The Buccaneers appear to be headed towards firing another head coach and that’s nothing new for the Glazer family or their fan base, as they have fired three coaches in the previous seven seasons before now. If they are going onto dispose of Dirk Koetter after his second straight double-digit loss season, the biggest question becomes: who replaces him?
First, the probably most intriguing question is: what type of coach would they go after? And, as we have already mentioned, the Glazers have tried numerous types of head coaches ever since firing Super bowl-winning coach Jon Gruden after the 2008 season. And, they’ve had virtually no success.
The Bucs have gone through the gamut of different types of head coaching hires over the course of the 2010s. That includes, their former defensive assistant Raheem Morris, who had had no prior head coaching experience. Morris was fired after 4-12 season in 2011.
It continued with the catastrophic decision to hire former Rutgers college coach Greg Schiano for two awful seasons 2012 – 2013, where he lost 17 of his last 22 games. Next, the Bucs tried former Bears head coach Lovie Smith, but the team flat-lined at 2 and 14 his first year, and he was fired after his second season of 6 – 10.
That 2015 season the Bucs of drafted Jameis Winston, hired Koetter as offensive coordinator, and the offense showed great promise. So, the Bucs went with Koetter as their next head coach.
However, after initially having break through success with a 10-win season and narrowly missing the playoffs in 2016, the team has clearly regressed over the last two years with 10-loss seasons.
So, the prevailing thought is: if the Bucs are making a change, they will have to go after a proven NFL coach. Particularly, someone that has had success either recently or in multiple places.
There are three obvious names that jump right out:
One is Jack Del Rio (above), who is the former Jaguars head coach where he led them to the playoffs twice in the mid-2000s before eventually being fired. Del Rio was later the defensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos and was actually the interim head coach for a few successful games, when John Fox had heart surgery during their Super Bowl run with Peyton Manning. Del Rio later took the head coaching job of the Raiders and returned them to the playoffs for the first time in over a decade in 2016.
He had a losing season in 2017 and was unceremoniously dumped for Jon Gruden coming out of the broadcast booth in Oakland. Del Rio has taken 2018 off from coaching, but a source familiar with the Del Rio family told F.F.I. recently, that it is fairly certain he would get back into NFL coaching for the right situation to be a head coach.
Next, is recently fired former Packers coach Mike McCarthy. McCarthy took the Packers to the playoffs nine times during his 13-year tenure, including a Super Bowl win. While one could argue that Aaron Rodgers would make any coach look decent if not good, McCarthy’s record is his record and it’s an impressive one. He may be in more demand though with some of the other openings, including Cleveland to work with Baker Mayfield.
The third intriguing name is: former Cardinals head coach and now CBS broadcaster Bruce Arians. Arians not only led the Cardinals to the NFC Championship game in 2014, but he previously was the interim head coach of the Indianapolis Colts with success. That’s when then head coach Chuck Pagano was undergoing Leukemia treatment. Arians was named the Coach of the Year in 2012, as he guided the Colts into the playoffs.
Arians did have health problems at the end of his tenure in Arizona, and it’s unclear whether he would want to resume coaching. However, it would be worthwhile for the Glazers to explore it and try to make a run.
The final factor maybe a proven head coach that gets let go on this coaching cycle.
Someone like a Ron Rivera of Carolina, who, even though he was in the Superbowl in 2014 may be fired, since they have new ownership and have just undergone a losing season in 2017?
Another name to watch is the Steelers ultra-successful coach Mike Tomlin, who has a Superbowl on the resume and has been a proven winner for years in Pittsburgh. However, there are growing calls for Tomlin to be ousted by the Steelers. He is a former Buccaneers assistant under Gruden, when Tampa Bay won the Superbowl in 2002.
The Glazers would obviously very, very interested in bringing him aboard should he become available.
Then, again, so would any team with an opening.
There will be no shortage of names that are out there, however if teams like Pittsburgh and the Jets and a couple of others join in with firing coaches, then the courtship of the names above will come fast and furious for the Buccaneers, and everyone else.
Injury concerns for Bucs RB Jones and WR Evans
The start of fourth week of training camp has a couple of concerns for Buccaneers offensive stars, receiver Mike Evans and running back, Ronald Jones.
Neither player participated in the Bucs latest workout Monday, and now there’s some doubt as to whether either will play in Friday night’s third preseason game with the Cleveland Browns at Raymond James Stadium?
The Bucs are not required by the NFL to give any update on injuries at this point, unless they choose to, but head coach Bruce Arians provided a brief one after practice.
“Ronald’s knee swelled up a little bit and just trying to take it day to day with him. Mike tweaked yesterday…it’s nothing serious.”
Traditionally, the third preseason game is the final time where starters for the regular season play significantly.
When asked if both would be held out Friday night, Arians briefly said:
“We’ll see how it is. We still got a few more days. I think Ronald’s gonna be ok. I’m not sure about Mike.”
First, on Evans, the Pro Bowl wide receiver from a year ago pulled up on a pass drill Sunday during practice and although the Bucs aren’t saying anything, there’s concern that he may have sustained a hamstring injury of some type. Tampa Bay is heavily counting on Evans to be their go-to weapon, especially on third down. A year ago he caught for 1,524 yards and a career high 17.7 avg with 8 TDs.
Evans previously dealt with a hamstring injury in the 2015 preseason and missed the season opener with Tennessee but returned the following week.
As for Jones, he appeared to have suffered some kind of left knee hyper-extension returning the opening kickoff on a rain-slicked turf against the Dolphins Friday night. That’s what can be seen this photo on social media from Tampa Bay sports reporter Kevin O’Donnell showing Jones knee clearly in an awkward spot when he planted.
Wondering why #Bucs runningback Ronald Jones knee is sore? This is the opening kickoff Friday night against the Dolphins. Rojo didn’t practice yesterday. Looks like a hyperextension to me. pic.twitter.com/mVmW86E96x
— Kevin ODonnell Fox13 (@ODonnellFox13) August 19, 2019
Jones did carry the ball twice for 7 yards leader in the first quarter of the game before being shut down for the night.
Jones has been one of the standouts of the Bucs offseason and training camp with glowing updates repeatedly from Arians about his progress and his chances of seeing significant playing time. Jones missed three games with a hamstring injury in a disappointing rookie year.
Now, we wait to see how long he and Evans will be out.
Positive injury update news for Bucs DT Vita Vea
Bucs coach Bruce Arians gave another positive update Sunday on one of his star defensive players he’s counting on to come back from injury. It looks like hulking defensive tackle Vita Vea is still on track to potentially play in the season opener September 8th.
After the Buccaneers Sunday morning training camp workout, Arians was asked, if there was any new news on Via resting and rehabbing the sprained ligament in his left knee? He told the media:
"Obviously, when you’re put in game-winning situations and your young players perform, you’re proud of them, and they did exactly that."
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) August 18, 2019
“He’s getting better and better everyday. No pain (in the knee). So, I’ve got my fingers crossed that he’s gonna be ready (opening day),” Arians said plainly.
The former first-round pick a year ago out of the University of Washington was injured almost two weeks ago in a one-on-one pass blocking drill, crumbling to the ground with the Bucs and their fans holding their breath. However it turns out it was only a sprain ligament that did not require surgery and Vea could still possibly play at the beginning of the regular season, including the opener with the 49ers.
Vea was seen walking on the sideline Friday night during the Bucs preseason game with the Dolphins with the aid of a heavily braced left knee.
This is the second straight training camp that Vea has been sidelined with a significant injury. Last year, he suffered a torn calf muscle on the second day of workouts and missed all of the preseason and the first three games of the regular season recovering from the injury and getting into playing shape.
When he did comeback, Vea came on strong in the second half of the season and began to show signs of promise, as to why the Bucs had picked him in the top 15 of the draft. He had a career high nine tackles in a December game in Baltimore and was all over the line of scrimmage and the backfield causing disruptions.
Then, in Dallas the following week, he was once again making plays early in the game. Although, he had a first-half sack Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott nullified by a face mask penalty, he got another one that counted by blindsiding Prescott on the final play of the first half.
Vea finished with three tackles, the sack and one tackle for loss in that game. And, in the second half of the season, he ended up with 28 tackles with three sacks and five tackles for loss in eight games.
Vea is being heavily counted on to help the interior of the Bucs defensive line in new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles’ 3 – 4 defense. He along with new free agent pro bowl veteran Ndamukong Suh are going to be the guys relied upon to get pressure up the middle for the defense.