So much for Jon Gruden's return to Tampa Bay. Despite the Buccaneers' failure to meet expectations in 2017, they won't be making a huge change heading into 2018. They're staying the course.
As first reported by the Tampa Bay Times' Rick Stroud, Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter will not lose his job. CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora confirmed the report. The Buccaneers told Koetter he will return in 2018.
And so, that ends the popular idea of Gruden returning to coaching by rescuing the Buccaneers from a dreadful era of football.
Under Koetter, the Buccaneers have gone 13-18. He's failed to develop Jameis Winston into a quarterback worthy of a No. 1 overall pick, which the team used to take him back in 2015. After Winston's rookie season, -- a defensive-minded coach -- and The move made sense at the time considering how much the team invested in Winston. But Koetter has yet to turn the Buccaneers into a playoff team and Winston into an elite quarterback.
The hype peaked this past offseason after the Buccaneers signed DeSean Jackson in free agency and drafted O.J. Howard. They were supposed to challenge their rivals for supremacy in the NFC South. Instead, they've gone 4-11. Winston hasn't taken a substantial step forward, as turnovers and bouts of inconsistency continue to detract from his stretches of brilliant football. And the defense has completely nosedived -- they're second-to-last in defensive DVOA.
That's why it's so surprising to see the Buccaneers retain Koetter. Usually, when a team falls this short of expectations, changes are in order. And when, Tampa Bay appeared to be the most likely landing spot. Since Gruden departed after the 2008 season, the Buccaneers have gone 49-94. They haven't made the playoff since 2007.
Instead, the Buccaneers have surprisingly decided to exercise patience. Koetter will get one more chance to prove he's the right coach to turn Winston into a franchise-caliber quarterback and get the Buccaneers over the hump and into the playoffs. If he fails to do so in 2018, he shouldn't expect to get so lucky again.