Dirk Koetter became an NFL head coach at age 56, and almost made the playoffs in his first season with the Bucs.
Now he owns a 17-23 career record through two and a half seasons in Tampa Bay and has never been better than 3-5 at the halfway mark. That's where he stands again after losing four of five and benching the quarterback who helped him get the job.
Our Bucs coverage team weighs in on what it's going to take for Koetter to hold on as Tampa Bay's head coach beyond this season:
Fight out of the hole, again
Rick Stroud, Bucs beat writer @NFLStroud: The Bucs did it once before. In 2016 they were 3-5, won five in a row and went 9-7. Koetter looked like he would be the coach for many years to come. But two years later, like any head coach, he needs wins. Probably nine or at least 8-8 with circumstances. A lot can be blamed on Jameis Winston's three-game suspension. Even though the Bucs went 2-1, it threw Winston off his axis. But the wins have to come.
Players prove they will play for him
Eduardo A. Encina, Bucs/pro sports enterprise writer, @EddieintheYard: One thing Dirk Koetter doesn't lack is accountability. He stood at the podium after the Bears game and said everyone should be fired after that effort. On Sunday, he took the blame for a failed fake punt. Now that the Bucs have dug themselves into a 3-5 hole, his players have to show some fight for him to prove he's the man to keep this ship sailing beyond this season.
Thomas Bassinger, sports data reporter, @tometrics: Crazy, isn't it, that Koetter got the job because of Jameis Winston and to keep it he felt he had to bench Winston? Koetter has helped build one of the league's more efficient passing attacks and that might be reason enough to keep him — if he were the offensive coordinator. He's the head coach, though, and he knows he's judged — fair or not — on wins and losses. He didn't do himself any favors with his game situation management Sunday at Carolina.
A vote of confidence
Tom Jones, columnist @tomwjones: I wouldn't be so quick to fire Koetter. I happen to think he's a pretty good football coach. Now, if the Bucs go 5-11 or even 6-10, it's hard to see him surviving. But if he can get this team, with this horrible defense, to 8-8, that would be a miracle and reason for him to come back. After all, he's in charge of the offense and the offense is pretty good.
Miracles, Part II
Ernest Hooper, metro columnist, @hoop4you: Koetter needs an impressive win streak to save his job. It's a shame because his offense appears to be hitting on all cylinders, but he kept Mike Smith on board as the defensive coordinator after last season and that may very well seal his fate. I would argue the architect of the defense — general manager Jason Licht — holds more responsibility for that unit than Koetter, but Koetter's the coach and he'll likely take the fall while Licht gets another year.
Martin Fennelly, columnist @mjfennelly: The Glazers love Jameis, so if Koetter can prove he and Winston have a special connection, now is the time to prove it. Time approximate: After pigs fly. Koetter going to Fitzpatrick without a viable long-term solution was a death knell.