Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden lashed out at current Bucs coach Dirk Koetter during the Monday Night Football broadcast of their game against the Carolina Panthers. The former Super Bowl-winning coach, now a color analyst for ESPN, offered sharp criticism of a fourth quarter play call.
Gruden opined that Koetter had no confidence in Tampa Bay’s young quarterback Jameis Winston after a running play was called on a critical third down and long yardage play. The run failed to gain the nine yards needed for a first down, imperiling the Buccaneers’ fading chances of victory in the crucial intra-division game.
Gruden cited Winston’s poor judgment in attempting a dangerous pass against double zone coverage by the stout Panthers defense on a previous play. The pass fell harmlessly as an incompletion, but a fourth quarter interception on that part of the field might have sealed Tampa Bay’s fate.
The Bucs managed a late game-winning drive with Winston still at the helm. Gruden’s scolding still stung a clearly angered and resentful Koetter in the post-game press conference.
PewterReport.com’s Mark Cook reports that Koetter attempted to dismiss Gruden’s criticism as empty words tossed out by a color commentator simply filling air time. Koetter also characterized the cutting remark as thrown out in ignorance, as Gruden has not been on the Bucs payroll in years, and is an outsider.
However, Buccaneers management had given Tampa resident Gruden unusual access to the team for several days leading up to the game. ESPN viewers may have given added weight to his in-game observations of the Tampa Bay players and coaching staff.
The Bucs have invested their future fortunes in Winston, now in his second year in the NFL. The 2013 Heisman trophy winner is expected to match, if not exceed, the phenomenal success of 2010 Heisman winner Cam Newton of the Panthers. It is widely perceived that Koetter was hired as head coach primarily for his track record in developing quarterbacks.
Koetter asserted that he has complete confidence in Winston.