Thursday, January 18, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tedford no sure thing for Bucs

TAMPA

The Bucs officially introduced their new offensive coordinator Wednesday. He's Jeff Tedford, the old Cal coach.

Tedford stood at the podium and sounded like a decent guy and a sharp man. He said all the things you want him to say. He's excited. Looking forward to the challenge. Can't wait to get started.

That's the way all these introductory news conferences go. Every coach talks about how his offense is going to be physical and pound the rock and take shots downfield. They talk about lighting up scoreboards and winning games.

It all sounds swell.

Then the games start.

Tedford might end up being the absolute best hire the Bucs could have made. He might be an offensive genius who will turn opposing defenses into one of those old Electric Football games with defenders vibrating in all the wrong directions.

But, at this very moment, the best thing you can say about hiring Tedford is it's a leap of faith.

He has never called a single play at the NFL level. He really hasn't called plays anywhere in a few years. He was an out-of-work coach who will now try to take what he did at the college level and make it work in the best league in the world.

Perhaps this isn't fair, but if you simply look at the credentials, you know who comes to mind?

Jeff Jagodzinski.

Remember him?

He was the hotshot coach from Boston College who was hired to be Raheem Morris' offensive coordinator in Tampa Bay in 2009. He said all the things Tedford said, and he actually had some NFL experience. But that clown was so overwhelmed that he couldn't even get through his first preseason before being fired.

Let's assume Tedford can actually make it to the regular season. Still, there's no reason to believe just yet that new coach Lovie Smith hit a homer with this hire. The lack of experience at the NFL level has to be a concern.

"I don't have any apprehension about it,'' Tedford said.

He admits there is an adjustment. The rules in the NFL are a bit different. He already is wearing out the NFL rule book that sits on his desk at One Buc Place. Clock management in the pros is different than college.

"But besides that,'' Tedford said, "football is football.''

I'm not sure that is true.

I don't believe preparing a game plan to beat the Cardinal from Stanford is quite the same as figuring out how to fool the Cardinals from Arizona. In the NFL, those wearing headsets across the field are some of the brightest minds in all of football. My guess is they have a little more upstairs and a little more to work with than the coaches from Presbyterian or UC Davis.

In big-time college football, you play a few games where you can do pretty much anything you want simply because you are so much more talented than the other team. In the NFL, there are no such games. Tedford is going to go from drawing up plays — and I mean really getting creative — six or seven times a year to having enough plays and plans for 16 regular-season games, including six against opponents you face twice a season.

Not that Tedford is worried. At Cal, he had a reputation of stuffing the playbook with too many plays.

"It's all good,'' he said. "We'll have plenty of offense to get it done. It's not about the amount of offense, it's about how productive we are with the things that we are doing and making sure that we don't overdo it to where we can't do it efficiently."

There's a lot to like about Tedford. He has enough on his resume to make him intriguing.

He took over a Cal program in complete shambles and turned it into a Pac-12 power, at least for a couple of years. He has produced outstanding NFL playmakers such as Marshawn Lynch and DeSean Jackson.

But his specialty is quarterbacks. The list of NFL first-round quarterbacks he has developed is nothing short of impressive, including Trent Dilfer, David Carr, Akili Smith, Joey Harrington, Kyle Boller and, his prize pupil, Aaron Rodgers.

Perhaps he can teach a thing or two to the Bucs' Mike Glennon.

To be fair, everybody who is a good offensive coordinator has to get a job for the first time. Just because Tedford, 52, has never done it doesn't mean he can't do it.

And, ultimately, you need players. It's no coincidence how much smarter coaches are when they have someone such as Tom Brady or Peyton Manning at quarterback.

Tedford's success will depend largely on what he has at quarterback, whether it's Glennon or someone else.

"It's a quarterback league,'' he said. "I don't think there's any doubt about it.

Tampa Bay needs to sort out the quarterback position. It needs a healthy Doug Martin at running back. The offensive line needs to be rebuilt. A new tight end would be nice. So would a wide receiver to stretch the field.

In other words, there are plenty of questions about the offense.

That includes the guy in charge of it.

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