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  • Koetter becomes the fourth head coach who hasn't lasted more than three seasons in Tampa Bay since Jon Gruden was at the helm for the Buccaneers.
By Jonathan Jones
December 30, 2018

Dirk Koetter oversaw the most prolific offense in Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ history in 2018, in terms of yards per game. But even that historic marker couldn’t save his job.

The Buccaneers fired Koetter on Sunday after the team lost 34–32 to the Falcons. He joins Raheem Morris, Greg Schiano and Lovie Smith as the coaches in Tampa Bay post-Jon Gruden who couldn’t make it more than three seasons.

For the seventh time in eight years, the Bucs finished last in the NFC South, a level of ineptitude to which only the Browns can lay claim. Koetter used what life rafts he could: firing his defensive coordinator in October and taking over play-calling from offensive coordinator Todd Monken the following month. Nothing worked in the end.

At 5–11, the Buccaneers have missed the playoffs for the 11th consecutive year, and it’s the seventh time in that span that Tampa Bay has had double-digit losses.

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This is all a stark contrast from the progress the Bucs seemed to be making in 2015. But rewind the tape back to when the Glazers made the puzzling decision to oust Smith after just two seasons at the helm and a 6–10 Bucs team trending up from its previous two-win season. Koetter was elevated from offensive coordinator to head coach, and his 9–7 2016 season was the best Tampa Bay had experienced since the turn of the decade.

The Bucs went into 2017 behind the luster of Hard Knocks, the promise of a solid third season from franchise quarterback Jameis Winston, a No. 1 receiver in Mike Evans who kept getting better and, finally, a speed receiver option in DeSean Jackson. But Winston never overcame his turnover issues and the defense let down the team terribly, and the Bucs puttered to 5–11 in football’s most competitive division. A year later after adding to the defense in both free agency and the draft, the Bucs had an even worse scoring defense while the offense had the yards but not the points to compete.

Both Winston and general manager Jason Licht are reportedly set to return for the Buccaneers in 2019—Joel Glazer announced that Licht will lead the head coaching search in Tampa Bay.

Koetter should find a job as an offensive coordinator again this season, and a future head-coaching job isn’t out of the question when you consider it’s difficult to find any major gaffes in his three seasons at the top. And it’s back to the drawing board again in Tampa Bay for a franchise that can’t seem to get this coaching thing right.

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