The man who guided the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' attack to a record output in 2015 will still be leading the offensive charge in 2016 and beyond.
That man, of course, was Offensive Coordinator Dirk Koetter, who was promoted to head coach on Friday. During his introductory press conference, Koetter provided some clarity on who will be in command of the offense on game day now that he's moving from the coaches' booth down to the sideline.
"Roles are going to have to be juggled around a little bit, but there's already a model that exists in the NFL for the head coach as the play-caller," said Koetter. "I will continue to be the play-caller for the Bucs. There's a lot of hard work that goes into football, and one of my favorite parts of football is the strategy and the game-management part, the play-calling part. I think I'd be foolish to give that up."
Indeed the Buccaneers won their first Super Bowl Championship at the end of the 2002 season with a head coach who was also the play-caller in Jon Gruden. Gruden coached the Buccaneers from 2002-08 and guided some of the more potent offenses in franchise annals. However, until last fall, under Koetter's guidance, the Buccaneers had never before surpassed 6,000 yards in a season. The 2015 Buccaneers broke team records for total net yards (6,014) and yards per play (5.9) among a number of other offensive milestones.
Koetter's responsibilities will obviously expand greatly, and Jason Licht and Buccaneer ownership clearly believe in his ability to be the captain of the overall ship. However, it's a significant bonus that Tampa Bay's young and promising offense will be able to continue developing smoothly under the same guidance in the years to come. That's doubly true because Koetter plans to keep most of the existing offensive staff together.
"That's one of the great things about taking over a program that I was already here for a year, that I worked hand-in-hand with those guys on the offensive staff," he said. "The majority of those guys are going to continue on with me, and we've got a great group. When I said, 'Surround yourself with a good staff,' we're already off to a terrific start."
Koetter, along with Quarterbacks Coach Mike Bajakian have rightfully received praise for how well they worked with rookie Quarterback Jameis Winston, who threw for over 4,000 yards and recorded a combined 28 passing and rushing touchdowns in his debut season. Winston is clearly a franchise quarterback in the making and Koetter intends to stay intimately involved in the young player's development.
INFOGRAPHIC: HEAD COACH DIRK KOETTER
"It will change some – it has to," said Koetter of his day-to-day working relationship with Winston. "But I love being involved with the quarterback. That's my number-one area of expertise, working with the quarterback, and we are tremendously blessed here to have a young guy named Mike Bajakian on our staff. Whether it's coming out of my mouth or coming out of his mouth, it could be the same. We've got a quarterback – we've got more than one quarterback but especially our lead guy, Jameis – who wants to be coached, is eager to be here. It will have to change a little bit but trust me, I'll be spending a lot of time with Jameis."
For Buccaneers ownership and the team's fans – and surely for Winston himself – that's music to everybody's ears.