Bucs' Jameis Winston denies rift with Dirk Koetter


On Sunday morning, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported a rift between Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston and head coach Dirk Koetter.

Following another loss, Winston denied there were any issues behind the scenes.

"Me and Coach Koetter have a great relationship, first and foremost, and we've got the same goal when we go out there on that football field -- and that's to win the football game. So it doesn't matter what anybody else can possibly say," Winston said, via ESPN.com's Jenna Laine.

"Obviously, a lot of stuff can come out when we're not doing as expected, but that's false. Coach Koetter coaches his tail off, and he definitely supports me. So whatever anybody else has to say outside of that -- that's just water under the bridge, man."

According to Rapoport, Winston has been frustrated this season by what he felt was a lack of support by the head coach during an early season injury and by predictable offensive play calling.

Sunday's 24-21 loss to the Detroit Lions displayed the offensive problems first-hand. The Buccaneers have the firepower to move the ball, earning 400 yards of offense. But another slow start, coupled with heaps of turnovers (three by Winston), consistently undermines the chance for the win.

"That's a distraction. And a lot of distractions come up when we don't perform how we need to perform," Winston said of the report. "I'm a strong believer that coaches coach and players play. If you look at today's game, the players [and] I didn't play. I didn't play. I had three turnovers."

Koetter likewise denied any tension.

"I think Jameis and I have had an extremely consistent relationship over the last three years, and I don't think anything different about it, but that's just my opinion," Koetter said, emphasizing that he's more concerned about winning games than reports. "I know the truth about our relationship. My big concern is our football team."

Koetter's football team fell to 4-9, and he watched his best defensive lineman, Gerald McCoy, possibly tear his biceps. In what was supposed to be a renaissance season, frustration following repeated failures is natural. If Koetter and Winston can't turn the tide of losing the final three weeks, perhaps Bucs management will once again make a change.