Koetter on critical 4th-and-1 play call – I picked the wrong one
Roy Cummings, Florida Football Insiders, published 27 November 2017

Dirk Koetter has yet to call a game, either as an offensive coordinator or a head coach, in which he hasn’t second-guessed at least one of the play calls he made in that game. The play call Koetter is second-guessing the most in the wake of the Bucs 34-20 loss to the Falcons on Sunday was the one he made on a pivotal fourth-and-1 play midway through the fourth quarter.

Though they were down 27-20 at the time, the Bucs nevertheless had momentum on their side as quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick walked to the line of scrimmage at the Falcons 18-yard line. Their offense had scored touchdowns on each of its previous two drives and Brent Grimes’ 37-yard return of a fumble recovery seven plays later had set them up for the opportunity to score another.

That opportunity was lost, however, when Fitzpatrick’s pass 14 yards downfield for tight end Cameron Brate fell incomplete as safety Keanu Neal got a hand on the ball to break it up. “I told the players, I should have given ‘em a better play,’’ Koetter said. “You’ve got three or four plays on your (call) sheet for that situation and I picked the wrong one.’’

Koetter didn’t second guess his decision to go for it on fourth-and-1. He said that decision was made before the Bucs gained just 1 yard on Fitzpatrick’s pass to Adam Humphries on third down. What Koetter no doubt second-guessed was his decision to call for a throw downfield in a situation in which he only needed to gain a yard and had a burly quarterback such as Fitzpatrick under center.

At 6-foot-2 and 223 pounds, Fitzpatrick is more than capable of powering his way forward for a single yard, especially against a defense in which the Falcons were all but giving him a crease. The Falcons lined up for that play with a gap between the center and right guard, an alignment that seemed to be screaming for Fitzpatrick to try to sneak his way through it.

There were surely a few other options Koetter could have gone to as well and they will probably roll around inside Koetter’s head for a while now as this was one of the most critical play calls of his career. As crazy as it seems, this game wasn’t the only thing that could have turned had the Bucs picked up a first down there. Their entire Bucs season could have turned right along with it.

Think about it: a first down there would have extended the drive and given the Bucs another chance to not only tie the game but possibly win it, if not right there, then later on or in the end. And a win in this game, especially in the manner in which it would have come after the Bucs had fallen so far behind so fast, would have been huge, at least in the short term.

Whether it would have altered the course of their season is hard to know, but there’s no second-guessing the fact that finding out sure as heck would have beaten the alternative the Bucs are faced with now.