General Manager Jason Licht "Ultimately, results, the wins, just weren't there."

Sports Xchange

(On the team's decision to relieve Head Coach Dirk Koetter of his duties)

"Difficult day here for all of us here, inside the walls here, when you let a man like Dirk go. I'll just start by saying a few things about him. Nothing's really changed about Dirk the person since the day we hired him. He's got integrity, as you guys know, honesty, he's very direct. A lot of you guys have seen that first-hand several times. [He] worked very, very hard – extremely great work ethic. He and his staff really believed in what they did, and those are qualities that you look for in a head coach, in a good coach, and he is a good coach. And if Dirk ends up continuing his career, another organization is going to be lucky to have him. Ultimately, results, the wins, just weren't there. Collectively, everybody here within the organization has fallen short of expectations of what we thought we could do. So they've been disappointing for the entire organization, but we are determined to get back on track. And we're determined to find that person that's going to lead us into those successful years that we're all anticipating. The Glazer Family has assigned me, charged me, has confidence in me, trusts me – whatever you want to say – to lead that charge and search for the next guy. But as far as Dirk, Dirk is a stand-up guy. Couldn't say enough about him."

(On if he spoke with Koetter Sunday night)

"We had a great conversation. Dirk uses the [phrase] ‘own it’ a lot, as you guys know. He has used that several times this year, things he feels he needs to own. I've used it several times myself. When I informed him last night – we came back here to the office – that the Glazer family wanted to meet with him here, he was prepared. He met with the Glazer family and then came back – was told that they were going to relieve him of his duties – came back to my office and we shared a great moment. I spent some time with his family. We all became very close the last four years. He couldn't have been more professional and that's just the way Dirk is."

(On why he has been retained)

"Right now, I'm just grateful to be here. I'm grateful to be here, I'm grateful to be standing here. I told that to Dirk last night. He told me that he was happy that I was here. Right now, like I said, the Glazer family has put their confidence in me to find the next head coach and I'm grateful for that opportunity. And we're committed to find that guy."

(On if the team has talent but didn't get good enough coaching)

"No, I would not say that. There's a lot of reasons that we could point to, but any team can that's in this situation. We have a talented, young roster. We have a lot of good core young players but we have a lot of work to do, and that falls on me."

(On if the Glazers sought his opinion on the coaching decision)

"Towards the end of the year – well, throughout the entire year – I'm obviously in constant contact with ownership. Towards the end of the year, I give them my ‘state of the union’ address or, for lack of a better word, the ‘state of the team’ address, I guess. I tell them what my opinions are, they tell me what their opinions are, and then they methodically and carefully think out their plan, their decisions. And they let me know after the game last night that this was the direction they wanted to go."

(On if he gave Koetter a vote of confidence to the Glazers)

"There's a lot of positive things you can say about Dirk, and those were addressed."

(On how shocked he was that the season went downhill after a 2-0 start)

"Disappointed. Just disappointed and I think if Dirk was standing here today he would tell you the same thing. We'd be on the same page there. We were all just very disappointed. We had a lot of things that just didn't go our way. Right now, the emphasis is on finding the next head coach."

(On if quarterback Jameis Winston will be part of the team’s future)

“Jameis Winston will be here – we have him under contract for a year. He has done some amazing things for a young, 24 [year-old] – turns 25 in a week – quarterback. [He] has accomplished more than most of the elite quarterbacks have at his age through that time span [in their careers]. There’s a lot to like about Jameis. Jameis will be here next year.”

(On what input Winston may have in selecting the next head coach)

“We’re going to put a lot of thought into this head coach decision. We’re not going to involve Jameis in that decision, but Jameis is somebody that we hold in high regard here.”

(On if a head coaching candidate would have to accept Winston as a part of the team’s plans to be considered for the job)

“Based on the texts and phone calls and emails that I’ve been getting since roughly eight o’clock last night, I don’t think that’s going to be an issue.”

(On if there was anything on the field that he or the Glazer family didn’t think Coach Koetter would ever turn the corner with)

“We thought Dirk did a fantastic job. We think Dirk is a great coach and he works very hard and he’s got assistants and players that respect him. I respect him, players play very hard for Dirk, so I would say no.”

(On if he feels like he’s gone through a full head coaching search before and what might be different this time around)

“This time around – just like last time, when I say ‘cast a wide net’ – we considered many, many options. This year we’re going to look outside. We’re going to include Korn Ferry, Jed Hughes – [it] is something that I talked about with ownership last night that I felt would help with this, just assist as a tool with the background. They have a lot of background on all these candidates that they’ve been compiling for many, many years. They’ve helped a lot of successful franchises, assist them with their hirings and I felt like this, in terms of logistics and just [having] been through these interviews and knowing a lot of these candidates, I thought it would be a great assist. But they won’t be choosing the head coach.”

(On why Tampa Bay is an attractive destination to be a head coach)

“First, I think you start with ownership, who is letting us, collectively, do our jobs. You can start also with the facilities. I think we have a young, core group of talented players that, combined with – Dirk did some fantastic things offensively, a historical season in some regards in a lot of categories. And just, as Dirk said last night in his press conference, we have a great locker room. So you’ve got a young quarterback, there’s a lot of things to like. Like I said, based on texts and people reaching out to me that are interested in the job, I can see why. I can tell you that it is an attractive job.”

(On if the team will consider any candidates within the organization)

“We’re going to look outside the organization for this hire. I think there’s some good football coaches here, really good football coaches here on staff. But we’re going to give this new head coach the ability to decide whether or not to retain them and they’ll be able to seek employment elsewhere in that timeframe if they so choose.”

(On if the new head coach will be able to have the final call on personnel decisions)

“That will depend. I think I said this last time, too, that I’m not going to get in the way and let an ego get in the way of getting the right guy here. My job, right now, is to get the best fit of a head football coach, period. So whatever has to be done has to be done.”

(On whether prior relationships with potential head coaching candidates while influence the hiring process)

“Not much. I think I want to get to know these guys throughout this process. Just because I know somebody doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the right fit for the organization. Throw the ego aside, it’s what is best for this organization, best for ownership, best for these players, best for the staff. Just the best fit, period. Just because I know somebody doesn’t necessarily mean they would be the right fit.”

(On whether defensive line coach Brentson Buckner is under contract for the 2019 season)

“Yeah, we have a few guys who are under contract for 2019. Once again, the new head coach will have the ability to retain those guys and those guys are good football coaches too. It’s just a crazy business that we get into and it’s unlike most other businesses. It is results oriented and we all have to answer the tough questions and go through tough times because of it. But there [are] a lot of good football coaches that I hope the new head coach considers, but he is not going to be handcuffed to those guys.”

(On whether there will be changes to the front office personnel)

“I don’t anticipate any right now, but those changes are typically made post-draft.”

(On surprises or things that he did not see coming this season)

“You know, like I said before, there are a lot of factors and they all sound like excuses right now and I don’t want to get into the excuses.”

(On whether he feels like he could have personally done anything differently this season)

“Right now, I don’t want to play the hindsight game. I just have to do a better job. It lies on me. I’ve got to do a better job. I’ve got to do a better job of the overall operation of the football team and I make no bones about that.”

(On the hiring process timeline)

“I don’t want to put a timeframe on it. It’s however long it takes to get the right guy.”

(On if there is competitive nature of hiring a head coach in the NFL with other teams also looking for coaches)

“It is. Last night after Dirk [Koetter] left, we had a chance - owners and I - to discuss Dirk and kind of reflect on things and it was all positive and then we had to press play and there’s not a lot of sleep going on.”

(On what he is looking for in the new head coach)

“When we look for the next head coach, it’s going to be more about the fit for the team, not necessarily fit for the scheme. So, you’re looking for like I said with Dirk, a lot of the qualities Dirk had, the positive qualities that Dirk had are rare. We are going to look for a great leader, a guy that is just a good fit for this organization and wants to be a Buc and is excited about coaching this young team and winning a championship.”

(On whether it matters if the new head coach is offensive or defensive minded)

“Right now, it’s about the best fit and that doesn’t exclude any defensive coach or offensive coach. It’s just best coach.”

(On whether he would be willing to wait for a coach to finish playoff run with current team if it was best fit)


(On if he thinks he let Coach Koetter down)

“There’s a lot of remorse that goes on after a loss, losses are the toughest thing you can endure in this profession. Of course, you always think, ‘Is there something I could’ve done better.’ My guys think, ‘What could we do better?’ In that regard, you always hate to let a guy down. You always feel like there’s more that we can get, there’s more that we can give. One thing I like about my guys is they’re always willing to accept that and they have a drive to do better every day an that’s what we’ll do.”

(On what gives him confidence in quarterback Jameis Winston)

“I saw a lot in the second half of this season. Obviously, we went through a lot at the beginning of this season – the suspension. There was a lot going on in this organization that was a tough for a lot of people to overcome. I saw him bounce back at the end of the year and play very, very good in my eyes and a lot people’s eyes for the condition that he was in. We have a lot of faith in him.”

(On defensive tackle Gerald McCoy's future with the Buccaneers being uncertain)

“We have a lot of tough decisions to make. A lot of people have a lot of tough decisions to make. That’s moving forward here into the offseason. Right now, it’s about finding that head coach.”

(On if there needs to be drastic changes with personnel)

“You tweak you roster every year. We have a lot of young talent, like I said. We have a lot of guys that we really like. More so this year than in previous years. Still have a lot of work to do, but we have a lot of flexibility in our contracts, in our salary cap, in the way we do things – that we can add more players. The answer isn’t always adding the splashy superstar. To find some good players, we’ll have flexibly to do that.”

(On if he agrees with defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul saying that players don’t ‘keep it real with each other’)

“I think overall we’ve got a great group. I think Jason would agree with that. Jason has a high standard, very high standard for all of his teammates. Jason’s a great leader as well. Jason is sometimes using some words to motivate others. Overall, really like the group that we have.”

(On if he thinks players ‘keep it real with each other’)

“I think we have a lot of great guys that keep it real with each other.”

(On areas that need to be improved in the offseason)

“We’ll look at every area on the football team. We’d love to run the football better. We feel like we have some good offensive linemen. We like Peyton Barber, but we feel like we need to run the football better. RoJo (Ronald Jones) needs to bounce back. We need to find depth at key positions. We felt that this year we found some good depth pieces with some of the guys that John [Spytek] and Rob [McCartney], our pro scouts, our college scouts have found on the street with Andrew Adams and De’Vante Harris did some good things for us. We just need to find more depth and we need to find some more really good players – more Carl Nassibs and JPPs (Jason Pierre-Paul) and Ryan Jensens.”

(On what he would say to the fans that have endured multiple losing seasons)

“I’d probably keep it real with them. Keep it simple and tell them I feel your pain.”