Dirk Koetter has done well as an offensive coordinator in the NFL. He possibly could have done even better, if he’d felt free to roll the dice more often.
Now that he’s a head coach, Koetter apparently will.
Asked by Gil Brandt of SiriusXM NFL Radio whether a playcaller who also is the head coach will take more chances on offense, Koetter said this via JoeBucsFan.com: “I think you probably do. Because I’ve worked mostly for defensive head coaches in my career. And when you do you feel like, I can’t let those guys down. Or maybe they don’t want me to be too aggressive. But when you’re the head coach, it gives you a little bit more of a license to say, ‘Hey, we’re going to take a few more shots. And if we don’t get it, then defense, get out there and let’s try to stop them.'”
That’s not to say former Bucs coach Lovie Smith affirmatively tried to keep Koetter from taking more chances.
“I want to make sure that’s a clear point that I make . . . in no way did Lovie Smith tell me as an offensive coordinator, do and don’t do this,” Koetter said. “Lovie Smith was as supportive for me as a head coach could be. Lovie told me what kind of offense he wanted to have, and we tried to emulate that thought.”
Instead, it’s a more general observation from Koetter about the role of an offensive coordinator versus the role of a head coach who calls the plays on offense.
“I will say that when you’re the head coach and you’re the playcaller, you have a license to be a little more aggressive,” Koetter said. “That’s how I was when I was a high school coach. That’s how I was when I was a college coach. Now that comes from inside me, because you have the power to decide. You have the power to decide, ‘Are we going for it on fourth-and-one?’ You have the power to decide, ‘Do we need to throw it deep three times in a row, or do we need to give it to Doug Martin three times in a row?’ And you don’t have to worry about the head coach second guessing you. You are the head coach. So you make your game plan, you stick to your game plan. But I’m not making this up in any fashion. Lovie did not hold us back in any way. Lovie was awesome to work for in that respect.”
That’s not to say there won’t be second guessing of the decisions Koetter makes. Head coaches who call the plays still get second guessed when things don’t work — they just don’t have to worry about anyone on the staff doing it. At least not to their face.
For the Bucs, it’s another piece of evidence pointing to the likelihood that the football will be flying around the field this year. Previously, Koetter said Bengals coach Marvin Lewis believes coaches don’t throw deep often enough. Koetter now has the power to dial those deep balls up without worrying about dirty looks or tough questions from the on-field boss, because Koetter no longer has one.