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Bucs’ Jameis Winston ‘fighting’ for Dirk Koetter to return as head coach in 2019

Tampa Bay's quarterback said his coach has held the team to a high standard, but players have to meet it.
Dirk Koetter walks the field before the Bucs' game against the Saints last week in Tampa. [TAILYR IRVINE | Times]
Published Dec. 13, 2018

TAMPA —Black Monday is looming across the NFL in a few weeks and there promises to be lot of head coaching changes.

Among those on the hot seat is Bucs coach Dirk Koetter, who is 10-19 since going 9-7 in his first season as Tampa Bay's head coach.

Koetter still can boast the No. 2 overall offense (430.1 total yards per game) and the No. 1 passing offense (331.4 yard average).

At 5-8, the Bucs still have a very low-percentage chance of earning the final wild-card spot if they can win their next three games.

Regardless, Bucs QB Jameis Winston says he is fighting for Koetter to return in 2019.

"Yeah, I'm always fighting for my head coach,'' Winston said Thursday. "Every week. I think we all are. We've got a lot of respect for that man. He holds us to high standards, and we've got to hold ourselves to that standard, too.''

In Godwin they trust

Chris Godwin will experience another first at Baltimore Sunday — the first time he has had to bounce back from a bad performance.

Making his second straight start for the injured DeSean Jackson, Godwin was held to only one catch for 13 yards despite 10 targets in the Bucs' 28-14 loss to the New Orleans Saints last Sunday.

"I think will play fine,'' Koetter said. "I think Chris has been one of our most consistent players day in day out. Chris did not have his best day last week, and there's probably more than one reason for that. I don't think we need to lose any sleep about if Chris is going to be a good player for the long haul. He's been pretty consistent.''

Godwin has had a bigger role in his second pro season out of Penn State. He's third on the team with 50 catches for 689 yards and tied for the team lead with five touchdown receptions.

But Winston simply couldn't connect with Godwin against the Saints, who was shut down by CBs Eli Apple and Marshon Lattimore.

However, Winston took the blame for Sunday's misfires.

"I put it on me,'' Winston said. "I told him after the game, I was like, 'Man, I've got to get you the ball right way.' So we're going hard every single week and do the things. This is a new game. I know he's going to bounce back. He's a great receiver, he's a great target that we have.''

Lamar Jackson the latest to test running QB theory

There has been a long-held belief among NFL purists that quarterbacks who run the football often won't last long in the league. For proof, they point to players like Robert Griffin III, who won Rookie of the Year with the Redskins but injuries caught up to him. He's now the No. 3 QB for the Ravens.

Others would suggest that Carolina QB Cam Newton is doing okay, having averaged 115.5 rushing attempts per year.

Injury, of course, is the big concern. But as more quarterbacks migrate to the NFL from spread offenses in college, that theory is being tested.

"That's been the theory for years — that it's not (safe),'' Koetter said. "There's guys that are coming into the league now that are going to try to prove that wrong. Going back to Michael Vick and even before, that's what people have always said is that system will not hold up because of the pounding.

"You go from Michael Vick to people will point to RG3 (Robert Griffin III) who's now ironically enough on their team and playing some. He had that outstanding rookie year in Washington. I'm not familiar enough with did he wear down. I don't know if that's it or not. That's what people say. Obviously, there's teams that are going that way and there's going to be more quarterbacks coming into the league that fit that mold."

Speaking of Vick, that's the player that Jackson most reminds DT Gerald McCoy of.

"He's a reincarnation of Michael Vick,'' McCoy said. "He looks almost identical to Michael Vick on film. His mannerisms, how he runs with the ball, how he can make guys miss and you never know what he's going to do. He's unpredictable with his running style. We're going to have to make sure our eyes are in the right place for sure and just get after it."

INJURIES: It's been a struggle for DE Jason Pierre-Paul to remain on the field. He hasn't missed a game, but practicing has been difficult. Pierre-Paul (knee/hip) practiced Wednesday but did not on Thursday. Also out were WR DeSean Jackson (thumb) and S Justin Evans (foot). S Isaiah Johnson (concussion), CB Carlton Davis (knee), T Demar Dotson (knee) and DT Gerald McCoy (shoulder) were limited in practice Thursday.

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