FAB 2. Bayless Is Clueless About Koetter And The Bucs
If there is one thing about today’s world of sports reporting and news reporting in general that I detest is the supposed need for hot takes – the more controversial and attention grabbing the better.
Sensationalism has won out over substance in 2017 (and it’s actually been that way for several years) on TV, and click-bait rules the Internet. Eventually, the pendulum will swing back the other way, as society will tire of look-at-me attention whores like Jason Whitlock, Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless spewing nothing but meaningless hot air.
At least I hope so before society gets stupider listening to such clueless and ridiculous blather.
It's officially the worst draft pick in NFL history. Traded UP to get a kicker in 2nd round .. didn't make it to a 2nd season https://t.co/JqNBo5Te30
— trey wingo (@wingoz) August 12, 2017
As if ESPN’s Trey Wingo’s moronic tweet about former Bucs kicker Roberto Aguayo wasn’t embarrassing enough, Bayless opened his mouth on Wednesday’s FS1’s Undisputed show and inserted both of his feet.
As a Bucs beat writer, I have tunnel vision on the Bucs and to a lesser degree the happenings in the NFC South. I know very little about other NFL teams, especially in the AFC, and will readily admit that.
National football reporters like Adam Schefter, Albert Breer, Chris Mortensen, Ian Rapoport and Peter King are constantly working their phones and talking to representatives with all NFL teams so they know the lay of the land league-wide. From what comes out of their mouths, it certainly doesn’t seem like pundits like Bayless do that and only go off their own opinions.
An uninformed opinion matters little to me, and Bayless shared his uninformed opinion on Undisputed following Tuesday night’s episode of Hard Knocks on HBO. Bayless is a fan of Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston, and admitted to liking him and preferring him over quarterback Marcus Mariota, the second overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft after Tampa Bay selected Winston.
“Huge personality, contagious charisma, natural-born leader, so much fun to watch, obviously a star on the verge. He hasn’t quite backed it up yet,” said Bayless of Winston. “I think people are starting to think this team is positioned to maybe win this division this year. I love everything about Jameis.”
So far, so good, but what Bayless said next is where any credibility he had fell off a cliff.
“I don’t love this coaching staff,” Bayless said. “Forgive me for saying this. Sometimes you get the bird’s eye view and you get to see too much. Maybe they’re mugging for the cameras. Maybe they’re acting out of character, but the whole staff seems a little high schoolish to me. They all seem a little in over their heads.
“Dirk Koetter has bounced around, in college football and pro football, got fired at Arizona State, then was a coordinator at Jacksonville, then in Atlanta, finally at Tampa Bay, sort of inherited the job, rose into the job when Lovie Smith got fired.”
If Bayless were a character on HBO’s Game of Throne’s he would be called Lord Bayless The Clueless.
The Bucs’ coaching staff is high schoolish and mugging for the cameras?
That’s not only stupid, that’s insulting.
I’ve seen some lousy coaching staffs before in my 24 years of covering Tampa Bay. Outside of offensive coordinator Greg Olson, defensive line coach Todd Wash and defensive backs coach Jimmy Lake, I wasn’t at all impressed with Raheem Morris’ coaching staff, especially the in-fighting that took place between smarmy offensive line coach Pate Mangurian, who wasn’t liked by anyone, and Olson when it came to game-planning.
Aside from running backs coach Earnest Byner, wide receivers coach P.J. Fleck (in 2012) and special teams coordinator Dave Wannstedt, I thought Greg Schiano’s staff, which featured some of his former Rutgers coaches, was woefully unequipped for the NFL.
Lovie Smith’s 2014 staff had plenty of holes on it, too. Offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford and quarterbacks coach turned play-caller Marcus Arroyo came from college and were in way over their heads, as was wide receivers coach Andrew Hayes-Stoker. Yet, offensive line coach George Warhop, running backs coach Tim Spencer and tight ends coach Jon Embree were great additions with Warhop and Spencer remaining on Koetter’s staff.
Defensively, Joe Cullen was a great defensive line coach on Smith’s staff, and Hardy Nickerson showed promise as a new linebackers coach. But the secondary was a mess under Smith as cornerbacks coach Gill Byrd wasn’t very good, and safeties coach Mikal Smith, Lovie’s son, proved that he is not an NFL-caliber coach.
Lovie Smith’s idea of having the nickel position coached separately by Larry Marmie only added confusion to secondary that struggled with communication, and that move backfired, as did Smith’s decision to kneecap defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier and take over the play-calling duty in 2015, which proved to be a disaster.
Koetter’s staff is certainly more than competent and is as solid a group as I’ve seen since Jon Gruden’s staff in the early and mid 2000s. Defensive coordinator Mike Smith was not only Atlanta’s all-time winningest head coach, but he was a tremendous defensive coordinator in Jacksonville and a linebacker coach in Baltimore’s Super Bowl-winning team before that.
Linebackers coach Mark Duffner is so well thought of that he will likely take over the defensive coordinator role if Smith moves on to another head coaching job in the future. Jay Hayes is one of the league’s most respected defensive line coaches, and his assistant, Paul Spicer, will be a defensive line coach somewhere in the league sooner rather than later. Jon Hoke and Brett Maxie instantly improved the Bucs’ secondary upon their arrival and are NFL veteran coaches.
Offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Todd Monken often speaks colorfully with words that flow out of Profanity River, so he’s hardly mugging for the camera. Tight ends coach Ben Steele is in his first year as a position coach, but has an NFL background playing tight end and has received rave reviews from his fellow coaches and the Bucs’ tight ends.
Bayless wouldn’t know guys Steele, Duffner and Warhop unless they all walked up, slapped the Fox Sports loudmouth across his face and then introduced themselves.
As if calling Koetter’s assistant coaches high schoolish wasn’t bad enough, Bayless didn’t think Koetter was genuine.
“He’s not convincing,” Bayless said. “As convincing as Jameis is, this guy is unconvincing. He’s very hard on Jameis in practice … I don’t like a head coach who’s constantly all over his quarterback in practice. It’s too hard of a position to play. Do that behind closed doors. Don’t mug for the cameras. I don’t love it. Remember he spoke out against Jameis last year and was concerned about his growth.”
First of all, Koetter is known around One Buc Place as a straight shooter. He’s incredibly candid in front of his team and the media and doesn’t mince words.
I’ve been around the guy for three years now and Koetter hardly mugs for the camera. To suggest that Koetter does is disingenuous.
What you see on Hard Knocks is how Koetter is every day. In fact, I think he’s done such a good job of telling his players to act natural and not play to the NFL Films cameras that I haven’t seen anyone on the Buccaneers act unusual or try to steal the spotlight.
Second of all, Koetter is hard on Winston because that’s in his nature and the young quarterback likes to be coached hard. It was also that way at Florida State under Jimbo Fisher.
So the fact that Winston won a national championship and a Heisman Trophy while only losing one game at Florida State with Fisher breathing down his neck totally negates Bayless’ claim that being too hard on a young quarterback can be a bad thing. Winston actually thrives with that type of coaching, and that makes he and Koetter a perfect match.
Finally, Bayless even goes so far to suggest that Koetter is insecure as a head coach that he has to use Winston as a scapegoat when things don’t go well offensively.
“It feels like Dirk Koetter is insecure enough as the head coach that he’s trying to point the finger constantly at Jameis, like planting excuses in case of: ‘Don’t blame me. He still makes these dumb throws.’ Dirk Koetter isn’t good enough to do that,” Bayless said. “My final take from last night was much as I like this team on the verge, I think the coaching staff is going to present a ceiling for this team. That’s just my gut feeling: They might limit how far this team can go.”
It’s exactly the opposite in Tampa Bay. With the Bucs being a relatively young team, it will in fact be up to the coaching staff to continue to rapidly develop the young players as they have over the past year or two as Tampa Bay has gone from a 2-14 record to a 6-10 mark to last year’s 9-7 record.
Koetter’s coaching staff is actually the catalyst to the Bucs being a playoff contender this year – not a detriment – but Bayless wouldn’t know that. Unless he’s talking about his beloved Dallas Cowboys, Bayless doesn’t seem to have a clue.