Bucs HC Dirk Koetter - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
It can be difficult to change a routine that’s worked for nearly a decade, but that’s the challenge Dirk Koetter faces after his promotion to head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The long-time assistant, who’s led three Top 10 NFL offenses with three different teams, will have to translate past success as an offensive coordinator into a new role. And while he doesn’t yet fully understand the adjustment, he at least understands that there’s going to be one.
“I think the transition is going to be a new learning experience every day,” Koetter said at his introductory press conference Friday. “When I became a head college football coach, I thought it was my dream of a lifetime to be a head college coach. What you realize is, even though you’ve been working a long time to get to that position, you have to make decisions every day that you weren’t prepared for.
“I don’t have all the answers and I know that I’m going to be learning things every day, but I look forward to the challenge.”
Bucs HC Dirk Koetter – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
While it was his progress as an NFL offensive coordinator that ultimately earned him the job, Koetter believes he can draw back to his time at Boise State and Arizona State to help him in his new responsibility as the leader of an organization. He’s also confident in the coaches around him, from the returning offensive assistants to defensive coordinator Mike Smith, a guy with seven years of head-coaching experience.
“One of the best things you can do is surround yourself with a great staff and trust your gut, and I plan to do both,” Koetter said.“Roles are going to have to be juggled around a little bit, but that’s one of the great things about taking over a program [where] I was already here for a year is that I worked hand-in-hand with those guys on the offensive staff.”
Some things will stay the same, though. For one, Koetter will continue to call plays for the Bucs. The head coach called the strategy and game management aspect two of his favorite parts of football, adding, “I think I’d be foolish to give that (play calling) up.” Given last season’s numbers (fifth ranked offense, averaging 375 yards) most would agree with that estimation.
And although Koetter made it clear that Lovie Smith never doubted him or limited his play calling, having final say is a whole different story. Koetter hinted that Tampa Bay would have a more aggressive attack in 2016.
“I will say that when you’re the head coach and you’re the play caller, you have a license to be a little bit more aggressive,” Koetter said. “That’s how I was when I was a high school coach and that’s how I was when I was a college coach. That comes from inside me, because you have the power to decide. You have the power to decide if you’re going for it on fourth-and-1. You have the power to decide if we need to throw it deep three times in a row or give it to Doug Martin three times in a row. You don’t have to worry about the head coach second-guessing you; you are the head coach. You make your game plan and you stick to your game plan. But I’m not making this up in any fashion. Lovie did not hold us back in any way.”
Lovie Smith and Dirk Koetter – Photo by Cliff Welch/PR
Above all, his relationship with players will inevitably change. Aside from getting a better handle of the guys on defense, Koetter also spoke of winning over those who were disappointed to see Smith go. After admitting his own pain – “I’ll be honest with you, I’m a little hurt that Lovie’s not here” – Koetter’s said he’ll do his best to remain the same guy and is optimistic players will follow his direction.
“I’m confident that I can put forth where the Bucs are headed and I’m sure that we can get those guys on board pretty quickly,” Koetter said. “Most players that I’ve come across are incredibly resilient. Once they know the direction you’re headed, they’re quick to get on board.”
The number one thing players’ want, he said, is to be told the truth. And for a guy who’s had his name created into a verb – “Koettered” – meaning honesty, that shouldn’t be too difficult.
“You try to be the same guy every day and consistent with the players,” Koetter said. “All the players that I know in the NFL, they want to be coached up, they want discipline, players want consistency, but players just want to be told the truth – good or bad. If you tell players the truth, show it to them on film, most guys can handle that.
“I feel like my personality lends itself maybe even better to the pro level than college level,” Koetter said later, speaking about different types of coaches. “I think I can connect with these guys… Is there going to be a period of adjustment? Yes. But there are other coaches in this league who are offensive or defensive or play-callers and it’s working just fine. It can work.”
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
Contact him at: [email protected]
You can be more aggressive as a play caller, and a head coach. That’s what I like to hear. Koetter gets it, you can’t play not to lose. I think Mike Smith will let the hounds lose as well. Linebackers with Kwon’s, and David’s speed should be in constant attack mode. I’d let them have free rein to rush the passer when they see they can get quick pressure. Don’t worry about finding your “landmark”, find the ball instead. The sit back bend, but don’t break defenses are a thing of the past.
You say the silliest things sometimes sureferdude. Thanks for the early afternoon chuckle.
What is silly about what Surfer said? Everything he said is exactly what it should be. You see any soft defenses in the playoffs? You see teams like Arizona and their coach Bruce Arians who plays to win. He said himself right after the game. Lovie played not to lose, and somehow you still don’t see that.
Let me get this straight. Surferdude wants to give the LB’s to have “free rein”
to rush the QB whenever they see fit or decide to without letting the other members of the team know what they are doing.
If you don’t think that’s silly cgmaster, you can be second in charge of a Chinese fire drill which is what it will look like.
drdneast; you read way too much into what Surferdudes said. As to what our new Coach has said now a couple times “got to trust your gut”.
I’m starting to think drdneast is the reincarnation of BF47 with his view down his nose at other posters. All Surfer was saying is that he would like to see a more aggressive approach. That doesn’t mean he wanted to see everyone just running rogue out there.
Very good call on the BF47.
I’m just happy the people on this board who’s opinions I value get what I’m saying. No, I’m not looking to run a rogue defense. However, certain players should follow their instincts, when playing what is a game. I remember watching the great L.T.,I doubt all his sacks came from playing strictly within the scheme.
Being schooled by Drdneast is the norm on this site. We know nothing while he knows all. I agree with surfer…..let the dogs run some. Pressure makes good QB’s look normal.
Shooting your gap when the situation dictates is EXACTLY what the Seahawks allow Michael Bennett to do in their defensive system. Works pretty well for them.
Surferdudes totally agree with the more aggressive defense. I get what your saying and there are plenty of examples of elite type players allowed to play more instinctively instead of hanging back. Don’t mind Drdneast he knows more than anyone else here. So much smarter than all us novices. Lol. Hes just still upset they fired his buddie Lovie. Lol. Instead of just talking Bucs and hanging out he’s in constant attack mode and constantly trying to prove he’s smarter than everyone else here. Don’t even read his posts anymore. Guy is just annoying as hell.
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