Tampa Bay Bucs QB Jameis Winston denies report of rift with Dirk Koetter

TAMPA, Fla. — On and off the field, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers‘ promising season has come apart at the seams.

The Buccaneers officially were eliminated from the NFC playoff race and clinched a losing season with Sunday’s 24-21 defeat against the Detroit Lions at Raymond James Stadium.

A few hours before kickoff, the Bucs (4-9) already were facing adversity.

NFL.com reported that the relationship between head coach Dirk Koetter and third-year quarterback Jameis Winston, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 draft, was “not in a good place.”

The report said there was tension because Winston felt he wasn’t supported properly while he battled through a shoulder injury, which forced him to miss three games. It also said Winston felt Tampa Bay’s offense was too predictable.

Both Koetter and Winston denied the validity of the report.

“They told me about it after the game and that’s obviously news to me,” said Koetter, who was hired as head coach in 2016 largely because of his relationship with Winston while serving as Tampa Bay’s offensive coordinator the previous season.

“I think Jameis and I have (had) an extremely consistent relationship for the last three years. I don’t think anything is different about it, but it’s just my opinion.

“I know the truth about our relationship, but my big concern is our football team. … It concerns me that we aren’t winning enough games.”

Winston called the report “false.”

“Listen, me and Coach Koetter have a great relationship, first and foremost,” said Winston, who committed three of Tampa Bay’s five turnovers against the Lions.

“We have the same goal. … and that’s to win the football game. It doesn’t matter what anyone else can possibly say. Obviously, a lot of stuff can come out when we are (losing).”

Winston called the report a “distraction” and said Koetter had supported him from the moment he entered the NFL.

“I really ignore rumors,” Winston said. “That’s what happens when you lose. When you lose, everything gets blamed on the head coach and the quarterback. And we understand that.

“I’ve been with Coach Koetter since I got in this league and he has not wronged me since I stepped foot in those doors. At the end of the day, we’ve got to win. As long as we are winning, no one is sitting here asking me questions about me and my head coach. No one.”

When asked how the report started, Winston stared straight ahead.

“I have no idea,” he said. “I have no idea.”

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