The defense is playing better. More receivers are getting open. The safeties have been very good. Punter Ryan Anger has been special.
But for the Tampa Bay Bucs, the key is still quarterback Jameis Winston.
“When Jameis takes care of the football, we’re tough,” said Bucs’ coach Dirk Koetter Wednesday. “We’ve got to take care of the football, that’s everybody. The main thing that we’re doing better in the last few weeks is we’re getting turnovers and we’re not turning it over as much, we’re in the positive.
“I think our defense is all the way up to number three in the league in takeaways. We’ve still given it away. We could’ve put that Seattle game away if we don’t turn it over twice in the fourth quarter. They were ready to topple over for us if we could’ve just finished. So Jameis, that’s something that to be a championship quarterback in this league, you’ve got to take great care of the ball.”
Koetter said the Bucs have communicated better in their current three-game winning streak, including back-to-back upsets of the Chiefs and the Seahawks.
“That was the number one thing we talked about in the little mini-bye coming out of the Thursday night game is that we had too many times when the offense would be at the line of scrimmage and guys were palms up,” Koetter said. “What do I do? And you can’t have, can’t be like that. They’ve got to be looking at the formation, playing their keys, knowing the tendencies by formation and we have done a way, way, way better job the last few weeks. And then like anything else, success and confidence seem to go together. It’s funny how that works and our D’s playing with a lot of confidence right now. But your confidence can be shaken quickly when you start watching San Diego’s offense on tape because they’ve got weapons, they’ve got a quarterback, they move the ball on everybody.”
The Bucs scored twice in the first quarter, then didn’t score again. They did have a touchdown called back and missed a field goal.
“Well, it’s not a challenge, it’s the truth, it’s just the truth,” Koetter said. “We reviewed the game – part of coming off a victory Monday is on Wednesday, we spend our first hour and a half or so reviewing the last game and we put up our goal charts and our drive charts and our penalty reports from the last game. The numbers always tell the story and yeah, I’m still disappointed. I’m disappointed in myself, I’ve got to get us in better plays and we take a lot of pride in that. Those first two drives were exceptional and then as I said earlier, we had chances to put that game away and thank God our defense played lights out, or we’d all be a lot sadder today. At least I’d be sadder, you guys might not be, but I’d be a lot sadder.”
Offensive coordinator Todd Monken said the Bucs caused most of their problems.
“Well, we just self-inflicted,” Monken said. “Our defense played great. It’s very difficult to not score after the first quarter and still win. But we had an opportunity, missed a field goal. Had an opportunity before the half, didn’t get an opportunity for a field goal. We had another opportunity and we fumbled, we had another opportunity and we threw an interception. So, the opportunities were there. Similar to the week before, we had a number of opportunities. We’ve got to continue to do the things that we’re doing well, but figure out a way to score touchdowns and finish drives and not turn it over.”
Winston said he was just sticking to familiar mantra of constant improvement.
“I think I’m just sticking to my goal and it’s simple and that’s just getting better every single day,” Winston said. (Quarterbacks) Coach (Mike) Bajakian and Coach Koetter do a great job of just the type of drills that we’re doing in individual, the amount of work, the amount of reps that we get to just work on our technique stuff. And it’s worked. Coach Bajakian is a hard worker and he stays on me about rhythm and accuracy, rhythm and precision, two hands in the pocket, and it’s worked.”
The Buc are at San Diego at 4:05 p.m.