As the 49ers and the Chiefs met the media on what the NFL now calls “Opening Night at the Super Bowl” in Miami, it was interesting to hear 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan discuss a key part of his coaching background involving defense.
Shanahan sat in front of the media for almost 20 minutes on Monday night but it’s when NFL Network analyst and Hall of Fame defensive back Deion Sanders came over to interview him live for that network that he shared something intriguing about his time spent early in his career, as a Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive assistant.
Kyle Shanahan said when he went on head coaching interviews he was asked about his philosophy on culture.
"I always believed culture has to do with an accumulation of good people… this is as good of people and as tight a group as I've been around." pic.twitter.com/mr2YBielTu
— 107.7 The Bone (@1077TheBone) January 28, 2020
Shanahan, the son of Super Bowl-winning boss Mike Shanahan, had been hired by Bucs coach Jon Gruden as an offensive quality control coach in 2004 spending two seasons in Tampa Bay. And, the younger Shanahan made clear to Sanders that, as his father had always told him, you learn as much as you can about defense to help your abilities and play-calling as an offensive coach.
“That was one of the best (pieces of) advice he gave me. That’s why when I spent two years in Tampa, I spent just as much time with Monte Kiffin (defensive coordinator), (Mike) Tomlin and Rod Marinelli as I did with Jon. It helped me a ton. It’s kind of how you try to do everything…. you don’t just put in a play to put in a play. You put it in off what the defense is doing.”
Obviously, Kiffin and that Bucs defense was one of the best in football in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, including their Super Bowl 37 win and could teach a play caller a lot.
After spending those two seasons in Tampa Bay, Shanahan spent two years in Houston as wide receivers and then quarterbacks coach and eventually was the offensive coordinator for the Texans for two years, 2008 – 09. He then joined his father in Washington (’10-’13) when he got the head coaching job in with the Redskins and became the offensive coordinator of the Redskins for four seasons.
Then came stops in Cleveland and in Atlanta running their offenses, including with the Falcons all the way to the Super Bowl season in 2016 before they collapsed in the second half against the New England Patriots.
Still, Shanahan got the 49ers head coaching job in 2017 and now, has them back in the Super Bowl for the first time in eight seasons.
Bucs will put former defensive coordinator Kiffin in Ring of Honor
The Bucs are looking forward to their future with a second year under new coach Bruce Arians, but on Friday night, they reached back to their past to honor one of their top assistant coaches in franchise history. And. this fall they will put him in their “Ring of Honor.”
Monte Kiffin, who along with coach Tony Dungy were the architects of the Buccaneers “Tampa 2” defense will become the team’s 14th member of their Ring of Honor in the 2020 season:
Monte Kiffin has been selected as the 14th member of the Buccaneers Ring of Honor!
The Glazer Family surprised Coach Kiffin with the news tonight at his 80th birthday party at Raymond James Stadium.
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) February 22, 2020
The Buccaneers made the announcement Friday night as Kiffin was being honored by the organization, his former players, friends and family, as part of his 80th birthday celebration.
Kiffin who came with Dungy in 1996 to the Bucs and led the defense for 13 seasons, helped Tampa Bay’s defense become one of the youngest fastest and fiercest in all of the NFL in just a few short seasons.
Led by now Hall of Famers, Derrick Brooks and Warren Sapp, plus Hall of Fame finalists John Lynch and Ronde Barber, the Bucs defense rose to the number one in the NFL in 1999 and again, in 2002. That season, led by new coach Jon Gruden in his first year and Kiffin’s defense, Tampa Bay won their first and only World Championship cementing Kiffin’s legacy.
Kiffin left the Bucs to go coach at the University of Tennessee, when his son Lane became the head coach for one season in 2009. He then left Knoxville after that season when Lane Kiffin took the USC job. He has spent recent years, as a defensive coach/consultant with the Cowboys and also the Jaguars.
The last couple of seasons he had been with Lane Kiffin in an advisory role at Florida Atlantic.
The Bucs have put 13 previous former players, coaches and even owner Malcolm Glazer, in their Ring of Honor. And, that list includes Sapp, Brooks Lynch and Barber, who was inducted a year ago. Kiffin will be the first assistant coach to be honored. Previously, Gruden (2017) and Dungy (2018) have also both been put in as head coaches, with the architect of the original Buccaneers, John McKay also being inducted also back in 2010.
Should RT Jack Conklin be on Bucs free agent radar?
As NFL teams continue to do their due diligence on not only their own potential free agents, but what others might be out there too, an interesting name has emerged that could give the Bucs, and other teams, some offensive line help.
It appears that the Titans, fresh off a tremendous playoff run into the AFC Championship game may be willing to part with former number 1 pick, starting right tackle Jack Conklin. And if they’re going to let the former Michigan State star test free agency, Tampa Bay may have a real interest.
First, the Bucs are looking at options on their line, as the senior member of their roster, right tackle Demar Dotson, who’s played his entire 11 year career in Tampa and will be 35 years old this fall, is slated to be a free agent, as well.
And while Dotson has been a mainstay over the course of the last decade on the Bucs offensive line, GM Jason lick and Coach Bruce Arians maybe looking to get younger and some better play out of that position.
Tennessee elected not to pick up Conklin’s fifth year option on his rookie deal and there are some concerns about his ability to pass block. However, there’s no doubting that with power back Derrick Henry, Conklin was part of the unit on offense that played “smash mouth football” throughout the postseason. And, they scored upsets of the Patriots and the Ravens in part behind their tough ground game before falling at Kansas City in the AFC Championship Game.
Conklin did suffer an ACL injury in his second season but is fully healed from that now, and he could be a very cost-effective option four teams looking to solidify their offensive line. Conklin made only $2.7 million in the final year of his initial four year deal with the team declining his $12.9 million option.
As for the Bucs, they already have massive money invested in center Ryan Jensen, guard Ali Marpet and left tackle Donovan Smith on their line, but at the same time, the Bucs also have close to $85 million under the cap once free agency begins.
Clearly, their top priorities are figuring out whether to bring back QB Jameis Winston (and at what price?) and also, how many free agent to be defensive linemen out of Shaq Barrett, Jason Pierre Paul and Ndamukong Suh they can also fit under their cap.
Still, you cannot have enough good lineman, and perhaps grabbing the Titans former starter off a playoff team would improve their run game, which sputtered a lot of 2019.
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