The Buccaneers’ 2017 underachievement will not cost Dirk Koetter his job. Ownership informed the second-year coach he will receive a third season, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reports.
NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport also reports Koetter will coach the Bucs next season (Twitter link). The Bucs are 4-11 and have endured multiple five-game losing streaks, putting Koetter on most estimated chopping blocks. But the team will stick with the coach it paired with Jameis Winston last year.
In agreeing to bring back Koetter for a third year, the Bucs are giving him a longer leash than they gave Greg Schiano or Lovie Smith. Both coached two seasons in Tampa before being shown the door, Smith in favor of Koetter, his then-OC. The most recent Bucs coach to receive a third season was Raheem Morris from 2009-11. Koetter is 13-18 thus far in his NFL head-coaching career, but his 9-7 record last season represented Tampa Bay’s first winning season since 2010.
Winston’s shoulder injury played into the Glazers’ decision to stick with Koetter, Stroud reports. Stroud notes Winston has played well since returning from his injury-induced rest, leading the NFL in passer rating (114.5) and yards per attempt (9.25) over the past four weeks.
This news comes during a trying season, one that featured a reported rift between Winston and Koetter. The third-year quarterback shot that down, however, and proceeded to improve in the final part of the season. Koetter also said the reports of his job status being up in the air affected him. He no longer has to worry about that. Both he and GM Jason Licht — whose 2018 option was picked up in the offseason — are coming back next year.
That said, Koetter, Licht and Winston are set for critical years in 2018. Each’s stock having plummeted as a result of this underwhelming season — one that began with many projecting a Bucs playoff cameo.
This also ends the Jon Gruden speculation, but with Gruden’s 2007 Bucs outfit being the franchise’s last postseason entrant, Koetter’s seat figures to be scorching in 2018.
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