After a 9-7 season in 2016 and an active free agency period, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have found their way into the national conversation. It also means they’ve found their way into the conversation to be the focus of HBO’s training-camp documentary "Hard Knocks," something head coach Dirk Koetter isn’t shooting down or shying away from. He believes it comes with the territory of having a good season.
“The NFL is the greatest game in the world," Koetter said Wednesday at the NFL owners meetings in Phoenix. "I have no fear of our guys -- there’s always gonna be guys who act different with the cameras on and some of that stuff can get a little corny, but our mission is the still the same, to figure out how to win the division and try to get in the tournament.”
With Koetter’s dry sense of humor, Jameis Winston’s passionate locker-room speeches and the silly antics of Gerald McCoy (and his penchant for dressing up in funny costumes), it could make for good television. The emerging star power of Mike Evans certainly helps, as does the offseason acquisition of DeSean Jackson. Would Koetter be completely comfortable peeling back the curtain on his young team?
“We do have characters," Koetter said. “I don't know what they'll see because I have had experience with 'Hard Knocks' in Atlanta. Their cameras are everywhere. They pick what they show. Some things that I might have thought, ‘Man, that’s gonna look funny on Hard Knocks,’ it didn’t even show up on the program. They’re pros at that. They know what they’re doing."
One thing that will definitely need to be discussed is how they’d approach running back Doug Martin, who left the team with one game remaining last year to enter a drug treatment program. That’s a very delicate situation, one that could not and should not be ignored by the cameras, but would still require a certain amount of privacy. If done correctly, it could make for a compelling story about an important issue.
From a sheer football standpoint, the program might help win the Bucs some fans nationally. Before last year, the team hadn’t had a winning season since 2010.
“I think it could be good,” Koetter said. “I think when a team has not been one of the main faces of the league for a while, I think it can contribute to that, but the No. 1 thing that contributes to that is [to] win football games.”
ESPN's Mike Rodak contributed to this report.