Friday, November 24, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Jones: It would be a mistake to fire Dirk Koetter or Jason Licht, for now

RECOMMENDED READING


 

NEW ORLEANS — People lose jobs over games like this in a season like this.

The mob watches a game like the Bucs’ 30-10 loss to the Saints on Sunday, and the knee-jerk reaction is to grab pitchforks, torches and a handful of pink slips.

They want the coach fired. They want the general manager fired. They want the owners to sell the team and be on the first plane out of town. Forget cleaning house; they want the house doused with paint thinner and burned to the ground.

The Bucs have become the Yucks again. All that’s missing are the creamsicle uniforms, Bucco Bruce on the helmets and fans with bags over their heads. And when you watch the garbage juice the Bucs put on display Sunday, you can certainly understand the desire to shove everyone out the door.

It would be a mistake to do it now. I’m not saying Dirk Koetter should be Tampa Bay’s coach in 2018, but he should be coach for the rest of 2017. Same with general manager Jason Licht.

Firing either or both now accomplishes nothing except satisfying the bloodlust to make someone pay. You would do it just because it would feel good. Then what? It wouldn’t save a season already lost. It wouldn’t help next season.

Think about it. If you fire Koetter right now, you really have no choice but to promote someone on the staff just to finish the season.

Who would that be? Mike Smith? Seriously? You think the coordinator of a crummy defense deserves a promotion? Or Todd Monken? He helps coach an offense that can’t score.

You promote someone on the staff and two things happen. One, every single coach on the staff becomes as useful as a broken kicking tee because they will spend more time lining up a job for next season instead of doing their job this season.

Then, whoever becomes your interim coach becomes a candidate for next season if he does a half-decent job, and that’s often a mistake. (See: Williamson, Richard.)

Look, I get it. It’s a mess. This team wasn’t supposed to be anywhere near this bad, and there are serious questions about how Koetter and Licht have handled Jameis Winston and his bad shoulder.

Worst of all, the Bucs aren’t even competitive. It’s hard to tell if they don’t have enough talent, which would be Licht’s fault, or if they have good talent going to waste, which would be Koetter’s fault.

Sunday’s game epitomized just how far the Bucs have fallen. Delay-of-game penalties, false starts, a blocked punt, an unimaginative offense, a leaky defense that couldn’t do basic things such as tackle. The final was 30-10, and it felt way more lopsided than even that.

"I am totally embarrassed by it," Koetter said.

When asked if he’s worried about his job status, Koetter didn’t appear that surprised by the question.

"When you play like we did (Sunday), I am concerned about every aspect," Koetter said. "Obviously, that’s my responsibility."

So, yes, even Koetter realizes that calls for his firing aren’t outlandish.

And, you might ask, if you already know that Koetter and Licht just aren’t the guys and shouldn’t be here next year, why wait? Why not just fire them now and get it over with?

Because doing it now would be an emotional reaction to what might be nothing more than a really bad five-game stretch. This is still pretty much the same team that went 9-7 last season and added a few good pieces. Though they aren’t playing well, the Bucs are playing hard. It doesn’t appear as if Koetter has lost the locker room. Several players, unprompted, threw their support behind the coaching staff.

"These dudes in this locker room fight … and are a good group of guys," receiver DeSean Jackson said. "I definitely didn’t see this coming. But I’m not going to be the quitter."

No one looks like they’re quitting. So maybe the Bucs are just having a bad day. (Okay, a few bad days.)

If we all agree that this season is toast, there’s no need to rush Koetter and Licht out the door.

See how the rest of the season goes. If it continues to go south and is a weekly ash heap, then yes, absolutely fire them after the season. But if the Bucs rally in the second half, play better, win more than they lose, then maybe Koetter and Licht are the right guys everyone thought they were two months ago.

The day might come when Koetter and Licht should be fired. Today is not that day.

Sign up for our daily Bucs Red Zone email newsletter here

Comments
Bucs-Falcons: Tampa Bay Times staff predictions for Sunday’s 1 p.m. game

Bucs-Falcons: Tampa Bay Times staff predictions for Sunday’s 1 p.m. game

The Bucs face the defending NFC champion in its new home Sunday in Atlanta.Here’s the Times’ Bucs coverage team’s predictions for Tampa Bay’s 1 p.m. game against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium:MATTY ICE-FOLLIESRick Stroud, @NFLStroud: T...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Bucs journal: DE Will Gholston likely to return from neck injury

Bucs journal: DE Will Gholston likely to return from neck injury

TAMPA — Bucs DE Will Gholston is expected to make a healthy return Sunday in Atlanta after missing two games with a neck injury, and he’s thankful and relieved not to have to deal with anything more severe."It was knee-buckling," said Gholston, offic...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Cannon Fodder podcast: Eye on Julio Jones, new stadium

Cannon Fodder podcast: Eye on Julio Jones, new stadium

Times Bucs writer Greg Auman is back for one more Bucs-Falcons preview podcast, looking at Julio Jones’ rank among the all-time Bucs’ opponents, the new stadium in Atlanta, our story on game balls and much more. Listen below: ...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Bucs’ Will Gholston glad to return from ‘knee-buckling’ neck injury

Bucs’ Will Gholston glad to return from ‘knee-buckling’ neck injury

Bucs defensive end Will Gholston will make a healthy return Sunday in Atlanta after missing two games with a neck injury, and he's thankful and relieved not to have to deal with anything more severe."It was knee-buckling," Gholston said. "I was stand...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Bucs players, coaches say they cherish getting game balls for special feats

Bucs players, coaches say they cherish getting game balls for special feats

TAMPA — In the jubilant moments after a Bucs win, Dirk Koetter will sometimes ask for a game-used ball from his equipment staff, hold it high in the locker room and present it to the player who was most crucial to the victory.NFL players can ask for ...
Published: 11/23/17

Koetter says Bucs not distracted by Jameis Winston’s off-field issue

The Bucs are 1-0 since news broke last Friday of Jameis Winston being accused by an Uber driver of groping her during a ride in March of 2016.That's really all the evidence coach Dirk Koetter needs to say the issue has not been a distraction to the t...
Published: 11/22/17
Updated: 11/23/17
Presenting the 2017 Sports Turkey of the Year

Presenting the 2017 Sports Turkey of the Year

Happy Turkey Day!Today is a day of tradition.The Macy’s parade. Turkey and stuffing. The Lions and Cowboys.And our annual "Turkey of the Year.’’It’s a tradition started by my former colleague at the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the brilliant columnist P...
Published: 11/22/17
Updated: 11/23/17
Bucs journal: Gerald McCoy says team has not turned the corner yet

Bucs journal: Gerald McCoy says team has not turned the corner yet

TAMPA — The Bucs have some positive momentum with back-to-back wins, but DT Gerald McCoy said it’s too soon to say his 4-6 team has turned a corner."We haven’t turned a corner yet," McCoy said Wednesday, preparing for Sunday’s game at Atlanta. "It’s ...
Published: 11/22/17
McCoy is only Bucs player in Pro Bowl voting top 10s

McCoy is only Bucs player in Pro Bowl voting top 10s

The Bucs aren't faring well in early Pro Bowl fan voting, with DT Gerald McCoy as the only Tampa Bay player ranking in the top 10 at his position.McCoy, seeking his sixth straight Pro Bowl selection, ranks seventh among NFL defensive tackles, one wee...
Published: 11/22/17
NFL Week 12: Tampa Bay Times staff picks

NFL Week 12: Tampa Bay Times staff picks

Happy Thanksgiving! It's already week 12 of the NFL season, and the football feast is set to begin. It all starts at at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, when the Lions try to win their fifth straight Thanksgiving Day game against a Minnesota team out to bec...
Published: 11/22/17