Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Last Sunday’s game on the West Coast sent Dirk Koetter back to the city where he landed his first college job, at San Francisco State University. This Sunday’s game matches the Bucs head coach against the man that gave him his first opportunity in the NFL.
Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter – Photo by: Getty Images
In 2007, after Koetter’s contract was terminated at Arizona State, then-Jaguars and current Raiders coach Jack Del Rio hired him as the team’s offensive coordinator. Koetter served in that role from 2007-11, enduring ups and downs in Jacksonville that included everything from playoff run to a rebuilding project.
Through it all, Koetter said the most important thing he learned from Del Rio, whose Raiders sit atop the NFC West at 5-2, was how to manage professionals.
“You’ve got to get the players to the game as healthy as you can,” Koetter said of Del Rio’s most valuable lesson. “I never played in the NFL – not even close to being good enough. When you played football in high school or whatever, you go out there, and you play as hard as you can every day. But in the NFL, you can’t do that.
“These guys – their bodies wouldn’t hold up,” Koetter explained. “I thought Jack did a great job of, quote unquote, ‘taking care of the players.’ Getting them to Sunday healthy, getting them to the first game healthy.”
Koetter also learned how to stay organized at the NFL level – which history shows can occasionally be a difficult adjustment for college-turned-pro coaches to make. Often working unilaterally at a University, the art of delegation and cooperation is sometimes lost, and success at the collegiate level doesn’t always translate.
Koetter, however, came in with an open mind – which speaks to his ability to transition into a new job, like head coach – and gained valuable experience working under Del Rio.
“I was fortunate to come out of college and get with a guy like that,” Koetter said.
Mike Smith, who worked as co-assistants with Del Rio on the Ravens Super Bowl staff and as his defensive coordinator in Jacksonville from 2003-07, echoed Koetter on Thursday when asked about his former boss.
“I consider Jack a mentor to myself, and I learned a lot,” Smith said. “Not only about football, but about the psyche of NFL players. I just came into the league and he gave me a lot of insight into what guy’s mindsets are at different times of the year.”
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
Contact him at: [email protected]
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