The Buccaneers surprisingly decided to retain coach Dirk Koetter despite a 5-11 season, which means the rivalry that is developing between Koetter and Saints coach Sean Payton will really have a chance to blossom in 2018. Koetter vs. Payton is the coaching rift that I never knew I needed until it happened.
Immediately after the Buccaneers upset the Saints on Sunday in an otherwise meaningless games -- the Saints clinched the NFC South despite losing, and the Buccaneers had nothing to play for -- Koetter and Payton met on the field for what should've been a typical handshake. Except, it was anything but typical.
As Koetter kept saying "good luck," Payton gave Koetter a tougher-than-usual pat on the shoulder. The two exchanged rough pats for a few more seconds and kept on repeating different versions of "good luck" and "good job."
Just when it looked like Payton was pulling away, he came back to explain why he was upset. Though neither of them directly referenced the incident, their terse exchange seems to be about the fight between Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore, Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston, and Buccaneers receiver Mike Evans back in Week 9, when Winston came off the sideline to poke Lattimore, Lattimore shoved Winston, and Evans sprinted onto the scene to deck Lattimore.
At the time, Payton appeared to shout some profanities toward Koetter. This time, he didn't use any inappropriate language, but he did seem somewhat upset.
"Here's the thing, I got pissed in the last game," Payton said.
"I couldn't see it," Koetter responded, seemingly talking about the fight. "I couldn't see it."
Payton then started walking away as Koetter began to explain, "Sean, if I would have seen it ..."
"C'mon," Payton said. He left.
Koetter shook his head to himself. The incident ended.
Here's video of the strange exchange, via Fox 13 in Tampa:
Interesting exchange between Dirk Koetter and Sean Payton following the game. The shoulder pats getting a little aggressive. Sounds like unresolved matters from the week 9 scuffle involving Winston, Evans and Lattimore. (credit @JeffTewksFox13 for video) #Bucs pic.twitter.com/IWDdml3LLM— Scott Smith (@ScottSmithFOX13) January 1, 2018
The Saints and Buccaneers will meet twice in 2018, giving Payton and Koetter two more chances to continue their strange rift by awkwardly hitting each other on the shoulder while they tell each other "good luck" and "good job. "
In the words of Bart Scott, "Can't wait."