Countdown: Dirk Koetter’s 10 Biggest Decisions For 2017 — No. 10

July 19th, 2017

Easy calls can be very hard

So you thought Joe wasn’t doing a Countdown series this summer? Shame on you. Joe always has something like that planned to make you think and throw stuff at your computer. Last year, it was the Top 10 X-Factors of 2016. In 2015, it was the 20 worst Buccaneers personnel moves of the past 10 years. Now, it’s Dirk Koetter’s 10 Biggest Decisions for 2017.

(Of course, this list is about decisions forseeable now, not wacky crystal ball stuff.)

No. 10 — Playing The Best Players

Some might rank this No. 1, or some might think this doesn’t qualify because playing the best available players should be a no-brainer. But Joe can assure you it’s a big deal and an important decision.

In the NFL, there is pressure to play players based on their contracts or their draft statuses.

Sometimes that’s imagined or unspoken pressure. Other times, it comes from the owner’s office or the general manager. There isn’t necessarily anything sinister about that; it’s just an NFL reality.

Even Koetter himself acknowledged last summer when talking about Vernon Hargreaves that first-round picks are expected to start immediately and contribute immediately. Koetter wasn’t talking one bit about Hargreaves earning a spot.

Team Glazer, for example, expects DeSean Jackson to play a lot and contribute out of the gate, even if rookie third-round pick Chris Godwin looks better than Jackson in every possible way this summer. Joe is very confident typing that. All that matters is wins, sure, but that’s only if you’re winning.

Given all the talent on the Bucs’ roster, Joe believes Koetter could be under strong pressure this season when it comes to personnel choices. Take newcomer 29-year-old Chris Baker, the big money free agent defensive tackle. Would the Bucs put him on the bench if 30-year-old Clinton McDonald is healthy and back to form?

Joe hopes (and expects) Koetter would play the best man in that situation and not even think about Baker’s contract. There are many other examples across the roster where the status consideration could apply.

Koetter said when he took the Bucs job that the advice he got from peers was to make sure he does things his way. As an old school football man, Joe believes Koetter is the kind of coach who will play the best man. But that certainly doesn’t mean those decisions are always easy.

Joe will serve up No. 9 tomorrow.

22 Responses to “Countdown: Dirk Koetter’s 10 Biggest Decisions For 2017 — No. 10”

  1. Bucsfanman Says:

    This SEEMS like a no-brainer but……
    I think a big difference THIS year is that we have the depth to where, if we need to bench someone we can do it. It’s about winning.

  2. J 2.0 Says:

    Just food for thought … Nick Folk once had a 3 year run of kicking like 70%, including once season in the low 60’s.

    He can hit it from outside 40 yards though.

  3. Lord Cornelius Says:

    I’m not too worried about it because the guys they’d prefer to start are ones who should be the best regardless:

    DT – should be a rotation – i don’t think Baker/McDonald cares who starts honestly as both should see plenty of time
    DE – same thing. Best rotation
    O-line – same thing – they’ve said get the best 5 out there. If Sweezy struggles and they keep him out there that’d be a potential bad decision

    CB – set
    S – there shouldn’t be pressure to throw Justin Evans out there since we spent $$ on the other 3 guys and have comitted to all of them in some way
    LB – just a battle for SLB and doesn’t seem like one that will be dictated by draft position at all

    Desean Jackson is a proven NFL weapon. He absolutely should see the field over Godwin and no matter how well Godwin plays he won’t make himself as fast as Djax through hard work lol. There is no weapon to supplant what Djax will do in the offense.

    We’re committed to both Brate & Howard. I don’t see an issue there.

    Basically for me it’s Sweezy & Roberto .. those are the only potential fringe players I see that the organizationi committed a lot of $$ or a high pick to

  4. Pickgrin Says:

    The Baker-McDonald battle for starting spot is a good one to keep an eye on.

    I’ve heard and seen a few good things but don’t really know that much about Baker yet.

    What I do know is that McDonald is a damn fine NFL defensive tackle when he is healthy (which unfortunately hasn’t been often enough for Clinton to be fully relied on).

  5. mike n Says:

    @joe… i like Joe , I like it. Thanks!
    @pickgrin… good call. That one will be interesting especially since Chris was already called out by IRA. I’m sure it will be a rotation but I wonder who starts and who will get more snaps.

  6. RayJameisStadium Says:

    Baker was double teamed in Washington often. Clinton is good but not that good.

    Since Baker does not like to practice I would not be surprise if his effort in preseason games is about 85%. Clinton might look better than Baker in preseason but I still think Baker will create havoc when the real bullets are fired.

    Baker was sign to be a starter. He will show us why during the regular season.

    Miami will need to have the backup QB ready.

    Go Bucs!!!

  7. Etzel Says:

    I’m most interested in battle for the nickel spot. Elliott, McClain, Smith. That could be a tough/close call on who is the best.

  8. JimmyJack Says:

    The toughest decision could be at TE if OJ doesn’t look so hot in preseason. I know many fans want to annoint him top 5 TE in the league because he was projected as a top 5-10 pick but that’s just not real. Not much research has to be done to see that draft value means next to nothing when these unproven rookies get into an NFL game.

    Not that I’m saying OJ will flop but getting him on or off the field is one of few really tough decisions I could imagine. Argree with Lord and Pickgrin about the players they mentioned too.

  9. stanglassman Says:

    2009 Folk was (64.3%) rushed back by the cowboys after a hip operation and it took him a few years to get his strength and full range of motion back. He had years before and after over 90% Fgp. His long is 55 , hits a high percent over 40+ and is pretty clutch. Thus the nick nàme Folk hero in NY.

    The Bucs were fortunate he was available. I think he wins the competition fairly easily.

  10. JimmyJack Says:

    I’ve been highly confused with what they are doing with the backup QB spot. They probably could have traded Glennon for something but they hold him which must mean they liked him.

    You would assume the whole Glennon deal means they didn’t care for Griffin but then they turn around and burn a roster spot(for the second year,right?) on him just to retain him. Naturally I assume the kept Griffin for their future backup………….Now they go and sign Fitzpatrick???????

    Boy, when it comes to kickers and backup QB Bucs management makes some wierd and bad decisions. At least we sit with a better backup QB situation but it is a real head scratcher. The only thing that would make sense is if they want to have 3 QBs on their roster which may not be a horrible plan. I guess we find out when they trim the rosters if Griffen makes the team.

  11. DefenseRules Says:

    Koetter’s biggest personnel decisions ref starting roster will be the SAM LB, Nickel CB and safety. Fortunately Bucs have some excellent talent to choose from.

  12. BucEmUo Says:

    Koetter is tha man

  13. stpetebucsfan Says:

    As always first and foremost WIN and this and all issues about touches…who starts etc. will fade away. Winning teams are happy teams.

    But I certainly take Joe’s point!

    How long did it take and how much of a jackwagon did ASJ have to be before Cam Brate finally got his chance? That was a clear example of what Joe is talking about. A high draft pick gets way more opportunity than an UDFA so UDFA’s really have to impress. IMHO this was one of DK’s finest moments…when he just ran ASJ from practice.

    I’ve come to realize that DK is absolutely my favorite Buc coach ever…although I think I would have loved McKay just as much. He tossed ASJ without a lot of fanfare…no I’m the barn rooster here or crowing about his power…just sending a message…put in the effort and get off the field. I LOVE that.

    And right behind DK is Licht. These guys are bloodless assassins who care about ONE thing….winning…fail to contribute properly and they do not hesitate a second to make a move….see Nick Folk! ASJ…Licht lives by that Belicheat code of admitting your mistakes…and let’s face we all make them…well all except for Trump of course…he is perfect. LMAO

  14. stanglassman Says:

    It would be surprising to me if we don’t see; Sam: KB, Nickel-JE and Keith and Chris to start at safety with Evans pushing Conte out after the 1st quarter of the season.

  15. JimmyJack Says:

    I think they like Ryan Smith I my guess is he is able to play his way onto the nickle spot. He really stuck out to me on ST last year. Also am hopeful Justin Evans can find some snaps, with a lot of work and good coaching. That dude could be a tonesetter we were missing on D last year

  16. feelthepewterpower Says:

    Not only playing the best players, but discipline players when needed. See Raheem Morris, Gruden, etc.

  17. Joe Says:


    You would assume the whole Glennon deal means they didn’t care for Griffin but then they turn around and burn a roster spot(for the second year,right?) on him just to retain him. Naturally I assume the kept Griffin for their future backup………….Now they go and sign Fitzpatrick???????

    Remember, the Bucs thought they had Nick Foles as a backup in March and at the last moment Foles had a change of heart.

  18. BradentonBuc Says:

    I think in terms of the Defensive line starters Jay Hayes has a history of high player rotation on the d-line so in terms of amount of plays I definitely believe it goes to the hot hand. But injuries are going to happen particularly on the defensive line so you can never have enough good players there. The big question of salaries vs. Potential vs. production with our safeties will be the most interesting positions right there with the kicker battle. Tandyman, Conte, Wilcox, Evans, Alex Gray seems to have a nice build for safety but can’t get too excited about UDFA’s until we see some Training Camp/Preseason

  19. stanglassman Says:


    LDE- William Gholston, Ryan Russell, George Johnson Jr.

    LDT- Gerald McCoy, Clinton McDonald

    RDT- Chris Baker, Stevie Tu’ikolovatu

    RDE- Robert Ayers Jr., Noah Spence, Jacquies Smith

    SAM- Kendell Beckwith, Devante Bond

    MIKE- Kwon Alexander, Richie Brown

    WILL- Lavonte David

    CB1- Brent Grimes, Ryan Smith

    CB2- Vernon Hargreaves, Josh Robinson

    NICKEL- Javien Elliot, Robert McClain

    SS- Keith Tandy, JJ Wilcox

    FS- Justin Evans, Chris Conte

  20. BuccaneEric75 Says:

    Dirk isn’t the type of guy to do it any way other than his. The most important thing is that he’s got Winston’s respect and Jameis falls in line, witch will trickle down to the rest of the team. This IS Dirks team as much as Winston’s.

  21. Crockett69 Says:

    Worse case scenario we are much better depth wise than last year on both Offense & Defense period. GO BUCS!

  22. C-rock Says:

    I remember Gruden couldn’t find ways to put Antonio Bryant and Joey Galloway on the field at the same time. I still smdh on Gruden for that decision. I hope Coach K doesn’t do the same with his roster.