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Dirk Koetter Has Buccaneers Excited About Offense

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Last season the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense was doomed from the start. Whether it was striking out on left tackle Anthony Collins, or the departure of offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford for health reasons, it seemed just about anything that could go wrong for the Buccaneers offense, did indeed go wrong.

Mike Evans’ impressive rookie campaign was the only real bright spot for a Buccaneers offense which began OTA’s a year ago with high hopes of a fast-paced, high-tempo offense that just never materialized. With Tedford being forced out early in the year, the Bucs turned to young quarterbacks coach Marcus Arroyo to run the offense. It wasn’t long before it was clear that Arroyo was in way over his head.

After a dreadful season under an inexperienced offensive coordinator, it was no surprise that the Buccaneers turned to a guy who had been successful for years in that very position in Dirk Koetter.

Koetter’s play calling helped the Atlanta Falcons put up respectable numbers offensively, despite the team’s offensive line being decimated by injury. Koetter’s ability to overcome his team’s deficiencies through play calling should help a Buccaneers offensive line that’s been rebuilt and should prominently feature a pair of rookies in Donovan Smith and Ali Marpet.

Not long ago, Bucs GM Jason Licht commented that Koetter could be as big of an acquisition for this football team as Jameis Winston.  If you listen to the players and their optimism about what Koetter will bring to the table, Licht may just be right.

Tailback Doug Martin mentioned how he and his teammates appreciated Koetter’s hands on approach and it was already leading to a closeness between Koetter and his offensive players.

“Him being a former Boise State coach, we definitely hit it off pretty good,” Martin told Football Insiders at the team’s first week of OTA’s in late May. “Always talk about Idaho and things like that. With the offense, he’s very hands-on, very knowledgeable. He’s someone who’s easy to talk to and we all love the guy.”

Affection isn’t the only emotion being showed to, or about Koetter at Bucs’ OTA’s. We asked Mike Evans about his early impressions of Koetter, and the new Buccaneers offense. Evans was so overcome with excitement about what Koetter brings to the table, he actually got a kid-on-Christmas-morning–like smile when talking about Koetter getting the ball to his receivers.

“He’s a smooth guy, Evans told Football Insiders. “He knows what he is doing. If you look at the Falcons’ receivers last year they had some of the best stats. He gets his receivers the ball and on this team we have some really good playmakers at the receiver’s position. I like the way he gets the receivers the ball, so hopefully we’ll have a great year.”

Evans was asked what he thinks will be different this year, and he believes Koetter will give him an opportunity to exploit some mismatches against opponent’s defenses.

“I like both, but this year I moved to the X and I like the matchups, the mismatches that I get put in,” Evans said when asked about the differences between this year and last. “I’m always a single most of the time. I like being on an island, one-on-one, so I like that more.”

While rookie signal caller Jameis Winston doesn’t have another professional offense to compare Koetter’s to, he sees some things he’s familiar with and a lot to be excited about. Winston was asked about how learning Koetter’s offense was coming along, and sounded more excited about learning everything in front of him than challenged by the task.

“Preparing for this game is easier than preparing for a Harvard business degree, but one thing about it is I love it,” Winston said after Thursday’s OTA’s. “I’m going to do anything I can to try and perfect this offense. This offense is amazing. The concepts are similar to the ones at Florida State, but definitely the terminology is crazy.”

The terminology may be “crazy,” but Winston’s eyes light up when talking about the weapons he’s going to have to work with in Tampa Bay.

“The most exciting part is the explosive plays and definitely getting to throw to all these big-time wide receivers we have,” Winston told Football Insiders. That’s the fun part of everything.”

While everyone spoke optimistically, it may have been the words of Vincent Jackson that spoke the loudest. We asked Vincent what the biggest difference would be for him in Koetter’s offense, his response was a bit surprising.

“Just the fact that we have a little more chemistry,” Jackson said. “We’re doing more up-tempo stuff, we’re changing some speeds of the plays and we’re putting some dictation – dictating a little bit more to the defense. That’s exciting. That’s fun for me as an offense because we know we’re in control of the drive and we’re in control of the game and I think that really makes it harder on defenses.”

How is it that the Buccaneers offense has more chemistry already?

There may not be a more telling statement about how unprepared Arroyo and the Buccaneers were a season ago, than the fact that Jackson feels the Tampa Bay offense has more chemistry, and is more prepared to dictate the pace of play to their opponents, when the team isn’t even out of OTA’s yet. There should probably be nothing the Buccaneers are doing better in this offense already, yet Koetter’s presence has his players feeling prepared, excited, and confident.

Tampa Bay has a long way to go before we can go and predict a huge offensive season, but it’s plainly obvious, even at this very early point that the team will be much more prepared under Koetter, and that alone will be a giant step forward.

The Bucs have to figure out who starts where on the offensive line, and there could be jobs to be won at fullback and wide receiver, but with weapons like Jackson, Evans, Austin Seferien-Jenkins, a deeper running back stable than last year might have you believing, and Koetter’s ability to put them in position to succeed, the Buccaneers offense could surprise some people in 2015.


About Pat Donovan

Pat Donovan

Pat Donovan has covered the NFL for almost a decade and is a host and producer for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers radio flagship 620WDAE/95.3FM. Pat covers the NFC South and NFC East for Football Insiders. Follow him on Twitter, @PatDonovanNFL.