“He’s Going To Have To Get Better”

September 27th, 2017

Ira Kaufman is the most beloved, revered and esteemed Buccaneers columnist in town. He has hung his hat at JoeBucsFan.com world headquarters since July 2016. Tampa Bay’s only Pro Football Hall of Fame voter, Ira busts out columns here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and his award winning podcasts fire Tuesdays and Thursdays. You can also see Ira every football Sunday at 10:30 a.m. on FOX-13, Scott Smith’s Tailgate Sunday.


The majority of Sunday’s post-game criticism was directed at Tampa Bay’s passive defense — and deservedly so.

If the game had been close, there’s a good chance the Vikings would have rolled up 600 yards. Guess what?

It wasn’t close.

If you’re into asterisks, you can plant a big one next to Mike Smith’s side of the ball because the Bucs were missing key starters like Kwon Alexander and Brent Grimes. Lavonte David and Noah Spence were injured during the game, further testing Tampa Bay’s depth.

Rookie Kendell Beckwith did a nice job in the middle, but Alexander clearly sets the tone for a club that is now 0-5 without him.

The absence of Grimes proved equally important, and that’s something to note for any Buc fan who thinks Tampa Bay should move on from No. 24 next season, when Grimes turns 35.

With Odell Beckham Jr. now playing like the dog he claims to be, the Bucs desperately need Grimes on the field for this upcoming matchup. If Grimes returns, Vernon Hargreaves can revert back to his normal No. 2 spot and Smith can go back to his normal blueprint for the secondary.

We just saw what happens when that game plan goes awry.

But Dirk Koetter’s offense also has some explaining to do through two weeks.

Case Against Jameis

The ground game, so effective in 2015 when Koetter was offensive coordinator, continues to struggle. Tampa Bay is averaging only 3.3 yards per rushing attempt, and that weakness is having a dramatic effect on Jameis Winston’s production.

Here’s one painful way to look at it.

Winston and Case Keenum have each attempted 70 passes this season. Winston has completed 46 throws for 532 yards, with three TD passes and three interceptions. Keenum has hit on 45 throws for 536 yards, with three TD passes and zero picks.

To be fair, Keenum has had the benefit of handing off to rookie Dalvin Cook, who has certainly lived up to expectations for the Vikings.

The biggest difference is in the area of impact plays. Keenum has seven completions of at least 20 yards and three completions of 40 yards or more. Winston has hit on only three passes of 20 yards or more and he is still looking for a completion longer than 32 yards.

Every Buc fan who spent the past five months salivating over Winston’s array of weapons figured this team had addressed a glaring need for explosive plays. But through two games, the Bucs don’t have a 15-yard run or a 35-yard reception.

Dungy Points At The Franchise

Winston still has to show Buc Nation that he has improved his long-ball accuracy. He underthrew DeSean Jackson on a potential scoring pass against Minnesota, one of three picks for a young quarterback still learning the art of looking off defenders.

“Jameis Winston wasn’t great,” said Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy. “They’ve got a lot of weapons, a lot of toys, but what he’s got to do is be careful with the football. He wants to take chances. He wants to make plays, and this is where he’s going to have to get better if they’re going to be a playoff team. Very talented – got to take care of the ball.”

The winless Giants may be desperate, but they’re certainly beatable. New York’s offensive line is in shambles and the Bucs have a five-game home winning streak heading into this sold-out matchup.

Tampa Bay’s embattled defense will play better, but the buck hardly stops there. Winston needs to be the best quarterback on the field.

He wasn’t last week. Not by a longshot.

18 Responses to ““He’s Going To Have To Get Better””

  1. tmaxcon Says:

    career losing playoff record gets you in the hall of fame. how pathetically sad is that. dungy talking offense carries about as much weight as a Charles Manson parole hearing… just words words words with no substance. how can one speak on a topic he has NO clue about.

  2. Marcus Says:

    GMC will have a good game this Sunday. Going up against that Giants offensive line will be the perfect medicine. Now if that offense can get going…

  3. sorryitriggeredyou Says:

    The winless Giants may be desperate, but they’re certainly beatable. <- Not by this team at this point Ira, sorry buddy. Start Ryan Russell!

  4. unbelievable Says:

    Spot on Ira, Jameis simply hasn’t been good enough.

    His leadership intangibles are great, but if he can’t play with better accuracy and make those around him better, all the rah rah stuff doesn’t mean jack.

    We spent the #1 draft pick on the “most pro-ready QB” to come out since Andrew Luck, yet its year 3 and he still locks onto targets and can’t look off defenders before throwing.

  5. BucEmUp Says:

    Jameis has looked pretty bad. Its pretty obvious he still has accuracy issues. The defense is still the biggest issue but Jameis looks bad

  6. Cannon Says:

    If one had to point to most concerning area of the Bucs, it would be with the offense.

    I’m a big, big time Jameis supporter… but its up to him to make that next step.

    If he doesn’t (god forbid), then this team is simply doomed.

  7. 813bucboi Says:

    Alexander clearly sets the tone for a club that is now 0-5 without him.

    The ground game, so effective in 2015 when Koetter was offensive coordinator, continues to struggle. Tampa Bay is averaging only 3.3 yards per rushing attempt, and that weakness is having a dramatic effect on Jameis Winston’s production.

    *the one thing I wish dirk would’ve took from lovie is believing in the run game and not abandoning it so quickly…..we ran so effectively(2015) because we all knew that’s what lovie wanted to do….regardless if we were up or down we were going to run the ball….and jameis had a decent rookie season with that formula….the strength of our oline is run blocking…djax becomes more dangerous when the ground game is going and we can play off of playaction….our 2 TE can block effectively….I don’t understand why dirk refuses/abandons the run game….GO BUCS!!!!

  8. Defense Rules Says:

    @unbelievable (and Ira & Tony Dungy) … “Jameis simply hasn’t been good enough.” Y’all are looking for scapegoats and overlooking realities in today’s NFL. To everyone, fans & media, Bucs were flying high after the Bears game. Our defense was a Top 10 defense, our offense was improving, and we dominated. Along comes the Vikings game and all of a sudden we’re dog poop? That’s the classic definition of ‘FICKLE’.

    We out-gameplanned the Bears in Game 1, and we got out-gameplanned by the Vikings in Game 2 … Big-Time. A large part of that was probably because of so many players having the flu prior to the Vikes game, which more than likely impacted both practice time & game-planning. Not having Kwon, Grimes, Baker available to start the game unquestionably hurt us because those are 3 main cogs in our defense.

    Comparing Jameis to Case Keenum is silly. Had Jameis been throwing against the Bucs defense on Sunday he would’ve lit us up too … as it was he passed for 70% completion rate & 328 yds & 2 TDs against an excellent pass defense. Take a close look at the play-by-play recap and you’ll find at least 2 things come clear: (1) there were times in the game when Jameis was completing just about everything; (2) the play-calling left a LOT to be desired. Jameis isn’t the only one who gets impatient when he falls behind it appears … so do his coaches.

  9. LakeLandBuc Says:

    Eli Manning is 5-0 against the Bucs, after Sunday he will be 6-0 against the Bucs.

  10. LakeLandBuc Says:

    Then on Thursday, a few days after Sunday. We play against Tom Brady, who is 3-0 against the Bucs.

  11. Jim Says:

    I don’t know if you all saw what I saw: Late in the 4th quarter, Jameis on the bench all alone, one coaching staffer with a clipboard there, with Jameis looking sad and bewildered, like a lost child. This weapons for Winston, gotta make the play-offs, America’s quarterback, Face of the NFL, puts it all on him and that’s not smart, that’s not fair…

  12. Bob in Valrico Says:

    @ defense
    While 70% and 328 yards seems impressive.The yards between the twenties don’t matter.We have to execute better in the red zone.Our young Quarterback is strill struggling against the better defenses.He played great against KC,but playing well against good defenses and defensive schemes is still a challenge at times even for some of the most elite QB’s in the league.

  13. unbelievable Says:

    @Defense Rules,

    I’m not one of those fans who thought we were going 16-0 after the Bears win. The bears are terrible, and the truth is our offense didn’t do much that game. Defense was great but again the Bears are not good.

    Please don’t think I am discounting the defensive performance and putting the whole Vikes game on Jameis. I’m not. Our defensive game plan was poor, plus we got ravaged by injuries on that side of the ball. Ravaged. But at some point shouldn’t Jameis be able to carry the team when the defense is struggling? Maybe he’s still not there yet, fine.

    I’m more concerned with whether he is really progressing. He has moments of brilliance, but others that leave you scratching your head. Still. I know there will always be some of those, but I thought by year 3 there would be less. That floater that Brate miraculously save from interception in the 1st comes to mind.

    And he still stares down receivers. The Mike Evans INT was the most obvious example. OJ was wide open, Evans was surrounded. And Jameis’ eyes were glued to Evans the entire route.

    The other thing I’ve noticed is his demenear after an interception or when they are losing. Someone else just mentioned it, but those are the moments the team needs him to be vocal and step up his play, not sitting alone on the bench.

    I dunno maybe I’m being too critical, but the concerns I had about him coming out of college seem to be lingering into year 3 of the pros. We are only 2 games into the season, so still plenty of time but it’s fair to say some of the preseason offensive struggles were real. vikes have a very good defense, but Jameis had pretty good protection that day.

    I put blame on Koetter too, his playcalling was not great.

  14. Rod Munch Says:

    Again… top defense, on the road, down big early, made one dimensional. It’s ridiculous to say anything about the offense in this game as the defense was so bad that the offense had ZERO say in the outcome of the game. None. If you want to point at anyone you point directly at Ryan Smith who should have but cut this week, he’s awful. I watched that 2002 all-time great Bucs defense in 2003 get one injury that took them from an all-time great, to just good – and that the injury to CB Brian Kelly, once he was injured and with the Bucs moving corner Dwight Smith to safety to save on cap space, the Bucs had ZERO depth at corner, and once Brian Kelly went down the defense fell apart. It was just one player – one leak in the defense, and it caused a huge domino effect.

    This isn’t the 2002 Bucs defense, it’s a defense that had a hot half-season strech and did nothing to sure up it’s depth over the offseason. How you go into this season without a 3rd corner, I have no idea. If TJ Ward doesn’t fall into their lap, they’re still starting Conte and Tandy. Licht dropped the ball – Ryan Smith is not an NFL player yet he was out there getting burned again and again and again on Sunday.

    For Winston he was fine. When you’re down by multiple scores on the road you’re going to be pressed into making mistakes as you try to make plays. The Bucs did this all the time in the glory days, all the time, against Favre, against McNabb, against everyone they played. You don’t go on the road against a top defense, get down big early, become one dimensional and win.

  15. Bob in Valrico Says:

    No reason to think the defense was carry the team with three starters out.
    While its true that ryan smith played poorly. Vh3 and conte also got burned.
    In any case the offense,was needed to carry the team.The running game was
    pretty much stalled. It was incumbant for the offense to score to stay in the
    game.You can’t do that if you have turnovers that stall drives or most of all give the opponent opportunities to score off them.I will say that on one of the throws to Jackson in the endzone,I was surprised that Desean didn’t get to that ball.That
    could have helped give the offense a little momentum.

  16. tnew Says:

    This week has been as much of a knee jerk as last week was. First off, Jameis’ accuracy and ball placement has been much better this season. Has he missed passes, absolutely.

    However, the biggest worry I have is regarding his personality. He needs to find some confidence. I know, he likes to be coached hard. Most driven, perfectionistic type people like to be coached hard, but it isn’t always the best way for their development. A guy like Jameis, you don’t coddle, but you don’t hammer just because you can.

    Right now, he is trying to eliminate not limit his mistakes. His reads are too mechanical. He looks like he is trying to process things perfectly and overloading his brain. His arm has never been better. Not going to detail the INT’s from last week, I’ve done it once but I challenge all of the Fans and the columnists that are critiquing him, and asking him to be more perfect. Look at our personnel group. Look at the defense. Take a look at the presnap read then watch the play. Watch how his head tracks. See what he is missing. This is coaching guys. Especially on the second interception. Third one, Winston decided presnap he was going to Evans. What did he see? (presnap) What did he miss? (presnap)

    Jameis needs to accept his mistakes, trust his reads and get back to playing football. Every mistake is not life and death. Acting like it is, makes it so.

    Bob, Winston left that ball short (maybe because DJax or coaches where on him to give his receivers a chance to make a play) AND DJax lost track of Waynes on the play. You can tell by DJax’s reaction, he thought it was going to be an easy score. Its not until the very last second that he reacts.

  17. Nole4JabooANDdBucs Says:

    It’s so easy to blame Jameis…infact toooo easy. Realistically no matter how many scores offense get’s, doesn’t matter if defense is not putting pressure on the other teams quarterback and he is able to score at will.

    And you’ve been forced to play one dimensionally with no running game.

    Why does any team lose at any given day…Very, very, few win all 16!
    The Bucs would be in the SUPER BOWL if you talented fans and posters
    Were playing, and coaching from the comfort of either your air conditioned home or mind!

    Geesh everyone wants Jameis to be more patient, be more accurate, be less fiery, be elite, cut down on the interceptions…okay so while you are expecting all these things from him. How about you…O’perfect Ones…when will you?, be more patient, less critcal, more supportive,
    More game knowledgeable, more practical, not fair-weathered, more realistic…an elite fan

    Go BUCS up or down, win or lose, Go Bucs☠

  18. Ed Says:

    Is it too much to teach him how to look at different parts of the field and to look one way and if it’s not there throw it the other way. Get him to dump it off or mix in some O.J. Howard. When he did go to Godwin he was more open than Evans and he catches everything near him.

    How about designer more plays to roll out Jameis he is great throwing on the run or outside the pocket. I see more struggles when he is doing short drops and timing routes.

    He’s not Aaron Rogers but some of his best plays are freelance throws