Last Call — For The Offense

February 19th, 2018


Dirk Koetter needs some help, and he’s not too proud to admit it.

Entering his third year as head coach of the Bucs, Koetter realizes a 14-18 overall record doesn’t cut it for the Stick Carriers. After the excitement of 2016, Tampa Bay supporters expected a playoff contender last fall.

Instead, they have suffered through 13 losses in the past 19 games. Much of the blame has been placed on Mike Smith’s soft defense, but the hard truth is Koetter’s baby, the offense, hasn’t lived up to its part, either.

Koetter has the right to feel confident about his play-calling abilities, but it has become painfully obvious that the promotion to head coach has taken time and focus away from his responsibilities as overseer of the offense.

Last month, Koetter announced that Todd Monken will relinquish his gig as wide receivers coach to take on offensive coordinator duties full-time instead of part-time.

That’s another set of eyes, and another sharp mind, focused on bringing out the best in Jameis Winston and associates.

That’s a good thing, because Koetter’s attack has regressed since he first joined the Bucs in 2015 as Lovie Smith’s offensive coordinator. Despite a minus-5 turnover differential that season, the Bucs ranked fifth in total offense, setting a franchise record by averaging 376 yards per game.

Scale Is Off

The key was wonderful balance, with Koetter ordering up runs on 45 percent of the snaps as Doug Martin and Charles Sims each averaged 4.9 yards per carry.

The ground game has been ineffective since Koetter moved into the head coach’s office, forcing him to place more of a burden on a young quarterback. The Bucs ran on 42 percent of their snaps in 2016 and that number plunged to 38 percent last season.

Koetter knew there would be a transition process from coordinator to top dog, but he’s still finding his way.

“You get into that seat and there are so many things that happen that you aren’t ready for, that you can’t know until you experience being the head coach,’’ says Tony Dungy. “There are the media demands. All of a sudden you’re the face of the franchise. There are so many non-football things you have to deal with.’’

This fall, former offensive coordinators like Frank Reich (Colts), Matt Nagy (Bears) and Pat Shurmur (Giants) will discover that the heat turns up when the buck stops here.

It’s a different skill set, one that Koetter needs to master in a hurry.

“I feel like my personality lends itself maybe even better to the pro level than college level,” Koetter said when he replaced Smith. “I think I can connect with these guys. Is there going to be a period of adjustment? Yes. But there are other coaches in this league who are offensive or defensive or play-callers and it’s working just fine. It can work.”

Higher Stakes

With Koetter and Monken working together closely, a better attack has to emerge. That 2015 offense didn’t feature DeSean Jackson, O.J. Howard or Chris Godwin. Cameron Brate and Adam Humphries were bit players. Donovan Smith and Ali Marpet were rookie starters up front.

Yet Koetter made it work with innovative formations and calls that played to Tampa Bay’s strengths. It’s different now. The stakes are higher.

Koetter is still trying to prove he belongs in this select group of 32 captains of industry. If he cedes some authority to Monken, so be it. The big picture is what counts.

“I really believe that the head coaching job is a CEO position,” says new Giants GM Dave Gettleman. “You look at the great head coaches and I’ll tell you right now, there ain’t a dumb one in the group. They’re all leaders. They all know how to lead men.”

Ira Kaufman is the most revered sports personality and writer in town. He has hung his hat at world headquarters since July 2016. Tampa Bay’s only Pro Football Hall of Fame voter, Ira busts out columns here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and his award winning podcasts fire Tuesdays and Thursdays. You can also hear Ira on SiriusXM Mad Dog Radio Wednesdays during football season, and see him now on Mondays and Fridays at 10:30 p.m. on Spectrum Sports 360. Ira also is part of the FOX-13 Tailgate Sunday and enjoys beet salads, Riesling, Chiefs victories and needling Joe.

23 Responses to “Last Call — For The Offense”

  1. Mort Says:

    Pat Shurmur already knows this from his mildly successful stint with the browns. I say mildly, because for most franchises it would be bad, but he was the best HC they’ve had in quite some time.

  2. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Man, this is a rough time of the year for football fans…and media. Half the media scrambles to find stuff to write about (Ira, Joe, etc).

    The other half just decides to make stuff up. (won’t name anyone, but its no one on JBF).

  3. 813bucboi Says:

    no doubt dirk needs to step up…..he needs to commit to the run game among a long list of other things he needs to improve on…..we’ll see how he performs under pressure this year…..

    #NOEXCUSESIN2018!!!!….GO BUCS!!!

  4. StPeteBucsFan Says:

    IF…Noah misses the season..

    IF..our franchise QB is only healthy for a half dozen games and misses 4-6 games like the three he missed last year…

    IF two or our star linebackers and our ONLY decent CB miss three or more games as happened last year…

    IF we don’t find another impact OL the level of Marpet and Smith…hopefully Nelson

    All of those IF’s would mean we’ll struggle again no matter who calls the plays.

    How many games did our D fail to protect a 4th Q lead. How many games did we lose by a TD or less. Look at the final fourth of the season and we simply couldn’t make a play when we needed it….largely the defense.

    So guys when looking ahead at 2018 for ANY NFL team do you place more emphasis on how a team played it’s first half of the season or the second.

    This team clearly improved over the last quarter of the season…coincidentally as Jameis arm finally healed. Surprise..surprise…surprise.

    To become champions though I understand D.R.’s lust for defense. Our great defense NEVER or very rarely gave up a 4th Q lead….that’s just not winning football…we have to be able to hold leads…duh a pass rush perhaps?

  5. tmaxcon Says:

    4-12 another year in the nfc south basement. There is no hope regardless what the delusional optimists spew…. It’s the bucs it’s the glazers enough said 4-12

    If glazers cared or were competent there might be hope but there is none.

    Rankings are as useless as pro bowls.. You either WIN or you FAIL nothing else matters.

  6. 813bucboi Says:


    we started this season 2-2 and finished 1-3….we had 5 game losing streaks in the same season…..we didn’t make any improvements during the last month of the season….we could’ve ended dec losing every game….don’t tell me they played hard….they’re suppose to play hard…..

    improvement would’ve been going on a winning streak of some sort in the month of dec…..the only thing to take away from that saints win is the fact that dirk played for the FG and Winston said screw it…seasons over might as well try to win it right here…..Winston showed more trust in godwin than dirk has in Winston which is saying a lot since they are suppose to be tied to the hip……

    I agree with your point regarding the defense…..they gave up the lead too many times to count…..but with all those #weaponsforwinston, we only scored over 30points twice with him…the first game of the season and the last game….smitty and dirk were both trash this year…..

    doesn’t matter if spence is healthy for all 16 games and no one get hurts all year, “IF” the smitty and dirk don’t play to the players strength and put them in position to be successful, we’ll have the same lousy season…..

    #NOEXCUSESIN2018!!!!….GO BUCS!!!!

  7. BucTooth Says:

    tmaxcon brother i read all your articles on this site and to me you speak the truth on many subjects pertaining to the Bucs but it’s hard as you can see for many here on this site to accept. You have their record at 4-12 this year and i can understand that because we have the same head couch and basically all the same couch’s on defense and offense. I’m thinking tmaxcon if all the stars aligned in the sky and im sticking my neck out here and predicting 6-10 still not much to brag about right.

  8. tmaxcon Says:


    I want to be positive but history and facts do not support a positive future as long as glazers are pulling the trigger. The optimists Have been reaching for over decade with no luck. Being a realist I can’t subscribe to the pie in the sky BS that this is the year this Mickey mouse franchise figures it out.

  9. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    813bucboi Says
    “…don’t tell me they played hard…they’re suppose to play hard…”

    Yes they are, but you and I both know there are a lot of players who do not play hard all over the league. They are just there for a paycheck.

    We had several on this team last year, most were newcomers.

    But, outside of those few, this team did not quit.

    What cost us games were:

    Starting the year out with a horrible kicker. He cost us two games right there. That alone would have made us 7-9.

    Injuries. You might be tired of hearing it, but that doesn’t make it less true. This team had 21 of 22 starters injured last year…the most in the league.

    Defense. Because the quitters were on defense, that’s where we suffered the most. Defense alone cost us 3-5 games. That would have put us anywhere from 10-6 to 13-3.

    Offense certainly fought hard. They just lacked in two spots and made mistakes. On top of the injuries, it was enough.

  10. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    tmaxcon Says
    “I can’t subscribe to the pie in the sky BS that this is the year this Mickey mouse franchise figures it out.”

    What else is new? You NEVER have anything positive to say. I would love to know the truth of your life…I’m guessing you don’t have much of one.

  11. tmaxcon Says:


    Sold both my businesses last year and am happily retired in the beautiful mountains of Colorado. There is nothing positive to say about bucs other than grudens good year. Raise your standards. My high standards have allowed me to have a great life… never settle and never accept anything less than greatness.

    First though you have to comprehend what the word great means. Most of the players you label great are pure garbage like vh3. Who is 100% bust. Just another failed local feel good story and wasted 1st rd pick. h

  12. 813bucboi Says:


    were we the only team in the nfl that had injuries?

    were we the only team in the nfl to miss kicks?

    NO!!!….players are hurt during practice…during games…in the offseason…in the post season…injuries will happen….this is a physical game….the bears could use those same excuses….injuries….

    missed micks are apart of the game just like an incompletion….if your going to say the kicker cost us games because of his missed kicked, then you should blame Winston for costing us 2 or 3 games with his incompletions….blame LVD and kwon for costing us 2 or3 games miss all the missed tackles…..blame d.smith for missing a black or 2……

    and if players aren’t playing hard, then the player needs to be held accountable…..that falls on coaching…..if a coach cant tell the difference between a player loafing and a player giving max effort they shouldn’t be coaching!!!!!….baker wasn’t giving max effort in OTA’s…TC…preseason and the regular season… mean to tell me smitty and dirk didn’t notice him loafing…..or if they did, you mean to tell me that they did nothing to correct the situation….

    are they the coaches or friends of players?…..

    #NOEXCUSESIN2018!!!!….GO BUCS!!!!

  13. StPeteBucsFan Says:


    Welcome to the dark side. LOL I couldn’t agree more with your observations.

  14. 813bucboi Says:

    I guess I missed it….

    where was it posted that the bucs were the only team in the nfl to have injuries occur to their roster and their kicker miss kicks?….

    #NOEXCUSESIN2018!!!!….GO BUCS!!!!

  15. StPeteBucsFan Says:

    This is bringing my Zen lessons to life. Our board is the perfect example.

    It is said you will see where you place your attention. If you place it on the negative, the faults and things that happened that were bad will be what you see.
    You will be one of our board pessimists and that’s OK too. The Zen dudes would also remind us that there IS negative…it’s the old Yin and Yang. I can see the many truths you guys point out but it’s not really where I place my attention. I do not see the doom and gloom.

    My attention is on the “successes” we had. As bad as it was #3 continues to make progress both statistically and what I see on the field. I think he worked very hard on his accuracy in the off season. He had some improvement but because of his bum flipper we’ll never get a good or con. BUT..
    He improved his accuracy by 3% 5% over the past two years.

    Now where we can all disagree is our eyeballs because again wherever you place your attention that is what you’ll see. And again I do not say this bad it is what it is.

    My eyeballs have been focused on #3’s improvement while totally conceding to your accurate points about his weaknesses. IMHO of course because my ‘attention” is on his improvement…statistically and eyeball wize I see better accuracy.

    Some of that IMO is he’s still working on his delivery ridding himself of the baseball moves. This is precisely why the Bucs can never let him pitch again.

    But perhaps the biggest change or improvement again in my eyes…was his decision making progress and his selection of receivers. In that area there were plenty of times when I thought…man we watching a very talented kid growing before our very eyes…and yes then he’ll pull a bonehead trying too hard and you wonder if he’s 18? But his downsides are even positive if you think about it.
    He tries TOO HARD. I mean think about that. Yeah he screws up doing high risk crap…OTOH…we’d be 4-12 without him. In that final game…a contest to see if the Buc’s made the right choice with retaining Koetter…would our franchise QB continue to improve…has this team quit on Koetter…does this team have the heart to win with NOTHING on the line but PRIDE?

    And WHO made all of that possible. Why it’s your franchise QB folks…when the game was on the line and Koetter did what 99% of NFL conservative coaches do…,play for the easy FG…Fameis was like….Nope sorry coach I’m taking this into MY hands…and Fameis throws down the field on a do or die effort…win or lose and it’s a perfect pass to Godwin who makes a nice catch and shows us the future. It’s Winston to Godwin…TD

    So that’s where my attention rides. A gunslinger QB who sometimes drives you crazy for doing too much but who at the end of the day has a HUGE heart and perhaps the largest STONES in the league right now. I see of course Brady…Rodgers…Roethlisberger all having enough confidence to pull that off.

    But a 3rd year QB? It WAS a special play and it IS a huge piece to build on both Jameis and Godwin who IMHO has #1 WR talent but is currently #3.

  16. tmaxcon Says:

    St Pete and bonzi

    Accepting failure as easy as you both do is very said but making excuses for it is pathetic. You either win or fail.

  17. tmaxcon Says:

    Sad not said

  18. BringBucsBack Says:

    While Koetter and his offense were far from perfect, they could have been good enough to win games.

    When you have a defense that often gives up early scores; always loses the Time of possession battle and can’t EVER make a 4th quarter stop; an OC is forced into abandoning a run game that can’t ever develop (because you’re instantly behind in every game) and are forced to rely more on the QB and “late game heroics”. This offense is never given the opportunity to develop the run-game!

    EVERYONE has to be better but, this defense is abysmal and takes plays out of the offense’s playbook, leaving Koetter handcuffed.

    Build the trenches! Fire Smitty!

    APB for Eddie DeBartelo!

  19. Mike Johnson Says:

    One of the BEST things about this upcoming year is…its do or die from Batman & Robin (Koetter/Smitty). Yes they are under deep pressure. No winning season and I do beleive they join Lovie and Sciano at the Bay area fishin hole. it does surprise me though all this talk about our Offense. When..Our Defense finshed close to last in the entire NFL. I would not worry about our Offense. Plug in a running back for now. I was hoping Koetter was a litle smarter than he’s showing. His allegiance to Smitty will probably cost him his job. But we shall see. Can’t fake it come September baby!!

  20. 813bucboi Says:


    that’s fair…your attention was on Winston….Winston improved in my eyes as well…..

    my attention was on coaching….this staff did a poor job of coaching this year and most would agree….

    your 3rd to the last paragraph highlights a perfect example of lousy coaching…..

    sitting at 4-11, with only seconds left on the clock in the finale game of the year, dirk showed more trust in a kicker than he did Winston….WTF?….I doubt any other coach decides to kick in that situation….the season is over….why play for OT?… you stated, it was obvious dirk was playing for the not so easy FG instead of putting the ball into the hands of his QB who was hot that day…..that’s poor coaching… you pointed out, luckily, Winston said screw it, dirk may not trust me but I trust me and I trust godwin…..

    another example is dirk failing to provide input regarding the defense…..he said he doesn’t give input because he’ll “screw it up”…..that’s BS….that’s a cop out….that’s poor coaching!!!!!….he’s the head coach of the bucs…not head coach of the offense…..he should be instructing smitty to switch things up, play the DB’s close to the LOS, put GMC at DE and gholston at DT….something….anything instead of being predictable and dying slow…..

    coaching was horrible in 2017….simple as that…..

    #NOEXCUSESIN2018!!!!!….GO BUCS!!!

  21. Buccaneer Bill Says:

    @StPeteBucsFan Well said!

    Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone.

    But that is easier said than done. We all know that no one is going to change anyone else on this board about something so fundamental. If you choose to look at the negative that’s the way you’ll continue to be, and the same goes for choosing to focus on the positive.

    One thing that continues to baffle me though is that so many insist that focusing on the positive means we’re being overly optimistic. I don’t agree. Overly optimistic would be thinking the naysayers on this board would find another team.

  22. Defense Rules Says:

    @Ira … “Much of the blame has been placed on Mike Smith’s soft defense, but the hard truth is Koetter’s baby, the offense, hasn’t lived up to its part, either.”

    Thank you Ira. The Bucs as a T-E-A-M in 2016 went 9-7. And as a T-E-A-M they went 5-11 in 2017. In 2015 the Offense exceeded expectations IMO. In 2016 the Defense exceed expectations IMO. In 2017 NEITHER the Defense NOR the Offense lived up to expectations IMO. Same coaching staff last 2 years, mostly the same players. If anything, several position groups were upgraded (WRs, TEs & LBs mostly), while several position groups regressed for several reasons (DEs, DTs, CBs & Safeties). Tougher schedule, more injuries, MUCH more competitive division … yada yada yada.

    Those are ALL excuses. Regardless of how you cut it, the Bucs went 5-11 last year … as a T-E-A-M. The Bucs as a T-E-A-M regressed, BUT … maybe some good might still come out of it. There seems to be near-universal agreement on where our ‘holes’ are, and quite a bit of agreement in terms of PRIORITY NEEDS. Some still favor Offense over Defense (thus drafting RB & OG high), while others (like me admittedly) favor focusing on Defense over Offense right now (thus drafting DE, DT, CB high). The ball’s now in ownership & management’s court … Bucs need a fantastic free agency period AND draft to turn this ship around. We’ve got the resources; question is “Do we have the necessary L-E-A-D-E-R-S-H-I-P to use those resources wisely to fix this thing?” We’ll know in about 2 months.

  23. CrackerK Says:

    You almost brought a tear to my eyes!

    “So that’s where my attention rides. A gunslinger QB who sometimes drives you crazy for doing too much but who at the end of the day has a HUGE heart and perhaps the largest STONES in the league right now. I see of course Brady…Rodgers…Roethlisberger all having enough confidence to pull that off.”