Dave Wannstedt is an odd but intriguing hire for the Bucs
Dave Wannstedt has done it all in his 37 seasons of coaching. But he has zero experience for the job he just accepted: NFL special teams coach.
Bucs coach Greg Schiano has brought Wannstedt aboard to replace the fired Bob Ligashesky, reuniting Schiano with the man who gave him his first NFL job (when Wannstedt was the Bears’ head coach in the 1990s).
The fact that Schiano would be interested in adding Wannstedt to his coaching staff is hardly surprising. Wannstedt’s wealth of experience is certainly appealing. He’s been a head coach for the Bears, Dolphins and the University of Pittsburgh and he’s got decades of defensive coaching experience (maybe Bill Sheridan can borrow him a bit).
But special teams? It’s been a while since Wannstedt’s coached them – like 35 years. Wannstedt coached receivers and special teams in his first full-time position, from 1977 to 1978 at Pitt.
So, is this is a good hire given the fact that coaching special teams is something of a specialty (no pun intended)? That question won’t get a firm answer until we kick things off in the fall, but my inclination is to trust that Schiano knows what he’s doing here.
One would assume he doesn’t make this hire without certainty Wannstedt can capably do the job. And one indication he can pull this off is his head-coaching experience. Head coaches must stay on top of their special-teams units, just as much as their offenses and defenses, in fact. And some head coaches are more plugged into their special teams than others. Perhaps Wannstedt is among the former.
The fact that Schiano didn’t relieve Ligashesky of his duties until last week tells you this was not a kneejerk decision. It was deliberated for quite a while, giving Schiano plenty of time to do otherwise if he had doubts.
Regardless of who is coaching special teams, we can all agree that the unit needs work. The Bucs were among 30th in kick returns last season, but their coverage teams were poor, too. Tampa Bay was 24th in covering punts and 25th in covering kickoffs. That’s a lot of precious hidden yardage over the course of a season.
Soon, we’ll find out whether Wannstedt is the right man to fix that.