Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Bucs' coach Koetter unlikely to give up play-calling duties

TAMPA — When Dirk Koetter dropped a bit of a stunner in his season-ending news conference by saying he was considering giving up the Bucs' play-calling duties, I suggested the head coach might have been just talking out loud.

It was an emotional time, and while he might have regretted not being able to spend as much time in the quarterback meeting room this season, Koetter excels at play-calling and truly loves that aspect of the game. That's how he became head coach.

Koetter has two assistants who could take over the play sheet: offensive coordinator/receivers coach Todd Monken and quarterbacks coach Mike Bajakian.

And Koetter made it clear he didn't have to make a final decision for a while. "Until Sept. 10 next year," Koetter said. "I have that long."

But if past is prologue, Koetter would do well to reconsider. Head coaches Andy Reid, Bill O'Brien, Mike McCarthy and Sean Payton all abandoned their play-calling responsibilities only to take them back.

The belief at One Buc Place is Koetter is pretty sure what he is going to do. The safe bet is he will call plays again in 2017.

"I made plenty of mistakes, and I'm going to do better next year, I promise you," Koetter said.

There's no reason to doubt him or to think he would give up the thing he loves best about the game.

FREE AGENT APPROACH: William Gholston was the team's best run-stuffer this season, and he was sorely missed the last two games of the season after dislocating his elbow in Dallas.

The Saints capitalized in Week 16 with Mark Ingram rushing for 90 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries in a 31-24 loss by the Bucs, one that essentially prevented them from making the playoffs.

"They ran down hill on us," GM Jason Licht said.

So if you're making a priority list of the Bucs' own free agents they should want to re-sign, Gholston probably should be at the top.

Gholston finished with 49 tackles (37 solo) to lead all defensive linemen and, he added three sacks. He is only 25 and has grown as a player and a person since the team selected him in the fourth round in 2013.

Of course, defensive linemen who can play tend to hit the lottery if they make it to free agency, even ones such as Gholston, who has only 10 career sacks.

The Bucs' defensive line already lacks depth. DE Jacquies Smith tore his ACL in the season opener at Atlanta, and the Bucs should have interest in bringing him back when the time is right. Smith had 13½ sacks in 18 starts from 2014-15.

"I want to keep our top contributors around, and we have a track record of rewarding our players that produce, keeping key players that thrive in the system, and we have the salary cap flexibility to make it happen," Licht said. "It's a matter of two sides agreeing, and I'm encouraged it will work."

Licht wouldn't speculate on any free agents. Koetter already has said he would like the team to reach an agreement with RB Jacquizz Rodgers, who led the team in rushing. It's also clear the team would like to get back WR Russell Shepard and CB Josh Robinson, one of the best in special teams coverage.

A smart thing would be to lock up WR Mike Evans, who will be entering his fourth season. At minimum, the Bucs will pick up his fifth-year option while working on an extension. Evans has lived up to expectations with 238 receptions for 3,570 yards and 27 touchdowns.

But it would likely be an enormous deal. In 2015, the Falcons secured WR Julio Jones with a five-year, $71.25 million deal. Dez Bryant received $70 million for five years with $45 million guaranteed from the Cowboys.

Shepard had a career-high 23 catches for 341 yards and two touchdowns while excelling in kick coverage. He also is one of the most vocal and spirited leaders on the team.

Robinson, a backup cornerback, had a lot to do with the success of punter Bryan Anger, who signed a five-year, $17 million extension on New Year's Eve. His kick coverage is worth investing in.

Two players who are exclusive-rights free agents could be in for big paydays — TE Cameron Brate and WR Adam Humphries. Both were undrafted free agents and have outperformed their contracts, especially Brate who led all tight ends with eight TD catches last year.

The Bucs have control of both players for at least two more seasons, but in a game where injury could derail or end your career, they might be willing to do something contractually sometime before training camp.

V-JAX FUTURE: One player who hasn't been heard from since he was placed on injured reserve is WR Vincent Jackson, who turned 34 last week. He lived up to his five-year, $55.5 million contract with the Bucs. Injuries have limited him to 15 games over the past two seasons. Jackson might have some football left in him, but my gut tells me with the roots he has put down in Tampa Bay, he will retire. Stay tuned.

Bucs' coach Koetter unlikely to give up play-calling duties 01/22/17 [Last modified: Sunday, January 22, 2017 12:08am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. U.S. repeats as Solheim Cup champion

    Golf

    WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — Lexi Thompson set the tone by rallying from four holes down. The rest of the Americans took it from there and restored their dominance in the Solheim Cup

    Lexi Thompson, left, comes back from four holes down to halve the day’s first singles match with Europe’s Anna Nordqvist to set the tone for the United States.
  2. Rays see the Blake Snell they've been waiting for in win over Mariners

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It was a one-run game Sunday when the Mariners' Robinson Cano singled with one out in the seventh inning, bringing the dangerous Nelson Cruz to the plate.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) throwing in the third inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017.
  3. Bucs journal: Demar Dotson (mild groin strain) expected back for opener

    Bucs

    TAMPA — The Bucs got good news Sunday on starting right tackle Demar Dotson, whose MRI exam showed only a mild right groin sprain and who should be back at practice next week.

    Tackle Demar Dotson has only a mild groin strain.
  4. Bucs counting on better health creating better pass rush

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Ask Bucs coaches about the improved depth and health of their defensive line, and they'll look around for a piece of wood to knock on.

    Retired All-Pro defensive end  Simeon Rice, right, the last Buc to have double-digit sacks in a season,  works with defensive end Ryan Russell, who last season was promoted from the practice squad for the second half of the year as injuries piled up. He is competing for a backup job this year.
  5. Rays journal: Jake Faria heads to DL with left abdominal strain

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — RHP Jacob Faria made the trek he didn't want to take after his last start. It was to the trainer's room. The pain in his left abdominal went from nagging to an issue during his start that night in Toronto.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Jacob Faria (34) throwing in the first inning of the game between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, August 4, 2017.