What Would Have Happened… ?

December 30th, 2018

“Don’t worry Smitty, I will be strong if the Glazers call me into a meeting this week.”

Last week, Jenna Laine of ESPN looked at possible turning points that kept the Bucs from having a winning season and instead prompted a coaching search as they potentially finish the year back in their home crib of Buccaneers Cove (last place in the NFC South).

There are all sorts of factors as to why the Bucs, after a promising start, circled the drain. Laine points out one is Koetter retaining Mike Smith after a horrible 2017 defensive showing.

If the Bucs wanted to open up their defensive-coordinator search outside the organization, they could have interviewed former Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Kris Richard, who has transformed the Dallas Cowboys’ defense this season as their defensive backs/passing game coordinator.

They could have also gone after Ken Norton, Jr., Jack Del Rio’s former defensive coordinator in Oakland who is now the defensive coordinator for the Seahawks, helping them to a ranking just outside the top 10 in points allowed.

Does Koetter regret not making a change sooner? He said previously that firing Smith, who was a mentor, was one of the toughest decisions he ever had to make.

There really was no excuse to keep Smith for this season other than Koetter and Smith are close friends. That may sound harsh but Koetter dumped defensive line coach Jay Hayes, also his friend, when his unit produced a putrid 22 sacks.

So if Hayes was expendable because of being last in the NFL, then why wasn’t Smith? Joe is pretty sure we all know why.

Now if you want to go all conspiracy theory and suggest someone higher up the food chain at One Buc Palace ordered the hits on Hayes and Smith, be Joe’s guest. Remember, two weeks before Smith was ousted, Koetter forcefully said he was not going to fire Smith because he didn’t think that would solve anything.

(If someone higher up than Koetter actually did order the hits on Hayes and Smith, that guy should be making more calls at One Buc Palace because the defense improved after they were fired.)

Just to give Joe’s readers a glimpse of how much better the defense is under current defensive coordinator Mark Duffner, the defense is allowing opponents roughly 100 yards less per game and about 10 fewer points a game since Smith was jettisoned.

That’s a big difference and, frankly, it makes Koetter look worse as fans and likely management and ownership wonder out loud, “Why on earth did you wait so long?”

Former NFL executive Michael Lombardi, on his Ringer.com podcast early in the season, flatly stated Smith was going to get Koetter fired. With the 2018 NFL regular season just hours from ending, it sure smells like Lombardi was dead-on accurate.

36 Responses to “What Would Have Happened… ?”

  1. westernbuc Says:

    I love the hindsight. Heck, why didn’t Koetter fire Smith in the offseason and just promote Duffner. Should have read his horoscope that morning.

    Ian Rapoport posted on NFL.com that no one knows what the Glazers are doing, and there’s a possibility Winston Licht and Koetter all stay on for one more year. Which would actually make sense. Licht picked the franchise QB, Koetter was retained to develop the QB, and the QB has one more year of tape to review before paying him near $30 million a year. Honestly, this makes the most sense, especially given that the Glazers aren’t great at hiring coaches. Not to mention, the coaching market isn’t exactly great either.

    Koetter and Monken have created the most potent offense in team history, consistently since Koetter arrived. In an offense driven league, you’d be stupid to throw that away just to hire some mediocre retread or a one hit wonder. Everyone wants the next Sean Mcvay, but they fail to notice the Rams have sucked for the past month.

    Point is, we’d be downright stupid to throw that away. Fact is, we have the closest thing to Sean Mcvay that’s available and willing to coach this team.

    Keep the band together, figure out the defensive staff and give Licht the directive to build a serviceable offensive line, get a real running back, and build on the secondary. So long as the QB doesn’t lose his mind, this team could be legit next year.

  2. james west Says:

    no thanks, it is time to go

  3. Alanbucsfan Says:

    The Rams lost to the Bears and Eagles because they couldn’t run the ball and were giving up sacks and interceptions.- sounds like the Bucs, doesn’t it?

    Bucs will improve when they change offensive line coaches and running scheme. The defense improved by changing coaches and scheme.
    Bucs need to invest high draft picks in Oline.

  4. Bucs fan #7423 Says:

    Most fans on here think we should have not fired Mike Smith so we could get higher draft picks!!!!

  5. Bob in Valrico Says:

    Good to see Duffner doing a better job,especially with the injries the defense has had.
    The offense has the most weapons and is the least effected by the injury bug.
    Critical mistakes, such as turnovers, drops, and untimely penalties resulted in a punchless offense all too often. More points needed to be scored to outpace other team’s offense not try to catch up to them. In the past few years we have more than our share of slow starts but now we are also experiencing problems scoring in the second half of games. Once again Licht has missed on RB in the draft. RoJo inability to make an impact and struggles in the passing game highlight Lichts another of Licht’s reaches that failed.
    On defense Licht didn’t have the vision to think ahead and get the right players on the team to develope in time for this season and beyond. Once again he reached for M. J. Stewart as his for his pick at corner who lacks the speed to stay with most receivers. Its possible Whitehead may turn into our best safety and an all important second round pick didn’t have to used to select him as with Justin Evans. Jason Licht bears a lot of responsibility for
    the defensive woes. His free agent signings are often injured or not good fits
    for this team.
    Koetter will probably take the fall ,but the man that failed to put together a quality roster should also get the axe.

  6. Buc believer Says:

    @Western Buc… one little problem with your scenario (which I don’t agree with to be honest) is that all the assistants are on expiring contracts. Doubtful that the Bucs will re up ALL of them with the possibility of being let go next year. JMO

  7. Kalind Says:

    What’s really frustrating is when, as a fan, you know you’re better at their job than them…

  8. westernbuc Says:


    True, but a job is a job. Most coaches would rather have another year with the same job title than be on the open market, relocate, and likely be demoted.

    Move on from Warhop and figure out the defense. Either go for a Kris Richards type (splashy) and let him pick his staff or promote from within.

    And for every coach that wouldn’t want to sign a one year extension, there’s a lot more that wouldn’t want to walk into this situation unless is was a complete rebuild.

  9. Duthsty Rhothdes Says:

    No decent DC was coming to Tampa for 1 yr with a coach that was on thin ice. Common sense you can look at this roster on the defense and see this is not a great place to coach. The offense is nothing special either esp w Godwin playing like dogwin….. jason licht needs to go

  10. Pete I Says:

    Dirk = 19–28
    Licht = 27-52
    Winston = 21-32
    Since Malcolm’s Stroke = 77 – 130

    Soon will need to update these guys resumes

  11. Harry in Costa Rica Says:

    @westernbuc, I disagree.

    We are all judged in hindsight. My problem with Koetter is his unwillingness to make tough decisions. His loyalty to Smith, Martin, etc. Is misplaced. His loyalty should be to the Bucs, first and foremost.

    Compare him to what the house cleaning Pete Carroll did this year. When you are the one running the ship, and you have better talent out there than what you have on your staff, you HAVE to make changes. The HC MUST get the best available talent on his team. THAT is Koetter’s job. Koetter will never do that

  12. Wausa Says:

    Keeping Smith as long as he did is strong evidence as to why this team lost so many games.
    Koetter is responsible for his own lack of vision.

  13. Scotty in Fat Antonio Says:

    So…..did the Bucs not extend Hayes right after their 22 sack season and then fire him a week later? Not sure I want the same guy involved in ANY Bucs decisions going forward.

    Oh, I think Dirk and Jason are staying. Who are they going to hire (that is any good) that actually wants to come here?

  14. TDTB Says:

    Don’t fire H.C. until you have something better lined up. Fire GM and O-Line coach. If you can bag a Harbaugh, Peterson or McDaniels, fire away. If not, hold and re-up for two years.

  15. RyJo Says:

    Accountability, Joe.

    That’s the reason the Glazers HAVE to fire Koetter. I’m of the firm belief that a big part of the losing culture around the Den of Depression (which this season isn’t confined to Raymond James but is instead a 1/2-mile radius around wherever the team happens to be at any given time) is that players see that Koetter is shy to fire anybody. Doug Martin was proving week after week that he wasn’t cut out to be the Bucs’ lead rusher; “our guys are our guys”. Kicker after kicker after kicker proved that he wasn’t cut out to be on the Bucs’ roster; “our guys are our guys”. Mike Smith puts up the worst defense in the entire league; “our guys are our guys”. Caleb Benenoch…you get the idea.

    If there Glazers bring back Koetter for another season, the message it sends is that mediocrity is tolerated. Football is a dangerous game. Players risk injury (sometimes career-ending and lifelong) every time they suit up. If the team leadership shows that it doesn’t care enough about team success to make the tough decisions and hold those who underperform accountable by showing them the door, that has to have an impact on player morale and motivation.

    Koetter will be fine. He will get snatched up as an OC for another team. OUR team, however, needs a new leader and a new direction.

  16. Jean Lafitte Says:

    this feels like Cleveland south. Fire the head coach every 2 to 3 years. Yep Cleveland south

  17. down in the dirt Doug Says:

    Western Buc. it’s time to cut Koeter and Lichts out. If we were a band we would play to a empty concert venue.Our manager would be drunk most of the time and band members would hate practicing and most would be tone deaf.

  18. ben Says:

    Licht is responsible for lack of talent…

  19. Elita Vita Says:

    Perhaps we should blame Fitzpatrick. Without his outstanding play in our 1st two games of the season we might be picking number 1 overall right now!

  20. Season Is Over Says:

    Just imagine having your franchise QB and still wanting to tank.

  21. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    I hate to break it to some of you, but it wasn’t the inability to run the ball that cost us this season.

    Barring today’s game, Kicking cost us exactly four games. Flip those games and we go 9-6 as of now.

    People are saying our offense cannot score points…but we’ve score more points than in our Superbowl year. We score .ore than enough points to win (outside of kicking). The biggest problem is stopping the other teams from scoring as many points.

    Our defense should not be tiring in games. We control the clock most of the time. We rack up yards on drives, letting the defense rest.

    No, this is not on the offensive at all. The passing offense works.

    Fix the kicking and defense and leave the offense alone, and this is a superbowl contender.

  22. The Buc Realist Says:

    Does not matter when JW3 torpedo the season!!!!!!!

  23. Bucs fan #7423 Says:


    Geezus Christ dude, how many point did mike smith defense give up per game?!!!?

    How many times did the kicker miss a field goal??!

    And you blame Jamies for our losing record????


  24. Fire The Fans Says:

    Realist, in reality, you’re a real idiot

  25. Bucs fan #7423 Says:

    I think Jamies has regressed as much as realist

  26. martinii Says:

    Buccaneer Bonzai:

    I agree100%. A lot of guys are going to lose their jobs, the Buc’s will spend a fortune trying to replace them and there is no guarantee that the new team will be any better. And the primary reason is they “CAN’T MAKE EASY FIELD GOALS AND POINT AFTER KICKS,” All the bitching and moaning and arguments and insults rest on this simple fact. We could be playing for the Playoffs today is we could have made a few kicks. And the Fact that Bonzai and others are absolutely correct is the biggest tragedy of all.

  27. IE Buc Says:

    The Bucs could have had a winning season if they would have fired Koetter mid-season along with Smith. Monken should have been interim HC and Monken should still be considered for HC next year.

    Licht’s failure to fire Koetter midseason should cost him his job. That and failing to trade Jackson.

  28. Bob in Valrico Says:

    Offenses go for field goals cause they failed to score TD’s. TD’s are the easiest and fastest way to win games. There are far more teams with prolific offenses
    that you have to match scores with now. Made field goals are partial failures.missed
    field goals are total failures.

  29. stpetebucsfan Says:

    #3 not only spoke highly of Koetter the past couple of days…he was absolutely effusive in his praise of Koetter and giving him credit for his growth at QB.

    I’m just not sure the Bucs haven’t gone to the three main characters in this plot and worked out an understanding and a deal. Licht, Koetter and Jameis all stay. Obviously they wouldn’t need to be told that the clock is running and a rotten start would be the end of them mid season.

  30. Bob in Valrico Says:

    Offenses go for field goals cause they failed to score TD’s. TD’s are the easiest and fastest way to win games. There are far more teams with prolific offenses
    that you have to match scores with now. Made field goals are partial failures.missed
    field goals are total failures.
    just a look at Jameis’s starts show only 12 td’s through the air in eight starts.
    thats not good enough.

  31. Bob in Valrico Says:

    Fitz ,even with 3 -4 TD’s games only scored 11 TD’s in his 7 starts.

  32. IE Buc Says:

    The fact that the Bucs were missed FGs and XPs away from being a playoff team is proof that Koetter should be fired. He should have fixed the special teams coaching.

    This team does not need a major coaching overhaul. Just tweaks in HC and some position coaching. On the defense, the team just needs a new DB coach. On the offense, only a new OL coach. Warhop must go. Special Teams desperately needs a new coach along with a must hire kicker specialist coach that can identify the problem and bring in the right kicker.

    This team can easily be fixed with either Monken or Duffner as head coach.

  33. Bob in Valrico Says:

    With 35 turnovers over the season, the kicking game game was far from the only reason we didn’t have a winning record, playoffs you’re kidding me.

  34. Fire Light Says:

    Fireeee Licht

  35. Fire Light Says:

    Licht Koetter, Fitz, MeJax, kickers… defense.

  36. Darin Says:

    Koetter got himself fired a year and a half ago. Nobody has told him yet. Smitty didnt get him fired. He is a terrible head coach.