COMMENTARY: If Dirk Koetter is the choice, he defies a pattern

By Rob Shore, SunCoast Sports


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers seem to be nearing the end of their search for a new head coach, a notion based partially on a report from ESPN analyst and former Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik that Dirk Koetter could be announced as the guy as soon as today.

You would think Dominik still has good sources at One Buc Place, so maybe this has legs.

(If Koetter is the guy, the Bucs had better hurry up. Hue Jackson was hired by the Cleveland Browns today, further depleting the pool of available coaches in the NFL.)

Does Koetter fit the mold of a Bucs head coach?

Well, the Glazers have now hired five head coaches, so many we can start to see a pattern: Tony Dungy to Jon Gruden to Raheem Morris to Greg Schiano to Lovie Smith. (Sam Wyche was there when the Glazers bought the franchise, so we’ll leave him out.)

And there isn’t a pattern that jumps out immediately. That group has two assistant coaches (Dungy, Morris), two with previous head coaching experience in the NFL (Gruden, Smith), one college head coach (Schiano), two with previous ties to the organization (Morris, Smith).

It’s all a little bit of Column A and a little bit of Column B. It’s hard to see where Koetter fits.

If there is a pattern to the Glazer hires, it’s that they seem to prefer defensive minds. Four of the Bucs’ five head coaches under the Glazers come from the defensive side of the ball

Koetter was the Bucs’ offensive coordinator last season, so scratch that.

So, we’ll look at other patterns.

Koetter would be taking his first gig as an NFL head coach at 56 (he turns 57 on Feb. 5). That’s old for a first-timer.

Recent coaches who got their first chance at 57 or older show a pretty good pattern. That includes Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians (59) and Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer (58), who both got their teams to the playoffs this season.

But that list also includes former Chicago Bears coach Marc Trestman (57), who was fired after the 2014 season. It also includes noted assistant coaches such as Dick LeBeau, Bud Carson and Rod Rust, who proved to be much better assistants than head coaches.

Koetter does have head coaching chops though, serving three seasons at Boise State (you could make the argument that he started the Broncos on their way to the power they now are), then six seasons with Arizona State.

Coaches who come the college game have a pretty good track record, actually. Recent examples include Jim Harbaugh (who came from Stanford), Chip Kelly (Oregon), Bill O’Brien (Penn State) and Doug Marrone (Syracuse).

Harbaugh, Kelly and O’Brien each took their teams to the playoffs. Harbaugh took the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl.

Of course, if you go back farther, you also get guys like Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer. And Nick Saban (who said today he has no plans to go back to the NFL).

But Koetter doesn’t quite fit there, because his college days are 10 years away. He’s been an NFL offensive coordinator since 2007.

Perhaps most importantly, he’s the only offensive coordinator that Jameis Winston has worked with in the NFL. It’s hard to argue with what Winston was able to do in his rookie season (4,042 passing yards, 22 passing TDs). That would be a pretty good reason to keep him around.

But we don’t even know yet that Koetter is the guy. He’s just a candidate, one that’s maybe a little more intriguing because he defies a pattern.

But given that the last three Bucs coaches couldn’t lead the team to the postseason, maybe that’s a good thing.

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