The Bucs coach next season should be …

Maybe the Bucs don't need to look far, or at all, for their coach.
MONICA HERNDON   |   TimesTampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter talks to reporters on October 15, 2018 following the firing of defensive coordinator Mike Smith. Smith is being replaced by linebackers coach Mark Duffner.
MONICA HERNDON | TimesTampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter talks to reporters on October 15, 2018 following the firing of defensive coordinator Mike Smith. Smith is being replaced by linebackers coach Mark Duffner.
Published December 1 2018

Let's say, for the sake of argument, that the Bucs will be searching for a head coach after the season.

I think I have a pretty good candidate. His name?

Dirk Koetter.

I can already hear some of you doing a spit-take with your coffee. But I'm serious. Koetter might be the right guy for this job. Let me explain.

In today's NFL, what matters most? Offense, right?

Gone are the days of workhorse running backs carrying the ball 30 times a game. Gone are the days when quarterbacks manage games and throw the ball 17 times. Gone are the days when you rely on field position and defenses to win championships.

In today's game, it's all about offense. How quickly can you get up and down the field? How many points can you put up?

Just look at the scores of most games. Even the 20th-ranked scoring offense in the NFL is averaging nearly 22 points a game. If you can't score at least three touchdowns a game, you give yourself little chance to win.

Just look at the best teams in football this season. The Chiefs, Rams and Saints. Now look up the three highest-scoring teams in football. That would be the Chiefs, Rams and Saints.

So it stands to reason that you need a coach who lives and breathes and knows offense. And while Koetter is, by no means, a perfect coach, you can't deny that this guy knows offense.

Under Koetter's direction, the Bucs offense have racked up more yards than any team in the NFL. Even with two quarterbacks playing hot potato with the starting job and throwing (by far) more interceptions than any team in the NFL, the Bucs have put up the most passing yards in the league.

Now, you could argue that sometimes total yards can be a little misleading. For instance, there were several games when the Bucs were so far behind that the other team went into prevent defenses that allowed Tampa Bay to pile up chunks of meaningless yards.

Still, the Bucs are 4-7 and haven't been blown out in every game. So they must be doing something right on offense.

Shouldn't Koetter get the credit for that?

He's getting wildly inconsistent quarterback play. The offensive line is average at best. The running game is below average. And, still, the Bucs offense is the best in team history and, statistically, among the best in the NFL.

Maybe Bucs fans shouldn't be so quick to want to get rid of Koetter. It's not so easy to find a coach who can design and call plays in the ever-changing, constantly-evolving offenses of the NFL. Maybe running off a guy who can do it isn't the smartest idea in the world. If we're just looking a resumes, Koetter's stacks up fairly well even with a career record of 18-25.

Of course, Koetter's future as Tampa Bay's head coach likely will be determined by what happens over the rest of the season. If the Bucs can win out, go 9-7 and maybe sneak into the playoffs, he will most definitely return. If the Bucs lose out, go 4-12 and miss the playoffs for the 11th consecutive season, then he most definitely will be fired. Records still go a long way in determining employment.

But what if it's something in the middle? What if the Bucs finish, say 6-10 or 7-9? That seems more likely. Then what?

Well, if it appears the offense can still race up and down the field, then Koetter should return.

To be fair, we can't ignore the problems Tampa Bay has had on defense. Even though Koetter has not and does not run the defense, he's the head coach, meaning he is in charge of the whole shebang. He's responsible for hiring the coaches who do coach defense and that means Koetter isn't blameless when it comes to Tampa Bay's defensive issues.

There also are other factors. I'm not in the locker room, so it's impossible to detect if there are any problems with Koetter and the players. If he is wound as tight and is as thin-skinned with his team as he is with the media, it might not be the best atmosphere for cool-and-calm winning football.

Then again, most coaches have a different persona with the media than they do with their teams. Besides, Koetter would not be the first intense coach who walks around acting like he's hopped up on Mountain Dew.

Do I think Koetter is perfect? Far from it. But he's really good at coaching offense and that's never been more important than it is in today's NFL. If the Bucs are looking for a coach, they need to find one who is good at coaching offense.

They don't need to look far.

Maybe they don't need to look at all.

Contact Tom Jones at Follow @tomwjones