The Double-edged Sword

December 11th, 2018

“I may be gone but I’m not forgotten!”

Earlier this season, former NFL executive Michael Lombardi mentioned on his podcast that then-Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith would get Dirk Koetter fired.

In an interesting twist of fate, if Bucs’ Bit-O-Honey-snacking, Ozark-watching, yams-eating coach Dirk Koetter survives, writes Jenna Laine of ESPN, Koetter will likely be saved by the guy Koetter didn’t (initially) want as defensive coordinator, current defensive shot-caller Mark Duffner.

The choice to elevate coordinator Mark Duffner in mid-October also proved to be the right call as he has made great strides with the defense. Another point to ponder is if the Bucs fire Koetter, that means Duffner would likely be on the way out (unless the new head coach retained him). Duffner’s group is allowing 363.6 yards and 26 points per game compared with the 440 yards and 34.6 under Mike Smith, who was the coordinator for six weeks this season before being fired.

It is still a mystery if it was Koetter who was responsible for Smith being ousted. It sure doesn’t seem that way.

Two weeks prior to Smith getting bounced, Koetter forcefully defended Smith in a press conference a day after Smith’s defense damn near gave up 500 total yards to a Mitch Trubisky-led Bears offense.

“For those people who think snapping your fingers and changing your coordinator a quarter of the way through the season, ok, what would you do after that?” Koetter said. “If we fired Mike Smith, what would the next move be, alright?”

A week later, the Bucs enjoyed a bye week. Two weeks later after yet another defensive debacle, this time in Atlanta, someone at One Buc Palace had seen enough.

Whether Koetter was ordered to pull the trigger on Smith or someone else above Koetter did the deed and Koetter fell on his sword is unclear. Just taking Koetter’s words literally, it didn’t sound like a man who had any pressing desire to run off Smith.

That is what it appears, although Koetter stated when he did fire Smith that it was his call. That’s a pretty interesting about-face to Joe after just one game.

To answer Koetter’s question what the Bucs would do after firing Smith, the defense showed what could happen and Joe could type it in one word. “Improve.”

No matter how you slice it, Koetter could go down because he brought Smith back from a woeful 2017 season (32nd ranked defense), or Koetter could go down because he may have had the right guy to lead the Bucs defense all along right under his nose and for whatever reason didn’t rearrange the deck chairs.

While Laine suggests Duffner’s performance may buy Koetter a fourth season, one could also argue Koetter should have had Duffner in place in January.

19 Responses to “The Double-edged Sword”

  1. NPRSageBoy Says:

    In the words of the immortal Hillary Clinton: “At this point, does it really matter?”
    Enough said….

  2. Warrenfb12 Says:

    Ya I don’t believe Koetter fired him. He wouldn’t even replace Doug Martin/ Caleb Benenoch for poor performance

  3. Ed kerber Says:

    No way Koetter gets another yesr. I’m hoping Baltimore thumps the Bucs like 52-3. After that, Koetter should be show. The door. I’d like to see what Duffner could bring as a head coach.

  4. 813bucboi Says:

    nawl….no chance dirk survives…..he’ll be canned 01/01/19…



  5. zzbuc Says:

    Jesus Christ that´s a real argument Ed kerber… are a hell of a Bucs Fan!!!!

  6. Jolly Bucs Fan Says:

    Lol @Ed

    If Duffner’s defense really gives up 52 points to the Ravens than I doubt he will be given a shot at HC

  7. Bucs Fan #7423 Says:

    Koetter has a nice cushy OC spot at the Vikings if he gets fired.

  8. 813bucboi Says:


    not “IF” but “WHEN”….


  9. Hodad Says:

    It’s time to stop wasting time discussing the what if’s, or the merits of keeping Koetter, and Licht. A blind man can see these two will be fired. It’s time to discuss who the viable replacements are going to be. Time to look at what players should be let go, kept, who’s available in free agency, and what our top draft needs should be. They’re all going to be fired, some long time players will be shown the door too. Duffner, Smuffner, total house cleaning, like getting rid of the MRS virus, place needs a complete disinfecting.

  10. Mike Johnson Says:

    Come on guys. Koetter saw Smitty as a God…of sorts. HE called Smitty in and said..I hate to do this..its not my doing But…… Smitty would still be DC if it were Koetters call. That how allegiant he was to Smitty. I’m pissed at Dirk because he kept Smitty at the expense of us fans. Arguably, Koetter keeps his job and has 3 to 4 more wins under his belt this season without Smitty. Now little to late. No way we are beating the Ravens and Cowgirls. We might beat the Falcons at Ray jay..sending Koetter packing. Good luck to him in his Next job.

  11. Duthsty Rhothdes Says:

    What jenna laine dranking…the bucs are going to bring back koetter and licht after a stellar 6-10 season no flipping way…..winning organizations can ppl because they are not winning

  12. Bucsfanman Says:

    Just for some perspective, we’re still #30 overall. That’s not quite a ringing endorsement.
    It’s time for a house-cleaning; GM, HC, OC, DC……..
    Get someone to take over the football operations from the Glazers, a FOOTBALL PERSON, and get some people in here that will lead and change the culture. Not now, RIGHT NOW!

  13. Rod Munch Says:

    Shouldn’t have been fired, should have been promoted to head coach and Dirk should have been fired. Then we’d see the offense without Dirk’s mandatory run up the middle first down idiocy and perhaps the team would have a legit running game. Of course you tell Smith he’s not allowed to mess with the offense or defense, his job would be manage the team, make sure they’re ready, challenge the coordinators, etc. Just think if the team had a proven head coach, one who isn’t an emo d-bag, who understands how the clock works, who isn’t throwing his players under the bus, what a difference having a real HC instead of a part time OC coaching the team would bring.

  14. DaPostman Says:

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the NFL’s equivalent of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings. Bad draft after bad draft with high picks will keep you in the bottom rung of teams for a long time. The draft is where you build winning teams with a sprinkling of free agents.

  15. Lord Cornelius Says:

    Koetter throwing his hands in the air basically saying “I have no idea what to do” is as bad as an indictment as it gets. That was the beginning of the end for me.

    Especially when the media and everyone was saying to fire Smitty; and he said “well how does that help”; and we all see it made insanely dramatic difference in how our D played pretty much. To me it’s been an extremely visual obvious thing just in how we’ve lined up differently under Duff.

    I don’t even know if Duff’s that good. I think it’s more that Smitty was that out of touch with everything; just as Lovie was when it came to modern NFL defenses.

  16. Defense Rules Says:

    @Bucsfanman … “It’s time for a house-cleaning; GM, HC, OC, DC. Get someone to take over the football operations from the Glazers, a FOOTBALL PERSON, and get some people in here that will lead and change the culture. Not now, RIGHT NOW!”

    The sooner the better Bucsfanman. The players on the team today are essentially interviewing to be retained for next year. HOPEFULLY none of the management or coaches on staff today will be the ones making those decisions (although I wouldn’t be opposed to keeping a couple of our better-performing assistant coaches).

    This organization needs a huge re-make to turn it into a winner. Rich McKay essentially started that in 1995 when he became GM, bringing a vision of creating a defensive powerhouse when he drafted Sapp & Brooks that year, let Sam Wyche go at the end of the season and hired Tony Dungy (who brought in assistants like Kiffin, Marinelli, Lovie & a number of other excellent defensive minds). They continued the emphasis on defense by drafting 2 DEs (Upshaw & Jones) plus Donnie Abraham in 1996 plus Barber & Singleton in 1997, Kelly & Duncan in 1998, and McFarland & Jackson in 1999. Largely built through the draft, but not entirely. FAs like Hardy Nickerson & ultimately Simeon Rice certainly played huge roles.

    I’m convinced that it was the vision of Rich McKay that started the whole thing, and his drafting certainly supported that vision. Tony Dungy was certainly the right man for the job (bringing a defensive vision to fruition). Lest we forget, after Tony’s first year (1996) Bucs were winners every year … right up until Chucky’s FIRST season AFTER our Super Bowl victory (when we went 7-9 in 2003) and then 5-11 in 2004, before turning it around in 2005 (11-5 record) and then slipping back to 4-12 in 2006, before ‘recovering to two 9-7 records in 2007 & 2008. Put another way, Bucs ownership sold their soul to the devil IMO when they canned Tony Dungy … one Super Bowl victory but the Bucs ‘identity’ was never the same after that.

    Always been interesting to me who Rich McKay wanted to replace Tony Dungy … Marvin Lewis … a defensive-minded coach. Marvin’s now been with the Bengals for 16 years. Not spectacular records (130-120-3 overall) but still a better winning percentage (52%) than any coach we’ve had since Tony Dungy (Gruden was 57-55 with our Bucs … 51%; the coaches who followed aren’t even close to that). And had it not been for the defense that McKay & Dungy built … and Kiffin ran … Gruden would’ve been a loser just like the HCs who followed him.

  17. martinii Says:

    Defense Rules:

    Well said and I agree with you 100%. One thing that stands out like a sore thumb is the Buc’s have never had a coach with a high winning percentage which translates into a team that has struggled over the years. With exception of the SB year winning has been an uphill battle. I think that is a big reason why we have learned that if you can’t make it work in 2-3 years, blow it up and start over, a philosophy that is beginning to wear on long term fans.

  18. D1QB Says:


    Dungy’ s last season was a win or go home deal. I’m not talking about one playoff game but rather a deep run that would have brought the locker room together.
    Fans constantly claim a coach has lost the lockerroom. Seldom is that the case but it was with Dungy.

    Rich McKay for all the love and praise you are sending his way , is the person most responsible for the team’s Super Bowl to inconsistent contenders and bottom feeders. Granted other factors played a role but the team was not set up to sustain the standard for which Dungy established. Had Dungy remained the team would have unravelled the same as it did and possibly much much faster.

    Gruden did what He had to do , and should have sought out a better franchise and signed there as opposed to staying with the team that was sinking fast.
    Dungy made out like a Bandit and was the real beneficiary of the situation.

  19. Nate Says:

    Yeah because kotter out his own mouth said me and Mike Smith had a agreement that whoever got hired first would hire the other

    Close to that bo sense….research and .publish that Joe it’s in an interview