Any doubt about whether the Glazer family, who own the Buccaneers, would waste any time firing Dirk Koetter was erased on Sunday evening. That’s when they removed their coach after his second consecutive 10- loss season ended with Sunday’s 34-32 defeat to the Atlanta Falcons.
That loss concluded the year at 5 – 11 and was Tampa Bay’s fourth consecutive loss. Koetter (shown above leaving the field Sunday) finished 10-22 in the last two seasons and it had become obvious the Glazers were going to make a change.
Buccaneers Head Coach Dirk Koetter relieved of duties.https://t.co/r7TkXOZ0Zc
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) December 31, 2018
Koetter had been promoted to head coach in 2016 after a successful 2015 season as offensive coordinator with rookie quarterback Jameis Winston. In his initial season as head coach, the Bucs finished in 9 – 7 and narrowly missed the playoffs.
However, they regressed in 2017 and again in 2018, which ultimately cost Koetter his job.
This season the Bucs dealt with Winston being suspended at the beginning of the year for three games for violation of the NFL personal conduct policy.
Yet, veteran backup Ryan Fitzpatrick was tremendous in the two opening wins over New Orleans and Philadelphia, where he was named the NFC offensive player of the week for both weeks. But, the “2-0 euphoria” did not last long, as Fitzpatrick lost the next two starts with Pittsburgh and Chicago.
Koetter turned to Winston, who proceeded to lose two of the three starts he had and go back to the bench with the team 3-4.
The Buccaneers season never really recovered and finished with their ninth losing year in the last 11 years.
This is the fourth head coach the Glazers have fired in the last eight seasons dating back to their dismissal of Raheem Morris in 2011, followed by Greg Schiano after 2013 and Lovie Smith in 2015.
Only the Cleveland Browns have a longer playoff drought currently, than the Buccaneers, who’ve not seen the postseason since 2007, when Jon Gruden was their coach.
As the statement revealed, general manager Jason Licht will be kept on by the Glazer family and will lead the coaching search.
There had been questions as to whether Licht might also be fired, too. He was hired at the same time as Lovie Smith in 2014 and has had only one winning season as a general manager.
As we wrote earlier, the strong belief is the Buccaneers have to go to a proven NFL head coach with their next hire, as three of the last four coaches had never had any NFL experience/success or in the case of Morris, he’d never been a head coach at any level.
Ironically, Morris was on the sidelines in Tampa Sunday, as an Atlanta offensive assistant, when the Falcons came back in the final minute behind Matt Ryan and Julio Jones to kick the winning field goal with no time left.
A defeat that ended Koetter’s tenure in Tampa Bay.
Bucs WR Mike Evans still not practicing
The Bucs were back on the practice field Wednesday morning getting ready for their third preseason game on Friday night with the Cleveland Browns at Raymond James Stadium. However, once again, they are without their top receiver, Mike Evans, who remains sidelined with an injury.
Buccaneers beat reporter for The Athletic, Greg Auman, tweeted that Evans was not out on the practice field during the portion that is open to the media:
Mike Evans not practicing today means Mike Evans isn't playing Friday, and he's not playing next week, which means he'll finish the preseason without a catch. He's as known a commodity as the Bucs have on their roster though.
— Greg Auman (@gregauman) August 21, 2019
Evans pulled up during a drill in Sunday’s practice and head coach Bruce Arians made mention of the injury on Monday:
“Mike tweaked yesterday…it’s nothing serious,” Arians told the media.
It is reportedly a leg injury to Evans’ quadriceps that is hampering him.
The Bucs are not required to talk about injuries, much less the severity of them, at this stage. And, it’s not believed that there will be any further updates on Evans this week.
However, it’s easy to conclude the Tampa Bay will not risk playing him in the third preseason game and is Auman tweeted, the starters never play in the fourth preseason game which will be next Thursday in Dallas.
So clearly, Tampa Bay is resting and rehabbing Evans for the season opener with the 49ers.
Evans, a Pro Bowl wide receiver from a year ago, is the top target of QB Jameis Winston. A year ago he caught for a career high 1,524 yards and also career high 17.7 avg with 8 TDs.
Evans had 86 receptions, which were the second most of his five year career, in 2018, and he’s one of three receivers in NFL history to have 1,000+ receiving yards in each of his first five seasons. Hall of Famer, Randy Moss and A.J. Green are the other two.
Evans previously dealt with a hamstring injury in the 2015 preseason and missed the season opener with Tennessee but returned the following week. However, he’s been very durable since then, playing in 47 of the 48 games the last three years, having missed only a 2017 game while suspended for his role in a fight against the Saints.
This info comes on Evans’ birthday, as he turns just 26 today.
Bucs RB Ronald Jones back at Tuesday practice
Bucs fans can exhale on the knee injury for running back Ronald Jones, at least for now.
Jones was seen at the portion of practice open to the media Tuesday afternoon with his left knee heavily wrapped but, most importantly, participating in drills in full pads.
Ronald Jones back at practice today with his knee heavily taped but moving pretty good. Certainly not 100. %Mike Evans still out but it’s not a serious. pic.twitter.com/RHDR80qfqn
— FanStreamSports JP (@FanStreamJP) August 20, 2019
Jones had not practiced the last two days of Bucs training camp with what was described as a swollen knee suffered after playing in Friday night’s preseason game with the Dolphins.
As we wrote yesterday, coach Bruce Arians provided a brief update after practice into Jones’ situation,
“Ronald’s knee swelled up a little bit and just trying to take it day to day with him.”
Traditionally, the third preseason game is the final time, where starters for the regular season play significantly. The Bucs are set to host the Cleveland Browns Friday night at Raymond James Stadium.
When asked about Jones’ chances to play or whether the team would play it safe, Arians briefly said:
“We’ll see how it is. We still got a few more days. I think Ronald’s gonna be ok.”
Jones appeared to have suffered some kind of left knee hyper-extension returning the opening kickoff on a rain-slicked turf against the Friday night. That’s what can be seen this photo on social media from Tampa Bay sports reporter Kevin O’Donnell showing Jones knee clearly in an awkward spot when he planted:
Wondering why #Bucs runningback Ronald Jones knee is sore? This is the opening kickoff Friday night against the Dolphins. Rojo didn’t practice yesterday. Looks like a hyperextension to me. pic.twitter.com/mVmW86E96x
— Kevin ODonnell Fox13 (@ODonnellFox13) August 19, 2019
Jones did carry the ball twice for 7 yards later in the first quarter of the game before being shut down for the night.
Jones has been one of the standouts of the Bucs offseason and training camp with glowing updates repeatedly from Arians about his progress and his chances of seeing significant playing time. He missed three games with a hamstring injury in a disappointing rookie year.
However, he is expected to challenge incumbent starter from last year Peyton Barber for playing time/carries, once the regular season gets underway in two weeks.
Another obvious point, if his knee was sprained or worse, the Bucs would not have had on the field in full uniform trying to run and cut, even at a reduced speed. So, that’s also a positive.
For now, we await Arians’ and the teams plans for using Jones, or not, against the Browns later today and tomorrow.