TAMPA, Fla. -- If you look at last year, it seems new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter has nothing to work with.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers ranked 30th in total offense and never really got into a rhythm in a season in which they had no offensive coordinator. Koetter was hired last week to fill the role that Jeff Tedford was supposed to but couldn’t due to health issues.
But the fact is Koetter isn’t starting from scratch. The best thing Koetter has going for him are wide receivers Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson. Both had over 1,000 receiving yards this past season despite spotty quarterback play. Evans was a rookie and should only get better.
Koetter should look at Evans and Jackson and see shades of what he had when he was the offensive coordinator in Atlanta the last three seasons. Just like Roddy White and Julio Jones, Evans and Jackson are big and physical.
Throw in third receiver Louis Murphy, who earned the trust of the coaching staff and more playing time as the season went on, and there’s no reason the Bucs can’t have one of the best receiving corps in the NFL.
Oh, and let’s not forget tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who is even bigger and more physical than Jackson and Evans. Seferian-Jenkins dealt with a lot of injuries as a rookie, but looked like he could be a big contributor when he was healthy.
The rest of the offensive talent is somewhat hidden, but there’s reason for hope.
Let’s look at the running backs. Doug Martin averaged only 3.7 yards per carry in an injury-filled season. Koetter might see a reclamation possibility with Martin, who rushed for more than 1,400 yards as a rookie in 2012. But coach Lovie Smith didn’t draft Martin and may not be his biggest booster.
Smith drafted Charles Sims last year and the rookie played extensively as the season went on. Sims is an all-around back and he could end up as the starter with Martin possibly becoming expendable.
Of course, it doesn’t matter who’s carrying the ball if the offensive line isn’t doing its job. That was the case last year. Despite overhauling the line and going with four new starters, the Bucs got lousy play up front. Left tackle Anthony Collins, who was benched at the end of the season, almost certainly will be released and the team will probably look for an upgrade over Patrick Omameh. But tackle Demar Dotson, center Evan Dietrich-Smith and guard Logan Mankins can be effective if they’re surrounded by more talent.
That brings us to the biggest question facing Koetter. Who’s the quarterback? Let’s start with the obvious: It won’t be Mike Glennon. The Bucs got the impression that he doesn’t have what it takes to be a starter when they sent him back to the bench when Josh McCown returned from a thumb injury. The Bucs like McCown much more, but he’s not guaranteed the starting job. He could end up as a mentor/backup because the Bucs have the first overall pick in the draft and could use it on Oregon’s Marcus Mariota or Florida State’s Jameis Winston.
If the Bucs go with a rookie quarterback, there’s no telling what they might get. But at least that rookie will be surrounded by a decent supporting cast.