OC Koetter likes potential of young Tampa Bay offense
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) Dirk Koetter is confident he can help the Tampa Bay Buccaneers become relevant again.
The team's new offensive coordinator is taking over a unit that ranked 29th in scoring and 30th in total yardage during a 2-14 season that not only left the Bucs out of the playoffs for the seventh consecutive season but also left the team examining the prospect of selecting a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback with the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft.
Whether Tampa Bay decides to draft Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariotta, or winds up sticking with incumbent starter Josh McCown at quarterback, Bucs coach Lovie Smith is counting on the club's fifth offensive coordinator in six years to balance a sputtering attack that's relied far too much on throwing the ball.
Koetter offers few details about his offensive philosophy, stressing his job simply is to do whatever it takes to move the ball, score points and - most of all - help the Bucs win games.
''We all have things that we believe in as coaches, but at the end of the day, I'm a big believer that the system that you have has to be flexible enough to take into account the various strengths and weaknesses of your players,'' Koetter said.
''I think it's foolish to take a system and ram it down a player's throat, if that doesn't play to his strengths,'' the former college head coach at Boise State and Arizona State said. ''With that said, you can't always make it fit exactly perfect for every single guy you've got on the team. But for the guys that are touching the ball a lot, you need to play to their strengths.''
Despite ranking near the bottom of the league statistically, the Bucs are not devoid of talent on offense.
Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson became the first tandem of Bucs with 1,000 yards receiving in the same season in 2014; running back Doug Martin is two seasons removed for rushing for 1,454 yards and 11 touchdowns, and last year's second-round draft choice Austin Seferian-Jenkins showed flashes of being an impact tight end during an injury-shortened rookie season.
Koetter helped the Falcons reach the NFC championship game in 2012, his first season in Atlanta. He replaces Jeff Tedford in Tampa Bay, giving the Bucs the experienced play-caller they lacked after former quarterbacks coach Marcus Arroyo assumed those duties while Tedford sat out the entire regular season after undergoing a heart procedure.
The Bucs pursued Koetter after the Falcons fired former coach Mike Smith last month.
The new offensive coordinator said there were a number of factors that made the position attractive.
''It starts with Lovie Smith and his reputation as a leader and a head football coach in the NFL. And then, secondly, just the talent they have on offense,'' Koetter said.
''Every team in the NFL has some areas they'd like to improve, and nobody has 11 starters that they're in love with from the very first day, so it's a work in progress,'' he added. ''But, trust me, Tampa Bay, personnel-wise, is in better shape than one on the outside might think.''
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