It was just a few days ago, we made the detailed case for why the Bucs should consider replacing Lovie Smith as head coach of the Bucs with offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter. The biggest fear is losing Koetter to another organization. Unfortunately for the Bucs, losing Koetter could be a harsh reality that slaps them across the face this off-season.
Fox Sports' Peter Schrager tweeted that he had asked around the NFL, and pieced together the top 10 NFL head coaching candidates heading into the off-season. Bucs offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter was number 7 on that list.
7. Dirk Koetter, offensive coordinator, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Koetter has been a winning head coach in the college ranks at both Boise State and Arizona State and is often called a quarterbacks guru. Matt Ryan had his best numbers under Koetter in Atlanta, and Jameis Winston flourished in Tampa Bay this year. Koetter is a football lifer who's respected around the league. Amazingly, he still hasn't gotten a head coaching opportunity, but this might be the year.
Reading this should send any Bucs fan into a slight to significant panic. The Bucs have searched for a franchise quarterback for 40 years, and the Glazers have been desperate for one since Malcolm bought the team in the late 90's. They finally find that franchise quarterback, who is groomed perfectly by his offensive coordinator, but now that offensive coordinator is leaving after the new quarterback's rookie season? Uh oh.
Nothing is official, and Koetter might not even leave, but why wouldn't another team want to hire Koetter as their head coach. He has led offenses of 3 different organizations into the top 10 over the past 10 NFL seasons. He helped Matt Ryan to two of the best seasons of his NFL career. Now, he's grooming Jameis Winston into one of the great NFL quarterbacks. Koetter also brings an intensity and aggressiveness found in great NFL head coaches.
The Bucs must do anything it takes to keep Koetter on their sidelines moving forward. Fans want stability at head coach, but the best stability this organization can ask for is to keep Koetter within the walls of One Buc Place, and if that means replacing Lovie Smith with him, then so be it.
From a Bucs perspective, the rebuild of the offense is nearly complete, and now is in the developmental stage. This is a fragile time for so many young players on that side of the ball. On the other side, the defense is about to be gutted with numerous current players being shown the door and even more new players coming to that side of the ball. Since the rebuild on defense is just about to begin on defense, perhaps changes to the defensive staff should be made before more free agent money and high draft picks are invested into a defensive scheme that may not even be run by the next set of defensive coaches. (Say what you will, but Lovie Smith will be on a hot season entering the 2016 season anyways if he stays)
I would gladly sacrifice Lovie Smith and the entire defensive coaching staff if it meant Dirk Koetter remained in Tampa for the long-term future to develop the Bucs' new hope.