Looking Back on Bucs’ Victory Over Saints

by Gary Shelton on January 2, 2018 · 2 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

Godwin finished his rookie year off with a 100-yard day./CARMEN MANDATO

Godwin finished his rookie year off with a 100-yard day./CARMEN MANDATO

Tuesday, 3 a.m.

5 Observations

I'm going to be honest here. If I was the coach, that last-second scoring pass from Jameis Winston to Chris Godwin never would have happened. I like Winston, but by that time, he would have been sitting on the pine. I said it after his second interception. "One more, and he's out." I just felt that the most precious thing to Winston is playing time, and until ball protection is a bigger priority for him, I'd have sat him. And, yeah, I'd have lost. But some things are more important than 5-11.

The victory felt nice. Victories always do. But how will you feel about it on draft night when the Bucs pick seventh instead of fifth? When, say, Bradley Chubb goes fourth? Will you bless Chris Godwin then?

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Doug Martin is going to have a great career in New England.

If there was a message for Dirk Koetter Sunday, it was this. The defense finally made a play, and it was Clinton McDonald on a sack. That should hint loudly to the Bucs what the off-season sites should be. Castoffs and journeymen won't get it done.

Should three offensive touchdowns seem like a lot?

Here's a question: How many games do the Bucs have to win in 2018 before bringing back Dirk Koetter was a good idea? Seven? Nine? Eleven?

Koetter has to coach the turnovers out of Winston./CARMEN MANDATO

Koetter has to coach the turnovers out of Winston./CARMEN MANDATO


(From Dirk Koetter's day-after press conference Monday)

(On his message to the team): “Just that we didn’t meet our own expectations and that, obviously, always starts with the head football coach. And [I told them] that I really appreciated their effort and hanging in there, which they did a good job of that. We competed to the end [and] no one could ever take that from them. And [I told them] that there is change. There is always change every year in the NFL and this year will be no exception. And [I told them] that change is hard at first, messy in the middle and hopefully good in the end.”

(On the possibility of giving up the play-calling): “Yeah, that’s probably not going to happen. I should’ve never said that last year [laughs]. Everything is looked at every year. That really is true – everything is looked at. The coaches actually get this afternoon off and when we come back in here tomorrow you are evaluating everything. There is a schedule. It starts off with your evaluating of the players. After we get done with the coaches evaluating the players, then Jason [Licht] and I are doing our evaluations of everything in the program. Everything is looked at. The way the calendar is now, when the players don’t come back until mid-April, you’ve got plenty of time. You’re doing your evaluation [and] at the same time you are starting on your free agents. We’ve got the college all-star games coming up, so it flows. It is a calendar that flows and we really do look at everything, but that is one of the things in there. I’m going to be the play caller.”

(On gaining a lot of yards but not scoring a lot of points): “(It tells me that) we need to score more points. We moved the ball up and down the field. We didn’t score enough touchdowns in the red zone. We missed too many field goals. Points win games. There [are] metrics that add up to points: turnovers, explosive plays, sacks. But the bottom line is points however you get them. The biggest play in that game last night was Josh Robinson kicking that punt back. That was seven points, boom, just like that. No yards accounted for those points. Those were instant points that flipped that game around right there (on) one play. The biggest thing, just without doing too much thinking about it right off the top, is we’ve got to score touchdowns in the red zone. We have to do better and that is easy for me to stand up here and say, ‘We have to do better’ – everyone knows that. How are we going to do it better? That is a lot harder. We’ve got to figure that out.”

(On the difficulty of closing out games): “I just think when you look at – I believe we are 3-7 in one-score games – you are going to have a hard time getting where you want to go winning 30 percent of one-score games. You’ve got to be higher than that. It could be a whole lot of stuff, but we have enough talent on offense to score more points. Score more points – that is one issue. The number two biggest issue on our football team is we can’t get pressure with a four-man rush. I’m not telling anybody any big secrets here. Those were our two biggest things that need to be addressed. There is a lot of other stuff in there too, but those are two things just right off the bat moving forward that have to get better if our team is going to be better.”

(On his concern over Jameis Winston's turnovers): “Turnovers are the number one thing that get you beat, so [I am] very concerned. Again, Jameis knows that. He knows. Jameis is streaky with his turnovers. He can go three or four games and not turn the ball over and then we had a game last night where we turned it over three times. It’s rare that you can overturn a negative turnover ratio. It’s definitely something that has to be corrected and that is one of the top things that would help us not be 3-7 in one-score games because they are hard to overcome when you don’t win the turnover [battle]. Most teams are in the 90 percent [range] when they win the turnover battle. We are real close to that.”

Robinson strips the ball, sets up a score./CARMEN MANDATO

Robinson strips the ball, sets up a score./CARMEN MANDATO

5 of the Best Takes

In a perfect world, they would have trounced the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday and celebrated their NFC South Division title like drunken frat boys on the charter plane ride home to New Orleans. But life sometimes takes unexpected twists, and it took one on the Saints in the fourth quarter at Raymond James Stadium when the Bucs inexplicably rose from the dead and outscored the Saints 18-7 to spoil the visitors' victory party with a stunning 31-24 come-from-behind win.

-- Jeff Duncan, New Orleans Times-Picayune

"In expectation of celebrating the franchise's first division title in six years, the Saints made the unusual move of including every player on the roster in the travel party, including the guys on injured reserve and the practice squad. Team officials pre-purchased Cuban cigars and NFC South Division championship hats and T-shirts. Then, seconds away from winning their 12th game of the season, Winston and the Bucs made them eat one of the most heartbreaking and unexpected losses of the season."

-- Duncan

I've watched the New Orleans Saints offense with a sense of uneasiness ever since Drew Brees tossed an interception in the end zone near the end of their Week 14 loss at Atlanta.  I can't be the only one feeling that way, especially after the Saints' 31-24 stunning loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday

-- Larry Holder, Times-Picayne

It was a gut-wrenching loss for the Saints as the Buccaneers sealed the win with a 95-yard drive that ended on a 39-yard touchdown reception by Chris Godwin with 9 seconds remaining. But, if the Saints had to lose again this season, they're glad it happened Sunday. "We just got woken up," linebacker Manti Te'o said.

-- John Katzenstein, Times-Picayune

However, as good of a highlight as Kamara's run was, the Saints had a special teams blunder later in the game that evened the scoring among the two teams' return and coverage units. Early in the fourth quarter, Saints wide receiver Tommylee Lewis fielded a punt at the Saints' 7, and as he ran sideways, Buccaneers safety Josh Robinson stripped the ball. Then, fellow Buccaneers safety Isaiah Johnson recovered the ball and ran it in for a touchdown, which gave Tampa Bay a 20-17 lead, its first of the game.

-- Katzenstein

Barber ended up leading the Bucs in rushing./CARMEN MANDATO

Barber ended up leading the Bucs in rushing./CARMEN MANDATO


Quarterback: Jameis WInston is right. You win, and a lot of things are forgiven. Thing such as Winston's three interceptions, though, are remarkably ugly. Winston is always going to have turnovers. He just needs to have enough big plays to offset them. Grade: B-.

Running back: Peyton Barber finished the season as the No. 1 back. But don't the Bucs need a better back in 2018? Grade: C.

Offensive line: Yeah, yeah. Three starters were out. But the running game hasn't been great, and Winston has had his most sacks. Grade: C.

Receivers: Both Godwin and Adam Humphries went over 100 yards, and Mike Evans cracked 1,000 on the year. Grade: A.

Defensive line: Clinton McDaniel's late sack reminded us what defensive football is supposed to look like. Good job against the run. Grade: B.

Linebacker: Kwon Alexander (11 tackles) and Lavonte David (six) led the Bucs once again. Grade: B+.

Secondary: They walked away from a game against Drew Brees. That hasn't always happened Grade: B+.

Winston has five career comebacks in the fourth quarter./CAMERON MANDATO

Winston has five career comebacks in the fourth quarter./CAMERON MANDATO

5 Winston Comebacks

1. Saints, 12-31-17.      Winston threw for 363, hit Godwin with nine seconds left.

2. N.Y. Giants, 10-1-17.      Winston threw for 352 yards and three touchdowns.

3. Dallas, 11-15-15.             Winston fumbled at the goal line, but a defensive hold gave him a second chance to score the winner.

4.Atlanta, 12-6-15                Winston hit Mike Evans on a 6-yard touchdown pass with 1:39 to play.

5. Chargers,    12-4-16.         Winston hit Cam Brate, the Bucs held on with an interception by Keith Tandy.

Coaches don't last long in the NFL./CARMEN MANDATO

Coaches don't last long in the NFL./CARMEN MANDATO

Coaching Class of 2016

1. Doug Pederson, Eagles ...He's 20-12 in two years and preparing to take his team to the playoffs.

2. Mike Mularkey, Titans...His team clinched the playoffs this week with a win over Jacksonville. Reportedly, he's still on the hot seat.

3. Adam Gase, Dolphins ... He's 16-16 after two years, but his team fell to 6-10 this season. Has to win in 2018.

4. Dirk Koetter, Bucs... He's 14-18 after last year, and the Bucs say they'll stick with him in 2018. Needs Winston to mature.

5. Hue Jackson, Browns...has one win in two years (1-31), but owership says he'll be back next year.

6. Ben McAdoo, Giants...He was 13-15 when he was fired this season. The NFL's most disappointing team.

7. Chip Kelly, 49ers ... He was 2-14 in one year with San Francisco. Returned to college with UCLA.

Martin has had a difficult season for Bucs./CARMEN MANDATO

Martin has had a difficult season for Bucs./CARMEN MANDATO

5 of Doug Martin’s worst days

            Game, Date                 Att.          Yds.                   Ave.

1. New Orleans. 12-31-17.        3               (-3)            (-1.0)

2. New Orleans. 11-5-17.          8                7                   0.88

3. Carolina          12-14-17        6                 7                   1.17

4. Miami              11-19-17       19               38                  2.00

5. Detroit             12-10-17     10                26                2.50

Comparing Doug Martin

2016                                                                                 2017

8                                  Starts                                          8

144                                Attempts                                 138

421                                  Yards                                    406

3                                     TDs                                          3

2.9                                   Average                                 2.9

DeSean Jackson looks on from the Bucs' bench./CARMEN MANDATO

DeSean Jackson looks on from the Bucs' bench./CARMEN MANDATO

12 Bucs' Seasons Worse Than This One

1976             0-14

1977              2-12

1983             2-14

1985            2-14

1986            2-14

1987             4-12

1991             3-13

2006           4-12

2009           3-13

2011            4-12

2013           2-14

2014           2-14

Gerald McCoy enjoys a Bucs' victory./CARMEN MANDATO

Gerald McCoy enjoys a Bucs' victory./CARMEN MANDATO

5 Bucs with Multiple Sacks

Gerald McCoy.          6.0

Clinton McDonald    5.0

Will Clarke                2.5

Robert Ayers             2.0

Ryan Russell.           2.0

Winston, Evans celebrate their narrow victory./CARMEN MANDATO

Winston, Evans celebrate their narrow victory./CARMEN MANDATO

Comparing Mike Evans

2016 2017

173               Targets                     136

91              Catches                      71

1321             Yards                       1,001

12                   TDs                             5

13.8         Per Catch                     14,1

Conte pulls down Alvin Kamara./CARMEN MANDATO

Conte pulls down Alvin Kamara./CARMEN MANDATO

Random Defensive Stats

Total Defense                           32

Passing Defense                      32

Third-down percentage        32

Sacks                                          32

Yards per play                          32

Humphries had more than 100 yards receiving Sunday./CARMEN MANDATO

Humphries had more than 100 yards receiving Sunday./CARMEN MANDATO

Random Offensive Stats

Total Offense                    9

Total Points                     18

Passing                               4

3rd Down Pct.                   4

Rushing                            27

5 Mock Drafts

Sporting News                            Bradley Chubb, DE.      N.C. State

Big Lead                                       Chubb

SB Nation                                     Chubb

SEC Country                                Chubb

Bleacher Report                          Quenton Nelson, G         Notre Dame

6 other 5-11 seasons








Godwin has outperformed most of his class./CARMEN MANDATO

Godwin has outperformed most of his class./CARMEN MANDATO

Leading Rookie Receivers

(Taken in the Top 4 Rounds)

          Player, Team                            Overall Pick.     Catches.  Yards.   TDs

1. Cooper Kupp, Rams                                 69.             62            869.      5

2. JuJu Smith-Schuster. Steelers            62               58            917        7

3. Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay                     84               34            525        1

4. Corey Davis, Tennessee                             5                34            375       0

5. Zay Jones, Bufffalo                                  37                 27            326       2

6. Taywan Taylor , Tennessee                    72                 16           231        1

7. Curtis Samuel, Carolina                         40                  15            115         0

8.  Mike Williams, Houston                         7                  11              95         0

9. Ardarius Stewart, NY Jets                    28                     6              82         0

10. John Ross, Cincy                                     9                    0                0         0

(tie) Carlos Henderson, Denver               82                    0                 0         0

5 Former Bucs

1. Aqib Talib, Denver...Reports are that the Broncos may move on from Talib and his $11 million salary next season.

2. LeGarrette Blount, Philadelphia... Blount finished his season with 766 yards, roughly 2/3 of what he had last year. But his 4.4 average was a half-yard better.

3. Adrian Clayborn, Atlanta...Clayton strained a hamstring, ending his regular season with 9.5 sacks. Of those, six came in one game against Dallas.

4. Kaelin Clay, Carolina...He caught one pass for 15 yards. For the season, he had 19 for 149.

5. Josh McCown, N.Y. Jets...Sat out injured, but he finished with a good season for the Jets. He was 5-8 and had a rating of 94.5.

Biggest Falloffs

Victories compared to 2016

1. N.Y. Giants                    - 8

2. Oakland                          - 6

3. Houston                         - 5

4. Miami                             -4

4. Indianapolis                 - 4

4. Denver                           -4

4. Dallas                             -4

4. Tampa Bay                    -4

Biggest Improvements

1. L.A. Rams                     +7

1. Jacksonville                 +7

3. Philadelphia                +6

4. Minnesota                    +5

4. Carolina                  +5

5 Most Disappointing Bucs

1. Doug Martin

2. Chris Baker

3. Vernon Hargreaves

4. Nick Folk

5. Mike Smith

5 Bucs' leading tacklers

22.  Lavonte David.        101

25.  Kwon Alexander.      97

83, Chris Conte                 77

100. Kendell Beckwith.   73

126. Justin Evans            66

5 Leading Penalty Producers

1. Donovan Smith.      8.          70

2. Sweezy                      6            45

3. Dotson                      6           42

4. Winston                   6             34

5. Evan Smith             5            40

5 playoff Droughts

(Includes This Season)

Cleveland.           15

Tampa Bay.        10

Jets                        7

Bears                     7

Chargers               4

49ers                     4

5 Thoughts

1. I think Doug Martin is going to have a great year for New England next year.

2. I think Sean aeyton is absolutely right about the incident in the first game between the teams. The Bucs were wrong. That said, having an issue with Payton could go down a character reference.

3. Chris Baker, Robert Ayers and Noah Spence, two free agents and a high draft pick, combined for 2.5 sacks this year. I get more sacks than that when I grocery shop.

4. If the Bucs played in a division with Cleveland, the Giants, the Colts and Houston, they'd be in the playoffs. They just need friends in low places.

5. This occurs to me. If Dirk Koetter thinks his offensive line is decent, he needs to start by adding one thing: Higher standards.

Brate had 48 receptions for the Bucs./CARMEN MANDATO

Brate had 48 receptions for the Bucs./CARMEN MANDATO

Game Balls

Offense: There is only one name that fits: Rookie wide receiver Chris Godwin. He caught seven passes for 111 yards, and he scored the winning touchdown with nine seconds left.

Defense: Yes, the linebackers led in tackles again. But the defensive play of the day was made by Clinton McDonald, who sacked Drew Brees to allow Winston's game-winning drive.

Special teams: How about Josh Robinson, who stripped the ball from a punt returner and allowed Isaiah Johnson to run in for a short touchdown.

Kwon Alexander was second by four tackles./CARMEN MANDATO

Kwon Alexander was second by four tackles./CARMEN MANDATO

5 Times They’ll  Be Favored in 2018

1. Cleveland

2. New York Giants

3. San Francisco 49ers

4. Chicago Bears

5. Cincinnati Bengals

Winston has 5 games of 363 yards or more./CARMEN MANDATO

Winston has 5 games of 363 yards or more./CARMEN MANDATO

5 Times They’ll Be Underdogs in 2018

1. Philadelphia

2. Pittsburgh

3. Baltimore

4. Dallas

5. New Orleans (road)

McCoy looks forward to the 2018 season./CARMEN MANDATO

McCoy looks forward to the 2018 season./CARMEN MANDATO

6 Times It’ll Be a Tossup in 2018

1. Carolina (home)

2. Atlanta (home)

3. Washington

4. Atlanta (road)

5. New Orleans (home)

6. Carolina (road)

Winston's Most Yardage

9-15-16       Rams             36-58.     405         Loss

10-22-17     Buffalo          32-44.     384          Loss

12-24-17     Panthers.      21-17.      367          Loss

12-17-15      Rams             29-50     363          Loss

12-31-17      Saints            25-51.     363          Win

Winston's Most Turnovers

Date            Turnovers          Int.            Fumbles

9-15-16          5                  4                 1

10-4-15          4                   0                0

12-18-16.        4                   3                1

9-24-17          3                   3                0

12-14-17         3                   0                 3

12-31-17        3                    3                 0

Closing It Out

Last Half-Dozen Games

2017                          Dirk Koetter                  1-5                Retained

2015                          Lovie Smith                  1-5                 Fired

2013                          Schiano                         2-4                 Fired

2011                          Morris                            0-6                Fired

2008                        Gruden                           2-4                Fired

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