This is an interesting time for the Buccaneers as a franchise. A move needed to be made to remove the stale Lovie Smith from control of the team, but with such a young offense, stability needed to remain as well. As we wrote about before the season ended, the hiring of Koetter as head coach was the most logical choice the Bucs could make.
"I will continue to be the play caller for the Bucs," Koetter said when asked about roles on offense.
Koetter also revealed that QB coach Mike Bajakian will have a "major, major role" in the offense as well. With those two statements, stability on the most important side of the football was made. Young players like Mike Evans, Donovan Smith, Ali Marpet, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, and Jameis Winston will now be able to grow together in the same offense for the next few years as each matures inthe NFL.
Stability on offense was definitely a key in the hiring of Koetter. The investment of 2 years of draft picks had already been made on that side of the ball, which leads us to the other side.
"The defensive staff is taking shape very quickly, and I’m really happy to announce today that we’ve come to terms with our defensive coordinator, Mike Smith," Koetter said on Friday.
With as much stability there will be on offense, the exact opposite can be said about the defense, and that's a very good thing. Lovie Smith, Leslie Frazier, and the entire defensive staff is already being replaced.
The major hire the Bucs have already made is with new defensive line coach Jay Hayes. Hayes has spent the last 13 years with Marvin Lewis and the Cincinnati Bengals. Of course, the Bengals have had one of the most physical and aggressive defensive lines in the NFL over that span. The Bengals also have had one of the more nastier defenses in the NFL as well, which is exactly what the Bucs need to add to their defense.
The Buccaneers also brought in new linebackers coach Mark Duffner to replace Hardy Nickerson. It is sad to see Nickerson go, but it should be completely understood that this defense needs new voices and new blood. Duffner is a long time assistant in the NFL, and was the linebackers coach with Mike Smith in Jacksonville in 2006 and 2007.
UPDATE: The Bucs have hired longtime NFL assistant Jon Hoke as the team's new defensive backs coach. Hoke was the Gators defensive coordinator in 1999, but the irony is that he was Lovie Smith's defensive backs coach from 2009-2012.
The final piece on defense will be deciding who stays and who goes.
Getting to see Dirk Koetter on ESPN on Friday and getting some national attention was nice, but it was what he said that was most encouraging.
"It's no mistake, we need to add players on the defensive side of the football," Koetter said.
Koetter would also say the Bucs need "smart and tough football players across the board.
The purge and restructure of the Bucs defense begins this off-season. I believe you are going to see a much more aggressive scheme run by much more aggressive and mean football players. On offense, the stability remains, and with that, the opportunity for young players to grow.
It's the perfect mix of stability and new blood for a team that needed that mix right now, but now they must translate that into winning.