Dirk Koetter, Not A Rookie Running Back Guy

February 22nd, 2018

The fearless leader of the Buccaneers, Dirk Koetter, has been an offensive coordinator in the NFL for 11 seasons.

Take a wild guess how many of those teams featured a rookie RB?

(Hint: It’s the same number of sacks blitzing Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander combined for last season.)

That’s right: zero.

When Koetter arrived in Jacksonville in 2007, Maurice Jones-Drew was in his second season. Veteran 31-year-old running back Fred Taylor was Koetter’s starter and bellcow, despite Jones-Drew having a dominant and explosive rookie season the previous year under a different playcaller.

Joe is not picking on Koetter here. Heck, Taylor made his first Pro Bowl in ’07, and he is 17th all-time in career NFL rushing yards.

The point is. Koetter didn’t go with the younger, more talented running back at the time.

Jones-Drew then took over through Koetter’s remaining years in Jacksonville before Koetter landed in Atlanta in 2012.

Nine-year veteran Michael Turner was the Falcons’ lead back. Then Atlanta brought in 30-year-old Steven Jackson for the 2013 season. He was brutal but still was brought back to start in 2014. (Sound familiar?) That season a flashy and healthy rookie named Devonta Freeman was made to ride the bench behind ancient ineffective Jackson. Freeman was given just six carries a game.

That bad season blew up the Falcons regime in Atlanta and Koetter came to the Bucs. As the story goes, Koetter pushed the Bucs hard to keep Doug Martin and give him one more shot to make up for his poor 2013 and 2014 seasons.

The rest is history. For three consecutive drafts (2015-2017) it seems Martin’s presence and Koetter’s fondness of veteran backs helped keep Tampa Bay from drafting a quality RB. And it cost Peyton Barber valuable reps last year, ones that might have given Bucs personnel gurus a better sense of how good he really is.

So here we are. The Bucs need fresh, talented legs at running back.

Will they rely on a rookie stud? If so, it’ll be a first for the head coach. Carlos Hyde, anyone?

49 Responses to “Dirk Koetter, Not A Rookie Running Back Guy”

  1. Lord Cornelius Says:

    Frustrating.

  2. Jooehelldeloxley Says:

    Joe, I have now issue with that at all.
    BUT then why didn’t we recruit some talented guys on Free Agency then ?
    Carlors Hyde is fine for me, bring also Jeremy Hill for goal line, 4th and 1 yard gain, and I will be happy.
    At least save a draft pick, if it’s to pick a Mc Nicholls kind of guy.

  3. SteveK Says:

    If some how Saquon Barkley is a Buccaneer, he will lead the way.

    Koetter is going to need to change his ways and adjust towards the pursuit of victory.

    Jason Licht needs to get us some quality FAs. And Licht really needs to get us some edge rushers. No more excuses, Year 5 for our GM.

  4. tmaxcon Says:

    That kind of stubbornness will keep bucs in thier safespace the nfc south basement

  5. tnew Says:

    At a time when running backs are being more dominant in their first 4-5 seasons in the NFL, then struggling as they age, this is wonderful news.

    This also explains the Barber/Martin situation and why McNichols seemed to walk into One Buc with a target on his chest.

    I have posted this several times, but RB is not a position that Koetter evaluates very well. Also, just judging with how OJ Howard and Chris Godwin were used, I would say he isn’t super high on rookie Tight Ends or Wide Receivers.

  6. doolnutts Says:

    Jooehelldeloxley – Carlos Hyde would be perfect. We just need a competent back. I would like to fill as many holes as we can in FA being that we are sitting on 70 million plus… Draft cant fix all our issues.

  7. Dewey Selmon Says:

    DeMarco Murray and Jerrick McKinnon please. with Sims and Barber.

  8. BucFamous Says:

    Meh. This is a highly flawed article. Joe does not know whether this is Dirk’s preference or just situational. If he thought he had quality backs then of course he’s not going to go with a rookie. I wanted Doug gone last year as well, but it’s not like the guy hadn’t had previous success. They obviously thought he was going to return to his previous level of play–he didn’t.

    Also, this article doesn’t quite fit with the post-draft narrative that the Bucs were taking a very hard look at Dalvin during the draft.

  9. BringBucsBack Says:

    That info is pretty damning for Koetter. So he has been mis-evaluating players his entire OC career. It reminds me of Gruden and young QB’s. However, the QB position may be the least plug-n-play.

  10. LakeLand Says:

    Dirk Koetter cut the 21 year old Jeremy McNichols. You put him on special teams until he develop as a RB. That’s what NFL teams does with young players, not release them. Especially after spending a 5th round draft pick on them.

  11. SCBucsFan Says:

    If its Barber people will be wishing Martin returns

  12. Lamarcus Says:

    Damn

    It is really hard to defend Koetter

  13. SeffnerBuc Says:

    While I like the idea of having Carlos Hyde here, there are some flaws that make me slightly hesitant. He struggled in the pass protection, and didn’t do a good job picking up pressures. That could cause huge issues if that doesn’t improve. And even though he had 59 catches last year, something the Bucs could really benwfit from, he also dropped quite a few balls.

    That being said, I still think it’d be a good pickup, especially considering he will not command a big contract. Then, draft a mid-round RB, and you should have a solid backfield, as Barber will still ne around too.

  14. SeffnerBuc Says:

    While I like the idea of having Carlos Hyde here, there are some flaws that make me slightly hesitant. He struggled in the pass protection, and didn’t do a good job picking up pressures. That could cause huge issues if that doesn’t improve. And even though he had 59 catches last year, something the Bucs could really benwfit from, he also dropped quite a few balls.

    That being said, I still think it’d be a good pickup, especially considering he will not command a big contract. Then, draft a mid-round RB, and you should have a solid backfield, as Barber will still be around too.

  15. idiaznet Says:

    The thing that your article doesn’t mention is one reason to go with the veteran was the same reason that Snoop Dog’s boy didn’t make it. It is also the reason that Barber had a problem his rookie year.

    1. Pass protection, you can get your QB killed if the back can’t read the field. That also limits and makes it predictable with play calling for defenses.
    2. Running hard for 4 yards rather than trying to bounce everything outside to try to make every play a TD.

    Rookie running backs have a very hard time with both. Cook last year was very good at both in college, as was Doug Martin. Pass pro was a problem for Barkley at Penn State he just had a very mobile QB who could hide it. WHen Sims first came to the Bucs he had a problem with Pass Pro as well.

  16. Pepsi Says:

    this is nothing.. Coming into a team with Fred Taylor and MJD.. while Taylor was still playing well. Nothing unusual there about letting Taylor get more snaps. and Freeman was a 4th round pick.. who didnt shine right away for the Falcons.. infact 2 years ago he was beat out by Tevin Coleman during the course of training camp and preseason which totally debunks this narrative of Koetter not wanting to play rookies. C’mon now. Coleman never played for Dirk Koetter. –Joe It was only when Coleman got immediately hurt and Freeman exploded onto the scene in his absence quite unexpectedly that Freeman earn his role. Fans should not be worried about this. Bucs will draft a RB, and if they get one of the premier guys (Barkley, Guice, Chubb, Michel, Jones), they will be the primary ball carrier.

  17. ndog Says:

    I just don’t understand these coaches, and they are all across the league. What is so hard about just playing the best players? I mean I know he would say their don’t know the blocking schemes or cant pick up a blitz, but isn’t it just as bad to get to 3rd & 9 every series and you know you have to hold the ball and your QB is going to get hit anyways???

  18. LakeLand Says:

    Dirk Koetter did use Devonta Freeman. But he didn’t use him as a runner. He mostly used him as a 3rd down receiving back. Devonta only had 65 carries, but he had 30 receptions on 37 targets.

  19. AlteredEgo Says:

    smoke…..

  20. Not there yet Says:

    no way Licht survives another year waiting until the 5th round to get a running back, dork is not good enough to make personnel decisions as important as that. You can’t bring a back up running back free agent from another team and try to make him the number 1 guy licht has tried that before already

  21. Lord Cornelius Says:

    @Joe

    I think Pepsi’s comment is moreso about Freeman not obviously being the best talent at that point in his NFL career- given the fact that Coleman beat him out under a different regime:

    I.e. A different regime didn’t think highly of Freeman as some stud starter – same as Koetter. So it wasn’t just him mis-evaluating that. Or it’s possible Freeman really needed that time to acclimate to the NFL and get up to playing speed.

  22. Joeypoppems Says:

    Does anybody even know what kind of guy he is? Team struggles to score 20 a game so he cant be an “offensive minded” guy.

    As far as RB goes, if its as crucial to the staff as the Joes make it seem then I expect them to go the FA route. And to be completely honest, as long as it isnt our 1st round pick, I dont care where they get a starting RB from. Just get one.

  23. Bucballbaby84 Says:

    Watch the Bucs sign Isaiah Crowell as(lead back) and Jerrick McKinnon as(3rd down back). There can be our one two punch at a cheap price for both! Then draft for OL,DE,CB.

  24. VA BUC Says:

    he has 1 mo yr o well let him F it up 💁 smh starting to think Dirk is the dumbest hire in history….nevermind he’s second Lovie first

  25. Defense Rules Says:

    Joe, what doesn’t track here is that Koetter had zero problem going with Jameis for the entire 2015 year, even when he struggled mightily at times. Fred Taylor might’ve been 31 when he was Koetter’s bellcow, but he was still giving milk (ran for over 1,200 yds in 2007, and he had an excellent 5.4 average yds/rush). Oh & he had been Jaguars 1st Round pick 10 years prior & had had a pretty decent career, averaging over 1,000 yds/season.

    Steven Jackson was a different situation in that he had just been signed by the Falcons for 2013. He too had had an excellent career (1st Round pick by the Rams 9 years prior & had averaged over 1,000 yds/season) BUT … Jackson didn’t really do much with the Falcons (a little over 500 yds with a 3.5 average yds/rush). Falcons tried to use him to replace the aging Michael Turner but it just didn’t work in 2013 (nor in 2014). To be fair though, the Falcons OLine those years was nothing to brag about. Hmmm, sounds familiar.

  26. 813bucboi Says:

    either we sign carlos hyde and draft bo scarbrough to go with barber…..or they draft Michel and scarbrough to go along with barber…..either one would work for me….

    things wont change(on offense) until we ditch the finesse game plan and become a run heavy smash mouth team…..we’ll be more of the same until we get a coach that “believes” in running the ball heavy!!!!!!

    #NOEXCUSESIN2018!!!!!……GO BUCS!!!!

  27. AlteredEgo Says:

    >>>>> Jaylen Samuels<<<<<in the draft

  28. Steve in Mad Beach Says:

    I like coach K, but this drives me nuts! He values a running back more for pass blocking than for running. How’s that working out?

    It’d be like having a kickoff returner who you know will never return a kickoff for a TD, just because you’re loyal, and want to play it safe….. oh wait!

    Come on coach K… self scout! There’s a disturbing pattern here. The guys who coached in the Super Bowl didn’t play it safe!

  29. Mike Johnson Says:

    I hope the bucs are makin a run at Carlos Hyde. But..who knows what they will do. Like I’ve said, I’m luvin every minute of this. The pressure cooker is on..Koetter and Smitty. If they do not finish at least 8-8? I got the Glazers pullin the..pack yer bags trigger on both of them! So its s.it or get off the pot time for Koetter. If Koetter does not win this season, I can hear the fans screamin, Bring me the head of Dirk..on a platter! Batter up Bucs!

  30. Pepsi Says:

    Yes Cornelius.. Freeman was a 4th round pick who was not thought of that highly until much later, its the reason they drafted Coleman in the first place. So acting like Freeman was some stud held back by Koetters refusal to play a young RB is not accurate. This is NFL.Com’s write up on his weaknesses as a prospect – “Lacks ideal size and power for a bellcow back and does not run heavily between the tackles. Does not possess home-run speed. Ran behind one of the most talented offensive lines in college football in an offense stacked with talent. Has been nagged by back injuries.” hence why he was drafted in the 4th round to be a change of pace and receiving back, and a year later Coleman was drafted to be the primary ball carrier. Maybe hardwork + opportunity allowed him to showcase he can be a game changer. If Koetter is guilty of something here its probably the fact that hes very slow to adjust his personnel based on the results of Sunday. For instance martin may have looked great at practice, smart in the meetings, high IQ in the scrimages, etc, but after 3 games of not producing on Sunday Koetter needs to not care about whats happening in practice and adjust based on production, or lack there of, in games. Its very easy for us to make these calls because we are absent from this every day practice and locker-room perspective. Why is he bad at those decisions? because hes still more of an OC than he is a coach. He needs to become more of a HC and allow himself to see his team at a higher view sometimes and not scoped in on all the details.

  31. pewterpirate99 Says:

    BringBucsBack Says:
    February 22nd, 2018 at 10:16 am
    That info is pretty damning for Koetter. So he has been mis-evaluating players his entire OC career. It reminds me of Gruden and young QB’s. However, the QB position may be the least plug-n-play.

    Here’s the difference, Gruden’s a Championship winning coach who has won at both teams he’s coached. Clueless Koetter is a joke.

  32. [email protected] Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    Koetter’s offense is a vertical passing game, that relies on the QB having all kinds of time, and is especially vulnerable to a blitz.
    Blitz pick up is not a skill most rookie running backs do not excel at.

  33. Eric Says:

    I don’t get it as running back is a position where rookies can excel.

  34. 813bucboi Says:

    Steve in Mad Beach Says:
    February 22nd, 2018 at 11:56 am
    I like coach K, but this drives me nuts! He values a running back more for pass blocking than for running. How’s that working out?

    ^^BINGO^^

    dirk is too pass happy and has predictable play calling……

    #NOEXCUSESIN2018!!!!!….GO BUCS!!!!!

  35. tmaxcon Says:

    pewterpirate99

    gruden will fail miserably in Oakland it will be one of the most fun train wrecks to watch. Gruden is also RESPONSIBLE for a good chunk of the bucs playoff drought and the fact he and his puppet gm could not draft is also another reason this pathetic franchise has not won a meaningful game in 16 years…

    gruden was a 1 year wonder with bucs nothing more he cleaned up the mess from that fool dungy and got the job done then accomplished NOTHING else of value… one and done in the playoffs is failure and renders a division title meaningless if you can’t win a playoff game.

  36. 813bucboi Says:

    [email protected] Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:
    February 22nd, 2018 at 12:15 pm
    Koetter’s offense is a vertical passing game, that relies on the QB having all kinds of time, and is especially vulnerable to a blitz.
    Blitz pick up is not a skill most rookie running backs do not excel at.
    ***************************************************************

    OK, so why doesn’t dirk adjust his scheme?……instead of not playing the more talented RB because of 1 thing he does wrong how about adjusting your scheme to the other parts of the RB’s game that he does so well……I mean, isn’t that what good coaches do?…..adjust?……

    #NOEXCUSESIN2018!!!!!….GO BUCS!!!!!

  37. pewterpirate99 Says:

    tmaxcon Says:
    February 22nd, 2018 at 12:27 pm
    pewterpirate99

    gruden will fail miserably in Oakland it will be one of the most fun train wrecks to watch. Gruden is also RESPONSIBLE for a good chunk of the bucs playoff drought and the fact he and his puppet gm could not draft is also another reason this pathetic franchise has not won a meaningful game in 16 years…

    gruden was a 1 year wonder with bucs nothing more he cleaned up the mess from that fool dungy and got the job done then accomplished NOTHING else of value… one and done in the playoffs is failure and renders a division title meaningless if you can’t win a playoff game.

    Well tmaxon, he did have the Raiders within one play of going to the Super Bowl the year before coming here. Remember, that was the beginning of the NFL refs giving wins to Bitch Brady and the Patriots. The so call, “tuck rule” where the Raiders got screwed. Regardless of what you think of Gruden, I’ll still take him 100 times out of a 100 over Clueless Koetter. I don’t think he’ll fail miserably, I have a feeling he’s going to surprise a lot of people. But that’s just my opinion.

    All that being said, you keep your post coming brother! I enjoy your post and how you keep it real to all of the sheep in this town. We’ll just agree to disagree on certain things.

  38. Guzziep Says:

    Bye Klueless Dork Koetter, worst thing could happen is going 8-8 next year probably would mean another year

  39. tmaxcon Says:

    pewterpirate99

    believe me I love gruden but I just don’t think these soft players of today can handle his style.

  40. JonBuc Says:

    The Dirk prefers two yards and a cloud of ( angel ) dust. It paid off last year with the triumphant return of Doug Martin at full price befitting an All-Pro.

  41. NFLNut Says:

    Carlos Hyde says “hi” …

  42. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    I think we can get a good running back in free agency this year. I’m not talking about some cast off, I’m talking about a good RB.

    Heck, bring in two…Blount and Hyde.

  43. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    I’m not against drafting one…just not in the first couple rounds.

  44. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    I figure is we get a couple free agency RBs, we can at least buy a year until we have to draft one. And there are good ones in every draft.

  45. SOEbuc Says:

    Jerick McKinnon and Peyton Barber would a nice backfield. They’re both more down hill runners, but McKinnon has great hands and amazing at the check down for all of our great receivers stretching the field. He’s what people thought Simms was gonna be except much better. Winston’s good with the play action and McKinnon would be a very nice option to add to that.

  46. SOEbuc Says:

    With this o-line, Carlos Hyde is going to look exactly like Doug. Especially with Dirk’s God awful single back set run calls.

  47. Iamabuc Says:

    Bucs got a running back today.

  48. SOEbuc Says:

    Dalton Crossan. See if this kid can make it. He does have some nice stats out of college (New Hampshire). Second year out maybe he will be one of Licht’s Humpries or Brate.

  49. SOEbuc Says:

    Nice looking college highlights. He’s small but pretty fast and gets through holes nicely. He’ll have to put on some weight, though.