Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter will join what seems to be a growing member of NFL head coaches who have a game-management assistant, who has dedicated responsibilities related to the clock, challenges and in-game scenarios.
"Because I'm going to stay as the play-caller, and there are plenty of guys in the NFL who stay as play-callers as head coaches," Koetter said in a Q&A with Bleacher Report. "There are just so many situations that come up in an NFL game, whether it's clock management or just game-ending situations, to have someone that they're fully dedicated to that preparation in leading up to the game and on game day made sense."
He added: "When I was the offensive coordinator, if I was up in the box, we always had a designated coach on the field that if I said, 'This situation is up' and the head coach was on the other side of the phones talking to the defensive staff, that coach on the field would go remind the head coach about this or that. There is so much pressure when that clock is ticking, you have to have somebody who is on top of that and looking ahead."
Koetter even had a name, which is a unique step among head coaches: offensive quality control coach Andrew Weidinger.
The answer was revealing for several reasons, but none more than Koetter's depiction of an NFL headset when a potentially challenge-worthy play pops up.
"In a challenge situation, you have 10,000 guys on the phone yelling, 'Challenge it, challenge it, challenge it!'" he said. "You have to have someone who can take all the emotion out of it and answer the question, 'Should we challenge it?' Or is it even challengeable? That's what I'm finding to be the hardest part, is it challengeable or not?"
In 2015, the need for these types of coaches was discussed more than ever. Whether it meant that staffs have become too big or coaches have become too burdened on game day is unclear, but it is good to see Koetter getting off on the right foot. Like Bill Belichick in New England, Koetter isn't using a big name, but someone he can trust. Weidinger has been in the NFL for nearly a decade and has probably seen it all.
At least Koetter hopes so.
While agonizing over challenges and wondering why a coach doesn't realize the ticking clock is a part of the game day experience, seeing it evolve into a more fluid process is part of the sport's development.