Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Commentary | Tampa Bay Bucs new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter keeping things close to the vest

TAMPA

At least we know Dirk Koetter is not a figment of our imagination.

When we can say the same thing about the Tampa Bay Bucs offense, that will be progress.

But that's why Bucs head coach Lovie Smith hired Koetter.

Koetter held his first press conference as the Bucs offensive coordinator Tuesday, and everyone went away feeling confident he won't pull a disappearing act on us.

We really couldn't say that about Jeff Tedford, who has come and gone before the ink dried on his offensive game plan -- if there ever was one.

Koetter did his best to keep everyone in the dark, but it's January.

He was offensive coordinator at Jacksonville for five years, including when he oversaw the failed Blaine Gabbert experiment. He was in the same position for Atlanta the last three years, when he coached quarterback Matt Ryan.

Koetter is an improvement over Tedford, who still has never coached an NFL game and is now in the CFL after sitting out last season.

Koetter has been where the Bucs could be going with their quarterback plans and knows the pitfalls.

He insists the most important attribute for an NFL quarterback is his mind.

"If you can't process information, it's tough to be successful (as an NFL quarterback)," Koetter said. "Second would be 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 important as well, but the ability to process information and make great decisions would be number one on my list."

Koetter didn't care to talk about what the plans are for the Bucs, who have the first pick in this year's NFL Draft, pleading ignorance about whether Oregon's Marcus Mariota or FSU's Jameis Winston would be a better fit at quarterback.

The Bucs are starved for a franchise quarterback and opinions are all over the board on whether either is the answer. Mariota has yet to declare for the draft with a Thursday deadline fast approaching. Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones is said to be considering a jump to the pros.

"Those things I learned

from (Gabbert), I won't repeat the same mistakes I made the last time," Koetter said. "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."

Koetter concedes it's nice to have a franchise quarterback, but not a necessity.

"Those guys aren't just out there walking around the street. Franchise quarterbacks are hard to come by, and they're few and far between," Koetter said. "It's definitely possible to win without it, but I do think your odds go up if you have one."

Based on last season's debacle, the Bucs don't have a serviceable quarterback. Tampa Bay's offensive line allowed Josh McCown to be beaten to a pulp, and Mike Glennon seemed to lose favor with the coaching staff.

If fans were looking for a hint on what the Bucs are thinking, Koetter wasn't accommodating.

Koetter suggests teams can win with mediocre quarterbacking if the offense has other things, such as good ball security, the ability to create explosive plays, good quarterback protection, a successful third-down completion rate and is good at scoring touchdowns in the red zone.

Unfortunately, the Bucs had none of that.

"There is a lot of factors that go into what type of quarterbacks you win with," Koetter said.

Koetter said he came to Tampa because he believes in Smith and the talent the team has, despite that 2-14 record.

"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," he said.

Alan Dell, Herald sports writer, can be reached at 941-745-7056. Follow him on Twitter @ADellSports.

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