Dirk Koetter has been under fire for the perceived ineptitude of the Bucs under his ward. His play calling is the bane of the team, some say. His choice for defensive head coach is a joke.
He and his staff have even been accused of intentionally sabotaging the career of the franchise QB hopeful, Jameis Winston. About five seasons ago, a similar claim was made about a relatively new head coach and another franchise QB hopeful in Tampa. He’s among the worst to ever hold the reins of the team and he’s holding them back, right? Not so much.
Tampa hasn’t had great success on the field or in the front office over the last decade. Three of the four head since 2007 have had some up and downs during their short tenures in Tampa. Lovie Smith saw nothing but dark days in his return to the Bay.
Koetter, while imperfect, has a good chance of redeeming last season’s disappointment and may get the opportunity to stick around longer than his most recent predecessors. Here’s a look at some of the reasons why…
Not As Far Off As You May Think
” You’ve got to win games. You’ve got to find ways to win. We talked about it before: numbers are nice, numbers look good on those pieces of paper we talk about, but all that anyone gives a (crap) about in this league is Ws, alright. –D.K.Embed from Getty Images
After a disastrous 2017 season, Koetter finds himself holding a 14-18 Win/Loss record. After two seasons, that’s not exactly terrible. That W/L total, of course, includes his being 5-7 in arguably the toughest division in the League.
It’s not an insurmountable task to have a winning record within the next two years, provided he gets the opportunity. Ideally, I think a head coach should see five seasons at the helm unless he goes winless or there’s multiple indications that what’s being tried is destined to fail. As it stands, Koetter would need two winning seasons to be above .500. With the way the talent has been stacking up, there’s reason for hope.
Buc What Ya Heard: The Offense Works…
That’s right. Both sides of the ball have shown they could be effective. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve heard or read otherwise, there’s a season on record that shows the coaches know what they’re doing.
If/When the offense can get out of its own way and execute the plays Koetter dials up, they can look more than competent. They can be down right fun to watch. The turnovers have plagued Koetter’s offense since his arrival with at least 26 each season since 2015. That ranks 6th most each year. Those takes away from any positives in game planning or play calling which Koetter has been responsible for. It makes judging the offense seriously difficult when one takes into account all the opportunities given away.
Until the turnovers are cut back, the play calls, though sometimes questionable, are among the least of the worries on offense. Executing the plays called and protecting the ball should be the focus. When those points have been exercised, Koetter’s offense has looked damn good. It’s just not been seen enough.
Yep. It’s true. The defense, too, has worked before and it should still work.
Despite the frequent misconception, the defense was not the worst in the league last season. It was actually ranked #22(points/game) even though it surrendered the most yards(378.1/game). Having so many yards gained against the defense is enough to send many into a frenzy of “Fire Smith” chants. Similar outcry worked before, right? Well, we’ve actually seen Smith’s defense work in Tampa before. And interestingly enough, it all came into place when the offensive turnovers got under control.
Last season saw the defensive side of the ball struggle due in part to injuries at every level. Brent Grimes, Kwon Alexander, Jacquies Smith, Noah Spence, Keith Tandy, Vernon Hargreaves, Will Gholston and Robert Ayers all missed games or play injured last season. Every NFL team has injuries, but that’s a helluva lot of injuries for guys who were starters for this team. All heavily contributed to an overall solid defense run by Coach Smith the previous season. Better luck with health would go a long way to proving that 2016 defense wasn’t a fluke.
Move The Crowd
“And I’m 1,000% aware that the more you win, the better it gets. But with that said, do we have a home field advantage? That’s our job to create it.”—D.K.
At 8-8 since taking over as head coach, Koetter has seen his Buccaneers make strides in claiming home field advantage in Tampa. That may not be something to write home about if you’re an out-of-state fan or not invested in the team like season ticket holders are. But it’s a much welcomed sight after going 3-13 under the previous head coach. That included a painful 0-8 in the 2014 season.
The 8-8 may not yet indicate dominance reminiscent of the Sapp/Brooks era, but it’s a start. The Florida humidity can make it a brutal afternoon in the stands now matter what. But, at the very least, the feeling of optimism makes it a bit more bearable.
Despite the disappointing season last year, the Bucs didn’t give up. They didn’t give up on themselves. They didn’t give up on Koetter even though it was expected. Fans want to feel good about going out to see their team fight hard at Raymond James Stadium and under Dirk Koetter, there’s been reason to believe they’ll see just that. A fighting chance.