Dirk Koetter knew it was coming. That’s why he used his postgame news conference Sunday to stump for his next coaching job. He said all the right things.
“(These players) represent our community well, and they give their all on the field. … I’ve got their back, and I appreciate what they do effort-wise and the way they competed today.”
“I’ve been fired before and I’ve been hired before and I know this: If you look yourself in the mirror at the end of the day and know you did everything you could, then I’ve got no problem holding my head up.”
“I’d love to finish out my contract, of course I would. Listen, the Glazer family has been spectacular to work for. The Glazer family has given us what we need, and this organization is strong, starting with ownership. Whatever is going to happen is going to happen.”
What? You were expecting Koetter to start a revolution and scrawl “blood” upon the walls of Raymond James Stadium?
Not long after he walked off the podium, the Glazer family summoned him to the guillotine and announced that general manager Jason Licht will conduct the search for the next victim, er, coach. Second-guess Licht’s personnel moves all you want, but there’s no denying that the man knows how to keep his job.
So which poor soul will come to Tampa believing that he can lead this franchise to relevance?
The hot name today is Bruce Arians, who was 49-30-1 as coach of the Cardinals from 2013 to 2017. His tie to Tampa? When Arizona hired Arians, Licht was the team’s vice president of player personnel.
Let’s pour some gasoline on that speculation, shall we? Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic is reporting that he’s hearing Mike McCarthy, whom the Packers fired Dec. 3, will be the next coach of the Browns.
So what? Good for the Browns, right? Well, that’s interesting because Arians told NFL.com in November that he would be interested in coming out of retirement — but only to coach in Cleveland. I kid you not. Cleveland.
“I would listen to the Browns,” he said. “And only them.”
Keep in mind that this is the same man who denied that he planned to leave the Cardinals after the 2017 season — and then left the Cardinals after the 2017 season.
“If you want to ask me about this fake news story that has come up — I'm quoting the president now — nothing has changed,” Arians said. “I don't know where all that s--- came from. Nothing has changed in the last month and a half, and everybody keeps asking the same question.”
UPDATE (10:42 a.m.):
The Cardinals connection aside, Arians to Tampa makes sense, especially considering the Bucs’ intention to stick with quarterback Jameis Winston for at least one more season. The danger in changing coaches at this stage is that Winston might have to adjust to a new offense, but under Arians, the transition could be relatively smooth. Aggressive and pugnacious, Arians is basically Koetter, with the volume turned up. He, too, loves the deep ball. Public service announcement: Prepare to hear “no risk it, no biscuit” ad nauseam. Oh, and has anyone ever pointed out that he wears Kangol hats? Allow me to be the seven billionth.
But as alluring as Arians sounds, the Bucs say they’re going to conduct an honest-to-goodness search (just like the last time, right?) and have even retained the services of management consulting company Korn-Ferry, whose largest claim to fame until now has been that “freak on a leash” appears when you start typing the firm’s name into a Google search. Another cynical possibility: The company will help the Glazer family satisfy the Rooney Rule, an NFL policy that requires teams to interview minority candidates for coach jobs.
What other names might surface over the days and weeks ahead? Let’s sort through some potential candidates (most recent job in parentheses).
• Jim Harbaugh (University of Michigan head coach, 2015 to present)
• John Harbaugh (Ravens head coach, 2008 to present)
• Todd Bowles (Jets head coach, fired Sunday)
• Jack Del Rio (Raiders head coach, 2015 to 2017)
• Jim Caldwell (Lions head coach, 2014 to 2017)
• Jim Schwartz (Eagles defensive coordinator, 2016 to present)
• Eric Bieniemy (Chiefs offensive coordinator, present)
• John DeFilippo (Vikings offensive coordinator, fired Dec. 11)
• Matt LaFleur (Titans offensive coordinator, present)
• Todd Monken (Bucs offensive coordinator, present)
• Kris Richard (Cowboys defensive backs coach, present)
The “Why haven’t we heard about these guys more often?” division
• Pete Carmichael (Saints offensive coordinator, 2009 to present)
• Vic Fangio (Bears defensive coordinator, 2015 to present)
Coachapalooza 2019 coverage
Koetter had done a better job than at least a half-dozen Bucs coaches, if you want to get technical. But 48 games later, here was the one question that had no happy answer: Where was the evidence of better days? By John Romano.
The Bucs made their choice Sunday. They couldn't bring Koetter back for 2019. Not if they wanted to give Winston a fifth season to see if they could salvage their considerable investment of a No. 1 overall pick in their franchise QB. Winston needs a new voice, and maybe, a new offense. By Rick Stroud.
In hiring Koetter three years ago, the hope was that his strong offensive mind could make the Bucs a winner. And indeed, Koetter was knowledgeable. He could break down the game well, but once the X's and O's failed him this season, his communication flaws became evident in this lost season. By Eduardo Encina.
For nine seasons, McCoy has been the face of the Bucs defense. And after Tampa Bay's loss to Atlanta, a game decided on Matt Bryant's game-winning field goal after the Bucs defense bent on the final play of the game, McCoy hid his emotion behind a pair of dark sunglasses. By Eduardo Encina.
Oh, by the way, there was a game Sunday
These Bucs teased with a 2-0 start, then lost 10 of 13, wrapping up with a 11th consecutive non-playoff season and a seventh last-place NFC South finish in the last eight years. That is nearly impossible to do in a league designed to turn losers into winners. The Bucs were up to that task, and heads should roll over it. By Martin Fennelly.
Evans and Godwin became the first receiving duo in Bucs history to each record 100 receiving yards and two touchdowns in a single game. By Eduardo Encina.
Bucs history in a snapshot: They’ve lost 11 games in a season 20 times; they’ve won 11 games in a season three times. By Thomas Bassinger.
Contact Thomas Bassinger at email@example.com. Follow @tometrics.