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Wednesday press conferences: Dirk Koetter

The head coach touches on the linebacker situation.

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were back at One Buc Place on Wednesday, as they begin to prepare for their week eight matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals.

While the team came out victorious on Sunday, it wasn’t all smiles as they lost both Kwon Alexander and Jack Cichy to ACL injuries. With both of them being linebackers, the Buccaneers needed to make moves to add depth to that position. The team signed veteran Kevin Minter and also brought back Riley Bullough.

Lavonte David will stay at the weakside linebacker spot and starting strong side linebacker Adarius Taylor will be filling in the void left by Kwon at middle linebacker. That obviously leaves a hole at the strong side position, but the Buccaneers are turning to a familiar face in Devante Bond to fill that role, Dirk Koetter announced today.

“He hasn’t been back very long. This is really the start of his second week. Again, we’re fortunate that he’s a guy that’s been with us for the last couple of years, so he does know the terminology and he was already plugged into all of our special teams,” Koetter said. “Not only three new players, but we also have several players that are going to be changing roles – he’s one of those guys. Maybe a little faster than we would’ve thought, but he’s going to move into the starting lineup as a Sam linebacker. He’s going to continue to be a mainstay on special teams.”

The Buccaneers had their best defensive game of the season on Sunday against the Browns. One of the reasons why was the coverage was a lot better and rookie Carlton Davis was a big reason as to why. Davis has had an up and down season as a rookie, but you can tell each time he is out there he is beginning to gain more and more confidence and is continuing to grow as a player.

“I have. I thought he had a good game last week, coming off a game that he missed due to health reasons. We know we’re going to have some growing pains with those rookies in the secondary. Carlton made a big play at the end of the game – you saw his length on display there,” Koetter said.

Switching gears to the offensive side of the ball, Peyton Barber missed practice today due to an ankle issue, but Koetter has always been positive throughout the season on Barber. It’s not all his fault that the production isn’t there as the O-line isn’t opening any holes consistently for him, but Koetter admitted something today that I think fans have been waiting for. Koetter admitted that this football team is a pass first team.

“Peyton right now is on a team that’s a pass-first team with really good skill guys at wide receiver and tight end. He’s just got to hang in there,” Koetter said. “I don’t think Peyton is doing anything wrong and I think RoJo [Ronald Jones] is doing a good job of catching up and closing the gap. Right now, we’re just a pass-first team.”

It’s about time Koetter realized this. This team is far more effective when they pass the ball and has been for years. That’s not to say it need to happen 60 times a game, but if the run game isn’t working on a Sunday, Koetter knows he has the pass game to rely on and I think that’s important. The run game with Koetter has felt forced at times over the years.

Koetter also didn’t want to get to much involved with the ongoing kicking controversy that seems to find the Bucs every year. Chandler Catanzaro redeemed himself on Sunday in overtime, but make no mistake, he will never say it, but you can tell Koetter is fed up with this kicking situation, as he should be.

“Chandler [Catanzaro’s] a pro. That’s one thing I think is different about pro players. I think if a guy’s a proven player in this league, they are their own worst critic. They don’t need me or anybody else chipping away at them,” Koetter said. “You could tell by how emotional Chandler was after the game what that meant to him. It’s business as usual to use your terms. These guys are back to work and it’s a new week. We’re on to working on Cincinnati.”

We’ll see what happens this week, but if Catanzaro misses another, he might as well not even fly back to Tampa Bay.