PewterReport.com is beginning a new feature off an an old one this week called the PR Roundtable. In the new edition of the Roundtable the staff will take just one topic each week and share some brief thoughts. Take a look and tell us what you think, and share your feelings on the topic in the comment section.
This week’s topic: Will the possible suspension of Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston help Dirk Koetter keep his job?
Publisher Scott Reynolds: A possible Jameis Winston suspension should have nothing to do with Dirk Koetter’s future in Tampa Bay, nor do I think it would impact the decision of any coach to come coach the Buccaneers next year if Winston were to get suspended. Let’s say Winston gets suspended for four games for the inappropriate touching accusation from the 2016 offseason. That would have no bearing on this season as Winston missed time due to an injured shoulder and hasn’t performed as well as most expected. Koetter needs to be evaluated on what he’s done during his two years on the job.
If Winston gets suspended, I don’t think that’s any detriment to the Bucs hiring a new coach if the team decides to fire Koetter. We don’t know how long Winston would be suspended. It could only be a game or two, and he would have a chance to appeal it, too.
The reality is that Tampa Bay may not even know about a possible suspension until much later in the offseason when the NFL concludes its investigation. So the uncertainty about Winston’s situation may be inconsequential to any candidate that would possibly replace Koetter because of the time standpoint.
History suggests the NFL could suspend Winston for the allegations the female Uber driver made, especially in the current social climate where men are getting fired left in right in a host of industries over sexual improprieties. A good deal of the allegations may indeed be true, but it doesn’t mean that every one is true. Winston has maintained his innocence since the allegations surfaced.
As more and more allegations come out in society, there could be a pendulum swing in the other direction where some men – possibly including Winston – could be given the benefit of the doubt instead of being subjected to the immediate rush to judgment in the media that appears to be taking place right now. I think the longer Winston’s investigation drags on the better. The NFL and its unpopular commissioner, Rodger Goodell, could very well decide to help his image and the league’s image and show some leniency when it comes to Winston, especially if the only evidence is simply her word against his.
While Goodell suspended NFL poster by Tom Brady for simply destroying his cell phone in the “Deflategate” investigation, it came at a steep price as the league’s popularity has taken a big hit. A good deal of NFL fans are upset at how Goodell has handled the discipline for players like Ray Rice (too lenient), Ezekiel Elliott and Brady (too harsh). The NFL Players Association and some NFL owners are, too. Without solid evidence, the league does nothing positive for itself suspending a young star like Winston based on an allegation, which may be baseless.
Now if there is some damning evidence, that’s a different story. Either way, the league needs to tread lightly and get this right. Yet whether or not Winston gets suspended or not, it won’t have any affect on Koetter or his possible replacement if he gets canned.
Editor Mark Cook: Should or will it? They are really two different questions.
It really should have no bearing on what the Glazers decide to do. If they decide and believe Dirk Koetter is not the long-term answer, they need to cut the cord. Like a bad marriage, getting out and moving on – and realizing you made a mistake – is always the best course of action. Gerald McCoy isn’t getting any younger. Lavonte David isn’t getting any younger. Why essentially waste a season if you believe you don’t have the right person in charge?
But will it though? That is possible. The problem is Jameis Winston is the carrot that the Glazers dangle in front of Jon Gruden, Jim Harbaugh or one of the up and coming coordinators that will be in demand the Monday following the last regular season game. Gruden is already somewhat wishy washy. He obviously still has coaching in his blood. It is a disease that is impossible to completely rid yourself of, especially when you have had a taste of success. Maybe even more when you leave a job not by your own decision. Make no mistake Gruden wants to stand on the sideline once again. And he will get, and has had opportunities. The problem is it has to be the perfect situation. Is starting your new coaching career not knowing if you will be without your starting quarterback for potentially the first six games?
Same thing with a Jim Harbaugh who, like Gruden understands you meed a quarterback to win in today’s NFL. Winston is that carrot to dangle, but how enticing is it knowing you may not have him to start a season? And no one wants to say it, so I will, but what if Winston were to have another allegation down the road? I would guess the organization would swiftly move on from Winston. Now a new coach could be left in a lurch as greg Schiano was after the Freeman meltdown in 2013.
Personally I believe Winston. Man to man, looking me in the eye, when he said he is certain he will be exonerated, I believe he believes he will. But unfortunately for Winston this isn’t a court of law and the NFL, if they even believe the Uber driver at all, not even 50/50, but at all, Winston will be suspended. Which is a shame. But that is the NFL today, protecting the shield, even if they do so by squirrel hunting with an elephant gun.
Beat Writer Trevor Sikkema: Unfortunately for coaches, disappointing seasons don’t stop when the season is over. For Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter, the disappointment of this season is going to linger into the offseason in the minds of his bosses, both the Glazers and Jason Licht.
There is not doubt that this season has not lived up to expectations from a coaching standpoint, both Koetter and his defensive coordinator Mike Smith will tell you that. Both sides of the ball for the Buccaneers are not what they should have been, not even close.
But, how much of a pass does Koetter get? That’s going to be the key part of his defense to his higher-ups this offseason. Koetter has had injuries to his starting offensive line, his defensive line and some of his star players. But there is one outside factor that might get Koetter a pass more than all of that: quarterback Jameis Winston’s investigation.
Nothing moves the line of win probability like the availability quarterback, and with that in mind, to expect a coach to perform at a playoff level without their predicted starter is often unfair to do. Winston has been hurt this year, but even beyond that, does this on going investigation with him give Koetter another year of coaching this team by default?
Here are some factors to that.
If Koetter were to be fired, what is the most alluring factor in a coaching coming to Tampa Bay? It’s Jameis Winston. If it’s likely that Winston might be suspended, why would you fire your coach knowing you won’t be able to lure a better one in during the investigation, and perhaps, suspension of a franchise quarterback?
I think it’s more likely than not that Winston will be missing some time in 2018 for this investigation. Whether that’s four games, six games or eight games all depends on how the investigation plays out. If that’s the case, it’s a valid question whether or not Koetter gets a pass.
I’m going to say that he doesn’t get a pass for it, even though I do think Winston will be facing some punishment. I think that there will still be a few viable candidates out there who would take the Bucs job, even if Winston misses some time. The way things were handle and ultimately performed this season seems inexcusable by those who came up with the game plans.