Bucs need to report an identity theft

by Gary Shelton on November 3, 2017 · 0 comments

in general

Coaches said Winston is more accurate./CARMEN MANDATO

Coaches said Winston is more accurate./CARMEN MANDATO

Friday, 3 a.m.

A year ago, their identity might have been of that as a team with an improving defense with a knack for the takeaway.

In the offseason, when the team kept adding weapons, their identity might have been that of a team that was feared in the deep.

In preseason, their identity might have been that of a team with a young quarterback with a heavy dose of leadership.

But now, after a disappointing beginning to a football season, the identity is that of a team with its palms in the air. “Who are we? And why?” In other words, there is no way to tell the corpse. There is no identity, no personality, no flare.

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Winston says his team is seeking an identity./CARMEN MANDATO

Winston says his team is seeking an identity./CARMEN MANDATO

This season, the i.d.s are all hard to figure out. Is this a quarterback's team? An offensive team? A defensive team? A running team?

Who?

“Every team has its own identity and it changes from year to year,” said Bucs' coach Dirk Koetter. “Right now, our team is not where we want to be so of course everybody is searching for the reasons why. The reasons why that we keep saying every day is that we’re not playing consistent-enough football across the board. When we do play consistent football across the board and we don’t beat ourselves, we will have an excellent chance to win games.”

And that's one of the problems. Which losing team has an identity, except, perhaps, as a losing team.

“Every time you add new pieces to the puzzle, you are always trying to see how you can work it,” quarterback Winston said. “I’m ready for us to go ahead and find out identity, but I know it’s a process. At the end of the day we’ve just got to go out there and play – play our game, play our best games (and) all do our own job and try to see whatever it is.

“In terms of identity, I’m talking about everybody as a team. This is a completely new team like every year. We’ve just got to find that. We’ve got to find what makes us click (and) what makes us go. We’re trying out different things and eventually, when we establish that, it’s going to be great. We’re looking forward to establishing that sooner rather than later, obviously. Like I said, when you win we don’t talk about this. When you lose, everything is worse.”

Offensive coordinator Todd Monken said the Bucs are still looking for answers.

“We’ve gone hurry-up and we’ve gone no-huddle, so it’s been something that has kept us from being as efficient as you want to be (and) consistently moving the ball – a play here or there,” Monken said. “That can happen in a sport where you count on so many players in an individual play. You can end the game and say, ‘You know what, that individual actually played pretty well, and that individual actually played pretty well and that individual played pretty well, but we all took our turns at bogging it down.’ A throw here, a route here, a missed assignment here – when that happens you’re not nearly as efficient as you want to be and you don’t score nearly as many points. We all have to take ownership in that, starting with us. Coach (Koetter) already did that. Coach already did that in terms of at the end of the week.

"We’ve got to find a way to get more out of the players that we have – plain and simple. We have to do that as a coaching staff. That’s been the frustrating thing because we feel like we have the talent to be able to do that. I’ve felt like over the last few weeks, even with Jameis (Winston) being out, that we’ve been really close. We just haven’t done it. I don’t think there is a magic (answer) – if there was, we would be doing it. I’ve been doing this a long time (and) we’ve gone no-huddle. I don’t know if there is a different way you’ve got to practice. We’ve just got to do it better. We’ve got to coach it better. We’ve got to scheme it better. We’ve got to play better.”

Winston struggled last week against Carolina, but he had been playing better, Koetter said.

“I do (think he's more accurate), yes,” Koetter said. “I watch him throw about 200 balls every day.”

It is transforming into a league of young quarterbacks, such as Deshaun Watson (who hurt his knee Thursday) and Carson Wentz.

“You look, though, I think you need to be a little bit patient and see if everybody – I’m not talking about anyone in particular – stands the test of time,” Koetter said. “There was a quarterback in this league not too long ago that was Rookie of the Year and everyone predicted big things and I don’t think he’s in the league. There was another quarterback that took a team to the Super Bowl and I don’t think he’s in the league. We can’t make generalizations. There are a lot of reasons why quarterbacks are good and why they’re not. Most of it is their talent, (but) some of it is system, some of it is the defense they have playing with them, some of it is the players they have playing with them, some of it is just breaks. The best quarterbacks in this league stand the test of time and I’m sure we can all come up with plenty of names.”

Monken, too, thinks Winston has improved.

“I think that comes with the territory,” Monken said. “There is no question. In this business, we are paid to perform. As coaches and players, you’re paid to perform. That can change like that (snaps finger). It can go from all of the sudden you are the hottest thing and all of the sudden no you’re not. This guy is hot and this guy is not and that coach and this and that – that’s the way it goes. That’s just the business we are in, so I get that.

"We’re all paid to produce and that’s part of it. Do I think there is? Of course, there is. That can be weekly, that can be monthly, that can be yearly (or) that can be quarter to quarter. You can go from hot to not. That’s part of what we do and how you balance that and understand that that comes with it. That’s just what we do. I don’t know if I can state it any more than that, but you’re exactly right. There is stuff that comes from it. How you handle that as a coach (or) as a player and can continue to block out as much of the noise as you can and focus on the things you control, because it’s week-to-week, day-to-day, month-to-month of who is hot, who is not (and) who is doing well. It just is what it is and it doesn’t take long with personnel to change and who you are playing. It is what it is. What do we control? It’s today. We control Thursday and then we will control Friday. Then we will go and try to put our best foot forward in New Orleans and we will see from there.”

Winston thinks the answer to the identity problems are in the team's play.

“This isn’t a time where we can have a huge team meeting and bring everyone in and start pointing fingers and say, ‘This is what needs to change,’” Winston said. “This is a time where all of us must be accountable for our own actions (and) check ourselves. I was listening to Eric Thomas, one of his motivational speeches and it’s called ‘Check Yourself.’ One thing he said is you don’t need a coach to be telling you what to do. You don’t need your wife or your brother or your father to be telling you what to do. You have to check yourself. You have to be so prepared. He uses one example where he was like, ‘When you’ve got an assignment in a class, you should tell your teacher, ‘I already did my written assignment two weeks ahead.’ We’ve got to look at ourselves in the mirror and that’s what I’m starting with – me, personally. I know I have to play better for our offense to achieve what we can achieve. I think that’s what everyone has to do. Everyone has to look at themselves and see, ‘What can I do to make the situation better?’”

The Bucs play the Saints in New Orleans at 1 p.m. Sunday.

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