Dirk Koetter, in his first season as a head coach in the NFL, led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to their first winning season since they went 10-6 in 2010.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Coaching and Special Teams
Koetter had virtually the same roster as Lovie Smith did in 2015. Smith went 6-10 with the Buccaneers in 2015 and Koetter improved the team to nine wins and seven losses in 2016. He had them just missing out on the NFC playoffs. They had the same record as the Detroit Lions, who won the tiebreaker because of a higher winning percentage in common games.
The Koetter Buccaneers always seemed to thrive when the competition was at its highest. The Buccaneers went 3-3 against teams who made the playoffs and 6-4 when the final score was seven points or less.
Offensive coordinator Todd Monken saw his unit run through four different starting running backs. Also, they lost Vincent Jackson to injured reserve after five games. As a wide receiver coach, Monken had to enjoy watching Mike Evans develop into his potential and become a one-man wrecking crew. The offense was able to score 27 touchdowns in the red zone without committing an interception or a fumble.
Defensive coordinator Mike Smith had the challenge of dealing with an inconsistent rotation and ineffective production from the defensive line outside of Gerald McCoy. Smith utilized the strengths of his defense, which were the linebackers and secondary. The insertion of Keith Tandy at free safety improved the Buccaneers’ passer rating against. The Buccaneers had 17 interceptions, which was tied for second in the NFL.
Kicker Roberto Aguayo did not turn out to be the disaster that he could have been after his struggles with confidence in training camp. However, he did not exactly live up to the hype of a second round draft pick. He excelled at short yardage and medium range opportunities, missing just two field goals from 40 yards and in and two extra points, including a game-winner against the Carolina Panthers. But his overall field goal percentage was just 71 percent because he missed six field goals between 40 and 49 yards. He also failed to make his only attempt from 50 yards.
However, an even bigger weakness on special teams was kickoffs: both kickoff coverage and kickoff returns. Aguayo routinely kicked touchbacks, but when it was in play, the Buccaneers allowed 23.3 yards per kickoff return. The Buccaneers’ main kickoff returner was Ryan Smith who had 169 yards on 10 returns for an average of 16.9 yards per return. Josh Huff averaged just 12 yards on six returns for 72 yards. The team averaged just 14.6 yards on 21 returns.
Bryan Anger spent four seasons as one of the better punters in the league with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He didn’t quite have the production he did with the Jaguars, but he still nearly averaged 46 yards per punt. His best games were against the Atlanta Falcons when he averaged 49 yards on five punts, the Oakland Raiders when he averaged 48 yards on eight punts, the San Diego Chargers when he averaged 54 yards on two punts and the New Orleans Saints when he averaged 51 yards on three punts. Anger was the Buccaneers’ best player on special teams.
And although no one singular player stood out, the Buccaneers’ punt coverage was excellent as they allowed just 5.3 yards on 24 punt returns.
Adam Humphries was the Buccaneers’ primary punt returner and he finished seventh in the league with 9.9 yards per punt return. His 24 punt returns and 237 punt returns just missed the top 10 because Vernon Hargreaves had five punt returns. He was less effective as he averaged just 5.8 yards per punt return.