The MMQB is counting down a top 100 of the most influential NFL people of 2015 -- a list that includes a lot more than just players. They've gotten to number 71 so far, and two Tampa Bay Buccaneers have made the list already.
At number 89, Peter King and company name Jason Licht to the list. The reason: he picked a quarterback. Jameis Winston, to be precise. Nothing else he's done really matters, apparently -- which is more or less true, really. Whiff on a quarterback, and your career is usually over, at least with that team. Hit on one, and you could mess up every other pick you ever make and you'll still be fine. At least for a little while.
More intriguing than Licht is the inclusion of Dirk Koetter, the man who will have to not only coach Jameis Winston, but re-build the Bucs' entire offense, more or less from the ground on up. After all, the team had no real offensive coordinator last year. Here's Emily Kaplan explaining:
He's the man tasked with tailoring Jameis Winston into franchise-quarterback form, and fast. With Tampa going all-in on the electrifying (and controversial) Winston, the 56-year-old Koetter has no margin for error. The offensive coordinator struggled with rookie Blaine Gabbert and the Jaguars in 2011 and needs to prove those failures were due to circumstance, not his ability to develop young QBs. He is coming off a solid three-year run with Atlanta, but the Bucs provide a much different challenge. Tampa has one of the league's youngest offenses—according to the Philly Voice's annual calculations, the Bucs' average starter is 25.73—and Koetter is trying to create something durable while squeezing the most out of the talented but at times erratic Winston. All eyes may be on Winston this fall, but Koetter will feel equal, if not more, pressure.
Winston's a rookie, which means a lot of flaws will be forgiven and justifiably so. Koetter doesn't have that benefit of the doubt, at least when it comes to issues that are not Winston-related. If there's no running game, look to Koetter. If the game management on offense looks off, blame him. If Winston is consistently being put in terrible positions, blame him. That's a lot to shoulder, but that's the life of an offensive coordinator in the NFL.
Helping Koetter's case is the considerable talent at wide receiver and tight end, which should give the team a quality downfield passing game with multiple dimensions -- if Koetter gets it right. Winston's rookie year is a lot less certain, though, and the offensive line and running back position are uncertain at best, and a disaster waiting to happen at worst. Koetter won't be fired after a single year, but this is not the easiest position he's ever been in.