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.
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.