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13 January 2015

Transcript: Offensive Coordinator Dirk Koetter Introductory Conference Call

(Opening Statement)
“Thanks for being on the call. I’m excited about the opportunity to come to Tampa, work with Coach [Lovie] Smith and get things rolling down there. I’m anxious to get started as soon as we can.”
 
(On if the Buccaneers should draft Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota or Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston)
“It’s funny that would be the first question and you’re going to be disappointed in the answer: I have no idea. That’s somebody else – Jason [Licht] and Coach Smith would be in charge of making that decision if that is it. I don’t even know if those guys [have declared] and if I can talk about them. That’s just it guys – when you’re coaching in the NFL, you’re watching college football in the distance. I’ll watch college football for fun. Once we get started and we start focusing on guys we’re going to draft, now you drill down and really watch guys and put grades on them and that sort of thing. But until then, heck, I watch college football for fun – I wouldn’t even be able to tell you [about those players].”
 
(On how much Tampa Bay’s possession of the first overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft attracted him to this job)
“I don’t know, I’ve never been in that situation before, so I don’t really know how that is – we’re going to find out. Obviously they drafted all offensive players last year, so they’ve shown that that could be the case and they drafted some great young guys in last year’s draft. Who the Bucs are going to pick with the first pick, I’m the last guy to ask that question to right now – I have no idea. But I’m excited about the guys we already have down there and the guys we believe we know we’re going to be working with for sure.”
 
(On utilizing the horizontal passing game and the vertical passing game in his offense)
“First of all, there is no ‘my offense.’ When we get rolling down there in Tampa, it will be the Tampa Bay offense. There’s certain things that I believe in, just like every coach has things they believe in, and spreading the defense out is certainly one of those things. We’re going to do our best to take advantage of the talent that we do have and every offense has strengths and weaknesses. You’re trying to play to your strengths and hide your weaknesses. We’ll see, as we get to studying this and figuring everything out, what the Tampa Bay offense is going to look like for 2015.”
 
(On what appealed to him about the Tampa Bay job)
“That’s an easy one – you just look at some of those young players they have and some of the veteran players they have. There’s some really talented players to work with there – number one, the young guys that were drafted this past year. I’ve always had a lot of respect for Lovie and the job he does as a head coach and as a defensive coach, going against him over the years, going back and following his career over the years. I think it’s a really good fit for me personally with the head coach and a good fit with the type of players that they already have in place.”
 
(On if his offense is fit to the talent that he has or if he fits the talent to match his scheme)
“As I said before, we all have things that we believe in as coaches, but at the end of the day, I’m a big believer that the system that you have has to be flexible enough to take into account the various strengths and weaknesses of your players. I think it’s foolish to take a system and ram it down a player’s throat, if that doesn’t play to his strengths. With that said, you can’t always make it fit exactly perfect for every single guy you’ve got on the team, but for the guys that are touching the ball a lot, you need to play to their strengths in my opinion.”
 
(On what working with rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert as the Jacksonville Jaguars offensive coordinator in 2011 taught him about quarterback development)
“I don’t think you can compare any two situations. To compare the situation when Blaine Gabbert was a rookie to anybody else as a rookie, I think that’s not a fair comparison. You can’t compare it straight across the board. In Blaine’s case, the initial plan when Blaine was drafted was not to play him as a rookie, but to have him be a backup for a year and learn from a veteran guy. That plan got changed for various reasons by stuff I don’t care to talk about, but I think a lot depends on the guy and the guy’s maturity level, what kind of background he has – is he a total spread quarterback or does he have some drop-back and some NFL-type stuff in his background? Then you’ve got to go back to formulating and playing to that guy’s strengths. I definitely learned plenty in that year when Blaine was the quarterback in Jacksonville and I’m sure if it does work out that it’s a rookie quarterback, somewhere down the line, those things that I learned from [Gabbert], I won’t repeat the same mistakes I made last time.”
 
(On why Tampa Bay under-performed offensively in 2014 and if the team is in need of a franchise quarterback)
“I haven’t studied enough – I would never say anybody underperformed without doing a lot more research than I’ve done. I don’t know if they underperformed or didn’t underperform. I do think in the NFL, it’s easier to win when you have a franchise quarterback, but I don’t think it’s a necessity that you win by having a franchise quarterback. Again, I’m going to go back to what I said before – you have to play to the strength of your team. Other people have won a lot of games and they didn’t necessarily have a franchise quarterback. The thing that people have to remember is those guys aren’t just out there walking around on the street. Franchise quarterbacks are hard to come by and they’re few and far between. It’s definitely possible to win without it, but I do think your odds go up if you have one.”
 
(On how much he believes in a balanced offense)
“A lot, I believe in a balanced offense a lot. The reason for that is if you ask any defensive coach what’s the hardest thing to defend, one of the first things he’ll tell you is balance. Defenses are just too good nowadays in the NFL, if they can get a tip and they know they only have to stop one thing, they’re pretty good at stopping that one thing. Balance is huge. You’ve got to remember, time and score factors in to how much you can be balanced – if you’re behind in the second half, there’s only so many possessions in an NFL game, so sometimes time and score effect it, but I definitely believe in balance.”
 
(On when he decided that coming to Tampa Bay was the best choice)
“That’s a complicated question right there. This time of year in the NFL, with the various jobs that are open, there’s a lot of speculation, there’s a lot of things swirling around as to who’s going to be coaching where. When the situation presented itself here in Atlanta and Atlanta granted me the option to talk to the Bucs, I was sure pretty early after talking to Coach Smith down in Tampa that Tampa had the pieces in place that were very attractive to me and I thought I could make a positive impact on that team. So it didn’t take too long for me to figure out that that was a place that I would want to be if I had the opportunity, but you never know if you’re going to get the opportunity.”
 
(On what pieces made the position attractive)
“Number one, it starts with the head coach. It starts with Lovie Smith and his reputation as a leader and a head football coach in the NFL. And then, secondly, just the talent they have on offense. I mean, you look at the two 1,000-yard receivers, two or three really good young running backs, a good young tight end – there’s some good skill guys there to build around. Every team in the NFL has some areas they’d like to improve and nobody has 11 starters that they’re in love with from the very first day, so it’s a work in progress. But, trust me, Tampa Bay, personnel-wise, is in better shape than one on the outside might think.”
 
(On Tampa Bay’s offensive line and whether changes need to be made)
“That is something that, until I have a chance to look at more tape – and I haven’t had a chance to do that yet, that’s something I’ll be doing right away here – until I have a chance to look at more tape, I really couldn’t give you a great answer on that. But I can give you a good answer on how much injuries – injuries in the NFL, it’s a huge part of a game. Keeping guys healthy, and especially on the O-line, continuity, I mean, here in Atlanta this year, we had a ton of injuries early and by late in the year, even though we were playing some guys that weren’t originally starters in the season, because they were able to work together and start together over a three, four, five, six-game stretch, they started playing a lot better. I think that’s the same for any team. I know that things are going to get going for the offensive line in Tampa Bay, but as far as how any individuals played, I’m not able to say that right now.”
 
(On what strengths he sees in this year’s draft class)
“For the draft in general? Once again guys, when you’re an assistant coach in the NFL, you don’t really start looking at any of that until about this time of year. So I’m not the right person to ask that. You need to ask Jason and somebody in the personnel area, because, assistant coaches, you don’t even start looking at college guys, like I said, until the Senior Bowl rolls around and, as you guys know, the East-West [Shrine] Game down there this week. That’s when coaches first start to get involved. I’ll have a lot better feel for the draft as we get further into it, but, right now, I’m not the guy to ask that.”
 
(On how much freedom he will have in running the offense)
“I’m the son of a football coach, the son of a high school football coach, the son of a college football coach, so, I work for Lovie Smith, first and foremost. I work for the Tampa Bay Bucs, I work for Lovie Smith. I’m going to do what the head coach tells me to do. Now, you guys are going to find out one thing about me, if I’m asked a question, I’m going to give you an answer. I don’t usually mince my words too much. I think Coach Smith and I have very similar philosophies in how you go about being successful on offense in the NFL, but I’m going to do the things that we’ve been talking about all day. I’m going to try to take advantage of our strengths and hide our weaknesses, but I don’t ever look at it as, ‘How much freedom do you have?’ I look at it as, ‘Are we doing the things that give our football team the best chance to win each Sunday?’”
 
(On if there will be any changes to Tampa Bay’s offensive staff)
“Coach Smith and I have just had a few brief conversations about the staff and that’s something that will be ironed out in the time coming up as we get this thing rolling. So, again, the coaching staff is hired by the Head Football Coach, and I’m very happy to be one of those guys that’s been hired. Other than that, I’m not sure what else Coach Smith’s planned for the staff at this time.”
 
(On what attributes he looks for in the ideal quarterback)
“I think the ideal quarterback, I think one of the things that is really [underrated] is how fast can you process information, because playing quarterback in the NFL, things are coming at you fast and furious and if you can’t process information, it’s tough to be successful. Second would be toughness. Toughness, because when you play quarterback in the NFL, you’re going to have to demonstrate toughness on a daily basis and certainly every Sunday. Intelligence, arm strength, accuracy, mobility – those things are all important as well – but the ability to process information and make great decisions would be number one on my list.”
 
(On how confident he is coming into this job)
“I’m very confident, I’m extremely confident in what we can do in Tampa with the offense and what we can do as a team. As I said before, the object is to win the game, whether you win it 14-13 or 41-40, I’m good either way. I don’t care what we have to do to win it, I just want to win it. Yeah, I’m extremely confident that we’re going to put together the type of offense that fans are going to want to get behind and, most importantly, are going to help us win games.”
 
(On describing his offensive philosophy and if he needs a veteran quarterback)
“Well I think you can win – there’s a lot of factors that go into what type of quarterbacks you win with. What’s the strength of the team around him? What’s the strength of your special teams? What’s the strength of your defense? What’s the strength of your running game? All those things factor in, but philosophically speaking, the main things that are important to me are number one, that we’re an offense that doesn’t turn it over. That’s the quickest way to lose a game is by turning it over. And then number two would be an offense that creates explosive plays – explosive runs and explosive passes – because if you’re not turning it over and you’re creating explosives, you’re going to have a great chance to be in position to score points. Thirdly would be protecting the passer. You can’t be getting your quarterback hit and knocked down and sacked and expect to be successful on offense. And then your next two most important things would be a team that’s good on third down and a team that’s good at scoring touchdowns in the red zone. Those would be the things that I hope the Tampa Bay offense excels at.”
 
(On if he thinks potential head coaching opportunities will continue to be available for him in the future, and what it’s like to prepare for Gerald McCoy)
“Haha, that’s the easiest question I’ve had all day: What it’s like to prepare for Gerald McCoy? It’s hard, that’s what it is. It’s hard. When you prepare to face Gerald McCoy, you always are aware of how you can get an extra guy over there because you never want to have one of your guards or center one-on-one with Gerald McCoy. As far as the being a head coach thing, I was fortunate enough that I’ve been a college head coach for nine years, I was a head high school coach. I love being an offensive coordinator in the NFL and the part about being a head coach, I mean, just look around at what’s happened in the last 48 hours in the NFL. Being a head coach in the NFL is very unpredictable. [I am] extremely, extremely happy being an offensive coordinator in the NFL and if something like that is to come, that’s a byproduct of doing the job that you have right now well. So I’m going to come down to Tampa and just try to do the best job that I can and whatever happens after that happens.”
 
(On what he thinks of Mike Glennon and Josh McCown)
“Again, I haven’t dug into the tape yet. I’m anxious to do that and to watch the tape. I know that statistically, everybody’s going to say that they didn’t do well this year, but sometimes statistics don’t tell the whole story and, like I said, the tape usually does tell the whole story and I’m anxious to look at that. All I will say is Josh has played some good football in his career and when Tampa drafted Mike, I’ve watched Mike from afar – from the other side of the ball here in Atlanta – and from afar, I thought he had some of the same attributes as Matt Ryan. But that’s me looking at it from the outside, and until I get on the inside and get a chance to look at the tape and spend some time with those guys, I can’t give you much more than that.”
 
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