TAMPA, FLORIDA – Dirk Koetter is confident the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are on the verge of becoming relevant again.
The long-time NFL assistant became the team’s fifth coach in eight years Friday, assuming the task of transforming a team that has finished last in its division five consecutive seasons into playoff contenders.
Koetter, an offensive coordinator for three clubs over the past nine years, succeeds Lovie Smith, who was fired last week after going 8-24 in two seasons.
“It’s one of the happiest days of my life, but also one of the most humbling. Long time in the making,” he said, choking back tears while giving thanks to his parents for the role they played in a self-described long journey from his hometown of Pocatello, Idaho, to his first NFL head coaching position.
“I know I can do the job, even though I’m whimpering around up here a little bit. . . . I’m ready it,” Koetter added. “But nothing that’s said here today will affect us one bit in wins and losses. That all comes later. There’s a lot of work to be done to get to the wins and losses part.”
Koetter’s selection wasn’t a surprise. He helped No. 1 overall draft pick Jameis Winston become just the third rookie in NFL history to throw for 4,000 yards this season and was identified by general manager Jason Licht as a “very strong candidate” when Smith was dismissed with two years and $10 million left on his contract.
“Dirk has established himself as one of the top offensive coaches in our game while enjoying success at every stop during his college and NFL career,” Bucs chairman Joel Glazer said. “His success with our offense last season, along with his familiarity with our players and our organization, makes Dirk the right man to lead our team moving forward.”
The Bucs went 6-10 this season, missing the playoffs for the eighth straight year.