Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Tampa Bay has become quite the trendy pick to not only emerge as a playoff team in the NFC this year, but some members of the national media have even projected Dirk Koetter’s Bucs as Super Bowl LII champions this year.
After improving from a 6-10 squad to a team that narrowly missed the postseason with a 9-7 record last year in Koetter’s first season as head coach, there is no doubt that the Bucs will be more talented on offense with the additions of wide receiver DeSean Jackson and tight end O.J. Howard, the team’s first-round pick, and more dangerous on defense heading into the second year with defensive coordinator Mike Smith. The hype is so real that HBO and the NFL selected Tampa Bay – not Tennessee, another potential breakout team in 2017 – as this year’s participant for its popular Hard Knocks training camp series.
As the Bucs’ 2017 mini-camp draws to a close, Koetter said that he does have to constantly remind his young football team that they need to be worthy of the hype when the season opener kicks off in Miami in less than three months.
Bucs QB Jameis Winston and head coach Dirk Koetter – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
“We’ve got to control what we control,” Koetter said. “We can’t control good or bad, what is said. The NFL is popular. It’s great that [the media] is here talking about us. It’s great that people nationally are talking about us, but there are 31 other teams that got better. We have to prove it on the field.
“There’s going to come a day when we’re going to have to back it up and that day is coming September 10. That’s the first time it’s really going to count. We’re aware of it. Is it in the back of our mind? Yes. It just comes back to controlling the things we can control and don’t worry too much about the things that we don’t.”
As for all of the extra cameras and media attention that comes from Hard Knocks, Koetter and Smith experienced that scrutiny first-hand when Smith was the head coach in Atlanta in 2014 and Koetter was his offensive coordinator. The Falcons went 6-10 that season and Smith and the coaching staff were fired.
Don’t look for that to happen to this young team. The thinking here is that the Bucs will be up for the challenge to live up to the lofty expectations from the media.
“I talk to the guys about it all the time, constantly remind them all the time,” Koetter said. “I think you guys are making too much of a big thing about the Hard Knocks deal. Hard Knocks isn’t going to affect us one way or another. The fact that people are talking about us – hey, you want to be talked about. It beats the alternative.”
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]
Koetter you are almost right, I would say 30 other teams got better but I don’t think you can actually say that about the Jets 🙂
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