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TAMPA Gerald McCoy Jersey , Fla. (AP) — It doesn’t matter if Jameis Winston or Ryan Fitzpatrick is at quarterback for the Buccaneers. A porous defense keeps undermining Tampa Bay’s chances of winning.The Bucs (3-5) have lost five of six following a 2-0 start. Neither changing quarterbacks nor firing defensive coordinator Mike Smith has been an answer to ending a tailspin that’s dropped the team into a familiar hole: last place in the NFC South, where they’ve finished six of the last seven seasons.“I don’t think the past equals the future,” coach Dirk Koetter said after Sunday’s 42-28 loss to the Carolina Panthers, a game the Bucs trailed 35-7 at one point. “We’ve got to play better football, more consistent football. We have to get off to better starts. We’ve got to be in the hunt in (the) turnover battle.”The Bucs are first in the NFL in passing offense and second in total yards. But well as they’ve moved the ball through eight games, they’re just as bad defensively in allowing a league-high 275 points (34.4 per game) and ranking 30th among 32 teams against the pass.To make matters worse, Tampa Bay hasn’t forced a turnover in a club-record five consecutive games.Winston lost his starting job after throwing four interceptions two weeks ago. Fitzpatrick flourished early in the season filling in while Winston was serving a three-game suspension. However, in his last three starts the Bucs have been outscored 103-27 in the opening half.Inconsistency on offense has been part of the problem. Shoddy defense has been a recurring theme, even in the games the Bucs have won.Carolina scored on five straight possessions during one stretch of the first half to build a 28-point lead. Fitzpatrick rallied the team within 35-28 in the fourth quarter before the Panthers put away the game.The loss dropped the Bucs to 2-3 in games started by Fitzpatrick. Winston, who’s thrown 10 interceptions in four games, is 1-2.A common denominator in Tampa Bay’s three victories is the Bucs have played mostly with the lead and found a way to hold off New Orleans, Philadelphia and Cleveland late.In the other five games — all losses — opponents have compiled double-digit leads in the first half, and the offense has spent the second half trying to make up ground.Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul said players have to own the ineffectiveness.“It’s frustrating, but that’s on the players. It’s not on the coaches. It’s on us, it’s on me,” Pierre-Paul said. “I’m tired of the coaches saying they have to take it because it’s up to the players to play ball.”Koetter said poor tackling was the primary culprit against the Panthers. Mistakes on offense and special teams contributed to falling by 28 in the second quarter.“We actually did start fast on defense,” Koetter said Monday. “On those five straight drives where they scored, on three of those drives we put them in horrible field position with an interception, two sacks, a punt return and a fake punt.”Fitzpatrick rallied the team from a big second-half deficit for the second straight week, only to fall short in the end, throwing for 243 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions.Not good enough to win, but encouraging enough the Koetter said the 35-year-old will start again Sunday at home against Washington.“We know we have the talent, it’s just we can’t keep digging ourselves in these holes, especially on the road,” Fitzpatrick said.“I don’t know that there is an answer or a magical formula or anything; it’s just frustrating right now to not play well and then play well in spurts,” the quarterback added. “We’re just not a very consistent team and not a consistent offense right now.” Wrapping up this season’s look at some of the key Buccaneers from 2018 in comparison with the cap space dedicated to their presence, it’s fan favorite, Adam Humphries!We know the fans love him. His quarterback targets him and has a great connection with him. But just how much did he outplay his cap hit, and what does it mean for 2019?CAP STATS2018 CAP HIT: $2.9MTEAM RANKING: 18THNFL RANKING: T-483RD (WR Lavonte David Jersey , TYRELL WILLAMS (LAC); G, BEN GARLAND (ATL); 7 MORE)POSITION RANKING: T-60THAs a restricted free-agent in the 2018 off-season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers brought Humphries back on a one-year deal.He continued to build upon his reputation as a sure handed short and intermediate option for his quarterback, and became one of the few bright spots in yet another dissapointing season for the franchise.Now, in 2019, Humphries will be an un-restricted free-agent and has a new coaching staff in Tampa deciding whether or not they want to try and retain his services on the team who first gave him a shot as an undrafted free-agent out of Clemson in 2015.TEAM PRODUCTIONHumphries was one of three wide receivers costing the Bucs millions of dollars in cap room including star Mike Evans and the recently alienated DeSean Jackson.His 76 receptions, 816-yards and five touchdowns were all career highs. During the season, Humphries contributed the most during the back-half of the season with 41 of his 76 receptions coming in the final eight games of the year.In Week 16, Humphries notched double-digit receptions for just the second time in his career, and it was the first time since Week 17 of the 2016 season he had done so.For all of his efforts, he finished second on the team in targets and receptions and third in receiving yards. His 72.4% catch percentage was best among Buccaneers wide receivers, and second on the team to Jacquizz Rodgers.LEAGUE PRODUCTIONAmong wide receivers with a minimum of 85 targets, Humphries finished inside the Top-15 and was one of just fourteen players with a drop percentage lower than 4. Among receivers with at least 100 targets, he finished 8th.103 of his targets in 2018 came from the slot, which should be no surprise to anyone who watches Tampa Bay football in recent years. In fact, Humphries spent over 83% of his time on the field lined up in the slot, sixth-most in the NFL for 2018.24 players spent more than half of their time lined up in the slot for NFL teams this past season. Of them, Humphries landed third in receptions, fourth in yards and seventh with three touchdowns out of the slot position.When compared to all NFL receivers, the fourth-year receiver ranked 16th in catches and 28th in yards. His five scores came in tied for 31st in the league along with other receivers like Brandin Cooks of the Los Angeles Rams and cap-twin Tyrell Williams from the Los Angeles Chargers.Taking a look at cap hits surrendered to players ranking around Humphries, he spent his 2018 in the statistical company of players who averaged a cap hit of $6.3M in 2018.CONCLUSIONEarning on average of $4M less than players in the same position with similar production is not going to bode well for Jason Licht if and when they go to negotiate with Humphries.What will help is the fact that tight end Cameron Brate agreed to a very team friendly contract when he re-signed last year. It’s well known that Brate and Humphries are very good friends, so it’s likely the wide receiver and tight end share similar mindsets when it comes to money and their position in the NFL.Still, Humphries has proven his value to the team way beyond that of DeSean Jackson, who the team set aside $11M for in 2018.Spotrac.com estimates Humphries could demand as much as $10.4M which would make him the 20th highest paid receiver in the league. Compared to his statistical performance and the rate of inflation usually seen in these deals, this number seems reasonable.For a team with lots of needs and not as much in cap space as many others, this number may pose a problem for the two sides when they meet.VERDICT: BUCS GOT A BARGAINKim Klement-USA TODAY SportsBut then, they knew it when they signed him. Humphries was a restricted free-agent when they got him at $2M.It was hoped that a strong season by Humphries would lead to not only a better contract for the player, but a better season for the Buccaneers compared to their 2017 finish.Unfortunately, only one of those is true.
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