Dirk Koetter bemoans Tampa Bay Buccaneers' lack of consistency

By The Sports Xchange  |  Sept. 25, 2017 at 8:33 PM
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TAMPA -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Chicago Bears. The Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Minnesota Vikings. The Bears beat the Steelers.

It's a crazy NFL from week to week and that's about all head coach Dirk Koetter can say to explain away Tampa Bay's 34-17 loss at Minnesota.

"The Steelers got after the Vikings pretty good; one week later, look what happened," Koetter said Monday. "A week ago, Oakland, Denver and Seattle were unbeatable and they all lost yesterday. Yeah, I do think it's a week-to-week league.

"That said, I'm worried about the way our team played. We didn't play good enough in any area yesterday. We have to play more consistent football than we did and when we do that, we will like the results better."

The Bucs can start by tightening up their pass coverage. Tampa Bay was playing without three defensive starters -- cornerback Brent Grimes, defensive tackle Chris Baker and linebacker Kwon Alexander.

During the game, they experienced injuries to defensive end Noah Spence, defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and linebacker Lavonte David, who had to be carted off the field in the fourth quarter.

But that didn't explain why Vikings quarterback Case Keenum, who has beaten Tampa Bay three times in the last three years, was able to pass for 369 yards and three touchdowns.

"We got beat in every aspect and one of them was (them) throwing the ball over our head," Koetter said. "We just weren't tight enough on our coverage and your coverage, your over-the-top coverage, your intermediate coverage and your pass rush all has to work together and we didn't at all.

"We didn't put pressure on him. (Case) Keenum did a good job of getting rid of the ball. Our underneath coverage didn't get deep enough in their drops and our deep coverage played too loose and let them throw balls not only behind them, but in front of them."

The other problem was turnovers.

The Bucs ran only 51 plays to the Vikings' 70. But quarterback Jameis Winston had a chance to get back in the game in the second half. Unfortunately, he was intercepted three times.

"The first one, again, that's a touchdown," Koetter said. "That's a 14-point swing right there with the way it ended up. That's a seven-point swing, you know, DeSean (Jackson) smoked that guy and Jameis has got to get it out there for him -- plain and simple on that. The second interception, we were driving, we were back within two scores, we were across the 50 on the plus 45 and it was a poor read. We had a good man-zone indicator there. Jameis missed the read, try to force it in there to DeSean, he had to step up, had a little bit of pressure, tried to force it in there -- just not going to work. On the third interception, now we are down 17 points.

"We probably don't have enough possessions and Jameis tried to force it into Mike (Evans) -- (he's) just got to check that ball down. I think at one point in the second half, Jameis was something like 18 out of 22. I'm talking in the second half now, two incompletions and two interceptions, so Jameis made some really nice plays, some really nice throws, but just the main thing is as an offense we can't turn it over. Those kinds of things have a tendency to happen more when you're playing from behind and you're playing in a more desperate situation than you would like to be."

The road won't get easier for the Bucs. Tampa Bay will host the Giants on Oct. 1 and then the New England Patriots visit four days later.

"We treat it as a normal week just because it is a normal week, No. 1," Koetter said. "We do have two home games in 11 days and especially coming off the way we played yesterday, it makes it even more important. The first thing we have to do is put this game behind us. Twenty-four-hour rule - we are getting pretty close right now to being at 24 hours. We got a little bit beat up yesterday. The players came in, worked out today, watched the tape, got their grades, did their postgame workouts and then the players will be off tomorrow.

"(The) coaches turn their attention already to the Giants and then we will come in and have a normal Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. We've got to get ready for a Giants team that obviously is looking for a win as well."

NOTES, QUOTES

--Center Ali Marpet still is a work in progress since moving over from right guard. He had several errant shotgun snaps on Sunday that threw off the timing of the play.

"(Ali Marpet) went through a little stretch there where he had like three in a four-play sequence right there in the second half and then it was fine," head coach Dirk Koetter said. "Maybe this all would have happened in the Miami game had we played. First game on the road in a loud stadium - I thought for the most part we handled the noise OK. Other than that, it did throw us off a little. We are still 100 percent on board with moving Ali to center. He is going to be an excellent center and (he is) doing a lot of things well."

--Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy says he is tired of the trolls on social media taking shots at his teammates following Sunday's loss.

"There's a bunch of people out there that say a lot of terrible things that I know they wouldn't say to our face," McCoy said. "These social media tough guys. I would love to meet them. Just being honest. ... I would love to meet you. I work at One Buccaneer Place if you would like to talk to me. I'm not going to give you my home address, but I'll meet you up here anytime you want to talk about it."

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

PLAYER NOTES

--LB Lavonte David has an ankle sprain, but not a high ankle sprain, which might have cost him 4-6 weeks. As it is the Bucs are optimistic to get David back sooner, although he likely will miss games against the Giants and Patriots.

--DE Noah Spence dislocated his right shoulder again Sunday but finished the game. Spence had offseason shoulder surgery on a torn labrum.

--CB Brent Grimes has a shoulder injury and did not play Sunday at Minnesota. He was limited in practice last week, but there is a good chance he could play vs. the Giants.

--DE Jacquies Smith missed Sunday's game with the flu but should be back this week vs. Minnesota.

--G Evan Smith got the start over Kevin Pamphile at left guard Sunday because Pamphile missed time with the flu.

REPORT CARD VS VIKINGS

--PASSING OFFENSE: D - QB Jameis Winston passed for 328 yards and two touchdowns. But he also threw three interceptions and was never pressured on any of them. Xavier Rhodes did a good job on Mike Evans. Center Ali Marpet had some bad snaps in the shotgun formation that killed the timing of plays.

--RUSHING OFFENSE: F - The Bucs were not committed to running the football. They fell behind early, sure, but running backs only combined or nine touches Sunday. Jacquizz Rodgers had five carries for 15 yards. The Bucs did not utilize second-year RB Peyton Barber at all.

--PASS DEFENSE: F - Case Keenum becomes the "best player in the NFL" according to head coach Dirk Koetter, anytime he plays the Bucs. Keenum is 3-0 in the past three years vs. Tampa Bay, including two wins with the Rams. The Bucs let every pass go over their heads. Keenum had three more passes of 45 yards or more.

--RUSH DEFENSE: C-minus - The Bucs did a decent job on RB Dalvin Cook. He gained 97 yards and a touchdown on the ground, but it took him 27 carries for a 3.6 average. Rookie Kendell Beckwith, playing for injured starter Kwon Alexander, led the team in tackles.

--SPECIAL TEAMS: C-minus - The Bucs got a 50-yard kickoff return from Bernard Reedy. That was the highlight. Nick Folk made his only field-goal attempt from 40 yards and both extra points. Punter Bryan Anger wasn't up to his usual standards with a 40.8 average.

--COACHING: F - The Bucs were thoroughly outplayed and outcoached. Dirk Koetter and his staff couldn't prevent the Bucs from following a big opening-day win with a lopsided loss. Defensive coordinator Mike Smith had a terrible plan against Case Keenum. Special teams were underwhelming.

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