The rumors swirling around Tampa Bay regarding Dirk Koetter's job being in jeopardy have howled louder as 2018 approaches.
The second-year head coach admitted this week that speculation about his future has become a distraction.
"Well of course. You know, it's your life. It's your life," Koetter said, via the Tampa Bay Times. "It's what you do. So, just flip it around and of course it is [a distraction]. But we're all -- players and coaches -- we're paid to do a job, and you try to do it to the best of your ability. That's all you can do."
Koetter said he has not talked to ownership about his future.
After living as a summer darling, the Bucs cratered in the coach's second season. With a 4-11 record heading into Week 17, Tampa has scored just 20.3 points per game and given up 23.9, both worse stats than last season. Based on Football Outsiders metrics, the Bucs rank 26th in team efficiency and 28th in DVOA.
The Bucs elevated Koetter to replace Lovie Smith in 2016 to keep Jameis Winston's tutor in Tampa. The results have been a mixed bag. For much of the season, Winston struggled with consistency and made far too many head-shaking decisions. The past couple of weeks, the former No. 1 overall pick has been the best player on the field.
Whether Winston has improved under Koetter will be among the considerations for an ownership that hasn't shied away from making coaching moves in the past.
"There's a million ways you can slice up statistics, and if you look at the games Jameis was healthy this year, his statistics are awfully good," Koetter said. "It's hard to say which games he was entirely healthy and which ones he wasn't, but we know there was a part there in the middle where he wasn't. I think health is the No. 1 thing with Jameis' recent performance, and then he's been making excellent decisions."
With Bucs fans clamoring louder by the day for a return of Super Bowl champion coach Jon Gruden, Koetter's fate might already be sealed.