Bucs head coach Lovie Smith and general manager Jason Licht took over a 4-12 football team following the 2013 season and after a flurry of free agent signings, a brand new staff and a draft class to work with, fingers were crossed that the team would see a marked improvement. But instead of making a run at the playoffs, most everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. But maybe nothing derailed the direction and fortunes of the Bucs more than when offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford fell ill during the preseason and ended up never calling a single game for Tampa Bay.

NFL: JUL 27 Buccaneers Training CampFinding a new offensive coordinator was a priority for Smith and Licht this offseason, and most feel they have a gem in former Jaguars and Falcons coordinator Dirk Koetter. One of those happy  to have a new ship captain is center Evan Smith.

“It’s nice to have somebody to stare the ship on the offense,” Smith said. “I think I made some sort of comment about that last year. We didn’t really have… kind of, too many cooks in the kitchen going on. We have a guy that when we sit in the offensive meeting room, who is going to get up and make his presentation, but it’s his deal. He’s in control, he’s calling the plays. I like it. I really do like his offense. It’s good. He has had a lot of success with it. The biggest thing is having that leader. If you have a question and your coach can’t answer it, he can answer it.

“Honestly, for me, that’s the biggest thing – having someone that can point the ship in the right direction, so you’re not just out there sailing with no real navigation. The guy has it wired pretty tight with what he wants to do. A lot of it is just learning his language. We aren’t really running anything different, but it’s more organized, more in-depth, more detailed and he is really on top of that and that’s what I like about the guy.”

The Buccaneers gave up 52 sacks in 2014, third worst in the NFL. Many observed that de facto offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo, who was promoted following Tedford’s illness, didn’t utilize the players to their full potential. Receivers Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson rarely were used other than running vertical routes which require the offensive line to hold their blocks longer. Also the tight ends were virtually absent in the play calling and even where screen passes to running backs had some early success in games, Arroyo rarely went back to them.

Koetter, who is going on his ninth season in the NFL as an offensive coordinator, is expected to help out his entire offense with a better scheme and play calling and not hang the line out to dry as it often was in 2014. PewterReport.com asked Koetter if his scheme can help an offensive line if they begin to struggle.NFL: DEC 28 Saints at Buccaneers

“First off, there is really no magic in anyone’s scheme,” Koetter. “Everyone in the NFL is running very similar offenses. Secondly, way too many sacks given up last year. I’m not criticizing anybody by saying that. That’s just a fact. Where the Bucs, where we have to improve is first and foremost our quarterback play and second, we have to improve our offensive line play. As coaches, whatever scheme we end up putting out there, we have to do our best to give those guys the best chance to be successful. We’ll do our best to try to help it. That’s too many sacks. We can’t have that many sacks. We can’t have that many turnovers. Period.  That’s not a promise. I just saying we need to improve if we want to be competitive and we plan on being competitive.”

Evan Smith said on Monday he thinks Koetter’s playbook – and developing continuity – will help his unit in 2015.

“Yeah, I think anyone’s scheme is geared towards what your players can do the best,” Evan Smith said. “The strength of an offensive coordinator is how can he fit what he has with his guys into your system. You look at every team, not every team is going to be a big power team. Not every team is going to be a zone team. It all just depends on what you have. If you want to attack the field vertically you better have fast guys. If you want to have a short game, you better have a smart quarterback. It all just depends on what you have. Everybody runs the exact same stuff in the NFL. You watch tape on all 32 teams, I guarantee you every team has the same version of every play in one way, shape or form. It’s just how you executed it and how smart the players on the field are. That’s kind of really what it comes down to on offense. Defensive guys line-up and go. You do have some sort of responsibility, but as an offensive guy you have to be a really smart football player. There are a lot of things you can’t plan for, so when the ball is snapped, you have to be able to think on the fly and things need to happen. The smarter everybody is and the more everybody is on the same page, the better the offensive unit is going to be.

“That’s why you look at a lot of top 10 teams; a lot of guys have played together for a long time. You look at teams like Green Bay. Aaron (Rodgers) has been there for there for a long time. They have been running the exact same system for a long time. Atlanta, Roddy (White), Julio (Jones) and Matt Ryan have been playing together for a long time. It’s teams that get that continuity and are able to gel on that level. They are going to put up big numbers all the time.”

 

 

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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 mark@pewterreport.com
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Dman
Dman
6 years ago

This guy did a great job with Atlanta. Hope we have a commitment that he sticks around for a minimum period before taking a head coaching gig.

plopes808
plopes808
6 years ago

Of all the moves we’ve made this year, getting Koetter is the one I’m the most excited about. Things are definitely looking up for our offense. Go Bucs!

magoobee
magoobee
6 years ago

Gotta love the headline Koetter’s Scheme Should Make Bucs’ Offense – And Line – Better In 2015 That is a pretty low bar. That being said, Koetter, I think, is the bright spot in the Tampa Management Team. If Lovie can stay out of his way, the offense should be decent. They have the pieces, just need them on the same page. I see the article blames Tedford’s illness. But the problem was clear before that when Licht brings in McCown and Lovie proclaims him the starter without any competition. Beside being stupid to think a journeyman QB was starter… Read more »

Dy-nasty D
Dy-nasty D
Reply to  magoobee
6 years ago

This ^

76Buc
76Buc
6 years ago

Making McCown the starting without competition was stupid. They based everything on films. Having said that, the real offensive issue was that there was no leader. We had a college QB coach running a pro offense. Any pro level OC will improve things. I am optimistic about our offense, and hope that it is not offensive, and that we don’t end up calling for the its execution:)

seat26
seat26
6 years ago

I think this Offense is going to surprise us. We have a good QB, potentially a great one. We have to fantastic receivers, and if we can get the offensive line clicking, offense could be the strong part of the team. Defense may be the problem area this year.

seat26
seat26
Reply to  seat26
6 years ago

Two. Not to. We have two fantastic receivers.

76Buc
76Buc
Reply to  seat26
6 years ago

I think Mike Evans made the top 100 list.

BucWild02
BucWild02
6 years ago

I just want to see the offense put some points up. Im tired of Buc-Ball where the defense holds the other team to 17 or 20 points and we lose by a touchdown or less. I would like to see 4 touchdowns from the offense PER GAME. Is that too much to ask???

BucWild02
BucWild02
Reply to  BucWild02
6 years ago

Alright, that’s expecting too much. How about 3 touchdowns and 2 field goals?

scubog
scubog
6 years ago

Very classy responses from Coach Koetter regarding last season’s debacle. But it would be refreshing to have him say what he no doubt thinks, as we all do. If Arroyo was not up to the task, why not bring in an interim coach with some experience? Time to look forward.

surferdudes
surferdudes
6 years ago

After reading Peter Kings article, I think they left Arroyo as O.C. so they would have a chance at drafting Winston. King said Licht had his eye on Jameis since he was a freshmen. I think they put McCown back in the line up for the same reason. After the horrible start we had, the season changed from trying to make the playoffs, to trying to get the first pick in the draft.

BucWild02
BucWild02
Reply to  surferdudes
6 years ago

surferdudes- The same thought crossed my mind. I concluded that lots of GM’s had their eye on Jameis after his first year though. He was the Heisman winning QB of the national championship team that showed uncommon leadership and savvy for his age. I don’t know who the Bucs could have put in at OC weeks into the regular season. Steve Mariucci? I mean they didn’t know how long it would be before Tedford could return, so how do you move on and move forward? Now after losing a close one to Cincinnati and then getting blown out by Detroit,… Read more »

fredster
fredster
6 years ago

Hmm nothing derailed Bucs and offense more than Tedford falling ill? I would argue nothing detailed their offense more than the stupid, idiotic decision to let go of most of O line and replace with a bunch of scrubs. Tedford not getting back was second biggest blow IMHO.

fredster
fredster
Reply to  fredster
6 years ago

Also there is no doubt Arroyo was not up to the task either and don’t expect to see him as a successful offensive coordinator anytime soon. With that O line the play calling would not have made big difference though. If you can’t run block you can’t run block.

ONEBIGDADDY
ONEBIGDADDY
6 years ago

“Secondly, way too many sacks given up last year.” Which is why Mike Glennon didn’t get to show case his ability. If this Coach actually is the real deal it will be the first time since Jon Gruden that we have had a 2ND Offensive Coordinator. People who think that MG can’t hold his own will not be in for a surprise if this works out right…OBD