Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Jones: It would be a mistake to fire Dirk Koetter or Jason Licht, for now

 

NEW ORLEANS — People lose jobs over games like this in a season like this.

The mob watches a game like the Bucs’ 30-10 loss to the Saints on Sunday, and the knee-jerk reaction is to grab pitchforks, torches and a handful of pink slips.

They want the coach fired. They want the general manager fired. They want the owners to sell the team and be on the first plane out of town. Forget cleaning house; they want the house doused with paint thinner and burned to the ground.

The Bucs have become the Yucks again. All that’s missing are the creamsicle uniforms, Bucco Bruce on the helmets and fans with bags over their heads. And when you watch the garbage juice the Bucs put on display Sunday, you can certainly understand the desire to shove everyone out the door.

It would be a mistake to do it now. I’m not saying Dirk Koetter should be Tampa Bay’s coach in 2018, but he should be coach for the rest of 2017. Same with general manager Jason Licht.

Firing either or both now accomplishes nothing except satisfying the bloodlust to make someone pay. You would do it just because it would feel good. Then what? It wouldn’t save a season already lost. It wouldn’t help next season.

Think about it. If you fire Koetter right now, you really have no choice but to promote someone on the staff just to finish the season.

Who would that be? Mike Smith? Seriously? You think the coordinator of a crummy defense deserves a promotion? Or Todd Monken? He helps coach an offense that can’t score.

You promote someone on the staff and two things happen. One, every single coach on the staff becomes as useful as a broken kicking tee because they will spend more time lining up a job for next season instead of doing their job this season.

Then, whoever becomes your interim coach becomes a candidate for next season if he does a half-decent job, and that’s often a mistake. (See: Williamson, Richard.)

Look, I get it. It’s a mess. This team wasn’t supposed to be anywhere near this bad, and there are serious questions about how Koetter and Licht have handled Jameis Winston and his bad shoulder.

Worst of all, the Bucs aren’t even competitive. It’s hard to tell if they don’t have enough talent, which would be Licht’s fault, or if they have good talent going to waste, which would be Koetter’s fault.

Sunday’s game epitomized just how far the Bucs have fallen. Delay-of-game penalties, false starts, a blocked punt, an unimaginative offense, a leaky defense that couldn’t do basic things such as tackle. The final was 30-10, and it felt way more lopsided than even that.

"I am totally embarrassed by it," Koetter said.

When asked if he’s worried about his job status, Koetter didn’t appear that surprised by the question.

"When you play like we did (Sunday), I am concerned about every aspect," Koetter said. "Obviously, that’s my responsibility."

So, yes, even Koetter realizes that calls for his firing aren’t outlandish.

And, you might ask, if you already know that Koetter and Licht just aren’t the guys and shouldn’t be here next year, why wait? Why not just fire them now and get it over with?

Because doing it now would be an emotional reaction to what might be nothing more than a really bad five-game stretch. This is still pretty much the same team that went 9-7 last season and added a few good pieces. Though they aren’t playing well, the Bucs are playing hard. It doesn’t appear as if Koetter has lost the locker room. Several players, unprompted, threw their support behind the coaching staff.

"These dudes in this locker room fight … and are a good group of guys," receiver DeSean Jackson said. "I definitely didn’t see this coming. But I’m not going to be the quitter."

No one looks like they’re quitting. So maybe the Bucs are just having a bad day. (Okay, a few bad days.)

If we all agree that this season is toast, there’s no need to rush Koetter and Licht out the door.

See how the rest of the season goes. If it continues to go south and is a weekly ash heap, then yes, absolutely fire them after the season. But if the Bucs rally in the second half, play better, win more than they lose, then maybe Koetter and Licht are the right guys everyone thought they were two months ago.

The day might come when Koetter and Licht should be fired. Today is not that day.

Sign up for our daily Bucs Red Zone email newsletter here

Comments
Some big Bucs roster decisions are looming

Some big Bucs roster decisions are looming

The Bucs plan to release running back Doug Martin and defensive tackle Chris Baker sometime before the NFL scouting combine which begins Feb. 27 in Indianapolis.There likely will be more, but they still are undecided on the future of defensive ends R...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Bucs release two-time Pro Bowl running back Doug Martin

Bucs release two-time Pro Bowl running back Doug Martin

TAMPA — After six up and mostly down seasons, Doug Martin's run with the Bucs is over.The two-time Pro Bowl running back was released by Tampa Bay Tuesday, a move that was expected after he failed to rush for less than 500 yards in four of the ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Defensive linemen who could follow Brentson Buckner to Bucs

Defensive linemen who could follow Brentson Buckner to Bucs

Now that the Bucs have announced that Brentson Buckner is their new defensive line coach, could his connections help shape Tampa Bay's search to upgrade their pass rush this offseason?The chance to play for a familiar position coach can be a major fa...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Bucs agree to terms with Brentson Buckner to be their defensive line coach

Bucs agree to terms with Brentson Buckner to be their defensive line coach

Brentson Buckner didn't need to bring his resume when he interviewed for the Bucs' job as defensive line coach. No references were needed, either.All the Bucs had to do was ask quarterback Jameis Winston whether the Arizona Cardinals defensive line w...
Published: 02/19/18
On the mend: Bucs’ Noah Spence posts workout pic

On the mend: Bucs’ Noah Spence posts workout pic

Defensive end Noah Spence, whose two NFL seasons have both been limited by injuries to his right shoulder, is getting himself healthy for the 2018 season.Spence has kept a low profile since the Bucs placed him on injured reserve in late October, a mo...
Published: 02/19/18
Video: Bucs QB Ryan Fitzpatrick gives advice to Little Leaguers

Video: Bucs QB Ryan Fitzpatrick gives advice to Little Leaguers

Ryan Fitzpatrick is an unrestricted free agent, and his future with the Bucs remains uncertain. But the veteran quarterback is still very much here in Tampa and still sharing his wisdom with younger athletes.In this case, they're much younger —...
Published: 02/19/18
Jameis Winston is about to get a big pay raise. It will cost the Bucs more than money

Jameis Winston is about to get a big pay raise. It will cost the Bucs more than money

TAMPA – Jameis Winston is heading for a big payday with the Bucs. He's played well enough to make that an easy decision.But what impact will that have on the type of players they surround him with?The Bucs are expected to exercise the fifth-yea...
Published: 02/16/18
Bucs interview Brentson Buckner for defensive line job

Bucs interview Brentson Buckner for defensive line job

The Bucs continue to move quickly with the defensive line opening on Dirk Koetter's coaching staff, interviewing former Cardinals assistant Brentson Buckner.Buckner, 46, spent the last five years as Arizona's defensive line coach, leading the unit to...
Published: 02/16/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Jameis Winston investigation, Lightning trade possibilities, more

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Jameis Winston investigation, Lightning trade possibilities, more

It’s a Mailbag Friday as Rick Stroud answers your questions, including what will happen with the Jameis Winston investigation, who should the Bucs sign in free agency and would Warren Sapp make a good defensive line coach?Also, who will win more game...
Published: 02/16/18
Kevin Pamphile on Bucs’ O-line: ‘We’re not far from breaking through’

Kevin Pamphile on Bucs’ O-line: ‘We’re not far from breaking through’

Free agency is less than a month away, and the Bucs have several decisions to make about unrestricted free agents from their 2017 squad. One is Kevin Pamphile, who started all but one game at left guard last season but still split the job with backup...
Published: 02/16/18