By: Carter Brantley – Bucs Report – Special to Sports Talk Florida
The Dave Canales era was short and sweet. He led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ offense to a moderately productive year that ended with a surprise playoff appearance and an even-more surprising playoff victory.
Canales’ gameplans gave Baker Mayfield the opportunity to reclaim his career, and allowed Rachaad White to emerge as a legitimate threat out of the backfield as a receiving back.
All in all, you couldn’t have asked for more out of the rookie offensive coordinator, and while the Bucs’ running game still was far below average, it managed to overcome that flaw with solid passing concepts and a willingness to use the short pass as an extension of the running game.
Now, Canales is the head coach of the Carolina Panthers, the worst team in the NFL by record last year and a roster that won’t be helped by a first-rounder, as they dealt its pick to Chicago for the right to draft Alabama QB Bryce Young with the first pick of the 2023 draft.
But a head coaching job is a great opportunity for anyone, so this is not a piece slamming Canales for his decision to take a promotion and a pay increase.
No, this is instead a chance to discuss the Bucs’ formally announcing their replacement for Canales, former University of Kentucky and Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator Liam Coen.
Coen has prior experience with Mayfield during both of their short stints in L.A. Mayfield managed four games in the 2022-2023 season and Coen was the OC for that lone season before returning to Kentucky.
The move comes as a bit of a surprise to some, with the Bucs having the opportunity to bring in other, seemingly more established offensive minds.
Kliff Kingsbury, who’s thought to be the front-runner to join new HC Dan Quinn in Washington after Kingsbury backed out of the chance to run the offense in Las Vegas, also has prior experience with Mayfield, although the relationship between the two is thought to be shaky at best after Mayfield’s departure from Texas Tech.
Eric Bieniemy, the oft-mentioned former Kansas City and Washington OC who’s been on the short end of so many head coaching job postings that it’s hard to keep track of them all, is seemingly a lame duck in Washington following their firing of Ron Rivera and the subsequent hiring of the aforementioned former Cowboys defensive coordinator (and Falcons head coach) Quinn.
But, the Bucs had to have consulted their incumbent and free agent QB in Mayfield, and maybe he wanted Coen. That’s certainly a decent enough reason to bring someone in for a role that’s so dependent on the relationship with your QB; you want the two parties to be on the same page, otherwise you would have risked losing Mayfield or pushing the former No. 1 overall pick back into his bad habits formed in Cleveland and Carolina.
So while I’m a bit surprised at the Buccaneers’ willingness to bring on someone with such little experience and a coach who was in college this past year, I understand the move.
It’ll hopefully be a fine hire, because with Todd Bowles as HC the defense is going to (hopefully) be on solid ground.
Here’s to my next article being about Baker Mayfield re-signing with the Bucs for a reasonable amount.