Boiled Down To One Mistake

December 30th, 2018

Key figure in Dirk Koetter’s failure.

Dirk Koetter is now the former-Bucs coach. Team Glazer ended all the speculation shortly after Koetter’s postgame press conference at the Den of Depression tonight.

Let Joe be clear, Joe gets no joy whatsoever in the downfall of a good man and a good coach. But Koetter, for a variety of reasons, was not getting the job done here, going 11-24 in his last 35 games. On the road, Koetter’s Bucs were particularly brutal with a 2-14 record the past two seasons.

That, folks, will get any coach fired.

There are a wide variety of reasons why Koetter is no longer the Bucs coach aside from his record. His offenses, while dangerous, had a nasty habit of melting down inside an opponent’s 40-yard line just about every week, Koetter never could develop a running game, and it sure seemed given news surfacing recently about the antics of malcontent wide receiver DeSean Jackson, that the mercurial veteran pass catcher walked all over Koetter.

However, it may have been a move Koetter made even before he became a Bucs offensive coordinator that sealed his fate in Tampa Bay.

That was the hiring of Mike Smith as his defensive coordinator.

Smith is a big reason Koetter even found a job in the NFL. Smith and Koetter first met when Koetter was coaching at Arizona State and the two crossed paths often at coaching clinics and during draft functions and became friends.

When Smith got the job as defensive coordinator in Jacksonville, Smith helped grease the wheels for Jack Del Rio to hire Koetter as offensive coordinator. Years later when Smith was in his fifth year as Atlanta’s head coach, he hired Koetter as his offensive coordinator.

Word is that when Koetter left Atlanta after Smith had been fired, the two made a handshake deal. Whichever of the two would be hired down the line as a head coach would hire the other as a coordinator.

While this pact was laudable, it doomed Koetter before he was hired by then-Bucs coach Lovie Smith.

Aside from the famous five-game winning streak late in the 2016 season, Koetter’s first as Bucs coach, the defense under Smith was awful and grew worse, even after Bucs AC/DC-loving general manager Jason Licht added talent to the defensive side of the ball each of the last two seasons. Smith’s defense was last in the NFL in 2017 yet Koetter retained Smith.

This irked Joe because even good coordinators were losing jobs when their teams were not meeting specific standards. The one coach launched that caught Joe’s attention was Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley, who had the No. 3 offense in the NFL.

Yet somehow Smith, with a pathetic defense, survived.

The non-move proved disastrous for Koetter as Smith’s defense was on pace to set 99-year NFL records for futility this season before someone at One Buc Palace ordered a hit. Two weeks before Smith was fired, and just a day after the Windy City Wipeout, Koetter sternly defended keeping Smith all but saying firing Smith midseason would do no good.

In fact, the Smith firing actually did good. The Bucs finished the final 11 games with Mark Duffner as defensive coordinator allowing roughly an average of 100 yards and 8.5 points fewer a game.

Former NFL executive Michael Lombardi said on his podcast in September that Smith would get Koetter fired. If Lombardi wasn’t 100 percent correct, was a large reason why Team Glazer made its decision this evening the mystery as to why Koetter stuck with Smith for so long?

It was noble if not honorable for Koetter to agree to a pact with his close friend when the two found themselves both searching for work. That friendship, however, planted the seeds of failure in Tampa Bay.

36 Responses to “Boiled Down To One Mistake”

  1. Loyaltotheend Says:

    Lesson #1 in business, don’t hire your friends hire the best candidate and if they are a friend great, if not oh well.

  2. WalkdaPlank Says:

    It is just as much Jason Licht’s fault Smith wasn’t booted as it was Koetter’s, unless Koetter gave them some sort of ultimatum.

    Both of them should be gone.

  3. Jeffbuc Says:

    Just looked at the draft order we are in great position to have a team trade the farm to move ahead of the giants and trade with us. We are the last team in between the first qb being taken. So Jacksonville or Denver might trade with us. And we wouldn’t move down much and pick up a lot of picks. I want to be the team someone makes a crazy trade of two first two seconds and a third for once.

  4. Elita Vita Says:

    Lovie Smith was also “loyal to a fault” when it came to retaining assistants that should have been let go. It’s difficult, but if Head Coaches don’t make more objective decisions in such situations they will probably suffer from the same fate

  5. DB55 Says:

    Smith would get Koetter fired.
    Did Jameis give the defense the lead with 5 mins left in the game? Maybe it’s not the coaches but McIceCream that just melts within 60 mins. CANT FINISH A GAME!!!! Happened 4-5 times last year too. Oh wait it’s all Jameis fault, my bad I forgot!

    If Arians don’t come to Tampa with Todd Bowles then #RunJameisRun

  6. BucEmUp Says:

    I could go back t the comments the day Mike Smith was hired and said he would be the reason Koetter would fail. I hate being right sometimes

  7. scbucsfan Says:

    Can’t fire all of the players so coaches take the blame

  8. Bucs Fan #7423 Says:

    Koetter and mike smith are laughing all the way to the bank

    How many millions did they steal from the beta male glazers joe?

  9. TheBucsAnthem Says:

    Koetter is happy

  10. Pete Mitchell Says:

    Meanwhile Jason Gump is scouting 2nd round punters to make sure there is no drop off as Bryan Angerer ages….

  11. Destinjohnny Says:

    Jason gave him 6-10 talent to work with

  12. Aceofaerospace Says:

    It was the unforgivable sin.

  13. Defense Rules Says:

    You’re exactly right Joe, it boiled down to ONE mistake for Dirk Koetter: Accepting his first head coaching gig while working with Jason Licht. Dirk never had a chance to lead a winning team given the mediocre resources that Jason Licht provided him to work with. Stop with the ‘Mike Smith caused Dirk’s downfall’ bit. It’s bogus.

    Licht’s 5-year tenure is LOADED with scapegoats (and yes, we can now add Dirk Koetter to that list). At some point the Glazer Boyz will finally figure out what the REAL problem here is. At that point they might do well to remember Pogo’s creator, Walt Kelly’s, phrase … “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”

  14. Dave Says:

    Glazers obviously don’t believe the QB, roster, or front office is the problem. They think the problem is coaching.

    The Bucs were in practically every game except the Bears game. Every other loss happened either because of turnovers or a defensive meltdown. And the offense was among the best in the NFL. So they don’t feel blowing it all up is warranted.

    Koetter’s biggest failures is on maintaining consistency, maintaining discipline, and controlling the culture. Both were glaring problems with this team and those issues usually are 100% the fault of the coach.

  15. Tbbucs3 Says:

    The Duffner hype came after playing the likes of Nick Mullen’s, Alex Smith And a half a Cam Newton.

    Outside of that the Bucs defense was not impressive at all. So what does that tell you?

    It’s the players. Their not good.

    “Simple as that”.

  16. MadMax Says:

    TBH, keeping Smith wasnt the only mistake….a big one but also the poor play calling and basics 101 clock management has a lot to do with it.

  17. Rich Says:

    Big mistake by Twiddle Dee and Twiddle Dumb……Bud Lyght should be given his walking papers too…..a very poor excuse for a GM. What is the justification for keeping him? Also, it appears that this non dynamic duo will be hiring the next coach which they are absolutely incapable of doing…..we are doomed as long as the Glazer boys do anything more than sign the checks….PUT A SEASONED NFL PROFESSIONAL IN CHARGE DAMN IT!!!!

  18. JimmyJack Says:

    Mike Smith created one of the most awful defenses in the history of man. His time here will always be remembered…..for all the wrong reasons.

  19. DB55 Says:

    The def gave up 1 less TD per game under Duffner. Correct me if I’m wrong but they improved from 36 ppg to 29ppg.

  20. Buc4evr Says:

    Picking a kicker in the second round is a firing offense…. why is Jason Gump still here ? He is going to pick the the next HC along with Korn Ferry. What a comedy of errors. I think the Glazers are out of their minds.

    The fans in the end zone could pick a better head coach than these guys. The next HC will be even worse….

  21. Rod Munch Says:

    Bucs scored 24.75 points per game on offense, which, I believe, is a team record.

    Bucs defense however gave up 29 points per game.

    The Bucs were 1-5 when they scored more than 28 points in a game.

    That’s some God awful defense right there.

    Some other random fun facts…

    Winston was the teams leading rusher 3 times this year.

    The Bucs were 3-6 versus teams under .500, last year they were 4-1 versus teams under .500.

    The Bucs were 2-5 versus teams .500 or better.

    The Bucs were 2-4 versus teams that made the playoffs.

  22. Im tired and 87 is right Says:

    Every fan was calling for Smith to be not brought back last season. Yes that crucial decision doomed this season. End of story.

  23. Rod Munch Says:

    Im tired and 87 – That’s not true, Defense Rules told me that Smith would get it done this year, and Ryan Smith and Chris Conte were quality NFL players and would be good starters.

    Not kidding, he really told me that.

  24. Cspann Says:

    It is a combination of bad coaching and players. The defense is not talented enough to compete. The defense definitely needs more speed. The offense is ok probably can add better RBs and oline will need upgrades

  25. Please Says:

    Where can we find the list of Licht’s draft picks and “where are they now?” … and while we’re looking, remember that time he tried to get Greg Hardy. If you’re going to clean house, CLEAN HOUSE.

  26. Rod Munch Says:

    DB55 – The defense actually ended the year at 29 points per game, but after Smith was fired they dropped all the way down to only giving up 25.1 points per game.

    That’s still pretty awful, even by today’s standards, but much better than the 34.6 ppg that Mike Smith’s defense was giving up.

  27. Please Says:

    The Defense suffered because Mr. Licht Beer wasted how many picks that could’ve been legit defensive players or at worst legitimate depth. Not saying Koetter should be staying, but to keep Licht is terrible.

  28. BringBucsBack Says:

    Jeffbuc, Licht is capable of making the deal unfortunately, he’d eventually have to select players.

  29. DB55 Says:

    Winston was the teams leading rusher 3 times this year.
    Run Jameis bc next the fans are going to expect you to rush the QB or guard Julio Jones or something.


  30. Bird Says:


    2.3 per games

    Jameiis played strong

  31. DB55 Says:


    I’m pretty sure they were at 36 ppg at one point in the season but yea scoring 30 ppg is a lot imo. Are there any teams that avg 30 ppg?

  32. Rod Munch Says:

    DB55 – Well 34.6 is pretty close to 36, they might have been at 36 after the Chicago game since they “only” gave up 34 in their next game against Atlanta.

    But as for teams giving up more points… there was only one, the Raiders, who gave up 3 points more for the year.

  33. Defense Rules Says:

    OK Munch, I’ll play.

    You apparently insist that the Bucs offense is very good for scoring 29 PPG average on the season but that the Bucs defense under Duff is ‘pretty awful’ for giving up 25 PPG, although you note that’s better than Smitty’s almost 35 PPG.

    Mike Smith surely caused some of his own problems (like all coaches do BTW), but look at the first 5 games this season: Saints (13-3), Eagles (8-7), Steelers (8-6-1), Bears (11-4), Falcons (7-9) … all pretty high-powered offenses in their own right. Our defense, missing several DLine starters (major problem IMO), gave up 173 total points (34.6 PPG average). That sucks. Even still, the Bucs went 2-3 in that stretch.

    Mark Duffner took over in Game 6 & had essentially the same roster to work with (although he did get the rookie Vea back). Now look at Duff’s first 5 games: Browns, Bengals, Panthers, Redskins, Giants … not exactly offensive powerhouses. Our defense, with our DLine playing better IMO, gave up 156 total points (31.2 PPG average). Guess what … still sucks. Bucs went 1-4 in that 5-game stretch.

    Where our defense DID improve was after the Giants game. In the next 5 games (prior to today’s game) our defense gave up a total of 101 points (20.2 PPG average in that stretch). Given that some of the players we had starting had no business even playing for a NFL team, I’d say Duff did a helluva job in that stretch. Bucs went 2-3 in that stretch also.

    Far as our high-powered offense goes, it’s a wonderful marching band, but POINTS SCORED are a LOT more meaningful than TOTAL YARDAGE. Had the Bucs actually scored the 29 PPG in every game that you brag on, our record would’ve been 8-8. Not great, but better than 5-11. But it seems that a problem developed on the way to the forum: our high-powered offense melted when it faced high-powered defenses (like the Bears? the Ravens? the Cowboys?). Strange how that works, isn’t it.

  34. EA Says:

    “Word is that when Koetter left Atlanta after Smith had been fired, the two made a handshake deal. Whichever of the two would be hired down the line as a head coach would hire the other as a coordinator”

    Yeah Dirk said that himself in his introductory presser.

  35. Schlomiebarmitzvahcircumscissorstein Says:

    It’s all about nepotism. Fans be damned.

  36. TOM Says:

    Fired the wrong guy. Licht should have been fired before Koetter. Thanks once again dumb ass Glazers. Sell the GD team.