Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rumors & News

Community Tailgate: Best Head Coach Hire?

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With the NFL postseason in full swing, and four intriguing divisional playoff games on tap for this weekend, the league would probably like the focus to be on those games, and on the build-up to Super Bowl 50. Instead, this week’s news cycle has been dominated by Los Angeles relocation and head coaching changes, with several teams announcing new head coaches within the last few days.

In today’s Community Tailgate, we’re looking for your thoughts on those head coaching hires. Did any teams make mistakes by firing their previous coaches, or by not choosing a different replacement? Which hire do you like most? Are there any candidates who didn’t get a shot at a head coaching job this time around that you think would have been better choices for the teams making changes?

Here’s a recap of the changes made so far, via our tracker:

  • Cleveland Browns hired Hue Jackson to replace Mike Pettine.
  • Miami Dolphins hired Adam Gase to replace Dan Campbell (interim)/Joe Philbin (permanent).
  • New York Giants hired Ben McAdoo to replace Tom Coughlin.
  • Philadelphia Eagles are hiring Doug Pederson to replace Pat Shurmur (interim)/Chip Kelly (permanent).
  • San Francisco 49ers hired Chip Kelly to replace Jim Tomsula.
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers hired Dirk Koetter to replace Lovie Smith.

What do you think of the hires? Which moves do you like the best, or the least? Which coaches that didn’t get a shot should have received stronger consideration? Weigh in below in the comments section with your thoughts!

Bucs Hire Dirk Koetter As Head Coach

FRIDAY, 7:46am: The Buccaneers have formally announced that Koetter will be the team’s new head coach. According to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times (Twitter link), Koetter signed a five-year contract with the club.

THURSDAY, 10:42pm: The Buccaneers will officially introduce their new head coach at a Friday afternoon press conference, tweets Roy Cummings of the Tampa Tribune.

5:00pm: The Buccaneers and offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter are finalizing an agreement that will make him Tampa Bay’s new head coach, a league source tells Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). According to Schefter, the deal will be done shortly.Dirk Koetter

[RELATED: Dirk Koetter lining up Buccaneers coaching staff]

Koetter, who joined the Buccaneers as their offensive coordinator a year ago, interviewed for the 49ers’ head coaching job and was mentioned as a candidate for the Dolphins before those teams hired Chip Kelly and Adam Gase respectively. All along, Koetter was considered more likely to remain in Tampa Bay, with reports surfacing within an hour of Lovie Smith‘s dismissal suggesting that the OC was the front-runner to become the Bucs’ head coach.

Under Koetter’s guidance in 2015, the Bucs averaged 375.9 yards per game, good for fifth in the NFL. Tampa Bay also placed fifth in rushing yards per contest with 135.1 yards on the ground per game. With Koetter calling the plays, running back Doug Martin managed to get back to his old form, while 2014 third-round pick Charles Sims made great contributions as a pass-catching option.

Of course, it was Koetter’s work with first overall pick Jameis Winston that likely played the largest part in the Buccaneers’ decision to hang onto him. Koetter is the second offensive coordinator today poised to receive a promotion to head coach from his current team after building a strong rapport with his franchise quarterback — we saw the Giants do the same thing with Ben McAdoo, who has worked well with Eli Manning.

Before he joined the Buccaneers, Koetter served as the Jaguars’ offensive coordinator from 2007 to 2011 and the Falcons’ offensive coordinator from 2012 to 2014. While it’s probably not fair to attribute Matt Ryan‘s struggles this season entirely to Koetter’s departure, it’s still worth noting that Atlanta’s offense took a step backward in 2015. Per Football Outsiders, the Falcons slipped from 10th to 23rd in offensive DVOA.

As our head coaching search tracker shows, the Buccaneers also interviewed Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott and Cardinals offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin, in addition to Koetter. I noted earlier this week that the longer the Bucs extended their coaching search, the more likely it would seem that the team wanted to wait for one of those assistants still in the playoffs. But with the club choosing Koetter instead, there’s no need to wait.

Barring any additional firings, the Titans are now the only NFL team in the market for a head coach.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Coach Rumors: Caldwell, Eagles, Bucs, 49ers

Within the last couple days, most teams still seeking head coaches have made their decisions, even if they haven’t made those decisions official quite yet. The Giants and 49ers formally hired Ben McAdoo and Chip Kelly, respectively, while the Eagles and Buccaneers have reportedly settled on Doug Pederson and Dirk Koetter. Philadelphia will have to wait until Pederson’s Chiefs are eliminated from the postseason to officially bring him on board, while the Bucs and Koetter are said to be finalizing the terms of his deal.

The flurry of moves leaves the Titans as the only NFL team currently without a head coach, but that could change soon. Lions head coach Jim Caldwell remains on the hot seat in Detroit, and according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, the team has yet to make a decision on its coach, despite the fact that Caldwell and new GM Bob Quinn have met “on at least four different occasions.”

With most head coaching vacancies filled, Quinn has the luxury of being patient in making his decision, particularly if he ends up targeting candidates that survive their playoff games this weekend. Still, he likely won’t want to leave Caldwell twisting in the wind for too long, so I’d expect a decision sooner rather than later.

As we wait to see what the Titans and Lions do with their head coaching positions, let’s check in on some Thursday updates on coaching staffs around the NFL….

  • With Doug Pederson lined up for the Eagles‘ head coaching job, there has been plenty of speculation today on his coordinators. Here’s a round-up of those rumors:
    • Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link) identifies in-house candidate Pat Shurmur and Chiefs assistant Brad Childress as possible offensive coordinators for Pederson.
    • Anthony Gargano of 97.5 The Fanatic (Twitter link) hears that Childress will likely become the Eagles’ new OC, though I expect the former Vikings head coach probably be a candidate for the same role in Kansas City. For what it’s worth, Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Daily News tweets that Shurmur’s fate has not yet been decided.
    • On the other side of the ball, the Eagles have interest in Jim Schwartz as their defensive coordinator, though it’s not clear if he’s Pederson’s choice or the team’s, says Don Banks of SI.com (Twitter links). Banks adds that Schwartz has job offers as a defensive assistant from multiple teams.
    • Peter Schrager of FOX Sports (Twitter link) also identifies Schwartz as a DC candidate for the Eagles, while McLane tweets that Schwartz and Mike Pettine could both be names to watch.
  • With his odds of landing a head coaching job this year dwindling, former Falcons head coach Mike Smith is a candidate for the Buccaneers‘ defensive coordinator position, tweets Peter Schrager of FOX Sports.
  • Ryan Day, the Eagles‘ quarterbacks coach in 2015, is a name to watch as new 49ers head coach Chip Kelly considers his options for an offensive coordinator, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.
  • If the Bengals decide to replace offensive coordinator Hue Jackson internally, longtime quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese is the most logical candidate, writes Tom Pelissero of USA Today.

Browns Rumors: Manziel, QB, Mayhew, DC

When the Browns hired Hue Jackson as their new head coach, we heard almost immediately that the former Bengals offensive coordinator had made it clear he was prepared to move on from former first-round pick Johnny Manziel. Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (video link) echoes that sentiment, suggesting that the young signal-caller is “all but gone,” and it’s just a formality at this point that Cleveland will part ways with him.

According to Cole, the Browns, who hold the No. 2 overall pick in this year’s draft, are strongly considering using that selection on a quarterback, whether it’s Jared Goff, Paxton Lynch, or someone else. Waiting until the second round to nab a QB is also an option for Cleveland — it’s worth noting that, with the Browns and Titans flip-flopping in the second round, and the Patriots not having their first-round pick this year, Cleveland’s second pick will be 32nd overall, essentially making it a first-rounder.

Here are a few more Browns updates:

  • The Browns are attempting to move quickly to fill the vacancy in their front office, according to Josina Anderson of ESPN.com, who tweets that former Lions GM Martin Mayhew is a candidate for the job.
  • The opening in the Browns’ front office is a top personnel position, but not technically a general manager job, which means other teams will have more leeway to deny requests to interview their executives. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter), that has already happened with the Bears — the Browns requested permission to speak to Bears director of college scouting Joe Douglas, and Chicago turned them down.
  • Earlier this afternoon, we learned that Titans defensive coordinator Ray Horton is considered a top candidate for the Browns’ defensive coordinator job, if Tennessee is willing to let him go. Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com (Twitter link) hears that Buccaneers DC Leslie Frazier is also a candidate for the same position in Cleveland.
  • The Browns won’t retain quarterbacks coach Kevin O’Connell, according to Pat McManamon of ESPN.com. While O’Connell did a decent job with Manziel this past season, Jackson wants to pick his own guy for the job.

Dirk Koetter Lining Up Buccaneers Coaching Staff

Buccaneers offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter is lining up a prospective coaching staff in the event that he gets the Bucs head coaching job or any other head coaching job in the NFL, Alex Marvez of NFL.com tweets. PFT first reported (on Twitter) that Koetter was telling assistants that he had been given the top job in Tampa, but Mike Florio has since walked that report back (link). Dirk Koetter (vertical)

[RELATED: PFR’s 2016 NFL Head Coaching Tracker]

Koetter has been identified as the leading candidate for the Bucs’ head coaching position ever since the team canned Lovie Smith. On Tuesday, Koetter had his first official sit-down with Bucs brass, though he has apparently discussed the head coaching job with the team before.

As Pro Football Rumors’ 2016 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker shows, Koetter was among the baker’s dozen of known candidates for the Dolphins’ head coaching job before the gig went to Adam Gase. Presumably, the Bucs are happy with the work Koetter has done with No. 1 overall pick Jameis Winston and losing Koetter could be detrimental to his development.

Under Koetter’s guidance in 2015, the Bucs averaged 375.9 yards per game, good for 5th in the NFL. Tampa Bay also placed 5th in rushing yards per contest with 135.1 yards on the ground per game. With Koetter calling the plays, running back Doug Martin managed to get back to his old form while 2014 third-round pick Charles Sims made great contributions as a pass-catching option.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Checking In On NFL Head Coaching Searches

So far, seven teams have parted ways with their head coaches this month, and it’s possible that one or two more clubs will ultimately decide to make a change. While most of those firings occurred within a day or two of the regular season ending, only one team – the Dolphins – has hired a replacement so far. Miami tabbed Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase as its new head coach.

[RELATED: PFR’s 2016 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker]

With the NFL’s owners meetings in Houston coming to an end, teams seeking a new head coach can resume that process in earnest, and it’s possible some of those clubs will conclude their searches by week’s end. Here’s where each situation stands:Hue Jackson (vertical)

Cleveland Browns

Teryl Austin (Lions DC), Hue Jackson (Bengals OC), Doug Marrone (Jaguars OL coach), Sean McDermott (Panthers DC), Matt Patricia (Patriots DC)

In addition to the candidates listed above, the Browns also interviewed Gase, who has since joined the Dolphins, and Cowboys defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson, who appears poised to remain in Dallas.

It looks like Jackson is the top candidate in Cleveland, with the Browns said to be pursuing him most aggressively, though the club hadn’t put a formal offer on the table as of last night. Jackson is set to interview with the Giants today or tomorrow, and if he isn’t hired by New York, he looks like a decent bet to land in Cleveland.

It’s not clear who the Browns’ second choice would be, but it will have to be someone willing to work with the new analytics-oriented front office that includes former MLB executive Paul DePodesta. Despite Cleveland’s history and the club’s unusual front office structure, this job has some appeal, since the Browns’ new head coach will report directly to owner Jimmy Haslam and should have a say in personnel decisions.

New York Giants

Teryl Austin (Lions DC), Doug Marrone (Jaguars OL coach), Ben McAdoo (Giants OC), Mike Smith (former Falcons HC), Steve Spagnuolo (Giants DC)

The Giants reportedly value previous head coaching experience, which could make Marrone and Smith strong candidates, but the team also doesn’t want to lose McAdoo, which may mean promoting him. Giants owner Steve Tisch said on Tuesday that New York would like to wrap up its coaching search by the end of the week, but there’s still one notable interview on tap, with Hue Jackson set to meet with the club on Wednesday or Thursday.

Jackson is another candidate who has previous head coaching experience, and the fact that he plans on meeting with the Giants even after drawing strong interest from other clubs suggests that he’s intrigued by the job in New York. The Giants’ decision may hinge on how that interview goes.

Philadelphia Eagles

Tom Coughlin (former Giants HC), Ben McAdoo (Giants OC), Doug Pederson (Chiefs OC), Pat Shurmur (Eagles interim HC), Duce Staley (Eagles RBs coach)

After being initially linked to Gase, the Eagles were believed to be targeting Pederson as their next head coach, but that decision is far from final. While Shurmur and Staley don’t appear to be likely candidates to become Chip Kelly‘s permanent replacement, any of the team’s three other interviewees could be in play.

As Matt Lombardo of NJ.com details, ESPN’s Adam Schefter suggested during a radio appearance that McAdoo is drawing serious consideration from the Eagles and may be the front-runner. Coughlin’s interview went well too, though he probably isn’t the type of long-term option the Eagles would prefer. Unless the Eagles conduct additional interviews, the team’s decision may come down to Pederson or McAdoo.

San Francisco 49ers

Tom Coughlin (former Giants HC), John DeFilippo (Browns OC), Hue Jackson (Bengals OC), Chip Kelly (former Eagles HC), Dirk Koetter (Buccaneers OC), Anthony Lynn (Bills RBs coach)

The 49ers’ search has been one of the most confusing to follow over the last week to 10 days. After firing Jim Tomsula, the team was believed to be targeting coaches like Sean Payton and Stanford’s David Shaw, but both of those men preferred to stay where they were.

Jackson was then identified as the likely favorite for the 49ers’ job – or at least the team’s top choice – but a Tuesday report suggested San Francisco may be backing off that pursuit, perhaps due to the strong interest the Bengals OC is generating from other teams. Meanwhile, DeFilippo may be more of a target at offensive coordinator and Koetter is considered the odds-on favorite for the Bucs job, so it’s not clear if they’re seriously in the mix for the top job in San Francisco.

Could Coughlin or Kelly end up with the Niners’ job? Perhaps. According to Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com, the team doesn’t have any additional interviews on its schedule, and seems to be nearing the end of its coaching search. Although there has been speculation that the 49ers could circle back to a candidate they interviewed a year ago – such as Mike Shanahan or Josh McDaniels, among others – it doesn’t look like any of those potential candidates will get new interviews this time around.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Harold Goodwin (Cardinals OC), Dirk Koetter (Buccaneers OC), Sean McDermott (Panthers OC)

The Buccaneers’ head coaching search certainly hasn’t been as expansive as some others so far. The club got in meetings with Goodwin and McDermott during their teams’ respective bye weeks, and former Falcons coach Mike Smith has been mentioned as a candidate here. But Koetter, who had a formal interview this week, continues to look like the front-runner to replace Lovie Smith.

Of course, the longer the Buccaneers’ process lasts, the more it’ll look like the team is waiting for a second interview with someone like Goodwin or McDermott, so it’ll be interesting to see how this search plays out within the next few days.

Tennessee Titans


Interim Titans head coach Mike Mularkey, Jaguars offensive line coach Doug Marrone, and Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin are all believed to have meetings on tap with Tennessee, but the club has yet to conduct any of those interviews. Chip Kelly and others have also been linked to the job.

The Titans have prioritized hiring a general manager, and are expected to name one very soon. Frankly, while Mularkey has been considered the favorite for the team’s permanent head coaching job, it’s hard to get a real idea of what direction the franchise will go until that new GM takes over.

Other potential openings

New Lions general manager Bob Quinn is still considering whether or not to retain head coach Jim Caldwell, so Detroit could become the eighth team to seek a replacement if Quinn decides to make a change.

Additionally, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that one of the eight teams still alive in the playoffs makes a head coaching change, though I don’t think it’s likely, since none of those eight coaches are presumed to be on the hot seat. Packers head coach Mike McCarthy may have been at risk if his team had lost last weekend, but barring a total meltdown in round two, I’d be surprised if Green Bay makes a change.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Coach Rumors: Koetter, Bucs, Babich

Buccaneers offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, the presumed favorite to replace Lovie Smith as Tampa Bay’s head coach, has finally had a formal interview with the team, tweets Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times.

While Koetter’s name surfaced as a candidate for the job within minutes of the team parting ways with Smith, the Buccaneers interviewed two other candidates first — Cardinals offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin and Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott sat down with the Bucs during their respective teams’ bye weeks.

Let’s check in on a few more coaching-related stories from around the NFL….

  • The Chargers have hired former Jacksonville DC Bob Babich as their new linebackers coach, as Ricky Henne of Chargers.com writes. The job was previously held by Mike Nolan, who has moved on to other opportunities. Babich has 33 years of coaching experience, including his DC job in Jacksonville from 2013-2015.
  • Cowboys defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson, who interviewed with the Browns for their head coaching position, has elected to remain with the Cowboys, tweets Josina Anderson of ESPN.com. Henderson never seemed likely to land Cleveland’s HC job, but there were rumblings suggesting he would join Adam Gase‘s staff with the Dolphins.
  • Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer announced today that he has not renewed Jeff Davidson‘s contract, meaning Minnesota will be in the market for a new offensive line coach (Twitter link via Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press). Per Alex Marvez of FOX Sports (Twitter link), Giants offensive line coach Pat Flaherty will interview for the Vikings’ position.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Coach Rumors: Hue, Giants, Saban, Campbell

Hue Jackson, who has received legit interest from the 49ers and Browns, will fly to New York this week and will meet with the Giants no later than Thursday morning, reports Josina Anderson of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The Giants, who will talk to Jackson once the owners meetings in Houston conclude, are “serious” about the Bengals offensive coordinator, tweets Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News.

Here are a few more Tuesday morning coaching updates:

  • Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk wonders if Nick Saban will be any more open to an NFL return after adding another NCAA championship win to his résumé on Monday night. For what it’s worth, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times tweets that the Buccaneers are considering almost every head coaching possibility, including Saban.
  • Former Dolphins interim head coach Dan Campbell is free to seek other job opportunities, and has received inquiries from the Vikings, Cowboys, and Chargers, league sources tell Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post. A Monday report indicated that Campbell is likely to move on from the Dolphins.
  • For now, the Eagles aren’t planning any more head coaching interviews, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com, who tweets that the club will regroup and assess its options after this week’s owners meetings. La Canfora and ESPN’s Bill Williamson (Twitter link) both identify Chiefs offensive coordinator Doug Pederson as a strong candidate for the job.
  • The Colts are interviewing former Bears defensive backs coach Jon Hoke today, after having spoken to Bills DBs coach Donnie Henderson on Monday, per Alex Marvez of FOX Sports (Twitter links). While Henderson may not end up in Indianapolis, he won’t return to the Bills, a source tells Marvez.

Coach Updates: Joseph, Texans, Browns, Bucs

Earlier today, we passed along a report suggesting that former interim head coach Dan Campbell is unlikely to remain with the Dolphins. Now, Alex Marvez of FOX Sports has another update on Miami’s coaching staff, walking back his weekend report which suggested it was a “done deal” that Bengals assistant Vance Joseph would be joining the Dolphins as their defensive coordinator.

According to Marvez (Twitter links), Joseph can’t sign with another team until next Tuesday unless he’s released from his contract by the Bengals — the Dolphins could request Cincinnati release Joseph from his deal early, but the Bengals wouldn’t be required to do so.

Meanwhile, it’s not an absolute lock that Joseph will join the Dolphins when he’s free to sign with a new team. Per Marvez (Twitter link), there’s still a chance that the Bengals’ defensive backs coach could become Hue Jackson‘s defensive coordinator if Jackson gets a head coaching job, so a bidding war for Joseph’s services could be looming.

As we wait to see where Joseph lands, let’s round up a few more coaching-related updates…

  • The Texans have fired three assistant coaches, including special teams coordinator Bob Ligashesky, tweets John McClain of the Houston Chronicle. Wide receivers coach Stan Hixon and special teams assistant Anthony Pleasant were also let go.
  • Offensive coordinator John DeFilippo and three other Browns assistants have been asked to remain with the team if the new head coach wants them, according to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. That means defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil, special teams coordinator Chris Tabor, and several other Cleveland coaches will be free to explore opportunities elsewhere.
  • According to Peter King of TheMMQB.com, “word on the coaching circuit” indicates Jon Gruden would have listened very earnestly if the Colts‘ head coaching job had become available. Gruden has been linked to the Eagles’ coaching vacancy, but it doesn’t appear the ESPN analyst is going anywhere.
  • After former NFL GM Mark Dominik (Twitter link) alluded to a coach in the postseason who would be a strong candidate for the Buccaneers‘ head coaching opening, Josina Anderson of ESPN.com (Twitter link) identified that coach as Cardinals OC Harold Goodwin. Goodwin interviewed with the Bucs on Friday, but won’t be able to speak to the club again for at least a week, with Arizona still alive in the playoffs.

Sunday Roundup: Wood, Burfict, Koetter

As the Vikings and Seahawks do battle in frigid Minneapolis, let’s take a look at some links from around the league:

  • New Lions president Rod Wood admits to not having any football experience, but no one was especially concerned about that, as Wood is expected to handle the business side of the club while new GM Bob Quinn will handle the football side. But as Kyle Meinke of MLive.com writes, Detroit’s press release announcing Quinn’s hire noted that Quinn would report to team ownership and to Wood, which suggests that Wood could be wielding more power than initially believed.
  • Unsurprisingly, Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict is facing a suspension for his hit on Antonio Brown last night, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter).
  • ESPN’s Ed Werder believes it is “unlikely” that the Bengals will part ways with head coach Marvin Lewis (Twitter link), and Mark Maske of the Washington Post lays out the reasons for his belief that Lewis should stay.
  • Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel believes the Packers‘ efforts this season have been hampered by GM Ted Thompson‘s lack of in-season roster moves to address the team’s weaknesses. Since 2010, Green Bay has been awarded just two players on waivers, and Thompson has gone to the practice squad 70% of the time to fill vacancies on the 53-man roster.
  • Roy Cummings of the Tampa Tribune tweets that Dirk Koetter is still the leading candidate for the Buccaneers‘ head coaching job, though Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times tweets that Koetter “really impressed” the 49ers during his interview with San Francisco yesterday. Tampa Bay also interviewed Panthers DC Sean McDermott yesterday.
  • Gus Bradley is taking his time with the Jaguars‘ search for a new defensive coordinator and has yet to establish a deadline for the decision, according to Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida-Times Union.
  • Texans unrestricted free agents Ben Jones and Jared Crick both expressed their desire to remain in Houston, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter).
  • Meanwhile, two notable players have declared that they will enter the NFL draft: Arkansas RB Alex Collins (Twitter link via ESPN’s Joe Schad) and Utah State LB Nick Vigil (Twitter link via Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net).