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After further review, Bucs still weren’t good enough

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Dirk Koetter can live with the plays where the Eagles beat his Tampa Bay Bucs.

He has a little more problem with the plays where the Bucs beat the Bucs.

Tampa Bay lost its first preseason game to Philadelphia, 17-9, fumbling deep inside its 20 twice in the first five minutes to gift-wrap touchdowns to the Eagles. The Bucs struggled protecting the ball, avoiding penalties, holding onto passes and converting third down.

“Before you start winning games, you’ve got to stop losing them,” Koetter said. “And in two of the three phases last night we beat ourselves. And that’s taking nothing away from Philly — they did what they did — I’m coaching this team not that team. Defensively, [we] played good enough to win. [The] other two phases, we beat ourselves. It starts off with turnovers — five turnovers, four on offense, one on special teams — and penalties and lack of execution, lack of precision and detail more than anything else on offense. And I know we have it in us because I’ve seen it, I’ve seen it in practice. We had a little flash of it in that third drive, but that’s pretty much it.

“As a team, and right now our team is 90 guys, eventually it’s going to be 53 guys, bottom line is we have to get better, we have to practice winning. And that’s what that whole compete theme is all about, our guys have been doing a pretty good job. Right now in that game last night our defense did a lot better job than the rest of our team.”

The Bucs’ defense played good enough, Koetter said.

“When you look at our defensive goal chart, our defensive drive chart, our defense nailed it,” Koetter said. “(Held) the team to under 200 yards on offense, [gave] up 17 points in an NFL game. Under 200 yards and 17 points, you’re going to win most of those games. We were just so poor on turnovers on the other side of the ball and put them in such horrendous field position that we put our defense in. But you look at the drive chart on the game and you’d take that every week.”

Koetter didn’t seem particularly concerned that the Bucs’ ran for only 31 yards on only 21 attempts.

“I think you can disagree all you want, but we’ve been pretty good at running the football,” Koetter said. “I think we have a pretty good grasp on what it takes to run the ball. We have two really good backs, one of which didn’t play last night. Take this for what it’s worth: To be a successful run team you need to repeat runs and you need to keep feeding your ball carrier the football and we did neither of those last night because we’re rotating too many guys. The ones played 16 plays and Doug (Martin) had not many carries. We’re wanting to run certain plays to work on certain schemes, but you’re not repeating them. If a run’s going, we might call the same run four or five times in a game. I don’t think we called any runs last night more than twice in the game.

“We weren’t productive, the other thing is Philly played a lot of eight-man box on us and when you really look at the tape, on the interior of the line we blocked them okay and in an eight-man spacing defense they force you to cut it back to the unblocked player. And their unblocked player made the tackle almost every time. Again I would say that if we had Doug and [running back] Chuck [Charles Sims] in there every time, Doug and Chuck have shown that they’re either going to break that tackle or make that guy miss. But Philly did a nice job, they were challenging us more to throw the ball. And there’s tricks where we can run the ball more efficiently against an eight-man front, but those weren’t things that we were going to work on last night.”

Koetter liked what he saw from backup receivers Russell Sheppard and Donteea Dye.

“We had seven drops last night,” Koetter said. “We can’t drop the ball seven times. You’re just not going to win games like that. That’s a little bit further down than four turnovers, but it still happened. As far as the wide receivers, in particular, I thought two guys stepped up and showed that they’re in the mix and that’s Shepard and Dye.”

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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