Dreaming about a return to Tampa for Jon Gruden? Wake up.
The Buccaneers will reportedly keep Coach Dirk Koetter for another season, putting an end to another round of “Grumors.” The Glazer family, which has owned the team since 1995, decided Friday afternoon to retain Koetter for a third season, per the Tampa Bay Times, despite a regression from 9-7 in 2016 to 4-11 and last place in the NFC South this season.
Tampa Bay began 2017 with high expectations but struggled through a hail of injuries, particularly to quarterback Jameis Winston, who missed three weeks with a hurt shoulder after trying to play through it. Winston, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 draft, had improved steadily over his first two seasons under Koetter, who served as the team’s offensive coordinator under Lovie Smith in Winston’s rookie year before taking the reins after Smith was fired following two seasons that produced an 8-24 record. Winston has looked solid since returning from the injury in Week 13 despite the frustrations that come with a lost season, which may well have played a part in the Glazers’ decision to keep Koetter.
On his weekly radio show Friday evening, Koetter said, per the Times’s Rick Stroud, “Obviously, I’m very grateful to the Glazer family of their support. But I think that anything further on my status or the status of the staff or what we’re going to do in the future should wait until after the game on Sunday. Everybody is evaluated at the end of the year, including me, and we’ll start that process come Monday.”
As for Gruden, it was reported as recently as early Friday afternoon by Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio that, “There’s a growing sense in league circles, as explained by multiple league sources to PFT over the past two days, that Gruden will return to Tampa Bay as the next coach of the Buccaneers.” Gruden coached the Bucs from 2002 to 2008, winning the franchise’s only Super Bowl in his first season. Since Gruden was unexpectedly fired after the 2008 campaign, the Bucs have plowed through four coaches, made zero playoff appearances and finished above .500 just twice.
The Bucs conclude their season Sunday with a home game against the New Orleans Saints.
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