The Tampa Bay Buccaneers may need to go looking for a new head coach this offseason, but that’s far from certain. Dirk Koetter certainly isn’t doing himself any favors with all these losses—nine this season, now, including the last three games, but he’s still here—and he has three weeks to make his case to stay.
You wouldn’t know that from reading some commentary, like that of Tom Jones in the Tampa Bay Times, for whom Koetter’s firing is basically a done deal. But the Glazers have never fired a coach before the end of the season, not even when Raheem Morris lost ten games in a row, and they’re not likely to start now. And as long as Koetter’s not fired, he has a chance—no one knows what the Glazers are thinking, after all.
That’s why even if Koetter loses all three remaining games, there’s no guarantee he’ll be gone. The Bucs have fired their previous three head coaches within three years appointing them, and that never really worked out for them. Moreover, those coaches all got at least one bad year before being fired—on the other hand, regression is generally what did them in, not losing per se.
There’s also Jameis Winston. Do the Bucs really want to switch to a different offensive coach, and the overhaul that would mean for Winston? They fired Lovie Smith two years ago to keep Dirk Koetter and keep the offense stable, after all. Is that worth nothing after just a single bad season?
Some would argue that keeping Koetter is bad for Winston, because obviously the Bucs are losing and Winston is playing some inconsistent-at-best football. But Winston has improved in most statistical categories, and those turnovers have always been part of his game—especially when behind a very leaky offensive line.
All of this will be moot if the Bucs manage to win the final three games, or probably two of the last three. Progress and hope are what have generally convinced the Bucs’ owners to stick with their coaches. And if Koetter can show some of that, and plausibly blame the issues on the defense and injuries, he may be allowed to stay for another season.