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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Buccaneers' play-calling issues became more evident during preseason games



Many continue to wonder how the Bucs made the mistake of hiring an offensive coordinator whose weakness appears to be play calling.

That's a question only coach Raheem Morris and general manager Mark Dominik can answer honestly.

But we're beginning to learn more details about how they came to realize they made a mistake. During the team's three preseason games, it became obvious Jagodzinski was struggling with the play-calling process. Calls were getting to the sideline too late and, as a result, the quarterbacks were not getting enough notice of the play call before the snap. The coaches in the booth are not permitted to speak directly to the quarterback through his helmet transmitter. Calls were instead relayed from the booth to Greg Olson -- he was on the sideline -- who then transmitted the play to the quarterback.

The process was disjointed and messy, and we can only imagine what kind of impact this might have had on the poor quarterback play we've seen to date. Given all the issues, it's hard to believe they had no effect.

Though you can have a vigorous debate about former coach Jon Gruden's offensive philosophies and methods, he was arguably the best in the business in terms of preparation. Multiple people have told us he typically was thinking two plays ahead as a play caller, accounting for the many variables that could arise in between. When the current staff compared Jagodzinski's style to that of Gruden, the differences must have been striking.

One source said Morris would occasionally ask Jagodzinski during games what he felt was a proper approach if a looming scenario arose. More than once, Jagodzinski is said to have responded by telling Morris to make the call. Morris' background is almost exclusively in defense, which is part of the reason the team wanted to hire a reputable offensive coordinator in the first place.

This is not to suggest Jagodzinski is not the sharp offensive mind he is portrayed as. That is pretty much accurate given his development and installation of the offense during the past six months. But running that offense in practices that are scripted and doing so in a game against an opponent whose moves you can't predict are two very different things.

On another note, one of the things we'll be watching in the coming weeks is the difference between Jagodzinski's approach and that of Olson, who was named his replacement on Thursday.

Based on his history and what we've been told about him in the past 24 hours, you should expect more effort to go vertical. It's in Olson's blood and he often urged Gruden to make more attempts to stretch the field. Of course, Jagodzinski promised more of a vertical offense, too, and we hadn't necessarily seen that in the preseason -- even if the team did appear to have more down field passing in its playbook based on offseason and training camp practices. 

Basically, only time will tell what the impact of this move is.

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 3:40pm]


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