, Koetter said it's hard for the visiting team to communicate on the road due to crowd noise. But that same hurdle has existed at times for the Bucs — even when they are playing at home.

"When you can't hear, it's rough," Koetter said. "When you have to do everything silent cadence, everything hand signals, when you can't hear yourself think, compared to when you've got to go silent cadence in your own stadium."

In fact, Koetter said the loudest RJS has been this season was after the weather delay in the fourth quarter against the Rams, when less than 5,000 fans remained for the Bucs' final drive that fell short in a 37-32 loss.

"That was the loudest it was the whole game, just from noticing it," Koetter said. "Now again, the rest of the game was played on one little part of the field."

The Bucs begin a stretch Sunday of three home games in 15 days. After playing the Raiders, they host the Falcons four days later on Thursday night before welcoming the Bears on Nov. 13.

But Koetter says his team cannot afford to focus on anyone except the Raiders.

"We can't think of it that way," Koetter said. "I can see why it looks like that. We can't for one second try to think that way. That's crazy if we do that."

The Bucs are ranked 30th in home attendance, with an announced average of 57,692. Only San Diego and Oakland, teams that are attempting to relocate, have drawn fewer fans.

Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, while acknowledging there is often a large contingent of fans from the opposing team at RJS, says nothing beats playing, and winning, at home.

"I'm not about to downplay it. Winning on the road is great," McCoy said. "It's cool, it's not okay, it's great. Going into somebody else's house and leaving with a W, there's no better feeling than that.

"However, to win at home and go home and put my feet up on the couch within an hour instead of having to sit on a plane all night, then probably get home and put my feet up … the fans are telling you, that guy who says his day is better, his workday is better on Monday because the Bucs won and know you had something to do with that, it's a great feeling, man."

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