TAMPA — The Bucs are 5-7, have lost four games by one score and basically gave away a win at home against Washington. So we asked our Bucs coverage team this question:
If the Bucs could have one do-over this season, what would it be?
Here are their responses:
Start Winston against the Giants
Rick Stroud, Bucs beat writer: This sounds like a second-guess, except I said it at the time. After Ryan Fitzpatrick had five turnovers in two games following Winston's benching versus Carolina and Washington, it was time to go back to Winston. The Giants had a horrible defense. They were getting ripped by every team. Fitzpatrick had lost his mojo. Instead, Dirk Koetter trusted Fitzpatrick more and got burned. Fitzpatrick threw three more interceptions before Winston entered the game in the second half and led the Bucs to four TD drives in as many possessions. Alas, the hook came too late, and Winston should've started in the first place.
Contact Rick Stroud at email@example.com. Follow @NFLStroud
Turn to Duffner sooner
Eduardo A. Encina, Bucs/pro sports enterprise writer: There was a transition period for Mark Duffner's defense, but there's no question he's doing an excellent job as coordinator. His unit is getting better, and when you listen to players talk about Duffner, there's something about his style that makes them want to play hard for him. Because of injuries, he's doing it with a different group of guys every week, which suggests it's his system and ability to put whatever players in position to succeed. It's not to say Mike Smith didn't do that. I don't know. But sometimes a positive breath of fresh air works. It's difficult making in-season staff moves, but maybe the Bucs get an extra win or two if they turned to Duffner sooner.
Contact Eduardo A. Encina at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @EddieintheYard
With the 12th pick of the 2018 NFL draft …
Martin Fennelly, columnist: Select Derwin James. He is just what the Bucs need, and they passed on him. The safety from Florida State is a budding superstar with the Chargers and just what you need in a secondary, someone who can cover tight ends or running backs and come up and stuff the run. The Bucs have tried their best with their rag-tag extras, but James could have made the difference. Oh, and firing Mike Smith last offseason would have helped, too.
Contact Martin Fennelly at email@example.com. Follow @mjfennelly
Why can’t this team draft a running back?
Thomas Bassinger, sports data reporter: General manager Jason Licht did well in his trade down from No. 7 to No. 12 in the first round. But spending the No. 38 pick on a running back who wasn't likely to be a factor in the passing game? That's another big miss for Licht in the second round, especially when you see the success that Kerryon Johnson (No. 43), Nyheim Hines (No. 104) and Phillip Lindsay (undrafted) have had.
Contact Thomas Bassinger at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @tometrics.
The road to Cairo
Ernest Hooper, metro columnist: There's a dozen ways to answer this, but just for kicks, I'll single out the decision to keep Chandler Catanzaro after his early-season struggles. Catanzaro went 2-for-3 on extra points and 2-for-3 on field goals in a victory against Cleveland and then 2-for-3 on extra points in a loss to Cincinnati. The Bucs could have cut him then and picked up Cairo Santos, avoiding Catanzaro's deflating performance in a 16-3 loss against Washington.
Contact Ernest Hooper at email@example.com. Follow @hoop4you
Mike Sherman, sports editor: Dirk Koetter's decision to seize play-calling duties against Washington now looks like a panic move that backfired. I refuse to attempt to divine or judge his motives. But the results that Sunday were disastrous. That was the only game this season in which Tampa Bay failed to score a touchdown, and it came in a game against a team that struggles to score itself. Offensive coordinator Todd Monken has shown he can call plays for a wide-open attack and for one that doesn't tempt the quarterback to put the defense in so many tight spots. Taking the play sheet away from him was unnecessary and costly.
Contact Mike Sherman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @mikesherman