TAMPA – Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter has taken a lot of heat for his reaction to the childish trade of social media barbs exchanged between someone inside the Bucs camp and the Falcons last week.
Some have suggested Koetter showed weakness by apologizing to the Falcons for the exchange, saying this is not how the coach of what Koetter hopes will one day be a “bad-ass’’ football team should respond.
Others have suggested Koetter shouldn’t have addressed the issue at all, saying it was only twitter and that it was the Falcons who started the whole thing in the first place, which is true.
The feeling here, though, is that Koetter did precisely the right thing, and not simply because he might still have some former colleagues and friends in the Falcons organization that he knows and respects.
The bottom line here is that someone from the Bucs, who haven’t been to the playoffs in nine years, who just posted their first winning season in six year, decided to tweak the reigning NFC champions.
As Koetter pointed out during his apology, the Falcons have reached a level the Bucs are still aspiring to get to, and to poke fun at the collapse that kept them from winning the Super Bowl is nothing short of disrespectful.
Something you have to keep in mind here is that under Koetter and general manager Jason Licht, the Bucs are once again attempting to become a team that does all things, including winning, the right way.
These are not the Bucs of the Jon Gruden and Bruce Allen era, when character concerns were virtually nonexistent and the only thing that mattered was how good of a football player you were.
Like Tony Dungy and Rich McKay before them, Koetter and Licht want a team that, yes, is known for being a “bad-ass’’ on the football field but is also respected off the field for how it conducts its business there.
Believe it or not, you can have it both ways, and as clever as the execution may have been, to taunt the Falcons with a photo that hints at the degree of their collapse doesn’t help the Bucs in that quest.
Even if the roles were reversed and it was the Bucs who had suffered the collapse and the Falcons who had done the taunting it would have best served the Bucs to have simply ignored the taunt.
That’s how you maintain integrity, and for those who may have missed it or missed the point of it, that’s what Koetter was getting at when he issued another typically blunt message to his team late last year.
When Koetter invoked his most-inner Teddy Roosevelt after a victory over the Chargers and advised his players to “speak softly and carry a big #$%&*@#$ stick,” he was, in essence, telling them to always let their play do the talking.
Someone in the Bucs organization forgot that message last week, and Koetter was right to call them out for it and for putting the organization back in the proper light. Good for him.