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Six head coaching candidates the Bucs could target if Dirk Koetter is fired

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Koetter’s job is on the line, and the Bucs may move on.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Atlanta Falcons Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have two games left to save their head coach’s job, as Dirk Koetter is presiding over a disastrous 4-10 season a year after coming close to the playoffs. This should have been a season of continuous improvement and the first playoff berth in a decade—instead, the Bucs could very well fire Koetter.

Of course, that’s far from a done deal. No one but the Glazers knows what the Glazers are thinking, and perhaps they saw enough out of the Bucs to keep Koetter for one more year. Or maybe they’re just tired of continually firing coaches. Or perhaps they’ll fire him if he loses two more games, and keep him if he wins one. Or perhaps they’ll keep him, if he replaces defensive coordinator Mike Smith, given the defense’s disastrous performance this year. Who knows?

Fact is that the Bucs need to take seriously the chance that the team will look for a head coach next year. And that means we need to start orienting on posisble new head coaches. But who?

A couple of weeks ago, SB Nation’s team bloggers put together a list of assistant coaches who are likely to be head coaching candidates this year. The Bucs could of course look elsewhere: college coaches and head coaches without a job are always options (like Jon Gruden, maybe?). But a coordinator’s always a good bet to at least be on the list, so let’s stick with those for now.

Who are the Bucs likely to look for? Well, they’ve had older guys the last three times (Greg Schiano, Lovie Smith and now Dirk Koetter) with three different backgrounds: college, former head coach, and offensive coordinator. My bet would be they’ll go for a more energetic, young guy—someone like Jon Gruden in 2002, perhaps. But someone who breaks the mold they’ve gone with recently.

Rams quarterbacks coach Greg Olson

I’m listing him mostly because the Bucs are familiar with him. He coached Josh Freeman to untold heights in 2010, though the Bucs quarterback crashed the next season and was out of the NFL not long after. Why and how that happened remains shady, though the Glazers know enough to decide whether that was really Olson’s fault.

Since then, though, Olson’s had a solid few years as a quality offensive coordinator and quarterbacks guru, particularly in Oakland. And Turf Show Times thinks he’s a good candidate:

But I’m going to go with Greg Olson. QB Jared Goff looks the part of an NFL quarterback, something that exactly 0 people could say in 2016. He held offensive coordinator duties for 13 years. A willingness to come to LA and take a step down just to develop Goff suggests a professional humility, something that McVay has ridden at every media opportunity himself deflecting praise and accepting blame at every turn.

Falcons defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel

Want a rising star? Manuel’s your guy. The Falcons defense isn’t the best around, but Manuel has a good reputation and he did improve on last year’s performance. Plus, he came out of that vaunted Seattle defense. The Falcoholic thinks he’ll get a shot at some point:

That would be rising star Marquand Manuel, a hot name in coaching circles even before he was made the Falcons’ defensive coordinator in 2017. Manuel is a well-regarded coach and former player who is known for communicating effectively with his players and has done masterful work with secondaries in Seattle and Atlanta. His work in Atlanta as a defensive coordinator has been a bit of a mixed bag, but he has still improved the unit over his predecessor Richard Smith.

Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich

Reich a history as an NFL quarterback, and he’s presiding over the hottest offense in the league. That’s always a combination that’ll get people noticed. His exact responsibilities in Philadelphia are a bit vague, but if he interviews well he could certainly get the job. Bleeding Green Nation thinks he has a shot, at least.

Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks

The Carolina Panthers defense is back to being very good, and Steve Wilks appears to be responsible for that transformation. That’ll speak to the Glazers, who must tire of seeing poor defense after mediocre defense take the field for Tampa Bay.

Plus, the Bucs can make Cat Scratch Reader’s nightmare come true.

I don’t want to see the Panthers lose Wilks because he’s an excellent defensive coach, but at the same time I want him to take advantage of the opportunities he’s earned to move up the coaching ladder. At this point, we can only hope that a fellow NFC South team doesn’t hire him, because having to face him twice a year would double the pain of losing his influence on the Panthers’ defense.

Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels

Okay, sure, he was absolutely terrible as a head coach in Denver, was in love with Tim Tebow’s quarterbacking for some unfathomable reason, and Patriots coaches never seem to do well once they’re away from Bill Belichick’s nest. But the Bucs’ owners do listen to Belichick, as evidenced by their hiring Greg Schiano, and McDaniels has done very well in recent years—although that’s easy when you have Tom Brady.

His name keeps coming up year after year, and at some point McDaniels will be a head coach again. The question is whether the Bucs want him to come on board, and whether McDaniels would want to come to Tampa—he keeps saying no to interviews. Pats Pulpit certainly thinks he’ll be a hot candidate.

Ravens special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg

This is the last guy I’ll list, just because I like special teams coordinators. I have no clue how good he is, nor do I know how likely he is to be a relevant name, but hey, special teams coordinators deserve more love. Plus, that’d certainly be a novel direction for the Glazers.

I’ll let Baltimore Beatdown make this case.

Jerry has been a part of the NFL since 2001, first coaching special teams with the Cleveland Browns. After six years with Cleveland, and a one-year stint with the Atlanta Falcons, Jerry found himself working with the Baltimore Ravens in 2008. In that time, he’s produced outstanding talents, including the continued success of Matt Stover, Sam Koch, Jacoby Jones, Anthony Levine Sr., Albert McClellan, Morgan Cox and the greatest leg in the game, Justin Tucker.

On top of coaching the special teams unit, Mr. Rosburg is also the assistant head coach of the Baltimore Ravens. He’s knowledgeable in all areas of the game, and I have no doubt he participates in more meetings than just about anybody within the Ravens organization.