TAMPA, Fla. — Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter said that against the Washington Redskins, to whom the Bucs lost 16-3 on Sunday, he was the one calling the plays and not offensive coordinator Todd Monken, who had been calling them all season.
“I called the plays today. The whole day,” Koetter said.
The past three seasons (two as head coach) Koetter had been the Bucs’ offensive playcaller. Then this year, he decided to give Monken playcalling duties during training camp and the preseason for a different perspective, so he could focus on other areas.
The plan was for Koetter to take it back during the regular season, but Monken had such success, with the offense averaging 448 yards and nearly 28 points per game, that it continued up until Week 10.
When Koetter was asked why he took over Sunday, he responded, “It was just my own reasons.”
Monken was still in the coaches’ booth, but Koetter was the one in quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick‘s ear.
“I didn’t really notice much of a difference, maybe the cadence of his voice instead of Todd’s,” Fitzpatrick said. “I thought he called a great game and put us in great situations to get down there in the red zone. I wasn’t able to execute like I should have.”
It was Koetter’s playcalling that earned him his promotion to head coach when Lovie Smith was fired after the 2015 season. But it was also his playcalling that drew criticism last season, with reports surfacing that Jameis Winston was frustrated with Koetter’s “predictable” offense.
Against the Redskins, the Buccaneers produced 501 yards but scored just three points. According to Elias Sports Bureau data, the Bucs became the first team in NFL history with 450-plus total yards and three or fewer points.
“We just weren’t good enough as a team. And that starts with me and permeates down through everybody else on the offense,” Koetter said. “To move the ball that way and just come up with three points? You’re just not gonna win that way.”
The Bucs (3-6) turned the ball over four times. Fitzpatrick threw two interceptions, with a third turnover coming off a fumble.
On the opening possession, cornerback Josh Norman made a diving catch at the Redskins’ 1-yard line on a pass intended for running back Shaun Wilson. On his second interception, Fitzpatrick attempted to hit tight end O.J. Howard on a slant route, with cornerback Greg Stroman stepping in front of Howard.
“The first one was huge — kind of a play we had worked on to get Shaun out on a flag route, basically,” Fitzpatrick said.
“Norman made a nice play just in terms of sitting there and reading me. That’s one, essentially if it’s not there, OK, check it down to Adam [Humphries] coming underneath. That’s a simple one that I can’t have that.”
Then in the fourth quarter, a 12-play drive that began at the Tampa Bay 13 ended with Fitzpatrick fumbling after getting sacked by Preston Smith on second-and-goal at Washington’s 2, with Ryan Kerrigan recovering it for the Redskins.
“The fumble I had at the end, two hands on the ball and know when to give up, that kind of thing, so there were some there that were just frustrating,” Fitzpatrick said. “I think it was especially frustrating because of the way that we moved the ball …”
The Bucs went 0-for-5 in the red zone; heading into Sunday’s game, they’d averaged a 63.3 percent conversion rate there.
“It always happens to us. I don’t know what we have to do to get over the hump,” wide receiver Mike Evans said. “I don’t know. We’re too good to be stopped in the red zone.”
The Bucs might look to make another change at the quarterback position. When asked if he’d consider starting Winston next week against the New York Giants, Koetter said, “Of course, yes. … We’ll talk about all personnel issues tomorrow.”
The Bucs might also have a new face at kicker. Chandler Catanzaro missed field goal attempts of 30 and 48 yards. The Bucs worked out Cairo Santos and Sam Ficken three weeks ago but did not sign either.
“Any personnel changes won’t come today,” Koetter said. “That will be something that [general manager] Jason [Licht and I] will have to talk about tomorrow at any position.”