Tuesday, September 25, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs coach Dirk Koetter acknowledges job speculation is a distraction

TAMPA — He hears it. He reads it. It bothers him. How could it not?

Black Monday in the NFL is fast approaching Jan. 1, and Bucs coach Dirk Koetter, with his team 4-11 entering Sunday’s season finale against the Saints, knows he may not have a very Happy New Year.

The Bucs are in the midst of their second five-game losing streak this season and are trying to avoid going winless in the NFC South.

A victory would give the Saints the division title. There’s nothing worse than watching a rival celebrate on your field while they hand out those championship hats and T-shirts.

Meanwhile, there has been constant speculation since about the middle of the season that Jon Gruden, who coached the Bucs from 2002-08, won Super Bowl XXXVII and is in the team’s Ring of Honor, would consider leaving ESPN to return to the sideline in Tampa Bay.

Despite that, Koetter said he has not had any talks with the Glazer family about whether he will return in 2018.

"I do not have discussions with them about that, no," Koetter said.

Koetter admits the constant speculation about his future has become a personal distraction.

"Well of course. You know, it’s your life. It’s your life," Koetter said. "It’s what you do. So, just flip it around and of course it is (a distraction). But we’re all — players and coaches — we’re paid to do a job, and you try to do it to the best of your ability. That’s all you can do."

Sure, it’s all part of the coaching business, but that doesn’t make it any easier. Koetter was 57 when he was hired last year as a first-time NFL head coach. He thought the opportunity had passed him by. If he isn’t asked to return in 2018, it’s possible he never gets another one.

Injuries have been a big part of the story, particularly since quarterback Jameis Winston missed three games with a sprained right shoulder and struggled through three other games trying to play hurt.

But since returning to the lineup in a 26-20 overtime loss at Green Bay on Dec. 3, Winston has played his best football, and the past two games his passer efficiency rating has been over 130.

Whether Winston has improved or not will be part of the decision with the Glazers involving Koetter.

"There’s a million ways you can slice up statistics, and if you look at the games Jameis was healthy this year, his statistics are awfully good," Koetter said. "It’s hard to say which games he was entirely healthy and which ones he wasn’t, but we know there was a part there in the middle where he wasn’t. I think health is the No. 1 thing with Jameis’ recent performance, and then he’s been making excellent decisions."

Koetter has reason to be nervous. Most NFL owners don’t buy green bananas. Certainly, the Glazers haven’t shown much patience with the other three coaches they hired since firing Gruden three weeks after the 2008 season. Raheem Morris was gone after three seasons. Greg Schiano and Lovie Smith were shown the door after two.

If you’re a head coach in the NFL, you also feel responsible for the coaching staff. It’s not just Koetter’s life that will be affected. There are 23 assistants on Koetter’s staff. That’s 23 households that could be uprooted, some with children.

Look, no one is going to start a collection for Koetter and his staff at GoFundMe.com. They chose this profession. When a 9-7 record in 2016 becomes 13-18 a year later, you’re either unlucky, doing something wrong or both.

In the past, the Bucs have usually had some other obvious factors in their decision to fire coaches. Gruden was going to demand too much money for free agents. Morris seemed over his head. Schiano had too toxic of a relationship with players and lost the locker room. Smith didn’t get it done on defense.

With Koetter, the bottom line is just the bottom line. He’s a good guy. The Glazers like him. He can coach a little offense. But something — really, just W’s — is missing.

In the meantime, he just wants to do his job. It’s all he can do.

Comments
Bucs-Steelers report card: There is still work to be done

Bucs-Steelers report card: There is still work to be done

TAMPA — They couldn't stick the landing. The FitzMagic ran out.Monday night against the Steelers, Tony Dungy night, was supposed to be the coming-out party, a new beginning, the Bucs on national TV, showing America that 2-0 was not make believe...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Bucs-Steelers: No wrong answer for Tampa Bay at quarterback

Bucs-Steelers: No wrong answer for Tampa Bay at quarterback

TAMPA — So this should be a fun week over at One Buc Place.Who's the quarterback?That question will be asked a few times this week.This question will be asked a few dozen times:Who should be the quarterback?The debate will rage on. We'll talk a...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Bucs-Steelers: Tony Dungy gave us more than wins

Bucs-Steelers: Tony Dungy gave us more than wins

TAMPA — Monday night belonged to Tony Dungy. The former Bucs coach was inducted into the team's Ring of Honor at halftime of the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Dungy's first NFL team.If it seemed strange that an NFL club would honor a ma...
Updated: 4 hours ago
The Bucs Jameis Winston left aren’t the Bucs he returns to

The Bucs Jameis Winston left aren’t the Bucs he returns to

TAMPA — Welcome back, Jameis Winston.At 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, your three-game suspension ended.It looked as if the clock may have struck midnight much earlier than that for Ryan Fitzpatrick.Turns out Fitzmagic may have an expiration date.While yo...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Bucs’ second-half rally falls just short in 30-27 loss to Steelers

Bucs’ second-half rally falls just short in 30-27 loss to Steelers

TAMPA — Ryan Fitzpatrick's magic seemed to wear off against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but he had enough tricks to make it interesting.Fitzpatrick was intercepted on three consecutive passes in the first half to fall behind by 20 points.But the B...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Bucs-Steelers: A by-the-numbers look at Tampa Bay’s 30-27 loss

Bucs-Steelers: A by-the-numbers look at Tampa Bay’s 30-27 loss

Here's a by-the-numbers look at the Bucs' 30-27 loss to the Steelers on Monday:3-9Bucs' record in games in which they inducted someone into their Ring of Honor at Raymond James Stadium. They last won when they inducted quarterback Doug Williams on De...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Is Tampa Bay back as a sports town?

Is Tampa Bay back as a sports town?

TAMPA — The Bucs came into Monday still among the NFL's unbeatens. The Rays authored one of baseball's biggest surprises of the summer by staying in contention until the last two weeks. And the Lightning are considered a favorite to win th...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Tony Dungy in the Bucs Ring of Honor: The tributes roll in

Tony Dungy in the Bucs Ring of Honor: The tributes roll in

TAMPA — There's a weather alert at Raymond James Stadium, halting all pregame activities before the Bucs-Steelers game on Monday Night Football. Feels like a perfect time to talk Tony Dungy.With the former Bucs coach set to be inducted int...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Bucs center Ryan Jensen added to the injury list as questionable tonight against the Steelers with an illness

Bucs center Ryan Jensen added to the injury list as questionable tonight against the Steelers with an illness

The Bucs have done a good job protecting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has been sacked only twice in 61 pass attempts this season.But they may have to play Monday Night's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers without center Ryan Jensen, who was ad...
Published: 09/24/18
Bucs QB Jameis Winston hires agent Joel Segal

Bucs QB Jameis Winston hires agent Joel Segal

Jameis Winston has hired agent Joel Segal, one day before he is set to return from a three-game suspension.In July, shortly after suspension was announced, Winston fired representatives Greg Genske and Kenny Felder, a pair of baseball agents who had ...
Published: 09/24/18