Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Jets-Buccaneers Turning Point, Week 10: Finding meaning in a lost season

RECOMMENDED READING


TAMPA — Ryan Fitzpatrick scrambled to his right. About 25 yards down the field, a receiver crossed over the middle. Not a single Jets jersey was in sight.

His previous 34 passes were a mix of good and bad. But the 35th? It was one of the more meaningful passes you’ve never seen.

Not because of the throw. But because of the receiver.

It wasn’t DeSean Jackson. And it wasn’t Chris Godwin, Adam Humphries or Cameron Brate. It wasn’t even a professional football player.

It was Fitzpatrick’s son.

On the same side of the field an hour and a half earlier, Fitzpatrick celebrated what turned out to be a game-winning touchdown pass to running back Charles Sims.

In the context of an NFL season, the Bucs’ 15-10 win over the Jets on Sunday doesn’t mean all that much. Tampa Bay improved to 3-6. New York fell to 4-6. Neither team is going to the playoffs.

While the season might be lost, the games still matter.

For Fitzpatrick, the games are an opportunity for him to share the end of his NFL career with his two sons, 10-year-old Brady and 8-year-old Tate.

We’ll forget everything that happened on Nov. 12, 2017. But Brady and Tate (Fitzpatrick also has three daughters) will remember holding their father’s grass-stained scarlet jersey in the locker room after the game. They’ll remember him taking them out onto the field. They’ll remember chasing him and catching his passes.

For Sims, the games are an opportunity to become known for something other than his botched lateral against the Broncos last season. Sunday was a good start.

Without him, the Bucs don’t beat the Jets.

Sims not only extended Tampa Bay’s fourth-quarter scoring drive but also finished it. On a third and 15, he took a toss 21 yards. Later, he caught a Fitzpatrick pass in the right flat and took it 6 yards into the end zone. It was the Bucs’ first meaningful touchdown in three weeks.

For DeSean Jackson, the games are an opportunity to show that he can do more than run far and run fast. The Bucs’ visions of 40-yard touchdowns haven’t materialized, and probably won’t as long as Fitzpatrick is the quarterback.

Jackson ran more short and intermediate routes Sunday and had one of his most productive games as a Buccaneer. While he didn’t find the end zone, he was targeted 10 times and caught six passes, both of which were season highs.

For coach Dirk Koetter, the games are an opportunity to prove that he can adjust and win games without his starting quarterback. The season hasn’t unfolded the way he expected, but NFL seasons never do. Things go wrong. Is he a coach? Or is he just a play-caller?

The season might be lost, but the games still matter.

Contact Thomas Bassinger at tbassinger@tampabay.com. Follow @tometrics.

Comments

Giants are NFL’s most disappointing team this season, but Broncos are close

The New York Giants made the playoffs for the first time in four years last season under the guidance of coach Ben McAdoo, setting high expectations for the 2017 campaign. They pushed those expectations even higher with the addition in free agency of...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Bucs journal: Defense struggling to get off the field on third and long

Bucs journal: Defense struggling to get off the field on third and long

TAMPA — Third and long, normally an ideal situation for an NFL defense, continues to be a problem as the Bucs try to get opposing offenses off the field.In the second half of Sunday’s game, the Dolphins converted six third downs when they needed 8 ya...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Bucs-Falcons: Has this former Buc become a pass-rushing force?

Bucs-Falcons: Has this former Buc become a pass-rushing force?

TAMPA — The Bucs face the defending NFC champions twice in their final six games. As they prepare to go to Atlanta on Sunday, former Tampa Bay first-round pick Adrian Clayborn is enjoying quite a two-week run.Clayborn, 29, had six sacks Nov. 12 in a ...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Clayborn shining for Falcons as Bucs come to town

Clayborn shining for Falcons as Bucs come to town

The Bucs face the Falcons twice in their final six games, and as they prepare to go to Atlanta on Sunday, former Tampa Bay first-round pick Adrian Clayborn has had a nice two-week run.Clayborn had a huge game nine days ago with six sacks in a win aga...
Published: 11/21/17
Cannon Fodder podcast: Setting up Bucs vs. Atlanta

Cannon Fodder podcast: Setting up Bucs vs. Atlanta

Times Bucs writer Greg Auman says it’s another week without Jameis Winston as the Bucs prepare to go to Atlanta, and there’s more on the Bucs’ run-game issues and how the defense has struggled on third and long, a situation most defenses love to be i...
Published: 11/21/17
Rick and Tom podcast: Debunking the Jameis Winston conspiracy theories

Rick and Tom podcast: Debunking the Jameis Winston conspiracy theories

In their latest podcast, Rick Stroud and Tom Jones debunk the Jameis Winston conspiracy theories as he will miss a third consecutive game this weekend in Atlanta.The guys explain that Winston’s absence is purely medical and has nothing to do with the...
Published: 11/21/17
Bucs journal: Dirk Koetter says Doug Martin’s not at fault for struggling running game

Bucs journal: Dirk Koetter says Doug Martin’s not at fault for struggling running game

TAMPA — RB Doug Martin had just 38 yards on 19 carries in Sunday’s win against the Dolphins, but coach Dirk Koetter said his team’s struggles running the ball shouldn’t go squarely on his running back."In my opinion, he is not the reason we’re not mo...
Published: 11/20/17
Updated: 11/21/17
Debunking some theories about why the Bucs are keeping Jameis Winston on the shelf

Debunking some theories about why the Bucs are keeping Jameis Winston on the shelf

TAMPA — The Bucs are sticking with Ryan Two and Oh Fitzpatrick at quarterback for Sunday’s game in Atlanta. But this isn’t a case of just riding the guy who has the cool head and hot hand. Doctors would not clear starter Jameis Wi...
Published: 11/20/17
Updated: 11/21/17
Fennelly: Hope glimmering through the gloom of Bucs’ season

Fennelly: Hope glimmering through the gloom of Bucs’ season

ST. PETERSBURG — It isn’t easy avoiding The Jameis Winston mess.But it’s worth a try. If only to see some thin shafts of light.It’s worth considering that the 2017 Bucs, their death certificate already signed, have shown signs of life. Okay, near lif...
Published: 11/20/17
WR Bernard Reedy, cut by Bucs, signing to Patriots’ practice squad

WR Bernard Reedy, cut by Bucs, signing to Patriots’ practice squad

Former Lakewood star Bernard Reedy, waived by the Bucs on Friday, cleared waivers on Monday and will be signing on Tuesday to join the New England Patriots' practice squad.Reedy, 25, handled all the Bucs' punt and kickoff returns in the first nine ga...
Published: 11/20/17