Koetter insisted he's taking a week-to-week approach with the quarterback. "It's not my nature to change quarterbacks," he said.
Winston left the coach little choice in the matter with his turnover-filled play. The quarterback flung four interceptions in Sunday's loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bucs' former No. 1 overall pick has now thrown the second most interceptions in the NFL since he entered the league with 54 (Blake Bortles sits first with 55 but has done it in eight more games). After returning from his three-game suspension to start the season, Winston has thrown an interception on 6.8 percent of his passes this year and has tossed two-plus INTs in five consecutive games dating back to last season.
Koetter will return to the early-season hot-hand in Fitzpatrick who led Tampa back from an 18-point second-half deficit taking over on Sunday before the Bucs lost on the final snap.
The Bucs' offense is noticeably more explosive and consistent with Fitzpatrick in the game. The veteran provides a spark to the entire unit, buoying the operation. His early-season play got a high-flying offense off to a hot 2-0 start to the season. Of course, the career journeyman can also go from Fitzmagic to Fitztragic in a hurry. The QB was replaced by Winston after a stinker of a game against the Chicago Bears. Perhaps this go-around, Fitzpatrick will get a bit longer leash after witnessing Winston's more erratic play.
For one week, at least, the decision seemed obvious. Had Koetter returned to Winston after Sunday's comeback by Fitzpatrick he likely would have completely lost the locker room.
The head coach still finds himself on the hot seat heading into the final weeks of the season. Teams that play QB yo-yo rarely perform well. If the losses mount, it might not be Koetter's decision who the quarterback is in Tampa down the line.