Koetter says he might give up Bucs' play-calling in 2017
Dirk Koetter said he is contemplating giving up the play-calling duties so he can spend more time with on other obligations as head coach.
In his season-ending press conference Monday, Koetter said he has several members of his coaching staff that are capable of calling plays but that he wants to be sure of his decision before turning those duties over.
"I’m contemplating how does are team get better in all areas. And when we look at everything, is there someone out there who can do a better job to help us than me calling the plays, then that’s something we have to take a look at," Koetter said.
"I learned as a head coach I’d love to have more time to get involved with individual players on a daily basis. When I do get a chance to talk to player one on one, I enjoy it. And I enjoy the motivational part of trying to reach guys and different groups on the team. And as far as my schedule goes, I’m asking myself all the time, are the things I have to spend my time on, are those in the best interests of helping the Bucs win games or am I doing stuff, am I’m spinning my wheels on stuff that doesn’t really matter and what’s the most important thing is to helping us win? Those are questions that don’t all have to be answered today."
Koetter noted that several NFL head coaches such as the Packers' Mike McCarthy, the Saints' Sean Payton and the Chiefs' Andy Reid all at some point handed the play-calling duties over to an assistant at some point in their careers but eventually took them back.
"You know, when that day comes when I do give it up, I don’t want to take it back," Koetter said. "I want to be sure."
Todd Monken, the Bucs receivers coach who has the title of offensive coordinator but doesn’t call plays, would be the leading in-house candidate for the job, as well as quarterbacks coach Mike Bajakian. Koetter said as head coach, he doesn’t spend as much time with the Bucs quarterbacks or in the install meetings.
"I love being the play-caller. I think that’s one of the best things about the game," Koetter said. "But, with being the head coach this year, I have more responsibilities. I have really enjoyed my interactions with players and I’ve really enjoyed to go in and do the team meetings every day, that takes time. I don’t just go up there and wing it from the hip like I do in (press conferences). It actually takes preparation time. Everything I say in front of the team I take very seriously. I want to be able to back it up, and not just B.S. those guys. I ask myself, if I spent more time on it could I do a better job?"
If Koetter does give up calling plays, it means the Bucs could have new coordinators on both sides of the football next season. Defensive coordinator Mike Smith will interview for the Jacksonville Jaguars head coaching job.
Smith went 66-46 as head coach of the Atlanta Falcons from 2008-14, reaching the playoffs four times including the NFC Championship game in 2012. Smith was the Jaguars' defensive coordinator under Jack Del Rio in Jacksonville from 2003-07.
Under Smith, 57, the Bucs showed dramatic improvement on defense the final eight games of the season. Tampa Bay won an NFL-high five games when scoring 19 points or less after having won one such game in the previous three seasons. The Bucs also were ranked first in the league in third down defense as opponents only converted 34.4 percent of their opportunities.
"As far as Smitty goes, look at his record as a head coach," Koetter said. "All of the guys they’re interviewing out there, none of them have Mike Smith’s record as a head coach. Every team that’s going to interview coaches allegedly have something they’re looking for and if Mike Smith is it, great. Good for him, because Mike Smith is as a proven head coach in this league. I think the world of him. Obviously, when we brought Mike here we knew that this day might come and this day would come. If it’s the right fit and he’s the right guy and that’s what they want and that’s what he wants, there’s nothing I can do about it and that’s how this league works.
"What I can tell you is I got a lot of confidence in the staff I put together last year and I got a lot of confidence in the staff I’ll put together moving forward."
Koetter was asked if the Bucs had begun contacting candidates to replace Smith in case he leaves the Bucs.
"That’s underway," Koetter said.