Buccaneers: The Change of Culture
By Zach Sauers
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been irrelevant to the NFL community for quite some time now. After the hire of Head Coach Dirk Koetter, has this team finally been pushed back into the limelight? Has the culture of this team finally changed?
The Buccaneers have constantly been looked at as a team that just can not reach the next step. Whether it due to the lack of a talented roster, lack of coaching skills, an injury plagued season, etc., the Bucs have been irrelevant. Since 2007 the Bucs have not been able to reach the playoffs and recently they have not even be able to scratch at a chance. Bad draft selections, bad free agent signings, the list goes on and on, but so do the excuses.
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After the hire of Lovie Smith, Bucs Nation believed that their troubles were finally going to end when in fact things would only get worse. After once leading his Chicago Bears team to a Super Bowl, Smith proved to the NFL community in his second shot as a head coach that has ideals and schemes were outdated in the new era of football. Smith went 8-24 in his two years in Tampa, but he did luckily find the two missing pieces the Bucs needed.
After the tank of the 2014, the Bucs had the first pick in the draft. After an extensive background check, General Manager Jason Licht pulled the trigger on the then controversial Jameis Winston. Since that date not only has Winston proved that he can be the face of the franchise, but also the savior of the organization.
You may thank Jason Licht and Smith for this gift, but no one deserves more thanks for Winston than Dirk Koetter. Koetter, who was hired by Smith in 2015 as the offensive coordinator, has helped Winston progress into arguably one of the best young quarterbacks to ever play in the National Football League.
Koetter’s success with Winston and the offense in 2015 helped him reach his goal of becoming a head coach in the NFL. After taking the reigns from 2016, Koetter knew what he had to do to push this team. After hiring his former boss Mike Smith to run the defense, Koetter established that the Bucs needed to change their culture from top to bottom.
The 2016 season started off with a bang. A big time win against a divisional opponent and the eventual power house Falcons showed that the Bucs may be the real deal. Unfortunately due to growing pains and injuries, their culture change was delayed. Dropping three games in a row, the Bucs once again were questioning their identity.
That did not stop Coach Koetter. After some much-needed criticism towards his quarterback and team, Koetter was able to push them to win another road divisional game against the Carolina Panthers. Through the bye week Koetter expressed the need for culture change once more, and this time the Bucs’ locker room took note.
Since the week six bye week the Bucs have been 4-2. Of their four wins, two major upsets have occurred. First against the Kansas City Chiefs in Arrowhead Stadium, and now at home against the highly touted Seattle Seahawks. Not only has Koetter’s offense shown dominance, but also their defense has played reminiscently of the old Tampa Bay teams.
Not only has their winning finally received the national attention they have needed, but it also has put end to the Den of Depression. “Whatever that nickname may be, we can put that to bed. The fans were fantastic,” Koetter said in his post game interview.
Not only has the culture changed in the locker room for the Bucs, but it has also changed around the Bay area. An entire team effort has won the hearts of the once invisible Bucs fans. Fans are beginning to come out of the woodwork and support their team once more. Raymond James Stadium was rocking Sunday night, and although littered with bright green, Buc faithful let the team know they had their back.
The confidence is currently swirling around the Bucs organization and with five regular season games remaining they look to carry their swagger into the next week. In a recent interview with JoeBucsFan, starting left guard Kevin Pamphile had this to say “It’s my third year and I can’t describe the closeness we have right now. I mean, everybody’s fighting for each other. Honestly. I’m fighting for the guys next to me. Guys, you know, on D-line, on defense, it’s the same thing. It’s an emotional thing. It’s crazy.”
No matter what it took to get over this hump, no one deserves the credit more than Koetter himself. After already matching the team’s wins from 2015, and only two wins away from matching his predecessors win total, Koetter has proved he is exactly what the Bucs have needed.
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The Tampa Bay Bucs are finally relevant again. If you’re not with them, you’re against them. What this team has cooking is something special. Could they now be considered…… Super Bowl contenders?
What do you think Buc fans? Like what I have to say? If so follow me on Twitter and we can talk anything Bucs. God bless the Bucs, god bless Dirk Koetter, and onto San Diego.