Now that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have hired Dirk Koetter as their offensive coordinator, we can speculate about how the former Falcons and Jaguars coordinator fits with either of the 2015 NFL draft's top two quarterbacks: Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota.
It's notable that Koetter left Atlanta for the Bucs. While he wasn't guaranteed his job with the Falcons, he'd certainly done a well enough that he could likely have returned. Does that mean he has an indication of which way the Bucs are leaning, and think he'll be able to work with that quarterback? Or did he just want to jump ship and go for certainty and job security?
Keep in mind that this is all going to be speculation based on vague associations. That's how this works. We don't really know anything for certain. It's still fun to talk about, though.
The Mark Helfrich Connection
Mark Helfrich is currently Oregon's head coach, and has coached Marcus Mariota his entire career -- initially as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in Mariota's freshman year, and as his head coach since then. And Koetter has a very long history with Helfrich.
In fact, Koetter was Helfrich's superior for the first nine years of his career. For eight of those years, Helfrich was the quarterbacks coach while Koetter was the head coach at Boise State and later Arizona State. So getting some real insight on Mariota would be trivially easy for Koetter.
Another factor is that this suggests some shared schematic principles, too. Arif Hasan notes here that everything in Koetter's system is about reading the safety. And that's true for Oregon's passing game too, with this post by FishDuck.com highlighting how some of those plays from Oregon translated to Chip Kelly's offense in the NFL, and this post talking about a few of those plays in college.
Of course, the two offenses aren't the same -- Chip Kelly had a heavy hand in molding that Oregon offense, and the addition of the zone read makes the base running game different. Oregon's offense is also much more reliant on receiver screens and other quick throws than Koetter's has been in recent years. But the schematic different shouldn't might initially think, and the familiarity between Helfrich and Koetter may help Mariota transition more quickly.
The Schematic Difference
Speaking of that difference in scheme, Jameis Winston may actually be a better fit in terms of physical talent. He's more of a classic pocket passer than Mariota is, and that's the kind of player Koetter has worked with the last couple of years in Matt Ryan. Winston's arm also fits his vertical passing game just a little better. Winston generally seems to have better touch than Mariota, and seems to do a better job of lofting a ball over the top of a defense. Mariota tends to be a bit more of a straight-line passer, and his deep ball isn't terrific. Not that it's bad, but Winston probably has the edge there.
At the same time, Koetter coached David Garrard for four years -- and Garrard ran the ball around 70 times each season, and certainly had some scrambler to him. He was still a pocket passer, but we're not talking about Joe Flacco here. And while Marcus Mariota certainly has more of a tendency to scramble and run at times than Winston, he's also a passer first.
So, I'm somewhat undecided on this. I think stylistically Winston is a slightly better fit, but not to the extent that Mariota couldn't play in his system.
Yeah, we still don't really know a thing. But it sure is fun to speculate!