The news that former Buccaneer special teams coach Rich Bisaccia was leaving his position to accept the same one with the San Diego Chargers was not an expected move around One Buc Place. As it turns out, that was just the first domino to fall in what has been a busy month of coaching changes in Tampa.
First, it was announced that Todd Wash would not return as the Bucs’ defensive line coach. Wash has since accepted the same position with the Seattle Seahawks. Wash joined the Bucs in 2007 as a defensive quality control coach and took over as the defensive line coach from 2008-2010. During his time, the Bucs consistently ranked in the bottom half of the NFL in sacks generated and in rushing yards allowed per game. The Bucs finished in the bottom five in the NFL in sacks generated the last two seasons and failed to record 30 sacks in a season during Wash’s tenure.
It’s tough to gauge how much blame lies with Wash. He had to coach a group of youngsters that lacked proven talent or potential playmakers. However, the defensive collapse at the end of the 2008 season that cost Jon Gruden and Bruce Allen their jobs occurred on his watch, and improvement was minimal over the past two seasons.
The departure of Wash creates an opportunity for the Bucs to entice a seasoned coach with experience handling veteran players to mold this roster of young and developing defensive lineman. One guy who might be a good fit for the Bucs is Mike Waufle, defensive line coach of the Oakland Raiders. Waufle, unlike Wash, has been able to create a productive unit from an unspectacular group of players. His unit ranked second in the NFL in sacks generated this year despite featuring a group that includes Matt Shaughnessy, Desmond Bryant, Lamarr Houston, Richard Seymour, and Tommy Kelly. Bryant and Shaughnessy were second-year players and Houston was a rookie.
Waufle, like Dunbar, who the Bucs coveted, also has experience working with superior defensive linemen as evidenced by his time with the New York Giants, with whom he won a Super Bowl ring in 2008. He’s seen how the best of the best prepare and the technique they employ, and could help teach that to the young and still-learning Buccaneer defensive linemen. It’ll most certainly take a spike in salary and likely granting an additional title, such as associate defensive coordinator or associate head coach, the latter of which was vacated upon Bisaccia’s departure. However, given the number of inexperienced players and the lack of production over the past few years, it might be time for the Bucs to make such a drastic move.
Next, the Bucs let offensive line coach Pete Mangurian go, which was a bit of a surprise considering the Bucs had a productive rushing attack that ranked 8th in the NFL in rushing yards per game (125.1 ypg) despite massive injuries along the offensive line. The Bucs featured their first 1000-yard back since 2005 and the line protected Josh Freeman well for much of the year.
In response, the Bucs hired the Minnesota Vikings’ offensive line coach Pat Morris. Morris is a 14-year coaching veteran in the NFL. During his tenure, he has seen his lines pave the way for three top-ranked rushing attacks. During his five-year stint in Minnesota, four of his linemen earned Pro Bowl honors. Morris and Buccaneer offensive coordinator Greg Olson have previously coached together in San Francisco and Detroit.