Bucs announce former Falcons OC Dirk Koetter as new offensive coordinator

Dirk Koetter was the offensive coordinator for the Falcons from 2012-14.

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have found their offensive coordinator.

The Bucs announced Thursday night that they have agreed to terms with Dirk Koetter, who served as the Atlanta Falcons’ offensive coordinator from 2012-2014. The development ends the team’s brief search to fill the position, which began in full after Tampa Bay finished its first season under coach Lovie Smith with a disappointing 2-14 record on Dec. 28.

The Bucs went through the campaign without a true offensive coordinator after Jeff Tedford, who came paired with Smith in January 2014, was rarely seen following a heart procedure in late August.

"I’m very excited to welcome Dirk to our staff," Smith said in a statement. "With over three decades of experience at both the college and the NFL level, Dirk has a proven track record as a top offensive coordinator. During his time in Atlanta, he led one of the most productive offenses in the league and I believe he will enjoy similar success here with the exciting young players we have on offense. It became very apparent early in our conversations that we share some of the same philosophies regarding the offensive side of the ball, and I look forward to working with Dirk as we begin preparing for the 2015 season."

Koetter, 55, arrives with considerable coaching experience at both the college and professional levels. He spent 22 years at a college coach, including a stint as Arizona State’s coach from 2001 to 2006. He also served as the Jacksonville Jaguars’ offensive coordinator from 2007 to 2011, a period of time in which the Jaguars cumulatively ranked third in the NFL in rushing yards (132 per game). He coached four players in Jacksonville to six Pro Bowl selections.

During his Koetter’s time with Atlanta, the Falcons cumulatively ranked second in the NFL in completion percentage (67.4), third in third-down conversion percentage (44.1), fourth in passing yards (277.2 per game), ninth in passing touchdowns (86) and ninth in passer rating (93.9) and 10th in points (24). He led three players to Pro Bowl appearances

A native of Pocatello, Idaho, Koetter will be charged with helping improve a unit that ranked among the NFL’s worst last season. The Bucs were 25th in passing yards (206.1 per game), 29th in both scoring (17.3 points per game) and rushing yards (85.9 per game), plus 30th in total offense (292 yards per game).

The prospect of leading the Bucs’ offense is appealing, though. Tampa Bay could select a quarterback with the No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming draft, and the unit includes wide receiver Mike Evans, who led the Bucs with 1,051 receiving yards and was named a finalist for the NFL Rookie of the Year award.

The past season included uncommon struggle for the Bucs in operating without a true offensive coordinator. Quarterbacks coach Marcus Arroyo called plays, but he struggled to gain a feel for the position in what was his first season working in the NFL after serving as a long-time college assistant.

"There’s a reason why people have that position on a team and on a staff," Bucs quarterback Josh McCown said on Dec. 29 about the impact of playing without an offensive coordinator. "Just don’t know. We’ll never know. But again, that’s life. Those things happen and what you do is your best to pull up the slack and make the most out of it, and we did the best we could. The effort was certainly there, we just didn’t get the results."

You can follow Andrew Astleford on Twitter @aastleford or email him at aastleford@gmail.com.