One day after the firing of Dirk Koetter, general manager Jason Licht took to the podium on Monday to address the reasoning for Koetter’s firing, and the future plans of the Bucs. Licht, who has compiled a record of 27-53 as Tampa Bay’s general manager, will be leading the search for the Bucs’ 12th coach in team history. Here is what Licht had to say:

(Opening statement)
“Well, difficult day here for all of us inside the walls here when you let a man like Dirk go. I’ll just start by saying a few things about him. Nothing’s really changed about Dirk the person since we hired him, he’s got integrity as you guys know, honesty, he’s very direct, a lot of you guys have seen that first hand several times. He worked very, very hard, extremely great work ethic, he and his staff really believed in what he did, and those are qualities that you look for in a head coach, in a good coach, and he is a good coach. If Dirk ends up continuing his career, another organization is going to be lucky to have him. Ultimately, the results, the wins just weren’t there. Collectively, everybody here within the organization has fallen short of expectations of what we thought we could do. They’ve been disappointing for the entire organization, but we are determined to get back on track, and we’re determined to find that person that’s going to lead us into those successful years that we’re all anticipating. And the Glazer has assigned me, charged me, put confidence in me, trusts me, whatever you want to say to lead that charge. As far as Dirk, Dirk is a stand up guy, couldn’t say enough about him.”

(On the conversation he had with Dirk Koetter when he was fired)
“We had a great conversation. Dirk used the word ‘own it’ a lot, as you guys know. He has used that several times this year, things that he feels that he needs to own, I’ve used it several times for myself. When I informed him last night, we came back into the office, the Glazer family wanted to meet with him here, he was prepared. He met with the Glazer family and then came back. He was told that they were going to relieve him of his duties, he came back to my office and we shared a great moment. I spent some time with his family, we all became very close the last four years. He couldn’t have been more professional, and that’s just the way Dirk is.”

(On why he gets to stay as GM when Koetter got fired as coach)
“You know right now I’m just grateful to be here. I’m grateful to be standing here, I told that to Dirk last night, he told me he was happy that I was here, and right now, like I said, the Glazer family has put their confidence in me to find their next head coach. I’m grateful for that opportunity, and we are committed to find that guy.”

(On if he thinks the team has better personnel and more talent than it had in the past, and it was the coaching that wasn’t good enough)
“No, I would not say that. There’s a lot reasons that we can point to, but any team can that’s in this situation. We have a talented young roster, we have a lot of good core young players, but we have a lot of work to do, and that falls on me.”
(On if the Glazers came to him during the season and gave their opinion on whether or not Koetter should remain in the organization)
“Throughout the entire year I’m obviously in constant contact with ownership, and towards the end of the year I give them my state of union address for lack of a better word, the state of the team address. I tell them what my opinions are, they tell me what their opinions are, and then they methodically and carefully think out their plan, their decisions, and they let me know after the game last night that this was the direction that they wanted to go.”

(On if he gave a vote of confidence for Dirk Koetter to the Glazers while that decision was being made)
“There’s a lot of positive things you can say about Dirk, and those were addressed.”

(On how shocked he was when everything started falling apart after they started 2-0, and lost seven out of eight at one point after that)
“Disappointed, and I think if Dirk were standing here today, he would tell you the same thing. We’d be on the same page there, we were all just very disappointed. We had a lot of things that didn’t go our way, and right now the emphasis is on finding the next head coach.”

(On if Jameis Winston will be part of the future)
“Jameis Winston will be here, we have him under contract for a year. He has done some amazing things for a young 24 turns 25 in a week quarterback, has accomplished more than most of the elite quarterbacks have at his age throughout that time span. There’s a lot to like about Jameis. Jameis will be here next year.”

(On if Jameis Winston will have some say in bringing in the next coach)
“We’re going to put a lot of thought into this head coach decision. We’re not going to involve Jameis Winston in that decision, but, Jameis is someone that we hold in high regard here.”

(On if the new coaching candidate would have to accept Jameis as their starting quarterback, and if that excludes some candidates from being the Bucs coach because they don’t want him)
“Based on the texts and phone calls and emails that I’ve been getting since roughly eight o’clock last night, I don’t think that’s going to be an issue.”

(On if there was something on the field that he or the Glazer’s didn’t think Dirk Koetter would be able to turn the corner on besides the losses)
“We thought Dirk did a fantastic job. We thought Dirk was a great coach and works very hard and he’s got assistants and players that respect him, I respect him. Players play very hard for Dirk, so I would say no.”

(On after going through a head coaching search before, what’s different this time around)
“Well this time around, just like last time when I say cast a white net, we considered many, many, options. This year we’re going to look outside, I’m going to include Korn Ferry-Jed Hughes, it’s somethings that I talked about with ownership last night that I felt would help with this, just assist as a tool with the background. They have a lot of backgrounds on all these candidates that they’ve been compiling for many, many years. They’ve helped a lot of successful franchises, assist them with their hirings, and I felt like in terms of logistics, and just knowing been through these interviews, and knowing a lot of these candidates, I thought it would be a great assist. But they won’t be choosing the head coach.”

(On why the Bucs job is an attractive destination out all the teams that need a head coach)
“Well first I think you start with ownership, who is letting us collectively do our jobs. You can start also with the facilities, I think we have a young core group of talented players that combine with, you know, Dirk did some fantastic things offensively, historical season in some regards in a lot of categories, and as Dirk said last night at his press conference, we have a great locker room. So, you got a young quarterback, there’s a lot of things to like. Based on texts and people reaching out to me that are interested in the job, I can see why, I can tell you that it is an attractive job.”

(On if there’s anyone that he would consider for the job within the organization)
“We’re going to look outside of the organization for this hire. I think there’s some good football coaches here, really good football here on staff, but, we’re going to give this new head coach the ability to decide whether or not to retain them. They’ll be able to seek employment elsewhere in that timeframe if they so choose.”

(On if the new head coach will be able to make the final call on personnel decisions)
“That will depend, I think I said this last time too, that I’m not going to get in the way and let an ego get in the way of getting the right guy here. My job is to bring right now, is to get the best fit of a head football coach, period. So, whatever has to be done, has to be done.”

(On how much previous relationships with him matter to his hiring)
“Not much, I think I want to get to know these guys throughout this process. Just because I know somebody doesn’t necessarily mean he’s the right fit for the organization. Throw the ego aside, it’s what’s best for the organization, best for the players, best for the staff, just the best fit, period. Just because I know somebody doesn’t necessarily mean they’d be the right fit.”

(On if D-Line coach Brentson Buckner is still under contract in 2019)
“Yeah, we have a few guys that are under contract for 2019. Once again, the new head coach will have the ability to retain those guys, and those guys are good football coaches too. It’s just the crazy business that we get into, and it’s unlike most other businesses, and it’s results oriented, and we all have to answer the tough questions, and go through because of it. There’s a lot of good football coaches that I hope the new coach considers, but he’s not going to be handcuffed to those guys.”

(On if there will be other changes in the front office)
“I don’t anticipate any right now. Those changes are typically made post draft.”

(On what surprised this season and what did he not see coming that made the Bucs lose)
“Like I said before, there’s a lot of factors. They all sound like excuses right now, and I don’t want to get into excuses.”

(On what part did he play in this year’s losing, and what he could have done different)
“Right now I don’t want to play the hindsight game. I got to do a better job, it lies on me, I got to do a better job of the overall operation of the football team, and I will make no bones about that.”

(On if he has a goal of when he would like to have the new hire)
“I don’t want to put a time frame on it. It’s however long it takes to get the right guy.”

(On if it’s a tough to balance between finding the right guy and hiring him before another team with an opening wants the same candidate)
“It is, it is. Last night after Dirk left, we had a chance, the owners and I, to discuss Dirk and kind of reflect on things, and it was all positive. We had to press play, and there’s not a lot of sleep going on.”

(On if there’s something that he see’s based on the players in the locker room that he’s looking for from the new coach, whether it’s philosophy or different emphasis and skill)
“When we look for the next head coach, it’s going to be more about the fit for the team, not necessarily the fit for the scheme. So, we’re going to be looking for, like I said with Dirk, a lot of the qualities Dirk had. The positive qualities Dirk had are rare, we’re going to look for a great leader, a guy that just a good fit for the organization, and wants to be a Buc, and is excited about coaching this young team, and wants to win a championship.”

(On if it matters if it’s an offensive or defensive minded coach for the next hire)
“Right now it’s about the best fit. That’s not going to exclude any defensive coach or any offensive coach, it’s just best coach.”

(On if he’s willing to wait for a coach or coordinator that’s in the playoffs)
“Absolutely.”

(On if he and his staff share the same sentiment as the Bucs players who felt they let Koetter down)
“There’s a lot of remorse that goes on after a loss. Losses are the toughest thing you can endure in this profession, and of course you always think ‘is there something I could have done better?’ My guys think ‘what can we do better?’ So, in that regard, you always hate to let a guy down, and you always feel like there’s more that we can give, but one thing I like about my guys is they’re always willing to accept that and have a drive to be better everyday. That’s what we’ll do.”

(On what he makes of Jameis Winston’s development at this point in his career)
“I saw a lot in the second half of this season. Obviously, we went through a lot at the beginning of the season, suspension, there’s a lot going on in this organization that was tough for a lot of people to overcome. I saw him bounce back at the end of the year and play very, very good in my eyes and a lot of people’s eyes for the conditions that he was in, so, we have a lot of faith in him.”

(On if he sees Gerald McCoy fitting in as part of the long term plans for the team)
“We have a lot of long term decisions to make, a lot of people have tough decisions to make. Moving forward into the offseason right now, it’s about finding that head coach.”

(On if he sees a drastic need to make a change in personnel)
“You tweak your roster every year. We have a lot of young talent, like I said, we have a lot of guys that we really like, more so this year than in previous years. Still have a lot of work to do, but we have a lot of flexibility in our contracts and our salary cap and the way we do things that we can add more players. The answer isn’t always getting the splashy superstar, but to find good players, we’ll have the flexibility to do that.”

(On if he agrees with Jason Pierre-Paul saying that some players weren’t keeping it real)
“I think overall we got a great group, I think Jason would agree with that. Jason has a high standard, very high standard for all of his teammates, so Jason’s a great leader as well. So, Jason is sometimes using some words to motivate others, but, overall really like the group that we have.”

(On if he thinks the players keep it real with each other)
“I think we have a lot of great guys that keep it real with each other.”

(On what are some areas that he feels strongly about that need to be addressed)
“We’ll look at every area on the football team. We’d love to run the football better, we feel like we have some good offensive linemen, we like Peyton Barber but we feel like we need to run the football better. Rojo, he needs to bounce back, we need to find depth at key positions, but we felt that this year we found some good depth pieces with some of the guys that John and Rob and our pro scouts and college scouts have found on the streets with Andrew Adams and De’vante Harris did some good things for us. We just need to find more depth and we need to find some more Carl Nassib’s, and JPP’s and Ryan Jensen’s.”

(On what he would say to the fans that have had to endure several double digit losing seasons while he’s been here)
“I’d probably ‘keep it real with them,’ keep it simple, and tell them I feel your pain.”

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About the Author: Mark Cook

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, the beach and family time.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 protected]
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cgmaster27
cgmaster27
3 years ago

No shocker here. Everyone with eyes and a brain knew jameis would be back outside of a few of our resident ” experts”. Number 8 qbr in the NFL and 13tds to only 4 picks since he was benched and 2 of those were hail marys. Hes earned the starting gig and dont even come at me with the wins crap, it’s a team sport and our defense and running game were ranked dead last in most stats. No qb can win with that kind of backup.

Horse
Horse
3 years ago

Surprised no one asked about the offensive line situation.

matador
matador
3 years ago

“We’d love to run the football better, we feel like we have some good offensive linemen…Rojo, he needs to bounce back” ‘Some good offensive lineman’ requires an extremely generous definition of good. And what is RoJo bouncing back from, not being able to block or catch or understand an NFL playbook? “I saw him (Winston) bounce back at the end of the year and play very, very good in my eyes and a lot of people’s eyes for the conditions that he was in”. You mean the conditions of playing behind a complete garbage OL courtesy of your poor drafting… Read more »

Buc on the Move
Buc on the Move
3 years ago

“We just need to find more depth and we need to find some more Carl Nassib’s, and JPP’s and Ryan Jensen’s.”

The follow up question should have been about Ryan Jensen’s production v. salary and what Licht feels would be worth that much money.

Sucks to lose a straight talking coach in favor of a BS answer GM.

thejerseybuc
thejerseybuc
3 years ago

Rojo needs to bounce back from what? He never got anywhere to bounce back from. There have been quite a few instances in the past where straight line speed doesn’t translate to the NFL. Being on the 440 team doesn’t help you with vision, instincts and the ability to bounce off initial contact. I can’t see this guy being part of the solution, he reminds me of the kid from Boise who couldn’t read the playbook, and the Appalachian St. disaster who was drafted on one monster game. In the end I feel bad for Dirk, I believe he was… Read more »

inspecto
inspecto
3 years ago

It is nice knowing we can.t lose next week. We must have a better running game next year and that includes backups. Would be nice to have a 2 headed punch.
Fingers crossed for B. A.

inspecto
inspecto
3 years ago

I forgot to wish all a Happy New Year best to 0ne and all.

drdneast
drdneast
3 years ago

The offensive line is a complete disaster after five years of tooling from Licht. Dotson is old, Benno is not a guard and Smith has the concentration of a bunny rabbit. I have no idea how good or bad our 3rd round pick from this year’s draft is since we saw him so infrequently. I do know I would rather see Smith walk than pay him $10 million a year to take plays off and I was one of the few people who defended his sporadic play for the last few years because he was a second, not first round… Read more »

owlykat
owlykat
3 years ago

Scott’s article on Arians and the great assistants he can bring to the Bucs explains clearly to me why our Brother Owners retained Licht to find the next Coach. He has an in with getting Arians here. I also agree with Licht’s decision to keep Jameis. Arians likes Jameis and has mentored many great QBs in his career and would be the best HC to take Jameis to the elite level and to also fix our OL and running game. He also can bring a great DC with him and new OL Coach. If Licht can get Arians, who has… Read more »

bucballer
bucballer
3 years ago

Losing is contagious! When ur mentality is to play not to lose that’s a sign. Next Coach and his staff have to turn around this mentality. I think through true evaluation of team roster and cutting the dead wood and making some courageous cuts for the betterment of the team this will help a lot. Gotta get that beast of a man OL( prefer a left tackle) with the 5th pick. If ur staying with Jameis as ur QB then u better get some protection for him. Move LT Smith to right side. Also, need running back depth! Starter gets… Read more »

scubog
scubog
3 years ago

I’m sure this was a difficult press conference for Jason Licht to do. Hard to respond when you’re in fear that your pants just might ignite as you hold back an honest response. I’m sure it’s also difficult for the media types to pose questions for which they already know the “GM-Speak answer”. I guess we analysts need to “read between the lines” for the hidden truth not spoken. Trevor is far more adept than Scubog. Bottom line is the totally unacceptable won-loss record during Jason Licht’s reign as the GM. He’s the guy responsible for “buying the groceries”. Were… Read more »

surferdudes
3 years ago

Licht also said at his presser the Bucs hired a consulting firm to help with their coaching search. As a long time Buc fan I enlisted the consulting firm of Jim Beam, Jack Daniels, and Jose Cuervo, to help me survive this coaching search. They advised me to take two valiums, wash them down with some shots of one their finest selects. Depending on who they pick for their coach, they advised I might need to find the highest bridge, take two more, and jump!

scubog
scubog
Reply to  surferdudes
3 years ago

Very funny Surferdudes. We’re all “suffer” dudes in Bucville.