The bye week is coming at a good time for the Tampa

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The bye week is coming at a good time for the Tampa

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 Bay Buccaneers Max Unger Jersey , who not only are trying to get acclimated to having Jameis Winston back in the lineup, but need to find a way to fix a leaky defense.Coach Dirk Koetter made it official Monday, confirming Winston will start the team's next game — at Atlanta — on Oct. 14.The No. 1 overall pick from the 2015 draft missed the first three games of the season while serving a suspension for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy.Ryan Fitzpatrick became the first player in league history to throw for more than 400 yards in three consecutive games while leading the Bucs to a 2-2 start in Winston's absence.The "FitzMagic" show came to a screeching halt this past Sunday, when Tampa Bay fell behind Chicago by 35 points. Winston played the entire second half of the 48-10 loss."Fitz didn't play as well as he had been playing, but it was a 100 percent team deal," Koetter said, reiterating the Bucs were outplayed in every phase of the game."At the same time, Jameis Winston is the guy that's going to be here way longer than I am," the coach added. "He needs to be playing and he will unless he gets hurt."Meanwhile, Koetter stressed what he has no intentions of doing is firing defensive coordinator Mike Smith.The Bucs have allowed a NFL-high 139 points and rank near the bottom of the league in pass defense."For those people who think snapping your fingers and changing your coordinator a quarter of the way through the season, OK, what would you do after that? If we fired Mike Smith, what would the next move be?" Koetter said."Changing one person, when we had things go wrong at all levels (Sunday). ... We as coaches have got to coach better. That starts with me," Koetter added. "But Mike Smith didn't miss any tackles. He didn't not rush the passer. He didn't blow any coverages. He didn't have any communication errors."The decision to start Winston against the Falcons essentially has been the plan since Koetter learned in late June that Winston would miss the first three games "unless we were playing lights-out in a good way or lights-out in a bad way like (Sunday)."The coach reiterated Fitzpatrick, who's played for seven teams during a 14-year career, did a good job filling in for Winston."We brought Fitz here two years ago to be a mentor to Jameis and a guy who could fill in if Jameis was injured. Both times we asked him to fill in — a three-game stretch a year ago he went 2-1 and a four-game stretch he led us to 2-2 this year," Koetter said. "Job well done. In fact, excellent. I think any team in the league would take that."Fitzpatrick, 35, said he understands the move."What I said to my Dad after how Week 1 went Authentic Sheldon Rankins Jersey , and Week 2 and Week 3, was basically ... either I'm going to win the NFL MVP this year or I'll be back on the bench at some point. That's just the reality of the situation," said Fitzpatrick, who's thrown for 1,356 yards, 11 touchdowns and five interceptions."It's not something I necessarily wanted to hear. ... But Jameis is back," Fitzpatrick added. "Jameis is the guy. He's the face of the franchise. He's going to do a great job." Well that one felt good, didn’t it?It was another roller coaster of an adventure with plenty of ups and downs along the way, but while the game was far from perfect, there were far more “ups” than “downs” for the New Orleans Saints. Here are a couple that stood out.Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty ImagesUp: Drew BreesAfter only putting up 120 passing yards last week against the Minnesota Vikings, Drew Brees went back to playing like Drew Brees and is firmly in the MVP-hunt.Drew finished the game 25 of 36 with 346 yards, 4 TDs, zero interceptions, and a 97.2 QBR. It’s crazy: Brees can pass for almost 350 yards, no interceptions, four touchdowns, and his completion percentage will take a hit because he “only” 70% of his passes. He’s having an incredible year.But on top of his passing stats, he also gave his best Taysom Hill impression, rushing the ball a couple of times (four official carries) for 16 yards.Speaking of Taysom, let’s also not forget that Drew Brees went out wide to catch a pass that was drawn up to have the ball thrown his way. It didn’t happen this time, but it’s coming.Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty ImagesUp: Michael ThomasThe biggest beneficiary of Drew’s big game was Michael Thomas.Thomas had a career game on Sunday Youth Tyeler Davison Jersey , finishing the game with 12 receptions on 15 targets, 212 receiving yards (a Saints franchise record), 1 game-sealing touchdown, and 1 HOF-caliber celebration.Marcus Peters learned: You can’t guard Mike.Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty ImagesUp: PJ WilliamsPJ Williams, a week after getting roasted play-after-play by Adam Thielen (yet still winning NFC Defensive Player of the Week), had a solid bounce-back game this week.Yes, he still got beat in the slot by Cooper Kupp and Brandin Cooks, but he also made a couple of big plays, including a breakup on a key fourth down stop on the aforementioned Cooks. It’s nice to see a cornerback with a short memory, and if he can build on his performance last week, it could go a long way for the New Orleans defense. It’s not every week the Saints will face receivers the caliber of Kupp, Thielen or Ridley in the slot.Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty ImagesDown: Marcus WilliamswSure, there were plenty of other plays or moments that could qualify as a “Down” this week, or even others that deserve an “Up,” but While PJ made noticeable strides this week, the same can’t be said for Saints Safety Marcus Williams. Marcus hasn’t looked right all season (since the Minnesota Miracle, to be honest), but it’s disappointing to see his troubles tackling continue into 2018. Just like in the Minnesota Miracle, Marcus gave up a first down by dropping his head and shoulders to try to make a tackle.If the Saints want to see any semblance of the defense they were putting out to end the 2017 season, they will need to see improved play from Marcus Williams sooner rather than later.