Buccaneers fire head coach Dirk Koetter

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Jason Owens
Buccaneers fire head coach Dirk Koetter
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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers fired head coach Dirk Koetter on Sunday after three playoff-less seasons and a 19-29 overall mark.

Koetter took the Tampa Bay job in 2016 and led the Bucs to a 9-7 record in his first season before back-to-back losing seasons and a rotating quarterback position proved too much to keep his job.

When Koetter took over, Jameis Winston was in his second year after being selected with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft. The team showed promise that year coming off a 6-10 season under Lovie Smith, but has regressed the last two seasons.

After not making the playoffs during Koetter’s tenure, the Buccaneers’ streak now stands at 11 straight seasons without a postseason berth.

Greg Auman of The Athletic tweeted a statement from Tampa Bay co-chairman Joel Glazer: “We sincerely appreciate the hard work and commitment shown by Dirk over the past several years. Working with Dirk has been a pleasure and we wish him and his family all the best in the future.”

General manager Jason Licht will lead the search for a new coach.

Quarterback changes defined 2018 season

The 2018 season was a disaster on the field as a quarterback carousel between Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick eventually saw Winston benched for performance before returning to the lineup later in the season.

Fitzpatrick started the season with Winston serving a three-game suspension.

When Fitzpatrick tallied three straight 400-yard games that included wins over the New Orleans Saints and Philadelphia Eagles, Koetter sent him back out for Week 4 against the Chicago Bears when Winston was eligible to play.

The Fitzmagic inevitably wore out against the Bears, and Koetter quickly switched gears, sending Winston out for the second half of the 48-10 loss before announcing the next week that Winston had his starting job back.

He demonstrated some prescience on his own situation at the time.

“Jameis Winston is the guy who’s going to be here way longer than I am,” Koetter told reporters on Oct. 3. “So, he needs to be out there playing, and he will be unless he gets hurt.”

After Winston threw four interceptions against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 8, Koetter changed his mind again. He announced that Fitzpatrick would once again be the starter for Week 9 against the Carolina Panthers.

The Winston era in Tampa Bay appeared to be over. It wasn’t.

Fitzpatrick threw three first-half interceptions in Week 11 against the New York Giants, and Koetter made another switch, putting Winston back into the lineup. He kept the job after throwing a pair of touchdowns in the second half of the 38-35 loss.

“It’s pretty obvious — he came in and lit it up,” Koetter said of putting Winston back in. “I’ve been telling you guys, I’ve been saying all along — Jameis’ day was gonna come back. But that’s water under the bridge right now.”

On Sunday morning, it was reported that Tampa Bay intended to keep Winston as starting quarterback for 2019, which seemed to portend Koetter’s departure.

Buccaneers have a lot of offseason questions after firing Dirk Koetter

The back-to-back losing seasons with a young No. 1 overall pick at quarterback were probably enough on their own to get Koetter fired. Koetter’s bumbling of the starting situation surely sealed his fate, as well as his indecision on offensive play-caller Todd Monken – he stripped Monken of his duties, only to give them back after one week.

The Bucs are a mess and have little clarity about their future at coach or quarterback after the disaster that was 2018.

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