TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter enjoyed this one. A 15-10 win over the New York Jets not only ended his team’s five game losing skid, it showed the players that the “next man up” mentality can produce results.
Quarterback Jameis Winston sat out Sunday’s game with a shoulder injury while wide receiver Mike Evans served a one game suspension imposed by the NFL for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty last week.
“We don’t want to miss Jameis and Mike too often,” Koetter said. “Ryan Fitzpatrick stepped in there and did what we brought him here to do.”
Fitzpatrick, making his 117th NFL start, made his first start as the Bucs quarterback. He passed for 187 yards and a touchdown against his former club.
His touchdown pass to Charles Sims in the 4th quarter was career touchdown pass number 171 and his fifth for the Bucs this year.
Rooke wide receiver Chris Godwin also stepped into a bigger role, thanks to the suspension of Evans. He caught five passes for 68 yards.
“He stepped into Mike’s [Evans] role,” Koetter said. “Had two explosive plays, played well in the run game and played well enough to earn the offensive game ball.”
With the return of Evans against the Miami Dolphins, Godwin will likely slip back into his fourth receiver position but remain a key contributor on special teams.
For Fitzpatrick, another important start looms. There is speculation that Winston’s shoulder injury may cause him to miss more than just the original two games recommended by Bucs medical staff.
“Koetter’s Korner” airs each Monday, during the 6:00 p.m. news cast on News Channel 8 during the Bucs regular season.
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