Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter addressed the media Monday after meeting with coaches and players for the first time as the team begins its offseason workout program.
“April 11, the players are back in the building, we’re fired up,” the Bucs’ offensive coordinator-turned-head coach said from the podium. “If you’re a football coach you want to be around the players, so I know I speak for all of our coaches in saying how excited we are to have the players back in the building.
“Unfortunately, we don’t get to coach them. We get to meet with them and talk to them, so that’s something, but I’m excited to get going. Five months from today, opening day.”
According to NFL.com, teams with new head coaches could begin offseason workouts last Monday and Tampa Bay chose to start up today. The Bucs’ schedule leading up to training camp includes organized team activities on the dates of May 24-26, May 31, June 1-2 and June 6-9; voluntary minicamp from April 26-28; and mandatory minicamp from June 14-16.
Koetter said that player attendance wasn’t 100 percent today but it was “pretty darn close.”
“I’m very fired up about the guys that were here and they came with a great attitude and ready to get to work,” Koetter said. “I wanted to impart on them that the coaches are happy that they’re back. The players would probably just as soon be on vacation still, but we’re excited to have them back. I didn’t want to bombard them with too much heavy stuff today, mostly just an outline of what the next 10 weeks is going to be like.”
When asked what his initial primary objective is for the first week of offseason workouts, the first-time NFL head coach said a large portion of it centers on addressing changes to systems in all three phases of the game.
“I would say it starts first and foremost with that we’re installing new systems on defense and special teams and then refining our system on the offensive side,” Koetter said. “I sat in on the defensive meeting today. [Defensive coordinator Mike Smith] addressed the defensive players for about 40 minutes and then they went into position meetings with their position coaches, so that’s a first for all of those players. Our first special teams meeting with Coach [Nate] Kaczor isn’t until tomorrow and the offensive guys just went right into position meetings.”
Koetter was asked to elaborate on what he meant by “refining” the offensive system and he said it was a general statement but that the unit is “by no means where we need to be.”
“When you win six football games, you’ve got a lot of stuff,” he added. “We’ve got to score more points, number one.”
As the team begins this new phase of its offseason schedule, coaches and management will have to balance it with their ongoing NFL Draft preparation. The Tennessee Titans officially go on the clock at 8 p.m. April 28th the Bucs own the ninth overall selection. Getting ready for that three-day, seven-round event still consumes a sizable chunk of each day for coaches and management, Koetter said.
“At least half of our day is still involved in the draft,” he said. “The coaches have to have their written reports due either today or tomorrow. Then the next step is the coaches get together with [general manager Jason Licht] and his guys and we watch some film together and Jason stacks the board. But the coaches have input on that and I thought it was very, very productive the part that I sat in on last year and I’m looking forward to getting in there.
“I’ve watched a lot of tape and of course Jason and his guys, that’s all they do. That’s what we’ll be doing right up until a couple days before the draft.”
In 2015, four of the Bucs’ seven draft selections ended up cracking the starting lineup. Expecting that type of success from year to year is a reach, Koetter said, but that will still always remain the goal.
“It would be fantastic if we could do that every year, but I think that’s unrealistic to say that we’re going to get the same four guys like that every year,” he said. “To get Kwon Alexander … that type of player in the fourth round. But the draft is still an inexact science. There are plenty of examples. I think we just did a tremendous job in the draft last year and it’s important every year.
“The way the salary cap is and everything, you’re feeding your young players and developing your young players, letting them work their way up into their second contracts. That’s what’s going to get us over the top as a football team. So it’s very important but I think it’s probably unrealistic to think we’re going to do that every year.”
As far as pre-draft personnel additions made through free agency, Koetter said he likes what the front office did in both bringing new players aboard and keeping key guys off the market with new contracts.
“You set out to try and improve your team in certain areas,” he said. “You’re never going to get everything exactly like you want it because all the other teams have things they’re working on as well.
“I’m really happy and fired up about the guys we were able to add to our team. I think they’ll help us across the board. Obviously we have to take that onto the field and that has to be earned, but we feel good about bringing in the right kind of guys and guys that are good fits for where we’re at as a football team. And I also think that we were able to address some areas of need.”