After a bit of uncertainty, General Manager, Jason Licht, informed Dirk Koetter that he will return as the Bucs head coach in 2018. The move ensures that Koetter will outlast both his predecessors (Greg Schiano and Lovie Smith) who were not given a third season.
After spending one season as offensive coordinator, Jameis Winstons’ rookie year, Koetter replaced Lovie Smith as the head coach. Through 31 games, Koetter has a 13-18 record with no playoff appearances. In 2016, they barely missed a playoff spot with a 9-7 record.
“Dirk has been here [since] my first year,” said Winston on Thursday. “He came in – then he was the OC – as the head coach, it has been kind of different but Dirk is the man. I think he has taught me a lot, especially just me playing quarterback. You just don’t understand that relationship in that quarterback room. We spend so much time together – me, him, Coach Bajakian [and] those other quarterbacks – it’s like a family. Everybody has their different characteristics, but at the end of the day we all love each other.”
Many anticipated a jump in year two, however, that has not come to pass. Many factors attributed to a dismal 2017, which saw the Bucs lose five games in a row twice this season. Winston’s shoulder injury played a role in the late-season slump. His injury hampered the team in more than just the three games he missed.
|2016||57||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||16||9||7||0||.563||2||3||1|
|2017||58||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||15||4||11||0||.267||4||1||1|
|2 yr||2 yr||31||13||18||0||.419||3.0||4||2|
With that said, the Glazers and Licht felt it was appropriate to give Koetter another year. Especially considering all the mitigating circumstances. Under Koetter the coordinator, the Bucs offense ranked fifth in yards per game and 20th in points in 2014. In 2015 the offense ranked 18th in both points and yards per game and this year, they rank 11th in yards and 20th in points.
However, the defense has regressed under Koetter. In Smith’s last year as head coach, the defense ranked 10th in yards per game. In 2015 they were 23rd and this season, they rank 31st overall. Their points per game average also ranks in the bottom third of the league.
After stints as the head coach of Boise State (98-00) and Arizona State (01-06), Koetter broke into the NFL as the offensive coordinator of Jaguars in 2007. He spent five seasons in Jacksonville before being named the offensive coordinator in Atlanta from 2012-2014.
It is important for a developing quarterback to have continuity. Koetter has been there since year one with Winston and should have an opportunity at a third season. Expectations were high in 2017 and it’s tough to fathom how a team with this much talent has stumbled to a 4-11 record thus far. Here is to hoping that year three is the year for Koetter, Winston, and the Bucs.