TAMPA, Fla. -- Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston attempted to hit wide receiver DeSean Jackson on a two-point conversion in the back of the end zone Sunday against the New York Giants, and instead, the ball bounced out of Jackson's hands.
Jackson jogged over to the sideline and was fuming. He tossed his gloves and proceeded to shout. Had it worked, it would have given the Bucs a seven-point lead in the fourth quarter.
They still won the game 25-23, but Jackson had been targeted six times, managing two catches for 20 receiving yards, the fewest yards of any Bucs wide receiver. The Bucs had signed him to a three-year deal worth $33.5 million this offseason, and his frustration showed.
"DeSean should be frustrated because DeSean is an elite player in this league and we didn't get him the ball," coach Dirk Koetter said Sunday. "We tried, we tried to go to him and we just flat-out missed him a couple times or didn't see him a couple times. DeSean has every right to be frustrated and we have to get him involved more because he's a dynamic playmaker."
Winston said he planned to talk with Jackson.
"You know that's on me. That comes with my development with being able to throw the ball down the field. Give him the football. I had three opportunities to get him the football and I overshot him -- well undershot him on one. It's a work in progress, it's the third game and we have to continue to get better," he said.
Winston spread the ball around to seven different targets against the Giants on Sunday, with wide receiver Mike Evans and tight ends Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard reaching the end zone. Howard was completely unaccounted for by the Giants' defense on that play, but Evans and Brate have been Winston's go-to targets the past two seasons, along with Adam Humphries, who led the Bucs with six catches.
"Me personally, that's something that I have to strive to get better because when you have one of the best deep-threat guys in the league you've got to give him the ball," Winston said. "That's going to help our offense go to where it needs to go."
Last week against the Minnesota Vikings, Jackson led the Bucs with 84 receiving yards and a touchdown. But two of Winston's three interceptions were intended for Jackson, including a pass that was very much underthrown. Jackson was wide-open and the play would have been a touchdown.
Through three games, Jackson has nine catches on 20 targets for 143 yards and a touchdown. Through the first three games last year, he had 14 catches for 238 yards, en route to leading the NFL in yards per reception for the third time in his career. This year, he's averaging three catches a game, not far off from the four he averaged during the past four years. The difference though, is that he's used to averaging 73 receiving yards -- not 48 yards like he is now.
Jackson has made his living off of catching deep balls, but those plays aren't happening. Heading into this season, Jackson had 37 receptions and 21 receiving touchdowns of 50 or more yards -- both are the most in the NFL since 2008.