Dirk Koetter and Jameis Winston – Photo by Mark LoMoglio/PR
It’s not just the players who get evaluated after the season.
Even coaches aren’t safe from the “eye in the sky.”
On Monday, less than 24 hours after the Bucs beat the Panthers to wrap up their first season under head coach Dirk Koetter, the head ball coach told the media gathered at One Buc that he was in the process of evaluating himself.
“I’ve been thinking about it a lot, and I’m probably not ready to make any crazy announcements on that today because I think about a lot of stuff all the time,” Koetter said. “How can I, in the stuff that I control, make us better? And are there places where I’m making us worse? I learned, as a head coach, I’d love to have more time to get involved with individual players on a daily basis. When I do get a chance to talk to players one-on-one, I enjoy it. I enjoy the motivational part of trying to reach guys and different groups on the team.
Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter – Photo by: Getty Images
“As far as my schedule goes, I’m asking myself all the time, ‘Are the things I have to spend my time on, are those in the best interest of helping the Bucs win games? Or am I spinning my wheels on stuff that doesn’t reall matter?’ What’s the most important things to helping us win? Those are questions that don’t all have to be answered today. Because of the changeover in the NFL, we have to see how some of that shakes out as well. It might not be possible for the staff to come back 100 percent the same way. We’ll have to see how that works out in the coming days.”
Koetter was asked to clarify his statement and if he would consider allowing someone else to call plays next season.
“I’m contemplating how does our team get better, in all areas,” Koetter said. “When we look at everything, if there’s someone out there who can do a better job to help us than me calling the plays, then that’s something that we definitely need to look at.”
With at least six NFL teams looking for new coaches, that means at least six staffs that will be out of work, and a pool of offensive minds to choose from.
Or Koetter could look within his own staff.
He was asked if he felt there were some candidates currently with offices at One Buc that could take on the role.
“Yeah, more than one.”
Bucs QBs coach Mike Bajakian – Photo by: Mark Lomoglio/PR
While not mentioning any by names, the obvious three candidates would be wide receiver coach/offensive coordinator Todd Monken, quarterback coach Mike Bajakian and offensive line coach George Warhop who is the running game coordinator.
The Bucs saw their offensive production drop in 2016 from a record-setting performance just a year before. Part of the issue was the Bucs running game that struggled for much of the year. Koetter said that and the lack of explosive plays hurt the Bucs offense.
“Just, the explosive play thing, a couple things that jump out – and part of this is health related – last year, passing and running, Doug and Chuck Sims combined for 37 explosive plays,” Koetter said. “This year, eight. Now, don’t misquote me on this, that is in no way just their fault. Part of it is injury related – they didn’t have nearly as many attempts. But, in touches per play, over nine percent explosives last year. About four percent explosives this year on touches between those two players. And even though Mike Evans and Cam had really good years, we actually went down by four explosives in those two guys. They went from 46 a year ago to 42 this year.
“You know, I’ve said many, many times, that we believe, besides turnovers, that explosive plays are the next biggest factor in winning and losing. That was our bigget droppoff in offense this year, in explosive plays. And that was both in the running and throwing game.”
Pressed on a timetable for a decision to relinquish play-calling duties, Koetter smiled to the media.
“Until September 10 next year. I have that long.”
– Zach Shapiro contributed to this report
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at email@example.com
Todd Monken would be an outstanding choice to take over play calling. The guy is awesome.
Got to respect the man for evaluating all weaknesses including his own.
Good. I thought he struggled a lot with in game adjustments and overly conservative play calling. Balancing the two jobs has to be very difficult and Dirk even acknowledged it throughout the season. Rather him be great at just being a head coach, than him be just good as a OC/HC. He still needs to be heavily involved with Jameis and the offense, but give up in game calls. I wouldn’t mind seeing Mike McCoy brought in as OC.
Dirk is disappointed at the lack of explosive plays, but his conservative playcalling in the second halves of games seems less likely to produce explosive plays … not the only reason because sometimes explosive plays result from busted plays or are otherwise “accidental”. But looking at the numbers for the season, there is a reason there’s been fewer of them. and Dirk is right to examine his own role in that.
There’s a couple of different ways to fix it, though. One is giving up the playcalling as Dirk suggests he might. The other is to have an assistant head coach who picks up proportionally more of the head coaching load … and that person need not be either one of the two coordinators.
Dirk is also right that other head coaches have given up playcalling, were not satisfied with the results, and took it back. He doesn’t want to do that either.
I thought where Koetter really needed to improve was his fourth quarter play calling. He got really conservative in the fourth quarter this year. The offense pretty much shut down and played not to lose. I also felt there were times when they gave up on the run too early. In the Carolina game Rodgers came out running with a vengeance, but they got away from him early and I think he cooled down. I also felt like they got away from looking to Evans as a first option. Sure defenses were focusing on him, but they couldn’t stop him. Early in the year before our defense started to settle in and get better the Bucs were putting up more points per game, and they feeding Evans the ball a lot. They kind of got away from that and they quit scoring as much. If they could have continued to put up numbers like they were earlier in the year offensively, with our defense playing like it was the last eight games of the season, we might be in the playoffs right now. But that’s all in the rearview mirror now.
Most of all, I hope Jameis works on his accuracy this off season. He is not to accurate of a passer. He had a lot of picks because he throws everything high and the balls get tipped and intercepted. Just imagine what his numbers would be if he was more accurate? All in all, they were who I thought they were, 9-7. They won a couple of games I thought they would lose, and lost a couple I thought they would win. But I will take that 9-7 record any day of the week, except draft day, over a losing season any time! There is a lot to look forward too in 2017, and beyond, with this team. Go Bucs!
You have to respect the honesty and personal evaluation from Dirk. That is how he will gain respect, admiration, and trust within the locker room (not that he didn’t already have it, just that it will only grow even more now). Personally, I would like for Dirk to continue with the playcalling duties. Having a down year from the run game put more weight onto the passing game rather than balancing things out. If we can get a healthy RB or a RB1 through the draft or free agency, I think we’ll see that explosive offense we did last year. But I agree with RootsCrew. Even if Dirk hands the playcalling duties over to someone else, I think he should definitely continue working with Jameis. Those two are great together, and I can’t see Jameis progressing as well under anyone else as he has under Dirk.
Dirk Koetter’s honesty is a breath of fresh air.
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