NEW ORLEANS, LA - SEPTEMBER 20: Offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter and Jameis Winston #3 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on September 20, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
What many thought was just a formality after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers fired Lovie Smith last Wednesday night has become a reality after a week-long legitimate coaching search. Nineteen days after PewterReport.com called for Lovie Smith to be fired and replaced with offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, the Bucs decided to keep continuity within their offensive structure and indeed turn to Koetter to become the 11th head coach of the franchise.
Details are being finalized and Koetter is expected to be introduced as the new head coach at One Buccaneer Place on Friday.
Many assumed that Smith’s firing was a reactionary move to the interest that Koetter was receiving around the league, similar to what transpired in 2009 when Jon Gruden was fired after their young up-and-coming assistant defensive coordinator Raheem Morris interviewed with the Denver Broncos. But it appears general manager Jason Licht did perform a real coaching search, bringing in Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott and also Harold Goodwin, who serves as the offensive coordinator for the high-power Arizona Cardinals, for interviews.
Jameis Winston and DIrk Kotter – Photo: Cliff Welch/PR
Koetter, who is coming off a recent hip surgery, also interviewed with San Francisco before officially interviewing with Tampa Bay on Tuesday.
Koetter’s 2015 Bucs offense, which at times has many as seven first-year starters in the lineup, set franchise records for total yards, while finishing fifth in the NFL in total yards averaging 375.9 yards per game. Tampa Bay also was fifth in the league in rushing, totaling an average of 135.1 yards on the ground.
All Pro and Pro Bowl running back Doug Martin was the league’s second-leading rusher with 1,402 yards and seven total touchdowns (six rushing, one receiving). Backup running back Charles Sims was tied for the lead in receiving touchdowns with four and compiled over 1,000 total yards in 2015.
Rookie quarterback Jameis Winston, the number one overall draft pick in 2015, started all 16 games and threw for 4,042 yards and totaling 28 touchdowns (22 passing, six rushing) and 15 interceptions. Winston is only one of three quarterbacks to throw for more than 4,000 yards in his rookie season, and his six rushing scores were the most by a quarterback in a single season in Tampa Bay.
Winston’s production and development was surely on of the things that earned him the opportunity to be a first-time NFL coach, and last Thursday, during a press conference Licht pointed out that Koetter was a strong candidate, while also mentioning Winston as a reason he believed Tampa Bay was a good potential coaching destination for available candidates.
Koetter broke into the NFL after serving as head coach of Boise State and Arizona State from 1998-2006 (64-44 college record). Koetter began his NFL journey to head coach as the Jacksonville Jaguars offensive coordinator in 2007, then joined the Falcons to serve in the same capacity in 2011 where he had four productive seasons with Matt Ryan in Atlanta before being dismissed after the firing of Mike Smith following the 2014 season.
Koetter is expected to retain offensive play-calling duties, but quarterbacks coach Mike Bajakian may get promoted to offensive coordinator with Koetter’s hiring. The first order of business for Koetter will be to find a defensive coordinator to replace Smith and Leslie Frazier, who shared that role in 2015. Koetter could look to defensive line coach Joe Cullen or to former Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith, who was Jacksonville’s defensive coordinator during the time Koetter was the Jaguars’ offensive coordinator. Those two appear to be the most likely candidates initially.
PewterReport.com will have more information as we gather it and full coverage of Koetter’s press conference from One Buccaneer Place.
Scott Reynolds is in his 23rd year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds enjoys giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]
Excellent if obvious hire! GOOD continuity and great coaching! Look forward to DC and OC hires. Thinking Mike Smith at DC. Wonder if Koetter’s OC will be an in name only OC like Bill Muir was to Jon Gruden. But Jameis must be smiling as well as Buccaneer fans excitied to see the offense continue to grow while getting a new look on defense.
He could just do that with our QB’s coach Mike Bajakian.
Great move IMO, crucial to keep him around Jameis.
Not heard much from me lately and that’s because I don’t know much. I’m not going away, just going into listening and learning mode. I can’t say much about things that I don’t know much about. I know the Bucs wanted to continue Winston’s growth curve, but beyond that there’s not much I understand what their plans are especially on the defensive side of the ball. I think that is the biggest question mark going into the new season.
Dirk Koetter has been named the next Bucs HC. Would not have been my first choice, but I have no problem with it. I know Koetter was a good OC. But I also know that Norv Turner is an excellent OC, but was a terrible HC. I know that Rod Marinelli is an excellent DC, but was a terrible HC. As for Koetter, like Trump says “this guy I don’t know about”. But we will soon find out if we can stop playing fantasy football with head coaches.
Hey I’m a Buc fan. I always support the Bucs regardless of the decisions that they make. Koetter will get my full-throated support until I learn otherwise, and then he will get the benefit of the doubt. The consensus opinion is that the Bucs wanted to maintain the relationship and rapport that he has with Jameis Winston. While that may be a noble intention, the day Koetter was named HC, the time quotient allotted to that relationship changed. Perhaps it will have no consequence, but it will definitely change.
He may benefit from Jason Licht having full control so he presumably, would not have to devote much time to personnel in FA and the draft. But that in itself is a new and untested proposition. The man who affectionately calls himself “meathead” will steer the ship in troubled waters. So there is much to learn about our new Bucs and I will spend more time listening and learning than commenting out of thin air.
I have every expectation that things will go as planned. However if past is prologue, the Bucs 2016 schedule will put whatever plans we devise to the test quickly. I’m an eternal optimist and want to think this time will be different. But the realist in me says there is a huge challenge in front of us that will require as much luck as skill for us to be successful going forward. In the meantime, I continue to hope and wish as always…. Go Bucs! So congratulations Dirk, let’s get this show on the road!!
Mr Koetter does NOT have a great record as head coach in college and was fired.He
was the 1st coach Atlanta let go after firing Mike Smith also . NOt sure about this??
His record wasn’t great,but it wasn’t horrible either. 66-44
66 and 44 over a 16 game schedule is an average of 10 and 6
Sounds pretty good to me
Stop with the BS, he was not fired
I am with you. I jus hope this works out. Remember the last time we hired a coveted AC as HC. Can you say Raheem Morris?
so, he took the job . . . according to Licht, Koetter has beaten out all would be contestants; so, hopefully, that’s a step in the right direction. As usual, the media days will be entertaining!
I dont know how beating out 1 legitimate interview constitutes a HUGE win.
This is Licht’s guy, so let’s hope that Koetter is not put on the two-year clock by ownership. One of the forum’s posters did recently note that Koetter had some issues with running a loose ship at ASU with his players getting into some trouble? I hope that Koetter has learned from this and that it doesn’t become another Raheem situation. That being said… I’m a Bucs fan and as Mac said; it’s “full-throated support” for Koetter and I look forward to the coordinator spots being filled. I really like the Mike Smith DC idea. I was thinking that he may have been a good HC candidate. It couldn’t hurt to have him on staff to help the Koetter learn the ropes. As far as the OC, I’m all for experienced coordinators, but I trust in Meathead.
I will echo much of what Macabee said. However, I had no preference for HC, only I definitely did not want Chip Kelley.
I too had observed Norve Turner and others and came to similar conclusions. The results of these kinds of hires are always unpredictable. However, I had hopes that Smith would profit in his development as a HC from his year off. That too is unpredictable. I felt that he needed another year to see how he and the organization developed the defensive side of the puzzle.That was not to be.
There is always more going on behind the scenes than we fans will ever know. That is why I rely on PR and other sources to at least give us some clues. We will see what we learn in the next few months.
I am also ever optimistic and support the Bucs one thousand per cent. Go Bucs!!!
I’m still not sure what the rush is all about. Where was Koetter going? Jon Robinson just went to the Titans as GM; you don’t think he is going to interview some of the Offensive Coaches for higher positions?
Of course I will support Coach Koetter; I just think we could have interviewed some more coaches around the league. Meanwhile redoing our Defense is the major priority and GM Licht has to hit a home run here. Go Bucs!
Horse- i agree. there was no rush. We hurried into a suspect decision. I like the continuity for JW but I really think we could have done better. DK was not going to be in demand. The last time we rushed to hire someone who was “a hot AC” was Raheem. How did that work out?
Seriously? you are comparing the hire of Dirk with Raheem(who was just an assistant coach)?
Raheem skipped even being a DC to receive the HC job.
There was no search.
Horse: All but one team (Titans) selected their new HC before the Bucs. I wouldn’t call that rushing.
I’ve been operating on the assumption that DK was their guy all along. Perhaps this was “known” around the league explaining the relative low interview activity to say Coughlan, et al. I also applaud the consistency factor and wait anxiously for their DC selection. Go Bucs!
BTW, typing here has become a PITA. Is it just me having issues?
Great hire…go bucs…
I hope he brings in Mike Smith or Jim Schwartz as DC.
I think both of those guys are stiffs. Smith never did anythigin on the defensive side in Atlanta and Schwartz underwhelmed with superior talent in Detroit. Let’s get Marinelli or promote Cullen.
I wouldn’t say superior talent in detroit. He had a good line, but their secondary is horrible. Just look what he did what “talent” when he coached Buffalo. Now that was a damn good defense. I would take Schwartz all day.
I think both of those guys are stiffs. Smith never did anything on the defensive side in Atlanta and Schwartz underwhelmed with superior talent in Detroit. Let’s get Marinelli or promote Cullen.
I will support this as I believe continuity is best for JW development. I like Koetter but must say I am not sure that he will be a good HC. SR, I have one comment for you. Do you REALLY believe this was a legitimate search? Seems hard to believe in just a week and interview jus t2 candidates, one of which was likely only conducted to comply with the Rooney rule. Interviewing one REAL candidate does not seem like a legitimate search.
Far more legitimate than the Smith or Morris hire.
just 2 candidates
While I will support the team, today’s hire just saved me $2,000, as I just cancelled my season tickets.
If the Glazers want to continue to ride the coaching carousel, I’m not paying for it. I will renew my season tickets once they can keep a coach longer than two years AND win a playoff game.
You don’t have to “cancel” your season passes. Just don’t pay for them. Apparently your seat location isn’t worthy of taking the risk of losing them. Me, no way I’d give up the rights to my 6 seats.
Buh-bye. If you can’t get excited for the new head coach and the offense, but WERE excited about Lovie putting that garbage defense on the field for 2 more years, 2 more games, or 2 more minutes, YOU WONT BE MISSED!
I was thinking the same thing. The fact that you were Ok with keeping the Mediocre Lovie smith and then get mad when they hire Koetter, that makes no sense. I guess you would’ve preferred another 1 win at home next year to justify those season tickets.
If you look at the better teams its as much about the staff as the head coach. Thus Im more interested in who the DC will be. The challenge will be a much harder schedule. This team could have won 10 games this year but im not sure they’re one of the 6 best teams in the NFC albeit the NFC East underwhelmed. Next year less than 10 wins may be unacceptable. Only way to meet or exceed expectations is another great draft coupled with great coaching.
They better get someone in here to fix the defense, or this won’t last long either.
Mr Koetter was fired as head coach in college as record was 40-34.Their was issues with players that did not go well with the school
That is a huge exaggeration bordering on completely false with this issue you speak. Everyone starts somewhere. What HEAD COACHING experience did Morris have? What DC experience?
Just like Tony Dungy finally got a chance to become a NFL HC there is no reason why Koetter shouldn’t get the same chance.
Sunshineben-And you were fired as an Albertson’s bag boy when you were 15. Im sure that firing follows you around to this day. Its who you are and always will be.
sorry ..never an Albertson’s bag boy.. lighten up dude .. I pay for season tkts too!!
Not thrilled by any means. But this was expected. And despite not being happy about it, I do hope we give this coach at least 4 years to prove himself.
I hope Koetter deserves to stay for his entire contract and the Bucs can’t wait to sign him to an extension.
It’s the best choice I suppose if the team really thought he was going to leave to be a head coach somewhere else. Regardless of whatever happens I just hope the team actually gives the guy a chance and we’re not having yet another head coach search again next year or the year after. If they keep firing head coaches every 2 years the team will just spin its wheels in the cellar. Give the guy a chance to do something, and shock, that might take longer than 24 months.
I don’t get the negativity. At the end of the day this coaching hire is going to come down to how JW does on the field. If he is a success then Dirk can be here for a long time and should bring back playoff football.
We were going to have to rebuild the defense this year anyways so might as well have gotten rid of the DC who was also the HC and bring in someone who matches JL view on what to do on defense. With these moves we give Winston continuity on the offense. We give JL and the yet to be named DC time to draft players who fit their mold.
To let Lovie drat a years worth of talent and to end up not making the playoffs and starting over next year would have meant we could have wasted all of our upcoming picks(assuming we go all defense on them). Now JL and Dirk with the DC can get players who make sense and know that they have a few seasons to all grow together.
Wearing two hats usually doesn’t work out. I liked Dirk as an OC; I’m not sure how I will like him as HC too. We aren’t going anywhere until we fix the Defense. We have a ways to put all the puzzle together. Go Bucs!
Congratulations Dirk, I think this was the most logical decision by Licht. At least half the team will avoid another coaching change even though Koetter will assume new responsibilities as HC. Licht will be in charge for the most part in selecting a new Defensive staff with his new all inclusive power recently Bestowed upon him by the Glazers. With a good draft and free agency plus the number of very solid pieces we have in place this could be a repeat of the Dungy-Gruden transition. The operative word is “could,” because I feel like most of us would settle for a playoff appearance.
Unfortunately the Buc’s coaching carasoul the past several years leaves one cautious. It’s like the old military axiom about not becoming too friendly with the guys around you. They may be gone soon. I regress. at any rate like macabre’s advice, I’am going to sit back and learn for awhile. While change is good it can become too inviting and thus unproductive for all concerned (players, fans, and coaches.) Good Luck Buc’s,looking forward to a productive offseason.
Love your avatar martinii. Not sure if that’s Einstein or an original member of KISS.
All any of us really know is that our offense looked to be more respectable under Koetter than our defense did under Lovie’s guidance. How he fares as a HC will largely depend on his selected assistants and working with Licht to bring in more talent.
What I do like about Dirk is his upbeat approach and straight forward remarks.
Scu, agree. I’m settling into the HC hire as the correct move. I support Dirk all the way. I know he won’t hurt us like Lovie ended up doing. Dirk is not arrogant and is comfortable with the Press. Go Bucs!
I wouldn’t be so concerned about Koetter putting the pieces together. Last year he took a rookie QB, two rookie OL, a new center off of Atlanta;s practice squad, Doug Martin whose 5th year option wasn’t extended since had been bad or hurt the previous two years, and had a top ten offense in a newly implemented scheme. He also obviously lost ASJ, VJax, Louis Murphy, Dotson, Kaelin Clay, and Kenny Bell for most or part of the year.
He never made excuses. He never asked for more time to rebuild. He was accountable. I expect he will do the same on defense. He will expect it to work and them to be competitive immediately. if they don’t perform, then its next man up, but I have a feeling the underperformers on the team know that there is no hiding behind two more years of excuses as to why it isn’t working. As Tommy Boy said, “It’s GO time!”
Agreed on all accounts Bucwild. He’s a no bullshit kind of coach and I really like that. He handles his business and worked wonders with a bunch of rookies on offense last year. I’m personally excited to see what he can do.
He has a greater chance of being the next Bruce Arians than the next Raheem who wasn’t all that bad considering the talent he had to work with but thats another topic for another day. Koetter has paid his dues and if we truly were on the verge of losing him to another team we made the right call in replacing Lovie as he is more vital to our success. The DC hire should come from within IMO unless we can get Jim Schwartz the old Lions HC who coaches a more attacking version of the 4-3. I think we should make him the top paid defensive assistant like we did Koetter on offense and let him run that side of the ball.
Never liked Smith and do we really need the whole Falcons ex coaching staff? Lol. They need to get this DC right. Koetter as new coach needs strong DC coordinator that can take ownership of defense and let him just focus on offense.
Sweet gig for an incoming DC- if he can get the D to improve to 20th in the league in scoring defense, it’ll open up some doors for HC opportunities!
Seriously, though, I have confidence in Licht assembling a winning team- let’s see where HIS HC gets us!
Just going to watch and wait. DC is a big decision and needs to be the right guy. All in for Buc’s.
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