Bucs, former OC Marcus Arroyo can grow in healthy ways after parting
TAMPA, Fla. — He will be recalled as the misfit who became the face of one of the NFL’s most miserable offenses.
He will be remembered as a green NFL assistant who shriveled and turned brown with each painful Sunday from September to December.
Marcus Arroyo, the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterbacks coach turned acting offensive coordinator, was like a ship passing in the night, one that took on water after a direct encounter with an iceberg.
OK, so Arroyo didn’t work out in pewter and red. The predictable happened Friday, when the Jeff Tedford understudy announced a separation with the Bucs, a move that was more "Duh!" than "Come again?" after offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter agreed to terms with Tampa Bay on Jan. 8.
But don’t shed a single tear for Arroyo or his former employer. It became painfully clear that their partnership wasn’t built to last after Tedford turned more shadow than brains behind the Bucs’ offense following a heart procedure in late August.
The misery for both ended last week. Now, both can reconstruct their reputations far from each other.
The Bucs needed a fresh start on offense, with fresh eyes, fresh hope and fresh perspective to try to deliver a more dynamic scheme in what should be a season of urgency next fall. Arroyo, meanwhile, needed fresh air to breathe after suffocating within a situation that was built for him to fail.
"I just want to thank Lovie Smith, Jason Licht, the Glazer family, and the entire Buccaneer organization," Arroyo said in a statement. "I appreciated the opportunity to come in as a QB coach, and I accepted the additional work and responsibilities for game planning placed upon me unexpectedly after Jeff’s illness. Despite these difficult circumstances, I enjoyed my time here very much. I am certainly looking forward to continuing my coaching career in the NFL, and this experience will prove invaluable."
How will the Arroyo experience be remembered in Tampa?
Well, it depends what comes next. If Koetter succeeds, Arroyo’s time with the Bucs will be viewed no differently than a crumpled rough draft or a chemistry experiment gone wrong. If Koetter succeeds, Arroyo’s time with the Bucs will be viewed as a necessary means to a desired end, one that includes playoff berths and Super Bowl contention after a long, frustrating drought.
But if Koetter fails, if the Bucs continue to slide rather than soar up the NFC South standings, Arroyo’s time with the Bucs will be viewed as a large reason why the current regime’s lifespan was brief.
Here’s a dose of reality: The Bucs must go 9-7 next season for them to match their mark after Greg Schiano’s first two campaigns. They must go 11-5 to tie Raheem Morris’ record after two years.
Look, the offense’s flubs in 2014 were at the heart of Tampa Bay’s flop. The Bucs ranked 25th in passing (206.1 yards per game), 29th in both scoring (17.3 points per game) and rushing (85.9 ypg), plus 30th in yards gained (292 per game).
Yikes. Ouch. Yuck. Bleh.
Of course, offensive problems went beyond Arroyo. The line was a paper tiger. Josh McCown and Mike Glennon disappointed. The running game was a myth. Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson both had more than 1,000 yards receiving, but too often, their threat was limited because of deficiencies elsewhere.
But the buck stopped with Arroyo, who learned fast that he was no longer in Berkeley, California, or Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
He was right about many things in his statement. True, his circumstances were difficult. True, his stint with Tampa Bay will prove invaluable, as hard as it must have been to try to perform the NFL’s version of calculus with an algebra background.
But there was a positive in this mess. Often, life offers the greatest chance for growth after failure.
Arroyo can approach his next job with a deeper perspective, whether he lands within professional football or somewhere in the college game. Likely, he’s humbled. Likely, he’ll take a deeper look at what went right (little) and what went wrong (so much) during a failed attempt to steer Tampa Bay’s offense to respectability.
Bottom line, he wasn’t qualified for the duties asked of him after Tedford left.
The Bucs, meanwhile, washed their hands of a major weakness from last season. It was the right business decision to make, and with Koetter’s NFL history in Atlanta and Jacksonville, Tampa Bay found someone who, frankly, is a more grown-up version of Arroyo.
Tampa Bay reinvented itself with Koetter’s hire. Now, Arroyo has the chance to do the same with his career.
No tears, no regrets, just right.