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Koetter's declined penalty showed lack of faith in D

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter makes one questionable coaching decision in almost every game. In Thursday night's 43-28 loss to the Falcons, the "wait, what did he just do?" moment was a doozy.

In the second quarter, with his team trailing 10-7, the first-time NFL head coach declined a personal foul penalty on third down that would have moved the Falcons from the 23-yard-line to the 38-yard-line. Instead of potentially pushing Atlanta out of field goal range, the Buccaneers decided to give Matt Bryant (one of the most reliable kickers in the NFL) a 41-yard try.

"We talked about it," Koetter said, via the Tampa Bay Times. "We pushed them back right to the edge of Bryant's range and they would've had another down. We thought it could end up the same way and possibly worse. We just took our chances right there."

Koetter knows not every kicker has Roberto Aguayo accuracy problems from 40 yards, right? If the Falcons hadn't gained another yard on third down, it would have been a 56-yard try for Byrant. Not a gimmie even for the NFL's best.

On Friday, Koetter expressed a level of regret over his decision, telling the Tampa Bay Times he should have accepted the penalty.

"If I had that to do over again, we should've taken that penalty," Koetter said. "That's on me. I don't (want) anyone to read in (that) I don't have any confidence in the defense. That was just a bad decision by me."

It seems bizarre Koetter would choose to decline the penalty unless he was convinced his defense couldn't make a stand.

The lack of faith comes from watching the Falcons pick up 20-yard chunks easier than Stephen Curry sinks open threes. The Bucs defense has given up 1,087 yards in the past two games.

Even with a porous D, the lack of faith is disturbing for a head coach. If you can't get a stop on third-and-22, when do you plan on stopping anyone?

Koetter's team fell to 3-5 and 0-4 at home. His offense -- the reason he was promoted and Lovie Smith was kicked out the door -- hasn't looked great while dealing with injuries. The Bucs' lack of depth on both sides of the ball was evident on Thursday night.

We constantly harp on players improving as the season progresses. We need to see the same from a head coach who still struggles with game management.

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