Bucs hire ex-Falcons OC Dirk Koetter for same position
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are turning to veteran play-caller Dirk Koetter to revive their struggling offense.
The former Atlanta and Jacksonville offensive coordinator is joining the Bucs in the same capacity, the team announced Thursday.
Koetter, 55, was let go last month by the NFC South rival Falcons, who fired coach Mike Smith after a 6-10 season.
The Bucs stumbled to a 2-14 finish, playing the entire regular season without former offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford, who underwent a heart procedure in August and did not return to work any games.
"I’m very excited to welcome Dirk to our staff," Bucs coach Lovie Smith said in a statement released by the team.
"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," Smith added. "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."
And, perhaps a new quarterback.
The Bucs have the first overall pick in this year’s draft. Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariotta could be among the players Smith and general manager Jason Licht consider adding to an offense that ranked 30th among 32 teams in 2014.
With Tedford sidelined, first-year NFL assistant Marcus Arroyo handled play-calling responsibilities. Even though the Bucs had a pair of 1,000-yard receivers (Mike Evans, Vincent Jackson) for the first time in franchise history, quarterback Josh McCown finished with the second-lowest passer rating in the league.
Koetter was Atlanta’s offensive coordinator for three years, helping Matt Ryan post the three highest passing yardage season totals in team history. The Falcons were eighth in total offense this season.
"It became very apparent early in our conversations that we share some of the same philosophies regarding the offensive side of the ball," Smith said.
Prior to being hired by the Falcons in 2012, Koetter was Jacksonville’s offensive coordinator for five seasons from 2007 to 2011. He also has an extensive background on the college level, including stints as a head coach at Boise State (1998-2000) and Arizona State (2001-06).
During his three seasons in Atlanta, the Falcons ranked second in the league 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), 10th in points scored (24.0 per game) and 10th in total yardage (363.5 per game).