Maybe it was Thursday’s overcast skies and rainy weather. Maybe it was having to cut practice short. Maybe it was just the wrong question at the wrong time.
Whatever the reason, Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter showed a combative side that’s rarely been on public display since coming to the franchise last year.
Photo by: Mark Cook/PR
An early Thursday storm front caused the team to push the start of practice up from 8:45 a.m. to 8:15. It allowed for roughly 90 minutes worth of drills and scrimmaging, but rain and the threat of lightning resulted in an altered, shortened schedule.
Rather than doing the daily media session outside on the practice fields, Koetter came inside to the podium One Buc Place. After giving his usual opening statement, questions began with yesterday’s announcement that Cameron Brate is the early leader to win the starting tight end job.
Though he didn’t need to come out and specifically say anything about where Brate and Austin Seferian-Jenkins stand in terms of who’s the frontrunner, Koetter wasn’t thrilled to speak about the topic again Thursday.
“I don’t get what the big deal is,” he said. “Every team I’ve always been on the best players played. We haven’t played a game yet so we don’t know who’s going out there against Atlanta.”
Koetter wasn’t finished, as the first-time NFL head coach showed his first real frustrations about daily media responsibilities.
“If I had my way we’d close practice and then I wouldn’t have to answer questions like this every day,” he said. “No one would know. We’d just be getting our team ready to play. But we have practice open. It’s open for the fans, it’s also obviously open to you folks. We want to get the word out but we’ve got a lot of good football players and our number one manta is to compete and that’s what we’re doing.”
Questions regarding Brate, an undrafted free agent three years ago from Harvard, currently overtaking Seferian-Jenkins, the team’s second-round draft pick the same year, kept coming to Koetter’s dismay.
“No, I don’t understand it,” Koetter said when asked if he understood the line of questioning. “I don’t think that way, I’m just being honest. That’s not the way I think.”
Koetter made a similar unprovoked announcement Monday when he said wide receiver Adam Humphries is, at the moment, the team’s No. 3 receiver. The head coach and offensive leader clarified that it’s only Aug. 4 and nothing is set in stone.
“I thought Austin handled it great yesterday,” Koetter said. “He answered the questions. He has high expectations for himself. I certainly have high expectations for Austin, but we shouldn’t bump Cam down if he’s playing better today. As of right now Cam’s playing better. Austin still has time to win the job. He said that, I’m saying that right now, and that’s true at any position. I said Adam Humphries was our No. 3 receiver but if someone plays better than him by the time we get to Atlanta, trust me, they’ll be out there.”
But he added that coming out and stating one player is ahead of another isn’t some sort of psychological trick.
“Trust me, I’m not playing any mind games with anybody,” Koetter said. “You guys always think I’m playing these games to motivate guys. I’m telling them the truth. I’m telling them the truth and I’m never bullshitting these guys. That’s the fastest way to lose credibility with your team. So they’re never getting bullshitted by me, I promise you that.”