Bucs Head Coach Dirk Koetter talked about his reunion with defensive coordinator Mike Smith Thursday, touching on their history together and then elaborating on what they need to do in order to get the team ready for regular-season ball.
"Coach Smith and I go back to our Jacksonville days, and we talk almost every night about how the day went and what we expect from the next day (of practice)," Koetter said. "If we can get Jameis and Mike Evans on the same page like me and Mike Smith are, we're going to be in good shape."
Dirk Koetter and Mike Smith have been on similar wavelengths for awhile, dating back to the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2007 when they served as separate coordinators beneath current Raiders Head Coach Jack Del Rio. When Smith took the head coaching position for the Atlanta Falcons in 2008, he hired Koetter to be his offensive coordinator four years later. Now, with their roles reversed for the Buccaneers in 2016, Smith's specialty of unpredictable defensive scheming will be in full effect, while Koetter's grooming of one Jameis Winston will continue to progress.
Having worked with a talented passer in Matt Ryan just a few years ago, Koetter's touted quarterback-whispering ability will be on display this season as he works to improve the chemistry between Jameis and WR Mike Evans. Meanwhile, on the defensive side of the ball, DC Mike Smith plans to implement his flexible scheme focused on accentuating certain players' strengths, while making the coverages confusing for opposing offenses. Also with the hire of Smith included yet another previous instructor of Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan (in addition to Koetter being Falcons OC prior to the Bucs). This inadvertently gives the Buccaneers an even larger coaching advantage when it comes to facing their twice-a-season NFC South nemesis, as they now have not one, but two gridiron masterminds that are both very familiar with the same rival quarterback, having coached him just years ago.
One thing is clear-- Koetter and Smith are already on the same page as coaches, and they both know that the chemistry between players needs to emulate that of their own. Grinding out hours of work in the offseason with a retooled roster should accomplish just that, and their rich history of coaching together may prove to be a bigger advantage than we all thought come autumn.
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