Monday, May 21, 2018
News Roundup

Tedford is the X factor in Bucs' new X's and O's

This is the time of year when people who follow the NFL sit around and talk about the upcoming season.

A popular topic? Trying to guess which team that was bad last year has a chance to be good this year.

And, you know, a lot of people out there think the Bucs can be that team.

Makes sense.

New coach. New players. New attitude.

New everything.

Well, except for the same old story.

Can they move the football? Can they score?

Simply put, it's the question we always seem to have about the Bucs: Do they have an offense?

Now for the disturbing answer: No one has the first darned clue.

Talk all you want about how Lovie Smith is an experienced coach who knows how to run a professional football team. You can brag about a defense that looks like it has a chance to be pretty good. And, sure, the Bucs made a bunch of promising offseason moves.

But all that means little if your offense can't figure out a way to get from Point A to points scored.

This is a league that's all about scoring and these are the facts: The Bucs are being run by a defensive-minded head coach, an offensive coordinator who has never coached, played or called a play in an NFL game and a journeyman quarterback who has won 16 games in 11 seasons.

What, exactly, about that makes you feel like the Bucs can carve up NFL defenses?

This isn't saying they won't. Frankly, it's all a mystery.

The great unknown here is Jeff Tedford, the former Cal head coach who has been tapped by Smith to run an offense that was dead last — dead being the appropriate word here — in the NFL last season.

"(Up is) the only direction you can go,'' new quarterback Josh McCown said. "That would be the idea. I was fortunate to be a part of an offense last year (with the Bears) that was ranked relatively low and made a big jump. And so I've seen the work and the things that need to take place to make that jump. We're trying to do the same thing.''

How, exactly?

It's a big secret. No one outside of One Buc Place is saying. You would have a better chance of getting the formula for Coke than knowing what the Bucs are going to do on second-and-5 in 2014.

Is Tedford a pound-the-rock, control-the-clock, 3-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust kind of guy? Or is he up-tempo, pitch-and-catch, try-to-break-the-scoreboard kind of coach?

"We can go a lot of different ways,'' Smith said, coyly. "I'll just say that about our offense.''

The Bucs are keeping their offense under wraps for the time being. But looking at the offseason moves, you would guess the Bucs will finally join the 21st Century and check out this idea of the forward pass.

It all comes back to Tedford. He's an intriguing hire. He is good at grooming quarterbacks. Some of his college teams put up plenty of points.

Then again, Smith warned reporters Tuesday to get one thing straight.

"It's the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense,'' Smith said.

But it's Tedford who will be planning the schemes, setting the style and calling the plays. The key is how quickly McCown can get on the same page with Tedford.

"It's so important,'' McCown said. "You're a piece in the chess game that he is playing with. And when you play chess, you know what those pieces are doing when you move them.''

The Bucs better hope some of the chess pieces can move their way into the end zone in 2014.

It's up to Tedford to figure out how.

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