Bucs struggling to fill coordinator positions
As searches for coordinators go, this is as about as
uncoordinated as it gets.
While other NFL teams have scooped up experienced personnel to direct their
offenses and defenses in recent weeks, the Tampa Bay Bucs continue to wobble
along a most perplexing path – one marked by rejections, denied requests to
speak with currently employed coaches and a troubling lack of direction.
The latest word is they’ve hired Jimmy Raye as a senior offensive assistant for
new head coach Greg Schiano.
The first question: Why do they need one?
The second: Why do they need Raye?
Dust off your Bucs history books, folks. He’s a direct link to arguably the
most laughable era of the franchise, the 4-28 Leeman Bennett Regime, during
which Raye served as the offensive coordinator.
Raye is a distinguished college quarterback who played for Michigan State in
the famous 10-10 tie against Notre Dame in 1966. But his results working with
NFL offenses has not been particularly spectacular, with many of his units
winding up ranked in the mid-to-low 20s.
Raye spent 1985 and 1986 overseeing the offense of the hapless Bennett Bucs,
which finished 23rd his first season and 27th (out of 28 teams) his second.
Unfortunately for Raye, his greatest notoriety came from being struck by a car
while jogging near team headquarters in ’85 — an event that seemed to sum up the
dismal state of affairs during that period in team history.
So, no doubt, people are wondering why would the Bucs braintrust in any way,
shape or form want to break open a crypt to the ghastly Leeman years?
What kind of message are the Glazers sending to fans looking for a reason to
get excited about the team again? Do they care?
Maybe they can coax Bennett out of retirement to oversee the overseers while
they’re at it.
And that’s correct, there’s more than one overseer in the current mix. The Bucs
have reportedly hired Butch Davis, not as defensive coordinator, as originally
believed, but as senior defensive assistant.
It’s wonderful that they continue to create and fill jobs for Schiano’s staff,
but none of them address the pressing need to get the best guys available at
the indispensable coordinator positions.
Bringing aboard Raye and Davis only gives the impression that the Glazer family
and general manager Mark Dominik think that Schiano needs to have his hands
held as he makes the transition from Rutgers to the NFL. If they were so sure
he was the right man, why would he need that support?
Davis brings a credible resume to the table — a record of 51-20 as head coach
at the University of Miami (where Schiano worked as defensive coordinator in
1999-2000), two Super Bowl rings — in 1993 and ’94 — as defensive coordinator
of the Dallas Cowboys, a 24-35 stint as head coach of the Cleveland Browns, and,
most recently, a 28-23 record as head coach at North Carolina.
He was dismissed in July with the program awash in NCAA violations, though
Davis himself was not implicated.
But if Davis is so valuable, and Schiano apparently wants him aboard so much,
why not just make him defensive coordinator?
The answer, it appears, is that Davis would forfeit his buyout money of some
$2.7-million by taking another coach position.
C’mon. If the Glazers really think he’s the right guy to assist their fledging
NFL head coach, shouldn’t they just pony up with the remaining money of the
buyout (he’s reportedly received some $933,000 to date) and name him defensive
This senior adviser tack they’re taking looks clunky at best and it diminishes
Schiano in stature before he’s even taken the field. You don’t see other NFL
teams hot on the trail of senior advisers. Then again, this seems to be the one
area in which the Bucs are having any real success.
So far, they’ve been turned down at defensive coordinator by John Quinn of the
University of Florida and had the door shut on their requests to speak with
Arizona wide receiver coach John McNulty and Green Bay tight ends coach Ben
McAdoo about the offensive coordinator job.
Word emerged Monday that the Bucs were talking to NFL offensive coordinator Ron
Turner, who did some good work in two coordinator stints with the Bears, and
University of Virginia offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. By Wednesday, Lazor
was no longer a candidate. It’s not known whether he was ruled out — or
followed Quinn’s lead and pulled out. Nor is it known if Turner is still under
consideration, though you’d hope he would be with his level of experience.
Now they’re talking to North Carolina offensive coordinator John Shoop, former
Bucs quarterback coach from 2004 under Jon Gruden. Shoop has worked on a
handful of NFL staffs, most recently in 2005-06 under then-Oakland Raiders coach
Art Shell as quarterbacks and tight ends coach. Shoop lost his job after the
Raiders finished 2-14 in ’06 and Shell and his staff were shown the door.
So far, the search for assistants has been convoluted and hardly one that would
inspire confidence and enthusiasm in the fan base. What’s more, Schiano hasn’t
helped himself by keeping such a low public profile since being named as Raheem
There could be another consequence of such a protracted process. Which team
would a talented free agent rather play for: a 4-12 Tampa Bay team that can’t
seem to get its act together in assembling a coaching staff — or a team with
solid staff and reasonable prospects for winning in the near future?
It would be ironic indeed if this season the Glazers and Dominik reverse course
and announce their intentions to spend money on free agency in 2012, but nobody
Meanwhile, the clock keeps ticking. Other teams in transition continue to move
forward with experienced staffs in place for weeks. Glazer’s pronouncement at
the Jan. 2 news conference to fire Morris — that “we are going to spend
whatever it takes to win” — has taken on a new meaning.
Clearly, he wasn’t taking about money.
He must have been talking about time.