TAMPA — There is nothing like blasting into a season in an audacious, outrageous way, as the Bucs did in New Orleans. The party is on, the lead-up to the Sunday home opener against the Super Bowl champion Eagles.
This week, for a few days, Tampa Bay is back to being about this football team. The Bucs will be mentioned in Sunday church sermons about perseverance, faith. In art class, grade-schoolers will use string, glue and the business end of whisk brooms to make Ryan Fitzpatrick beards.
If only we could get the Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter to join the electric light parade instead of blowing a fuse.
Sunday in New Orleans, after the 48-40 whiz-bang spectacular. Koetter bristled when asked whether it was him or Bucs offensive coordinator Todd Monken who handled plays calls in Sunday's historic outburst.
"You saw the game," Koetter said.
The Bucs did win, right?
Koetter's apparent testiness was slightly weird and entirely out of place.
Dirk, bubby, relax. We're not trying to track down the White House op-ed writer.
Koetter recovered nicely Monday, noting: "Monk did a great job calling the plays yesterday, but the Buccaneers did a great job executing. That was a great example of execution. Monk did a terrific job."
Now, was that all that hard?
Good for Koetter. He needs to stop wondering if people are trying to run him out of town by way of giving Monken credit. Look, you just scored 48 large in an NFL game. All boats rise in that tide, including Koetter's. Let any simmering paranoia sink to the bottom. You're king for a day, for a week even. The whole town is with you.
The up-with-Koetter slant: The head coach is a visionary, a selfless, righteous team-first guy who stepped outside of his own comfort zone in the name of the greater good. Yes, tapping Monken was a stroke of genius, good head coaching.
You da man, Dirk!
The Jameis-less Bucs grabbed Sunday's game with that first long touchdown pass from the Mighty Fitz to DeSean Jackson. It went from there, a veritable offensive tour de force.
Who cares who called the plays? I don't care if it was Monken or Koetter. I don't care if Koetter put the Vulcan Mind-Meld on Monken or Monken was on his own or they had a chimp in the coaches box banging cymbals, once for run, twice for pass, three for Bongo wants more tummy rub. The Bucs were magnificent.
From waking up in his hotel room at 4:30 a.m. to his postgame thoughts on the memes celebrating his performance, Rick Stroud puts you inside Ryan Fitzpatrick's head on perhaps the best day of the 35-year-old's pro career. #Bucs @nflstroud @Buccaneers https://t.co/rFAOLQ34y6— Frank Pastor (@FrankPastor66) September 10, 2018ADVERTISEMENT
I'd hate to think Koetter's ego would be bruised by the suggestion that he wasn't running the show. Hey, I saw the show last season. Sunday wasn't better? And Monken calling plays, well, wasn't that Koetter's call?
Coordinators reflect the head coach. You see, it's all your show, Dirk.
True, maybe some looking-over-your-shoulder history is in order. The last time the Bucs had a bright-light OC, the bright-light OC ended up stepping over the prostrate form of the fired HC, Lovie Smith. The OC was Dirk Koetter.
But it's very simple in the NFL. When the team wins, the head coach wins. When a team begins to save its season, the head coach begins to save his job. This week belongs to the Bucs. It belongs to the players and the coaches. And to the man in charge. There's no point being a sore winner.
Dirk Koetter apparently agrees.
Onward.Contact Martin Fennelly at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 731-8029