It is Monday and that means another Bucs Monday Mailbag where we answer your questions that readers submitted via Twitter using #PRMailbag.
Question: Starting to think Koetter might be great as an OC, so-so as a head coach type, like Norv Turner.
Answer: You aren’t alone in that opinion. However, it is way too early to make that determination definitively. Most coaches have an adjustment period to find their footing. There most certainly have been things to make you wonder (clock management, going for two points among others). There a thousand things happening in a coach’s head, and that play clock runs twice as fast when you are trying to call a play. Also calling from the field is more difficult than the booth, as you can’t see the down and distance as fast you can from a perch in the box. I am not making excuses for Koetter, but trust me, even from my high school play calling duties, it is a lot more difficult than you could ever imagine.
With that said, it is his job he has given himself, and ultimately the results are on him, regardless of the obstacles. And from the other duties required of a coach, practice schedules, meetings, and the basic day-t0-day operations of the team, Koetter does just fine it appears.
Question: Do we need an OC that can utilize easier routes early on like slants/crossing instead of the same deep pass we keep doing?
Answer: I think at this point every aspect of the play calling needs to be evaluated. From who calls the plays, to the design themselves. Many have suggested that Koetter give Winston a few easier throws to start the game, but Winston ultimately pulls the trigger. Without reviewing the game from Sunday, I can’t say that those routes weren’t part of the game plan going in. Although it is a bit puzzling that Evans isn’t used more in the slant game with his size and ability to box out defenders.
You have to take a few deep shots a game. Even if they aren’t completed, it does affect how the defense plays in coverage. And it can help open up the run game as safeties have to think twice about creeping up. And if you can get Mike Evans or DeSean Jackson singled on a go-route, you have to think they can either go get the ball (Evans) or beat them down the field (Jackson).
Question: How come we don’t get the running game started early to have a balanced attack?
Answer: The Cardinals showed how effective it can be to be able to run the ball early and keep a defense off balance. The problem with Tampa Bay is when you fall behind in the way they did at Minnesota and on Sunday against Arizona, time becomes an opponent as well. In a game where the opposing team drops 38 on you, you need to score and do it rather quickly. Trust me, Koetter would love to have a balanced attack. It would make everyone’s job easier, but circumstance dictate the rest of game when you fall behind early.
Question: I saw SR’s article on Gruden lurking in the background, any chance Bucs just bring him on staff instead? Like Tom Coughlin in Jax?
Answer: No chance. Mainly because I don’t think Gruden would come back just as a consultant. He makes $6 million a year, or around there from ESPN, and no way the Bucs would consider coming close to matching that for a non-head coach position. Plus Gruden wants redemption. Gruden wants to develop a young quarterback, something he wasn’t able to do in Tampa Bay.
Secondly, the egos of Gruden and Koetter wouldn’t mix. Koetter would always be looking over his shoulder, and with both being offensive minds, there is no way Koetter would want a guy like Gruden calling any shots. And I don’t blame him. Having Gruden in the building as anything other than the head coach would create angst and an uneasiness with the offensive staff. Any time there was a questionable decision, fans would be calling for Gruden to take over. I just don’t see how that even remotely could work.
Question: What’s more likely Mike Smith getting fired or Dirk Koetter giving up play calling?
Answer: Based on the financial commitment the Glazers made to Smith this offseason, I think he is safe through next year, barring any major collapse. Of course some would say a collapse has already taken place with the performance in Arizona on Sunday. The Bucs defense has underperformed for the most part, but have shown some flashes. But they need to quickly figure out how to regain the magic from last season when they turned things around after the bye week. If not, both Koetter and Smith might be looking for new employment after this season. Koetter has at least flirted with the idea of allowing someone else to be the play caller, but decided this offseason to retain the responsibility. If the team continues to struggle finding an identity all year, then it may be something he is forced to do in order to keep his job.