The questions that coach Dirk Koetter has about the Tampa Bay Bucs starts, it turns out, with Dirk Koetter.
A day after his team’s season-ending,17-16 victory over the Carolina Panthers, Koetter admitted that he was considering – just considering, mind you – surrendering his play-calling duties.
“I’ve been thinking about it a lot,” Koetter said. “I am probably not ready to make any crazy announcements on any of that today because I think about a lot of stuff all the time. I think all the time, how can I, in the stuff that I control, make us better and are there places where I am making us worse?
“I learned as a head coach, I’d love to have more time to get involved with individual players on a daily basis. When I do get a chance to talk to players one-on-one, I enjoy it. I enjoy the motivational part of trying to reach guys and different groups on the team. As far as my schedule goes, I am asking myself all the time, are the things I have to spend my time on, are those in the best interest of helping the Bucs win games or am I spinning my wheels on stuff that doesn’t really matter and what’s the most important things to helping us win?
“I’m contemplating how does our team get better in all areas? When we look at everything, if there is someone out there that can do a better job to help us than me calling the plays, then that’s something that we definitely need to look at.”
The Bucs finished the season 9-7 with fewer explosive plays than a year ago. Koetter said his team could use more speed.
“We need more speed and when we say playmakers, playmakers and explosive plays are one and the same,” Koetter said. “Guys that can make explosives, guys that can catch a 10-yard pass, break one tackle and turn it into a 30-yard gain. Our run after the catch is not where it needs to be. And again, anything that we’re saying here is not an indictment on the guys we have because the guys you have are the guys you have and you’ve got to coach the heck out of them.
“Once again, it goes back to the thing I said in the beginning, I think this team did a good job of playing as close to their talent level. That’s a hard thing to judge, it’s not an exact thing. In my opinion, we played close to our talent level.”
Koetter said that he could spend time doing other things if he didnt have to worry about play calling.
“I’ve always been a play caller,” Koetter said. “I love being a play caller. That’s one of the best things about the game, but with being the head coach this year, I have more responsibilities and I have really enjoyed my interaction with the players. I’ve really enjoyed to go in and do the team meetings every day. That takes time. I don’t just get up there and wing it from the hip like I do in here (laughs).
“It actually takes preparation time. Everything I say in front of the team. I take very seriously. So, I want to back it up, not just BS those guys. I try to never BS those guys. So, I ask myself, ‘If I spent more time on it, could I do a better job?’ But, at the same time, I look around the league at other, there’s plenty of other coaches in the league that are doing it the way we did it here this year. You look at some of the guys I consider top play callers in this league; (Green Bay coach) Mike McCarthy, (New Orleans coach) Sean Payton, (Kansas City coach) Andy Reid. They’re guys that have been the play caller, they’ve given it up and they’ve always taken it back. When that day comes when I do give it up, I don’t want to take it back. I want to be sure.”
Koetter said he was unsure if guard J.R. Sweezy, who missed the entire season, would be ready next year.
“That is a question that I can’t answer,” Koetter said. “The thing about J.R. is, we did our evaluation based on his time in Seattle and we were very excited about what we bringing into the mix here. He had an unfortunate injury that none of us control. The result of that surgery, for whatever reason, he hasn’t come back, he hasn’t come back from that injury. I’m not a doctor, but what I do know is, we haven’t seen him on the field.
“So at this point, it’s been over a year since he’s played and we really don’t know what we have because until we see him on the field healthy, that’s an unknown. I think if it ever comes to that point where we have a healthy J.R. Sweezy on the field and he’s the player he was that we thought we were getting when we were looking at the Seattle tape, then I think he just adds another one to the depth I already talked about at O-line. But, do we ever get to that point? I do not know that.”
Koetter said that being a head coach in the NFL is a chore.
“It’s demanding,” Koetter said. “I thought I was ready for it and still think that today, but I also believe that you learn and you’ve got to admit your mistakes and you know what? Sometimes my mistakes that I admit to aren’t the same ones you guys think I miss. You guys are still criticizing me for some that I don’t think I miss. But the ones I think I’ve made, I’ll be the first to admit them. And I’ll be better next year than I was this year and I’ll be better the year after that than I am next year.”