The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have relieved Head Coach Dirk Koetter of his duties after three seasons at the helm. The search will now begin for the 12th head coach in franchise history.
"We sincerely appreciate the hard work and commitment shown by Dirk over the past several years," said Buccaneers Owner/Co-Chairman Joel Glazer. "Working with Dirk has been a pleasure and we wish him and his family all the best in the future. Our search for a new head coach will begin immediately and will be conducted by General Manager Jason Licht."
Koetter was named head coach on January 15, 2016. He succeeded Lovie Smith, for whom he had served as the Buccaneers' offensive coordinator in 2015. The Buccaneers compiled a 19-29 record during Koetter's tenure, including a 5-11 mark in 2018. Tampa Bay's best season under Koetter's direction was 2016, when the team finished 9-7 and missed the playoffs on a tiebreaker.
That campaign, which included six wins in the final eight weeks, built expectations that the Buccaneers would end a playoff drought that began in 2008. However, the 2017 team fell to 5-11 and endured two five-game losing streaks and the club did not rebound in 2018. Tampa Bay's offense set a long list of franchise records 2018, including most points in a single season, but it also committed 35 turnovers. The defense improved after the promotion of Mark Duffner to coordinator but still finished near the bottom of the league rankings in points and yards.
The 2018 season was Koetter's 12th in the NFL after he spent 22 years coaching in the college ranks. In those 12 seasons, his offenses have ranked in the top 10 in the league seven times. He spent four years as the offensive coordinator for the Jacksonville Jaguars (2007-11), then three in the same post for the Atlanta Falcons (2012-14) before joining the Buccaneers. Koetter had previously been a head coach in the college ranks at both Boise State (1998-2000) and Arizona State (2001-06), but his promotion by the Buccaneers in 2016 marked his first head coaching opportunity in the NFL. Koetter addressed the media after Sunday's season-ending loss to Atlanta and made it clear he was grateful for that opportunity.
"I'd love to finish out my contract, of course I would," he said. "But, listen, the Glazer family has been spectacular to work for. The Glazer family has given us what we need and this organization is strong, starting with ownership. If this is the last one for me, then I appreciate the opportunity that they gave me. It's awesome to be a head football coach in the NFL. Coaching in the NFL, period, is awesome.
"I've been fired before and I've been hired before. I know this: If you can look yourself in the mirror at the end of the day and know you did everything you could, then I have no problem holding my head up."