Tonight the Atlanta Falcons will play in Super Bowl LI. They’ve gotten this far under a second-year head coach in Dan Quinn. Can the Buccaneers have similar success in Dirk Koetter’s second year?
At first glance, the Buccaneers don’t look like a Super Bowl-ready team. However, ask yourself: did the Falcons look ready to compete for a Super Bowl after the 2015-16 season? No, they didn’t.
Last year, which was Dan Quinn’s first as a head coach, Atlanta went 8-8. This year, the team jumped to 11-5 and is one win away from being Super Bowl Champions for the first time ever. Tampa Bay went 9-7 in Dirk Koetter’s first year. Why shouldn’t he be able to get his team to make the same jump in his second year?
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When Koetter was promoted to head coach, the Bucs were coming off of a 6-10 season. What was the Falcons record one year before Quinn came in? You guessed it: 6-10. Both coaches came into similar situations. Sure, Quinn came to a team that had a veteran quarterback in Matt Ryan. But even still, he started his head coaching tenure with a roster full of solid pieces. That group did have its holes, though. Koetter’s situation is strangely similar. His quarterback is much younger, but he has pieces like an elite receiver in Mike Evans and a defense with the likes of Gerald McCoy, Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander.
Between years one and two for Quinn, the Falcons added Pro Bowl center Alex Mack, wide receiver Mohamed Sanu (to complement an elite talent like Julio Jones) and promising rookie safety Keanu Neal. With those moves, Atlanta shored up its offensive line and its receiving corps, while also adding to a defense that was highly inconsistent the year before.
Going into next season, Tampa Bay has many of the same needs. The offensive line needs some work, Evans needs some help out wide and the defense needs to find a little more consistency. Really, the only need that the Bucs don’t have in common with last year’s Falcons is, presumably, at running back. If general manager Jason Licht addresses each area through free agency and the draft, won’t Tampa Bay be right there with Atlanta? Remember, Koetter did pick up his first career win over Quinn in week one of this season.
It’s time for the Bucs to take the next step. They have to hope that such a step comes with Koetter the same way it came for Quinn in Atlanta.
What do you think, Bucs fans? Can Koetter have the same, or similar, success as Quinn did in year two?