Bucs’ turnovers doom them in loss to Washington

by Gary Shelton on November 12, 2018 · 5 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

Ryan Fitzpatrick fumbles away the ball./STEVEN MUNCIE

Monday, 4 a.m.

Never have so many gained so much and ended up with so little as the Tampa Bay Bucs did Sunday.

Didn’t Churchill say that?

Ryan Fitzpatrick had three turnovers on the day./STEVEN MUNCIE

At times, they were unstoppable … by their opponent. At times, they were the very definition of offense … between the 20s. At times, they were a juggernaut … or not.

And for it all, the Bucs collected all of three measly points. Three. After 501 yards of offense, after an average of 7.5 yards per offensive play, the Bucs ended up with a field goal — just one — in a 16-3 loss to the Washington Redskins.

Ryan Fitzpatrick can’t get the football back./STEVEN MUNCIE

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Ryan Anderson punches the ball out from Jacquizz Rodgers./STEVEN MUNCIE

Two interceptions. Two fumbles. Two missed kicks. It was all enough to leave Dirk Koetter — who called the plays for the first time all season — muttering to himself.

And there you go. It was the most pitiful offensive scoring in history. A team never had gained 500 yards of offense and scored three points or fewer.

Catanzaro reacts after missing a field goal./STEVEN MUNCIE

If you have followed the Bucs even a bit this season, you know that you  usually don’t have ask “why” when they lose. Whether the reason is turnovers or poor pressure or an inability to cover receivers, the cause of the Bucs’ losing streak (six of seven) is usually fairly obvious. Not this time. It was a mystery how a team could gain so many yards and score so few points.

It’s a shame. The Redskins could have been had on Sunday. They were beaten up on their offensive line and at receiver, and they scored less than half of the 34.4 points per game the Bucs were giving up.

Yet, the No. 1 offense in the NFL managed just a field goal. On a day that there was no rain or snow or mud. Three points, and to be honest, the field goal wasn’t good by that much.

Gerald McCoy sacks Alex Smith./STEVEN MUNCIE

It was as if the Bucs were allergic to the goal line. Every time they got close, they made a monumental error — an interception by Fitzpatrick, a fumble by Jacquizz Rodgers, a fumble by Fitzpatrick at the Redskins’ goal, a kicker who couldn’t aim straight — that kept them away. If the point had been to avoid scoring, the Bucs would have played the perfect game.

How else do you explain this? The Bucs had two 100-yard receivers — Chris Godwin with 103 and Rodgers with 102. Running back Peyton Barber averaged 4.7 yards per run. Fitzpatrick threw for 406 yards.

And the team never crossed the goal line.

“It’s frustrating,” said receiver Adam Humphries. “I mean, that’s pretty much

O.J. Howard makes a catch for Bucs./STEVEN MUNCIE

how we all feel right now. Obviously, just looking at the stat sheet, we had 500 yards of total offense. To be able to move the ball like that and not get points is very frustrating.”

Meanwhile, Tampa Bay’s defense allowed season lows in points, net yards (286) and first downs (15). And lost by 13 points.

“We can’t move it like that,” said head coach Dirk Koetter. “Four to zero in turnover margin is going to kill you every time. We had a lot of chances in that first half. It was just not good enough. To move the ball like that and come up with three points — you’re just not going to win that way.”

The Bucs are in last place in the NFL with a minus 19 turnover differential. That’s six more than the 49ers, who have minus 13.

“We made the plays when they counted and they didn’t,” said Washington defensive end Jonathan Allen.

Will Jameis Winston return Sunday?/STEVEN MUNCIE

Question one : Will quarterback Jameis Winston, the former starter, return to the lineup next week. Koetter said he announces personnel decisions on Tuesday, but he allowed that it was possible. And you kind of feel like it’s time to find out if Winston has a remote chance of a future here. That would mean Fitzpatrick would be that rare quarterback to lose his job after a 400-yard day.

“That was the story of the game for us, especially offensively — getting it down there in the red zone and not capitalizing,” Fitzpatrick said. “It was a lot of different things for me as a quarterback. I think I could have made better decisions. There’s a lot of things I didn’t execute.”

Question two: Is kicker Chris Catanzaro on his way to the airport yet? Catanzaro missed two field goals, including a chip shot from 30 yards away. Catanzaro has now missed four field goals and four extra points. Quick answer: How do you justify hanging onto this guy?

“My job is to put it through the two yellow poles and I didn’t do that today,” Catanzaro said. “So I feel bad for my teammates. “

Question three: At 3-6, are the Bucs officially done. “We can’t lose anymore,” defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul said. “That’s the season right there. I know it and everyone else knows it.”

Peyton Barber had a good game./STEVEN MUNCIE

Question four: How did the Bucs get so bad? Certainly, they have superior offensive talent to most of their teams. But their holes are gaping. They cannot defend the pass. They struggle to run. They cannot kick. They cannot protect the ball. Those things are killers in the NFL.

Think about this. The only thing between the Bucs and a winless season is two monumental upsets (New Orleans and Philadelphia) and a 59-yard field goal in overtime (Cleveland).

“We weren’t good enough as a team, and that starts with me and permeates down through everyone else on the offense,” Koetter said.

So is Koetter done? Well, he’s on thin ice. That doesn’t seem to be a secret.

Vita Vea had his first sack on Sunday./STEVEN MUNCIE

“His job?” said defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. “Everybody’s. We don’t win, everybody’s job is on the line. Ain’t nobody safe. We’ve just got an opportunity next week. Go up to Jersey and see if we can get it done.”

As for Koetter himself, he seemed particularly frustrated after this one. His answers were clipped, short.

“Anytime you don’t win, a coach’s job is going to be under pressure,” tackle Demar Dotson said. “I’ve done been through four of them. It’s common sense. You know, you don’t win, you know, you lose your job. It’s a performance business. I like Dirk as a coach and a person and you would think you’d want to go out there and fight for the guy. We’ve had some good head coaches around here, and at the end of the day, if you don’t win, you lose them.”

It’s one thing to lose because an opponent has a great day. It’s another when you leave so many points unclaimed.

“It is what it is,” said Redskins cornerback Josh Norman. “You can put up a thousand yards, we get the win (if) you get three points. The only stat sheet that matters is the W. They had a lot of yards, but we got a lot of turnovers.”

The Bucs travel to East Rutherford Sunday to play the Giants. Game time is 1 p.m.

Jordan Whitehead attempts to stop Peterson./STEVEN MUNCIE









{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Larry Beller November 12, 2018 at 9:14 pm

One question you didn’t ask is why should Dirk Koetter continue to coach this team? Every week he says he doesn’t have any answers. This week he takes back the play calling and the team fails to score a TD.

As for the other questions it’s pretty obvious this season is over as far as any possibility of making the playoffs is concerned but that was a long shot from the beginning. Winston will eventually get another chance whether it’s this week or next. The kicker should have been gone long before this.

The other question you didn’t ask is when will the losing ever end with this franchise? I don’t know of anyone who can answer that one.


Gary Shelton November 12, 2018 at 10:46 pm


It’s obvious that Koetter doesn’t have THE answer he needs. That’s how to make this team into a winning team. Anything he says, and any question he answers or does not, doesn’t really matter, does it? Koetter has demonstrated that he doesn’t have the ability to overcome the flaws of his roster. The Bucs have had a lot of those coaches through the years.

You are aware of this, but don’t assume that asking a blunt question in a press conference is going to get you an honest answer. It doesn’t. No one is under subpeona here. Such a question usually just ends the press conference or gets a “what a stupid question” response. Asking Koetter why he continues to coach is simple; he has a contract. His superiors will decide his fate. Frankly, I suspect it is 90 percent decided.

I agree that there is no answer to when the losing will end. I assume that in the NFL, an equalizer of a league, there is the chance the team will hire a special coach as it did in the days of Tony Dungy. But it certainly doesn’t look like it’s happening any time soon. Besides, the Bucs have made awful coaching decisions lately, haven’t they? What would you guess the 2019 record will be? The 2020 record. 2021?

This is just a personal opinion, Larry. I think Koetter continues to coach this team because interim coaches usually don’t work. If the guy get a win or two, you’ve got a candidate for the job that shouldn’t be there (Remember Richard Williamson). Smarter people than I would disagree, but I don’t think popping the head coach for a guy who is his assistant is the answer.

It’s a franchise of questions, Larry. There are no satisfying answers. Just more questions.


Thomas Fredrick November 12, 2018 at 11:09 am

Gary, you haven’t lost a step in the wordsmith game. (“If the point had been to avoid scoring, then the Bucs would have played the perfect game.” ) Neither Red Smith nor Damon Runyon could have crafted a better comment following these circumstances.
Elbert Hubbard once was quoted as saying, “Every business or institution is the lengthening shadow of a single man.” Fortunately, Mr. Hubbard wasn’t constrained by political correctness. But it was then and remains now an accurate assessment which surely must apply to the Bucs. Mr. Culverhouse, at least through the first three years, was off to a terrific start then apparently discovered his new business enterprise would earn excellent profits even without the level of cash commitment generally required for many years by any new enterprise of value.
Soon after the ownership changed to Malcolm Glazier the hot dollar spigot was discovered and even today, it seems to me, to supply an investment flow about which no one should complain. Thus it appears there has been a brain drain since the decline then death of Sir Malcolm.
Well do I remember this community when the thinking went that if only the Bucs uniforms were more manly, and not the color of a popsicle, then maybe OUR collection of behemoths could perform at a higher level. What I remember best is how you, an individual writer, gave the time and thought sufficient to publish about a half page feature article offering completely redesigned habiliments. It was a prodigious effort and surly one of the reasons you assumed the shoes of Hubert Mizell.
I’d like to read the conclusions of THAT brain as to what else is going on behind the ownership screen other than still paying for their poorly thought through decision to give away, not only cash but multiple draft spots, to obtain Jon Gruden all those years ago. A Gary Shelton analysis probably would have to be continued over several columns. I’d like to read those.


Thomas Fredrick


BILL MYERS November 12, 2018 at 8:23 am

So another record set by this team, 500 yards with only 3 points to show for it! Gary how about doing a list of records good and bad that the Bucs have set in their history! You can start with the 26 game losing streak and if there is a record for shooting yourself in the foot in football the Bucs should get it!


Gary Shelton November 12, 2018 at 2:53 pm

Lord, that would be a list. I try to do some of that in each week’s post-game comments, but you cannot keep up with all the bad things. Lol


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