Who will lead the Bucs’ offense now?

by Gary Shelton on January 21, 2023

in general

Friday, 4 a.m.

They need someone creative. They need someone aggressive. They need someone who knows the way to the end zone.

Most of all, the Tampa Bay Bucs need someone smart.

Ah, but if he is so smart, would he take this job?

The Bucs, after firing Byron Leftwich and the Pips (primarily running backs coach Todd McNair and receivers coach Kevin Garver), are looking for new blood, and new thoughts. They need someone to stop the offensive slide and make them look dangerous again. The need someone who can make this offense look coordinated.

But would you want this job? Really?

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Let's be honest. No matter if you like the sound of Bill O'Brien or Todd Monken or anyone else, the odds are against the Bucs hiring a shining star. Consider what the incoming genius would have to deal with:

-- Questions at quarterback. Tom Brady didn't have a good year, and he's older than color TV. But the sight of his backups could make Dracula scream. Kyle Trask hasn't thrown a lot of passes in the NFL, and Blaine Gabbert hasn't thrown a lot of good ones. Who wants to take over with a scrap-heap quarterback?

-- A terrible offensive line. The Bucs struggled all season. The interior pass rush obviously affected Brady, and it crippled the Bucs' running game.

-- A fading Leonard Fournette. Third and one looked like third and 12. The Bucs were last in every conceivable rushing statistic.

-- Very good receivers, but none of the top guys have top speed.

-- Salary cap problems. Judging from this year, a lot of players are overpaid.

-- A head coach who may be a lame duck. Admittedly, Todd Bowles had some flaws on his roster. But it was at least a question late in the season if he would be back. If the Bucs seriously regress -- and without Brady, that's probable -- then Bowles may be gone in a year. Where would that leave the new offensive coordinator?

-- A situation where the offense has to be potent. The defense of the Bucs isn't going to win many games on its own. The pass rush is weak and the secondary doesn't cover.

Put it this way: If you are O'Brien, and you are indeed deciding between the Bucs and Patriots, why would you pick Tampa Bay? New England has a better ownership, a better (and more stable) head coach. Admittedly, it plays in a better division.

What? Would O'Brien want to stay away from Bill Belichick Might he be promised that any head coaching job would be his when it's available? Could the Bucs simply outbid the Patriots?

And how about Monken? At Georgia, he'd be going for three straight national titles. Here? He'd be fighting to stay out of the NFC South cellar.

Look, no one is saying the Bucs were wrong in canning Leftwich. The offense declined too rapidly for that. There were times that Leftwich looked like a checker player in a chess tournament.

Sure, in some ways, Leftwich was a victim of an offense that relied on one dimension . Can't all fired coaches say that? That's the tradeoff for a high-level job. The cost of failure is steep.

But finding a new voice, a new direction isn't going to be as easy as you might guess.

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