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Bucs Roundtable: Answering Dirk Koetter's call for a Bucs culture change

Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (93) kneels on the sideline after a fumble by Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) which was run back by Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Ethan Westbrooks (93) for a touchdown in the fourth quarter Sunday. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]

Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (93) kneels on the sideline after a fumble by Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) which was run back by Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Ethan Westbrooks (93) for a touchdown in the fourth quarter Sunday. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]

As Rick Stroud wrote in today's Tampa Bay Times, head coach Dirk Koetter says the Bucs need a culture change.

Members of the Tampa Bay Times' Bucs coverage team offer their thoughts on how to change it:

Become disgusted with losing


First, Dirk Koetter might want to focus on changing the culture on how to use NFL timeouts.

Second, "Changing the culture" is new most overused phrase in sports. I hear it all the time. I hear kids soccer coaches talking about it.

Boy Dirk and Culture Club?

Karma Karma Karma Karma Karma Chameleon.

But if I'm Koetter, I'm worried about the lack of urgency and accountability, judging by early results. He called himself out, he called his team out.

I know culture changing when I see it.

Tony Dungy changed the culture in Tampa Bay, demanding accountability and professionalism on and off the field. Jon Gruden changed it, too, turning up the heat on even one of the best defenses in football. Get me six touchdowns, Gruden told that unit, and I'll ratchet up the offense, And the Bucs won a Super Bowl.

They're 0-for-4 at culture changing since then. Raheem Morris, Greg Schiano and Lovie Smith whiffed.

It's early for Koetter, but I dig where he's at and what he's saying.

The problem is that he isn't Dungy or Gruden. He's a first-year NFL head coach who, by the way, was part of the culture last season as offensive coordinator.

I think the players, the veterans, are going to have to move the needle here. What the Bucs need is a culture that despises and will not accept losing. Think Tom Brady doesn't bring that to New England? Think Earl Thomas doesn't bring that to Seattle?

It has to come from inside that locker room. Part of me thinks Austin Seferian-Jughead might still be here if he'd had a mentor.

I think real culture change has to come from inside that locker room.

Jameis Winston is trying to be that guy, but it should really be someone like Gerald McCoy.

Time to be disgusted with losing. Acceptance is not an option.

That's the culture that needs changing.

Culture takes time


It's easier to establish a culture when a head coach and general manager are in place for a while. The Bucs haven't had that consistency since they fired Jon Gruden and Bruce Allen after the 2008 season.

After Gruden, Raheem Morris got three seasons while Greg Schiano and Lovie Smith each got two. With every coaching change, a new system follows, as well as an overhaul of the roster to fit that system.

We're only three games into the Dirk Koetter era. Cultivating a culture in his vision is as much about time as it is attitude and confidence.

The Bucs are still building -- or recovering, if you prefer to look at it that way. Tampa Bay didn't sign defensive end Robert Ayers, cornerback Brent Grimes and linebacker Daryl Smith because it believed it was a handful of players away from contention. The Bucs, burned recently by pricier free agent signings, needed stopgaps while they added talent through the draft.

After focusing almost exclusively on offense the past two drafts, general manager Jason Licht turned his attention to the other side of the ball this offseason, taking defenders with three of his first four picks. Only cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III, however, has been an every-down player, as Greg noted on on Monday. Defensive end Noah Spence (second round) and safety Ryan Clark (fourth round) have played relatively sparingly.

As the first three games have shown, the Bucs need an infusion of talent on defense. When that happens, these culture concerns will fade. Unfortunately for the Bucs, there are no quick fixes.

Winning is the only answer


The Bucs need it, but where does it start?

The head coach says it starts with the head coach. But he's wrong. It starts with the players. That's not to say that coaches don't matter or can't set the tone for an organization, but at the end of the day, coaches only coach.

Players play. It's the players who makes plays. It's the players who throw the ball, catch the ball, block and tackle. And win. The only thing that can change a losing culture to a winning culture is to go out and actually win games.

Until the players start playing winning football, the Bucs will continue to find ways to lose games. If these players can't get it done then it's up to the general manager to find better players.

Upset the Broncos


The Bucs have to change their culture by building belief in each other and the coaching staff, and that kind of change only comes from winning games when the team is a decided underdog.

In the Dungy era, the team unshackled itself from a history of losing with one significant win after another: a 1996 victory in San Diego, ending a skein of west coast losses; a season-opening victory against a dynastic San Francisco team in 1997, followed by road wins in Detroit and Minnesota to snap losing streaks in those terror domes.

The good news is that the Bucs have several upset opportunities on the remaining schedule this season. And I'm not talking about San Francisco or Chicago.

Bucs Roundtable: Answering Dirk Koetter's call for a Bucs culture change 09/27/16 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 27, 2016 3:21pm]
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