Buccaneers promote Dirk Koetter to head coach

Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have promoted offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter to the top job, where he replaces recently fired Lovie Smith.

While the Tampa Bay front office was very unhappy with Smith and the team’s defense, they were pleased with Koetter’s work with rookie quarterback Jameis Winston. The No. 1 draft pick finished the season completing a below-average 58.3 percent of his passes, but was able to go downfield effectively with an average completion of 13.0 yards. He threw 22 touchdown passes and 15 interceptions while joining Cam Newton and Andrew Luck as the only rookie quarterbacks to throw for over 4,000 yards.

“When I started this search for a new head coach, the focus was on finding someone that could be a strong leader as well as a consummate teacher, and Dirk is both,” general manager Jason Licht said in a statement. “He brings the passion and drive that will re-energize our organization and help us establish the winning culture that will help us become the championship-caliber team that our fans deserve.”

Former Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith will take over as Tampa Bay’s defensive coordinator. Last season, the Buccaneers finished 26th in points allowed, thanks in great part to a pass defense that allowed 31 touchdowns against just 11 interceptions.

That will let Koetter focus on the offense.

“Dirk has established himself as one of the top offensive coaches in our game while enjoying success at every stop during his college and NFL career,” Buccaneers co-chairman Joel Glazer said. “His success with our offense last season, along with his familiarity with our players and our organization, makes Dirk the right man to lead our team moving forward.”

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