Time’s Up

December 30th, 2018

Ira looks at tonight’s Dirk Koetter firing


The Dirk Koetter era began with a few tears. It ended with a few jeers.

In his introductory news conference as the 11th head coach In franchise history, Koetter became emotional on Jan. 15, 2016. Who could blame him for tearing up as the son of a football coach reached the top of his profession?

But after three years of calling the shots, Koetter was told his services were no longer needed at One Buc Place. Listen closely enough and you can hear thousands of disgruntled Buc fans applauding ownership’s decision to move on.

In the end, Koetter had the respect of his players but lacked confidence from the Glazers, who watched on in shock as a 2-0 start to this season ended in a flurry of turnovers, penalties and setbacks.

Koetter simply didn’t win enough. You can talk about injuries, bad calls or bad karma, but Koetter said it himself many times during his 3-year reign: the NFL is a production-based business.

When the Glazers entrusted Jason Licht with the authority to hire Lovie Smith’s replacement, Koetter was the obvious choice. With rookie quarterback Jameis Winston taking every snap, the Bucs set a franchise record for total yards in 2015, with Koetter diagramming and calling the plays.

“When I started this search for a new head coach, the focus was on finding someone that could be a strong leader as well as a consummate teacher, and Dirk is both,” Licht said on that fateful day. “He brings the passion and drive that will re-energize our organization and help us establish the winning culture that will help us become the championship-caliber team that our fans deserve.”

But it didn’t happen.

Mastered Losing

With the exception of that 5-game winning streak in 2016, Koetter’s Bucs kept finding way to lose. Travel proved particularly challenging as Tampa Bay dropped 16 of its final 18 road games under Koetter.

“Dirk has a proven track record,” said Bucs co-chairman Joel Glazer in introducing Koetter at that 2016 news conference. “That’s why we collectively believe that Dirk is the right man to move this team forward and make this community proud.”

When the Koetter era started off 8-5, the Tampa Bay community was all in on the offensive guru from Pocatello. The Bucs were in charge of their own playoff destiny, but the wheels suddenly came off and they were never reattached.

Koetter praised the Glazers for their courage in bringing him back after last year’s 5-11 fiasco. They gave him a third year to turn things around, which was one more year than they afforded predecessors Lovie Smith and Greg Schiano.

With a difficult early schedule and Winston serving a suspension, many Buc fans braced for an 0-3 start. But Ryan Fitzpatrick had other ideas, pulling off what is still the shocker of the NFL season in Week 1, beating Drew Brees in a shootout.

A well-deserved win against the Eagles stirred optimism before the storm hit. A 1-7 stretch doomed this football team to its 11th consecutive season without a playoff appearance.

Through it all, Koetter tried to remain resolute.

No Hall Of Shame

He stayed on message, rarely singled out a player for poor play and kept grinding. The only time that steely gaze flinched came when he dismissed Mike Smith as defensive coordinator.

That was a tough one for a loyal head coach who once served on Smith’s staff in Atlanta. A nudge likely came from above his pay grade, but Koetter did what had to be done, albeit reluctantly.

If Koetter wants an NFL job running an offense,, he’ll likely have his choice of a few destinations. But it won’t be in Tampa, where he ceded play-calling duties to Todd Monken in 2018 and saw the Bucs post one of the league’s most potent passing attacks.

Koetter won’t go down as one of the worst head coaches in Buccaneer lore. Those spots are held down securely by Tampa Bay’s Mount Rushmore — Leeman Bennett, Ray Perkins, Schiano and Smith.

But after registering a winning record as a rookie head coach, Koetter lost his way and the Bucs lost way too many games. He failed to win the blowouts on the road or the close ones at home.

And perhaps most importantly, Winston failed to improve significantly in their four years together.

“I love being involved with the quarterback … that’s my No. 1 area of expertise,” Koetter said upon taking the job. “Trust me, I’ll be spending plenty of time with Jameis.”

Dirk Koetter was just informed: time’s up.

36 Responses to “Time’s Up”

  1. Tbbucs3 Says:

    This is nothing to be excited about, as long as Jason Licht is employed, nothing will change.

    The Lovie Smith era continues in Tampa Bay………

  2. AleteredEgo Says:

    What a freak’n mess…..what a freak’n mess….

  3. NPRSageBoy Says:

    Still in shock that Jason Licht remains as GM. He’s as much (or more) to blame for this team’s sorry state.

  4. Patrick Says:

    Hey Dirk shouldn’t feel bad at all honestly: Dungy and Gruden have also been fired by this franchise. His coaching career will go on

  5. Troy Says:

    Licht needed to go as well. He’s responsible for this train wreck as much as Dirk. Do you feel good about letting Licht hire another coach? I know I don’t. Also, did you see what happened in Jacksonville – players got called out by name for their BS. It was refreshing and something that is sorely needed in Tampa.

  6. Bucsfanman Says:

    Keeping Licht? The guy who put the groceries on the table? 3 years worth of 2nd round misses?

  7. RyJo Says:

    I had forgotten how optimistic we all (fans as well as media) were when Koetter was elevated to head coach.

  8. Dlavid Says:

    Here we go again ….

  9. AleteredEgo Says:

    Licht saved his job and didn’t have the balls to cut Jameis so he threw Koetter under the bus…Folks I’ve seen it all as a Bucs fan from 0-26 as a season ticket holder….only the delusional think this is a good sign…..Folks the diarrhea is just beginning in the worst illness in Buc history…this will be a multi year collapse …you think it has been bad ?…you ain’t seen anything yet….

  10. Krojen Says:

    We sucked with personnel before Koetter with Licht, we sucked with personnel during Koetter’s time with Licht, we’ll suck with personnel after Koetter with Licht.

  11. BigMacAttack Says:

    Dirk was a total failure. He’s the worst head coach the NFL has seen in a long time. And worse than Chip Kelly. Good riddance Mr Bad Decision Maker.

  12. Loyaltotheend Says:

    So if the new coach can’t maintain a top 10 offense and overcome Lichts bad roster moves he’s gone in 2 years and Ira is writing this same article

  13. Mike Says:

    It’s beyond disgrace Ira! Just read Lichts quote regarding Koetter and his last coaching search. This guy is a central part of the problem. I call on the media to get it in gear and run this clown out of town!!!

  14. Cobraboy Says:

    Dirk Koetter is a good man and a fine offensive coach. The Bucs could have chosen a lot worse and I’m sorry it didn’t work out.

    I was happy other coaches got fired, I’m not happy with this one, but it needed to be done.

  15. westernbuc Says:

    The only saving grace this franchise has is that they retained Licht.

    Oh well, at least we’ll win the offseason again!

  16. AleteredEgo Says:

    Wait until DJax spreads the word…ain’t no free agents coming here other than for a payday….

  17. Mike Says:

    Altered Ego is spot on- although Koetter sucks too, and Jameis should stay

  18. ElioT Says:

    The silver spoon Glazer kids have proven once again that they have no idea how to run a football franchise.

    Now we have #lichtmyb*lls running the show who has PROVEN to be awful at player talent evaluation search for the next head coach.

    This guy owns a horrific performance record working with an open checkbook, tons of cap room and a boat load of draft picks over five years and his team is one of the biggest embarrassments in pro sports over that same span.

    This is, by far the worst feeling I’ve had about this team in my life.

    There is no hope.

  19. Alaskan Abdominal Snowman Says:

    Wait until D-Jax spreads the word?
    That might be one of The stupidest thing s I’ve ever read here lol.
    You sound like a little kid, ooo I’m gonna tell on you.
    DJax is about to lose some money next year.

  20. Buc believer Says:

    I am def NOT excited at all! Licht sucks but yet these boneheaded Glazer klan allow him to stay on so we can suck again next year. WOW!!!

  21. ElioT Says:


    Try and sell this sh*t show for 2019 idiots!!!

    Somewhere the Bucs marketing director is looking for his strongest neck tie and a solid ceiling fan.

  22. Mike Says:

    Eliot I’m right there with you

    Here is my idea for a marketing campaign-

    Time to LICHT this dumpster fire once and for all!!!

  23. Rod Munch Says:

    Dirk is a guy who should have never been more than a coordinator. His teams were often unprepared, outcoached, failed to make halftime adjustments and his offense was mostly ridiculously predictable, certainly in the run game they were. This was literally why I said in 2016 that Lovie SHOULDN’T be fired YET. Dirk should have remained as the OC for at least one more year, should have continued working with Winston and calling plays from the booth where he was dramatically better than calling plays from the sideline, and I think the entire team would be in a better place right now.

    But nope, the moron online lynch mob had to run Lovie out of town and didn’t understand the idea of not making your OC your HC since that splits his team and means your young franchise QB now doesn’t have a real OC. Guess what, that’s exactly what turned out happening, and it’s why you don’t listen to lynch mobs, ever.

  24. Brett Says:

    Hey Ira. The Glazers clearly fired Lovie to anoint Dirk. It was not Jason’s decision. Maybe they realize they need to get out of the way of real football people now or maybe they don’t. We’ll see.

    I agree with Cobraboy, a few comments up. In the history of Bucs coaches, this is one of the best ones who didn’t succeed. Sorry to see him go. He isn’t Leeman Bennett or Ray Perkins.

  25. ElioT Says:

    Even more damning on #lichtmyb*lls is this:

    • He signed D-Jax knowing (I hope) that this locker room was not strong enough to police a diva like that and then when it was clear D-Jax wanted out, he F*CKING let it fester instead of trading his a** immediately or at very least get him to STFU so he’s still have some trade value this offseason with that $11 million price tag.

    By the way…

    ***Jackson doesn’t have to spread the word, there are ZERO players that want to come to Tampa for anything other than a payday and it’s been that way for a long time.

    Our only decent acquisitions have come via the JPP trade and waiver wire pick ups.

    Total APATHY!

  26. Darin Says:

    Id take Schiano and smith in a heartbeat over klueless. Glad i dont have to tho. We need a head coach not a quitter

  27. Fire Light Says:

    They Canned Koetter!!! Jason Licht is up next!

  28. Bigtruck Says:

    I for one am happy Licht is being retained. There is enough talent on this roster to win. I’m not saying there aren’t holes because there are, but Licht’s misses in the second round aren’t nearly as insurmountable as the bad coaching has been. Furthermore, with the exception of the Aguyo pick, at the time all of those second round picks were made a good case can be made that Licht took arguably the most or one of the most talented players on the board. How many mocks had Spence going to the Bucs at 9 overall?!? It was thought to be a steal at the time. I think Licht can find talent as evidenced by the late round/ undrafted contributors on the team. I’m excited to see Licht’s pick as head coach in his first true opportunity to hire one since we all know that The Glazers clearly weren’t going to let Dirk get away after his first year running the O. I am sad to see Dirk fail here. I really hoped he’d be the guy. Go Bucs.

  29. Pickgrin Says:

    Sage had this article already ready already….

  30. AleteredEgo Says:

    Licht has a Buc history of making desperate decisions….he saved his own skin by telling the Glazers what he thought they wanted to hear….there ain’t no hope in football and even less luck in football and Licht is counting both….forget about Monken and cherry picking your favorite assistants to mix and match with the next HC…if that happens the next HC is a patsy puppet….I simply can not see this working out….essentially a rebuild….

  31. LutzBuczFan Says:

    Licht is going to hire the Noah Spence of coaches!

  32. Fire Light Says:

    Firrreeeeee Licht!

  33. Fire Light Says:

    Firreeeeeee Licht!

  34. Not there yet Says:

    Everyone is crying about Licht not being fired. You were begging his forgiveness in the off-season. Yes he was shopping for the groceries but it doesn’t matter what ingredients you bring home is the cook sucks. I think you people are nuts thinking we need to do a full reboot. The Glazers are not trying to rebuild and this is a roster that can win. Koetter is trash and he’s had a better roster than anyone since Gruden was fired. He’ll get this draft to prove his worth. We have to have someone in here that won’t allow a head coach to come in here and do what Lovie did. We basically need to get rid of most of the big salary small production players

  35. #1bucfan Says:

    Koetter had one of the best offense in the whole league Bad coaches can’t do that smh. Yea he prob should of stayed a O.C instead of being promoted he couldn’t make the right decision that H.C. need to make

  36. Tampa Bay Demon Says:

    BigMacAttack Says:
    “(Dirk)’s the worst head coach the NFL has seen in a long time.”


    That is DEFINITELY not true, BigMac.
    However, it was probably time for him to move on, yes.