Ask Gary: Did Bucs want Koetter, or rid of Lovie?

by Gary Shelton on January 16, 2016 · 2 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

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Saturday, 6 a.m.

Can we assume since Dirk Koetter was not named head coach until Friday that their plan may not have been to hire Koetter at all, but rather, actually not impressed with Lovie?

Nick Houllis, Bucstop

Nick, my personal belief is that both are true; the Glazers didn't see anything special in Lovie and wanted to keep Koetter. I think their appreciation of Koetter made it easy to turn loose of Lovie, which wasn't a cheap decision.

The Bucs limped home this season. That's always been dangerous for a Bucs coach. Raheem Morris lost his last 10. Greg Schiano lost three of four. Jon Gruden lost his last four. Basically put, a team that is on the rise is expected to finish better.

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Hey, there are a lot of reasons to like Koetter. All that Nick Saban talk was transparent hooey. Koetter did promotable things. But he's never been a head coach, so we don't know how it's going to work. You've seen highly regarded coordinators (Norv Turner, Rod Marinelli) fall on their noses. So we'll see.

Still, I never thought Koetter was going to get another job this year. I think he did well, but I think an outside organization would want to see more than a 6-10 season. Remember, the Bucs still didn't score enough.

But I think the plan all along leaned toward Koetter. First, the Glazers had to satisfy the Rooney Rule, then they wanted to pick the brains of a couple of organizations. By the way, I think the Rooney Rule has been a good thing for the NFL, but if any ownership group should have satisfied the NFL, it's the Glazers, who have hired three minority coaches.

It didn't bother me that the Bucs took their time. But goodness knows, they've got to stop this cycle of hiring a new coach every couple of seasons.

Is Koetter going to have a new Offensive Coordinator, or is he going to be both the HC and the OC? What do you think he should do?

 Cecil DeBald

Cecil, at his press conference on Friday, Koetter said he hadn't made up his mind on what titles to hand out. He does plan to call the plays himself.

I wonder if that's too much for a first-year head coach, obviously. This is an important time for the Bucs, who need this hire to work.

A lot of us are tied with titles. Remember Jon Gruden, who called every play in his time with the Bucs? Well, Bill Muir was officially the offensive coordinator in those years. It made him harder to hire away. So you might get that kind of OC.

Personally, I'd prefer a head coach who wants to talk to, say, his linebacker while the Bucs are running a second-and-eight in the first quarter. But Koetter is hiring a strong defensive coordinator in Mike Smith to be his Monte Kiffin. Smith will talk to the linebackers.

Do you believe that Stu Sternberg is being 100% sincere when he says he wants the Rays to be in Tampa Bay for generations?
Jim Willson
Yes, I do. I've always believed that Sternberg would prefer for it to work here and avoid all the headaches. But, no, I don't think he'll continue to allow a bad situation to cost his partners millions of dollars.
I've never been sold on Tampa as alternative. I think it has many of the same problems of St. Petersburg. The attendance would be better there, because it's closer to the population center, but it wouldn't make us, say, St. Louis.
So think of it like this, Jim. Say you and I owned the Rays. Sure, we'd love it to work here. We can imagine possibilities. But between us, would we ever have a conversation about Montreal? Of course we would.
I know this: This is not just a second-chance for the Rays, but for Tampa Bay, too. We have to make it work or lose baseball.
Who would you like to see Koetter hire for his defensive staff?
Jim Willson
I wrote about this the other day. I kind of like the Mike Smith idea. Smith and Koetter worked well together in Atlanta and Jacksonville, and Smith has the experience as a coach that Koetter can lean on. That could be a good combination.
I like Hardy Nickerson, but I understand if Mike Smith wanted his own guys on defense with Jay Hayes and Mark Duffner. I don't know a lot about either guy. Who knows the position coaches across the league..
The next order of business is to hire some secondary coaches who aren't related to him. That hurt Lovie Smith in the end. The Bucs kept bringing in cornerbacks and tinkering throughout.

Detroit's Teryl Austin is highly thought of.  He  would have worked. But I'm happier with this Smith calling the defensive shots than I was the last Smith, who just never made the defense any better. Heck, you can't wait for three years for a defense.

We'll see if Chip Kelly keeps Tim Lewis in San Francisco. He used to coach the secondary when Smith was in Atlanta.

Who do you think makes the NFL Hall of Fame this year? And who would make the Hall of Shame?

Robert McDowell

Let's start with the easy ones. I think Brett Favre walks in. I think Marvin Harrison gets in.
After that, it's a little harder. I go with Kevin Greene, who is third all-time in sacks. And Terrell Davis. I know he didn't play long enough, but he was great enough while he lasted. I'll vote for Kurt Warner narrowly over Tony Dungy. And I'll vote for John Lynch. The only thing holding him back was that he played safety.
Eddie DeBartolo will get in as a contributor, and Ken Stabler off the veteran's committee.
The Hall of Shame? That's harder. O.J. is your MVP, of course. But do players like Aaron Hernandez and  the late Lawrence Phillips qualify, or is it only for Hall of Fame-level talents?
If you're just talking about bad players, Bucs' history is filled with those: Booker Reese, Jack Thompson, Chris Chandler, Josh Freeman, Sabby Piscatelli. Then there are bad owners, where Hugh Culverhouse comes to mind.
My idea would be to save the Hall of Shame for the truly rotten culprits, though. Darren Sharper. Cecil Collins. Ray Lewis. Ryan Leaf.  Ray Rice. Greg Hardy. Your thoughts?
What is the over/under on how many years before the Glazers start talking about a new stadium?   I don't see them extending the lease without at least a plan in place.
Jim Willson
With an owner, as you know, the clock is always ticking toward a new stadium. Just look at St. Louis, which really didn't feel that old to me.
But I think the improvements made to Raymond James has bought Tampa some time. No reasonable owner (and reasonable is the key word) is going to ask for more before a few years are up.
I still think the RayJay is an iconic stadium. It's the best thing the Bucs have going for them. Hopefully, there will be a few more playoff games there before they want a new home. But if I'm a Tampa politician, I keep that in mind as I negotiate with the Rays.

Do you think that the NFL is going in the direction of MLB, specifically moving power from the HC to the front office, more use of saber-metrics-type data, and expecting the HC to focus more on on-field issues?

Cecil DeBald

I think the more information a team can gather, the better. But it's a different sport. I know that Dirk Koetter laughed at the idea of analytics this season. He did the same thing Friday in his press conference, although general manager Jason Licht said he does use them.

But because of the nature of the sports, hidden stats can tell you a lot more about baseball. Agree?

Baseball needs analytical data. Fielding range, WAR, etc. It's really enhanced the game that hitters aren't simply judged by batting average or pitchers by won-loss anymore. There is no denying that.

But a wide receiver is judged on his catches, not his range. No one counts how many balls Evan Longoria catches, just his range and his errors.

I think there will be some temptation to add front office metrics to football. But as long as a coach is doing well, he probably will care less than a baseball manager. Remember, in baseball, everyone plays offense and defense, and every player but the dh is going to field the ball. That's not as true in football, which uses situation substitution for many of its metrics.

Two questions:

One: Can you please coach me on how I can get a 5-year guaranteed contract to be head coach of the Bucs (ok, I would settle for 4 years with a team option 5th year)?

Two: Would it be unethical of me to do all I could to get fired during the 2016 pre-season?

Scott Myers

I would simply wait around. The way the Glazers are going through coaches, they may to get to you soon.

Lovie got his four years and an option by getting to the Super Bowl with Rex Grossman, which is kind of a loaves-and-fishes thing. But you're right. Getting fired in the NFL is a good career choice.

Given that since 2007, the NFL has held 14 regular season games in London and the fan base is obviously there, will a current NFL team call London "home" within the next few years?

Howard Powders

Roger Goodell keeps saying it's going to happen, but I have my doubts. I still don't know how the logistics would work. It's a long way, man.

So does a team play eight home games and then eight on the road? Surely, you can't do one at home, one away, one home, one away. You'd spend far too much time in the air.

But NFL owners are intrigued by the possibility of another rich TV contract, so they'll try to make it work. Maybe it could be like LA where you have two teams sharing a stadium. The Monarchs could play four straight home games, then the Rippers could play the next four, and so on.

Are you convinced the fan base would stay if it was  a weekly thing, however? It's one thing to turn up for one or two games a year, but I wonder.

Lightning question: What do you think is more likely – and why?

Trade Stamkos and keep Drouin.

Trade Drouin and keep Stamkos.

Trade both of them.

Keep both of them.

Cecil DeBald

I think the most likely is to trade Drouin and keep Stamkos. Certainly, it's not close if the team has its choice.

Do you see a lot of other 40-goal scorers on the team? Me, neither. I do wonder, though. I saw a piece this week that pointed out that Stamkos is scoring less. That's a lot of money to invest when the team has several other stars about to finish their contracts.

Me? I'd keep them both. I'd just ignore what Drouin wants. Who is he to make demands?  He's got a lot of team control left. So why trade him and let every prospect know that if they aren't pleased with their ice time, they can just whine their way out of town.

And, yeah, I'd gamble on Stamkos.


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