Koetter Should Share Blame

April 19th, 2019

Yesterday Joe reviewed defensive players drafted in the past three drafts and how quickly they were moved to another position, or changed positions immediately after former Bucs coach Dirk Koetter was dismissed.

While a lot of folks take the knee-jerk reaction to blame Bucs AC/DC-loving general manager Jason Licht, Joe is one to point a finger at Koetter.

Look, Joe likes Koetter and it is hard to call him a bad football coach the way he got results from his offense. But as an NFL head coach, Koetter wasn’t a good fit.

Koetter’s biggest issue, aside from not developing a running game since he was forced to by inept coach Lovie Smith, was his blind allegiance to his friend and former Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith.

Yeah, you could argue Licht drafted players that didn’t fit Smith’s defense. Well, where was Koetter to tell Smith to change his defense? Or how about getting a defensive coordinator in here that knew how to use these players?

Koetter irresponsibly waved off any issues with the defense using the crutch that he would just foul things up if he got involved. It reached a point where expecting Koetter do something about the defense was like expecting a teenager to make his bed or wash the car or clean the gutters without any hounding.

Sorry Dirk, you are as responsible for that defense as Smith was. If Smith wasn’t using players correctly, Koetter should have found someone else to run the defense. (Yeah, the Bucs did change defensive coordinators when it was way too late, but it isn’t clear whose call that was.)

In the end, it was comical how Koetter covered for Smith and his worst-defense-ever-witnessed-by-man. Koetter would react in anger when anyone hinted Smith kept his job because of their friendship, but it was the only logical reason Smith even had a job; he shouldn’t have been brought back for a third year.

It’s easy to throw darts at Licht for picking players he thought had a chance to succeed (not suggesting he is blameless). But where was Koetter to ensure that his defensive assistants were developing and using these guys properly?

Koetter was just as culpable.

22 Responses to “Koetter Should Share Blame”

  1. SteveK Says:


    Good point!

    I also put some blame on Jameis for being suspended to start the year, setting everything off.

    Now or never for Licht and Jameis! Can’t wait.

  2. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    There is no question that the HC & in particular the DC share the blame for player selection in the draft…….
    Most of the misses are in the DB……..and the jury is still out on Benenoch & Cappa…….Licht has tried to get by on the cheap with Olinemen and it hasn’t worked so well. I don’t really blame Koetter for that.
    The one mitigating factor is that DBs in college aren’t always matured yet into their positions….and many are moved from CB to S & vice-versa.

  3. Bob in Valrico Says:

    Any Gm that brings in players like Baker ,T J Ward deserves 1/3 of the blame .
    DJAX at best was divisive. Licht failed to realize that signing DJAX would not alleviate the deep ball accuracy issues Jameis has had. At this point Jameis will be most effective when his passes reach out to 35 yards and under. Having completed about 40 passes over 20 yards over the last three years, he lags behind the better deep ball passers in the league. Consider Majomes completed 90 and Big Ben around
    77 if memory serves.
    All the time that Licht was building the offense, the defense was forced to utilize
    some plug in players who didn’t plug in well.

  4. GhostofSchiano Says:


    You wrote in a few posts that Koetter stated he was “hands off” on the defense, stayed away etc.

    I have never seen or heard of a HC doing that. It was a huge red flag for me and could see the writing on the wall.

  5. FortMyersDave Says:

    Okay Joe, you make a good point in that Koetter was responsible for allowing Mikie Smith to run the D and the Bucs into the ground but who did not step in to force Koetter to make a change until the Bucs were embarrassed in the ATL after a bye week? Well, the blame there has to be shared by Licht and the ownership. The Glazer lads should have had the stones to tell Koetter that his retention in the 3rd season was contingent on cutting Smith loose after the 2017 debacle. I am sure the Glazers had their reasons for letting things play out as they did (losing a bidding war for Chuckie, actually buying whatever BS Koetter laid on Licht and the lads, etc…) but it sure makes the franchise look like it had absolutely no clue about putting some sort of plan for returning this cub to respectability. So in a nutshell, Koetter was a horrible head coach, Smith was a even more horrible DC and that does not absolve Licht or the Glazer lads from allowing this 2018 train wreck to occur…. Steve K’s point about the Jameis’ suspension is valid as well but I suspect that this team was simply destined to fail given how poor that defense was…..

  6. TheBucsAnthem Says:

    Sorry, but the GM is at the top of this food chain due to no President of Football operations.

    THE GM is to blame…….period.dot.blank!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Fire Gump now

  7. Duthsty Rhothdes Says:

    Licht is responsible for this dumpster fire at one buc & now he brings in an HC that is not 100% all in to do the actual coaching that made him who he is. They should have cut bait with every person last season at one buc. Now there will be 2 more BS years followed by a 3-4 year rebuild. Bet the falcons have an record setting offense similar to the chiefs this year, look for falcons to be back in NFC championship

  8. Cobraboy Says:

    Of course he was just as responsible as Smith.

    But that does not mean the Licht drafts were bad because of crap coaching on defense.

    Time will tell, but I won’t be at all surprised if the New Bucs D turns out to be an impressive unit.

  9. Bird Says:

    Mike smith had a scheme ?

    Dude was trapped in coaching a defense from 15 years ago.
    The game has evolved and mike smith did not

    That is entirely on Koetter

  10. D-Rome Says:

    Koetter irresponsibly waved off any issues with the defense using the crutch that he would just foul things up if he got involved. It reached a point where expecting Koetter do something about the defense was like expecting a teenager to make his bed or wash the car or clean the gutters without any hounding.

    Dirk Koetter was an inept head coach. Simple as that.

    Which one is it, Joe? Either Backstabbin’ Jason Licht wrested control of the team from Lovie Smith (as you have claimed many times) or he did not. It’s not possible to pick and choose who made what call in the draft room with regards to picking players.

  11. Not there yet Says:

    Like he said after every loss it was a team effort but it starts with me. We wouldn’t be blaming smith if dirk had fired him. He gets no credit for having a good offense I mean he’s an offensive coordinator my goodness. I could see being hands off if your defend was good but couldn’t believe he ignored how bad it was and actually came up with excuses that basically led to licht instead of bad coaching

  12. Dapostman Says:

    Dirk Koeter is a very good passing game coordinator. That is all he has to fall back on for 4 seasons in Tampa. He is the epitome of the Peter Principle in the work place.

    Arians and his staff are professional coaches who should at least make some of these guys better players.

    Bum Phillips once said of Don Shula, “he’ll take hisens and beat yourens and then take yourens and beat hisens.” That is what coaching is. Putting players in position to win.

  13. SB Says:

    Ed Oliver!!!!

    GO BUCS!

  14. TOM Says:

    I’ll admit Koetter & Smith are partially the blame but most is on Licht’s shoulders. Afterall I believe he had the final say in the draft room. Well until this year hopefully. Licht may very well be the worst GM in Bucs history.

  15. 813bucboi Says:

    dirk needed lovie to produce a run game and needed someone other than smitty to teach him defense….lol….

    and why was he “promoted” again?….lol….

    @realist with the excuses in 3,2,1….lol….


  16. Magadude Says:

    Good article, but here is the bottom line. Koetter and Smith paid the price. They are gone. Everything here on, even if it’s a problem Arians inherited, is owned by him. Clock is ticking.

    And the hour glass is also running low on Licht. Given the dynamic and history between the two, Arians seems clearly expected to be the one to save Licht’s job. Tall order.

    And if Arians doesn’t produce and the Glazers fire both of them, it’s on them for waiting too long.

    And it’s also on the Glazers for not hiring a team President to be able to simultaneous coaching and GM searches.

    But of course…they own the team, so we’re just along for the ride for as long folks are willing.

    32 fan bases have high hopes right now. Go Bucs!

  17. Magadude Says:

    So by reading this, and Joe is right, but let’s be clear that Arians is already making his bed…with own buddies getting hired. Succeed, and Arians will be considered a genius…fail…and he goes down in the annals with Lovie Smith. At the end of the day, they all get their millions, laugh to the bank, while fans hold the bag…and pay through the nose to watch a bad football team.

    Ah, but this is a new year. Full of hope. Fool me once, shame on you…fool me 39 times….

    Not buying any of it. Arms length.

  18. Bucsfanman Says:

    “Share” the blame?! B.S.! He gets ALL the blame, he’s the HEAD coach. Next in line is ownership for allowing such a disconnect!

  19. Loyaltotheend Section 312 Says:

    Koetter was an improvement over Loser Lovie but as a HC you are responsible for the team and Dirk failed the fans and t am by bringing Smitty back for year 3

  20. gotbbucs Says:

    Everybody and their grandma could see that all of the defensive backs other than Grimes were more comfortable playing close to the line of scrimmage. Heaven forbid they let players play how they feel most comfortable playing.
    Say what you will about Schiano, he let the players make the defense, not the other way around, and coincidentally that was the last time this team had a halfway decent looking defense.

  21. westernbuc Says:

    Nope. Mike Smith’s defenses are accused of being vanilla (Chris Simms), so if that’s true, why would Licht draft guys that aren’t going to fit?

    It’s the GM’s job to bring in talent that fits. Licht drafted Aguayo for God’s sake. He can’t hit on the 2nd round to save his life. He’s failed shoring up the offensive line, and now he completely bungled GMC and DJax. Not to mention Licht has failed repeatedly at free agency. You can’t blame coaches joe bad drafts, bad strategy, and bad free agency.

    Here’s what you guys fail to mention. At the end of 2017, a season where his starting QB was injured for most of the games, the Glazers were looking to hire Jon Gruden. A process that dragged out for months, never silenced by ownership until he got hired by the Raiders.

    So you have a GM that’s failing at his job, ownership undercutting you, and a hurt QB who promptly gets suspended. Even if he fired Mike Smith, who would want to walk in and replace him? And what coach, or even his players, succeed in a poorly run franchise?

    There’s one common denominator, and it’s the Glazers. Simple as that.

  22. AlphaWest Says:

    Lots of cooks in the kitchen for last year’s turd on a platter, but Mike Smith’s control of the D is at the very top of the list. Koetter gets an honorable mention for Best Enabler of the Year, but there’s a reason many on last year’s staff have new jobs and Smith is retired.