Saturday, December 16, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Joel Glazer confident Bucs made right hire this time in Dirk Koetter

BOCA RATON — Here at another NFL owners meeting, this one held in the opulent seaside Boca Raton Resort, the only thing that changes faster than the Florida spring weather is the head coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

With yachts parked on the docks outdoors, co-chairman Joel Glazer spoke confidently about Dirk Koetter, the team's fifth coach since 2008, whom he said was hired partly to provide some continuity for quarterback Jameis Winston.

Glazer admits the roulette wheel of head coaches has been a recipe for bad football, resulting in no playoff appearances and only two winning seasons since 2007. But unapologetically, he said Tuesday, "we've got to get this right.

"At the end of the day, we take responsibility because we made those hires and there are other factors that contributed to it," Glazer told the Tampa Bay Times. "I'm not just going to blame it all on the head coach. But we take responsibility. When we set out on this whole path, the first thing we say is, 'Hey, this is on us and we've got to get this right.'

"We say it's not a recipe for success to have constant change, especially in football. By the same token, if you feel like this is the right thing to do, you can't also fear the criticism you'll get for doing it."

Glazer's optimism is based largely on Winston, who set a rookie club record by passing for 4,042 yards and accounting for 28 touchdowns (22 passing, six rushing). A year ago, the Glazers signed off on Winston as the No. 1 overall pick over Marcus Mariota, a heavily scrutinized decision at the time.

"He's just been everything you want in a quarterback," Glazer said of Winston. "People talk about quarterbacks and the leader of the team and the face of the franchise, but he's been the first guy in the building, the last guy out of the building, he's earned the respect of teammates. But again, I can't emphasize the off-the-field part enough."

Glazer said in part because of a desire to provide continuity for Winston, they hired Koetter after firing Lovie Smith and increased the power of general manager Jason Licht, who has produced two promising drafts.

"Absolutely. The coach-quarterback relationship is a critical relationship in football and the continuity of going through his first year and the thought of having to change coaches his second year, while we were prepared to do it if it was the right thing to do, there were so many positive things (with hiring Koetter)," Glazer said. "They have a great relationship and made great progress, at the end of the day, we thought the right thing to do was to keep that moving forward.'

But since both Koetter and Licht were essentially brought to the Bucs by Smith, their ascension created an awkward transition.

"The whole awkwardness, I totally understand," Glazer said. "It has nothing to do with Dirk, it has nothing to do with Jason. … You're not going to overlook people just because of the awkwardness. You're going to do what you think is right."

Licht was given the authority to run the football operations and also has the final say on the 53-man roster, which used to belong to Smith. Glazer said part of the reason the Bucs had Licht announce Smith's firing was ''symbolic'' in nature.

"I think our view at the time was we our moving forward and we had restructured some things to give Jason more power, and he's running football, he's in charge and let's let him talk about where we're going from here," Glazer said. "And maybe (a) slightly symbolic situation to show he is in charge."

How good can the Bucs be in 2016?

"The first thing I look at it is three players we drafted (Gerald McCoy, Lavonte David, Doug Martin) we've re-signed to second contracts," Glazer said. "You look at the last two drafts and you see a lot of good, young talent and a good young quarterback. I'm not going to make any predictions or set the bar (for wins), but we're definitely headed in the right direction."

Contact Rick Stroud at [email protected] and listen from 6 to 9 a.m. weekdays on WDAE-AM 620. View his blog at tampabay.com/blogs/bucs. Follow @NFLStroud.

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