There are five NFL head coaching jobs open at the moment, and a lot of people thought it was going to be six already.
But the Buccaneers decided on Friday to keep Dirk Koetter, and he said after last night’s win over the Saints he was grateful for the chance to come back for a third season and improve on a 14-18 record.
“I’m certainly appreciative to the Glazer family for everything they’ve done for me and my family and they’ve given this franchise,” Koetter said, via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. “They’ve put us in the position to win.
“It took a lot of courage for the Glazer family to bring me back and the staff with the record what it is. I really appreciate that.’’
Of course, there was widespread chatter that the Glazers were looking in another direction, so that bravery might have come after they had no better options that didn’t involve eating a contract.
But they booted Lovie Smith because they thought Koetter was best for quarterback Jameis Winston, and Winston seemed encouraged to keep things going after a 5-11 season.
“We showed a lot of people we should have faith in Dirk Koetter,” Winston said. “We played a lot of good football, we just had a lot of unfortunate things happen.
“When we’re healthy, we can beat the heck out of anybody. If we believe in him, you should believe in him, too.’’
Koetter used the example of the Saints (who went from 7-9 to a division title this year) as evidence that his team could make a push, despite going 1-5 in the NFC South and 3-7 in one-score games.
“They made a couple changes, they hit on a couple draft picks, and here they are,” Koetter said. “I believed all along we’re not that far off, but your record is what your record is and we’ve got to start rebuilding that.’’
Koetter getting a reprieve is one thing, but if the Bucs don’t make strides this year, it’s likely that many more jobs will be in jeopardy this time next year, perhaps including Winston’s if he doesn’t become a more consistent quarterback.