Talking their way into the 2018 Bucs’ season …

by Gary Shelton on January 5, 2018 · 0 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

Koetter and Licht have a lot of work to do../JEFFREY S. KING

Koetter and Licht have a lot of work to do../JEFFREY S. KING

Thursday, 3 a.m.

(A conversation that might have happened).

JASON LICHT: Congratulations. You kept your job.

DIRK KOETTER: Congratulations. You kept yours.

LICHT: Kind of like Blazing Saddles, huh. Only without the Ping-Pong paddles.

KOETTER: (quoting): "We've got to protect our phony-baloney jobs, gentlemen."

Both laugh, gaze through the window at the practice fields.

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LICHT: A lot of people didn't think we would be back. Or we should be.

KOETTER: I imagine they think of it as a stay of execution.

LICHT: Like our offense in the red zone.

KOETTER: At least this time next year, we won't have an ex-coach looking over our shoulder.

LICHT: Unless it's Tony Dungy. Or Leeman Bennett.

KOETTER: Man, is Gruden going to get paid. Not bad for a guy who was fired 10 years ago and never developed a quarterback. Oh, well, no more Grudens around here.

LICHT: Unless it's Jay Gruden.

Licht and Koetter look at each other.

KOETTER: We have to be better, don't we? We have a pretty good schedule with the NFC East and Baltimore and Pittsburgh. Plus the teams is in our division.

LICHT: So what are we going to do? Besides throw interceptions and miss kicks?

KOETTER:: Ouch. Actually, though, Jameis Winston had the lowest interception rate of his career.

LICHT: That's because he fumbled before he could throw them.

KOETTER: I know, I know. It's plain that Winston has to stop playing for both teams. There have been successful quarterbacks who struggled with interceptions, but it's hard.

LICHT: It seems to me that we need to find a way to beat other teams other than on Winston's arm. Agree?

KOETTER: Yes. But what are you going to do? You can't count on Doug Martin's legs. You can't count on our offensive line's muscle. And our defense was worst in the league.

LICHT: Let's break this down one area at a time. What are we going to do for a running back?

KOETTER: Find one. Martin was suspended for five games this year. His fault. He gained fewer than 10 yards in three games. Fewer than 40 years in three others. That's half of the season that was a waste.  For two years, he's averaged 2.9 yards a carry. He doesn't help you at all on special teams.

LICHT: He has some talent, though.

KOETTER: Who doesn't? Besides our defensive ends, that is.

LICHT: We had defensive ends? I don't remember seeing them all year.

KOETTER: Yeah. The defensive ends were the ones underneath Devonta Freeman's cleats.

LICHT: It isn't if we need ends. It's how many.

KOETTER: Well, maybe we can sign one. Maybe we can draft one. Then we'd only need two more to get to NFL standards.

LICHT: I'm not giving up on Noah Spence. His may have been the injury that hurt us the most.

KOETTER: Still, it's a do-it-on-Sunday league. Right now, Spence looks like the defensive end version of Vernon Hargreaves, who is the cornerback vision of Roberto Aguayo.

LICHT: Is that why he's wide left on his rush?

KOETTER: Funny. What else?

LICHT: Even if we bring back Brent Grimes, we need another corner. I'm not convinced Vernon Hargreaves is more than a nickel. Or worth more.

KOETTER: Our safeties are okay. But I think we can use another one.

LICHT: Or two.

KOETTER: I think our offensive line is better than average.

LICHT: Really? I think they're so-so guys with pedestrian performances and untimely flags.

KOETTER: That's what we ask of them.

LICHT: Ask more.

KOETTER: We also need a kicker. Anyone going to be available in round two?

LICHT: Hey! That's ugly!

KOETTER: No. Ugly is trying to win with a kicker who should be in the XFL.

LICHT: But I showed how decisive I was by immediately cutting him!

KOETTER: Isn't that like paying $100,000 for a Gremlin, and when you find out it's a bomb, you throw it away for free?

LICHT: Let's change the subject. Is there a reason we should hang on to Chris Baker? He disappointed me.

KOETTER: Let's take our time. We could use depth at defensive tackle.

LICHT: We aren't paying him like he's "depth."

KOETTER: No, we're paying him like his Chris Rock. Do you think Jacksonville thinks he's funny these days?

LICHT: Don't forget, though. We have some young talent that will be better next year. Chris Godwin. Justin Evans O.J. Howard. Kendell Beckwith.

KOETTER: Seems we can hurt ourselves if we fall in love with our roster too much. We need help. And not pay-this-guy-to-be-average like Robert Ayers help. We need to pass either New Orleans or Carolina or Atlanta. We can't survive if we're last again.

LICHT: It would help if we could play offense in the Red Zone.

KOETTER: Or defense.

LICHT: Or special teams. Hey, you gonna call plays again?

KOETTER: Yes. Especially no-gains on third-and-one. That's my specialty.

LICHT: Yeah. Winston can't go long for most of the field, and in the Red Zone, he can't go short.

KOETTER: Here's where he can go. He can go crazy.

LICHT: I think we're pretty good at receiver. And at tight end.

KOETTER: And linebacker. And punter.

LICHT: All kidding aside, I think the Bucs are lucky to have us back. Heck, you could have been Marvin Lewis. You could even have been Hue Jackson.

KOETTER: Ohio ... where you could coach forever.

LICHT: Hah. But next year, someone isn't going to know what hit them.

KOETTER: I hope it's not us.

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