Bucs prepare for Panthers as if O.C. Tedford won't be available
Bucs coach Lovie Smith is fond of saying he spent a lot of time in his basement near Chicago last season watching games, reviewing tape and talking football with former California coach Jeff Tedford, whom he hired as offensive coordinator.
But Tedford was hospitalized after a 'surgical procedure,' last week and the Bucs are preparing as if he won't be calling plays Sunday against the Carolina Panthers.
“Obviously, Jeff’s been leading our offense through the whole off-season so any time you take a piece away, there can be some disruptiveness,'' quarterback Josh McCown said. "But the coaches seem like they are, so far, doing a great job picking up the slack and doing what we need to do.''
Bucs coach Lovie Smith said Tedford stopped by One Buc Place over the weekend and indicated he is involved in the Bucs' offensive game plan against Carolina.
“A lot of people have asked about Jeff Tedford and how he’s doing. He’s getting better,'' Smith said. "He stopped through this weekend. We’re taking our time with him. Again, he’s getting better each day. When he’ll be back here fulltime? I don’t know. When he’ll be available fulltime, whether he will be able to go this week for the game and all those questions, we don’t have answered right now. Just know that he’s getting better and we’ll see how that all plays out. In the meantime, the rest of our offensive staff will pick up for Jeff, similar to how we did it last week with all of the guys really pitching in.''
In the final preseason game against the Redskins Thursday, quarterbacks coach Marcus Arroyo, who at age 34 is a year younger than McCown, called plays for the Bucs. Playing mostly backups and players who did not make the roster, the Bucs had 18 total yards in the first half. Smith would not commit to Tedford being at Sunday's game, but also didn't rule it out.
“When you say be here? Working full-time? He was here this weekend,'' Smith said. "So that’s saying that since he had the procedure done, he was able to come back here. Nowadays, like yesterday, I worked from my home quite a bit yesterday. With technology, you don’t have to be here every second to get work done. Jeff is involved in what we’re doing right now, having as much input, pretty much as he would have if he was here.''
Arroyo, who was the offensive coordinator and receivers coach at Southern Miss last season, spent 2011-12 under Tedford at Cal as quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator. Tedford's son, Quinn, is an offensive intern and assistant offensive line coach Matt Wiegand worked at Cal for two seasons as an offensive assitant and tight ends coach. Although he may be most familiar with the offense, like Tedford, Arroyo has never called a play in a regular-season NFL game. It doesn't help that the Bucs are facing the league's No. 2 ranked defense from 2013.
If there's a silver lining, it's that the Bucs have been preparing to face Carolina since the schedule came out in April.
“It’s a credit to Lovie for having a plan, having a thought process to say, “hey, we’re going to move forward with the plan we have in place,’' McCown said. "And I’ve been looking at Carolina. The nice thing about it, our eyes have been on them for an extended period of time, probably more than I’ll look at any other team. I think we feel really good about that.''