Friday, April 20, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

There are no guarantees if Tampa Bay Buccaneers hire a retread coach

TAMPA — Of the three former NFL head coaches known to be candidates for the Bucs' vacancy, none has a Super Bowl title, each has a losing record in the postseason and all were fired from previous posts.

Yet each is getting a long look.

Some call them retreads. By any name, they are coaches who fell short in previous stops and are looking for another shot.

Why would teams covet a coach another team discarded?

And what are the odds of that coach succeeding when he had shortcomings somewhere else?

There are cautionary tales and success stories. For every Dom Capers (.375 lifetime record with two expansion teams), there's a Bill Belichick (fired by the Browns before winning three Super Bowls with the Patriots).

"It has everything to do with the right situation," ESPN analyst Tom Jackson said. "Every situation is different."

There once were serious doubts about Belichick.

Consider what the Sporting News wrote about him after his hiring by the Patriots in January 2000.

"Just because he is a great defensive coordinator doesn't mean he can be effective as a head coach. In fact, he already has been an awful head coach."

So are Mike Sherman, Brad Childress or Marty Schottenheimer — who have a cumulative 8-19 post­season record — right to replace the fired Raheem Morris?

That's not easily answered, said Gil Brandt, a veteran of the Cowboys front office now a Sirius NFL Radio analyst.

"I don't think there's a right or wrong answer," Brandt said. "You just have to have a feel for it. (The Bucs) will receive calls from everybody. The calls are going to say, 'Hey, you ought to hire Wade Phillips.' Then you have other guys who have a guy in the fight who will call and say, 'Why do you want to hire this guy who has been in three places?' No one really knows."

Teams take various approaches to hires. Some look for a fresh face, perhaps a young coordinator (Pittsburgh's Mike Tomlin). Some look for an older, more-experienced assistant (Atlanta's Mike Smith).

But there's never a shortage of available former coaches, and they appear in vogue again. Former Titans coach Jeff Fisher is mulling offers from the Dolphins and Rams. Former Bills coach Mike Mularkey was named the Jaguars' new coach on Tuesday.

In the Bucs' case, it's clear they're targeting coaches who are the antithesis of Morris, who was the NFL's youngest coach and had not been a coordinator.

"(Schottenheimer), for instance, has a great deal of coaching experience," Jackson said.

There are other reasons teams opt for retread coaches.

"He's seen a lot, and he has experience," said ESPN analyst Herman Edwards, a former Jets and Chiefs coach. "He's handled every situation."

Brandt said going from assistant coach to head coach is akin to "converting from a right-handed golfer to a left-handed golfer."

But a possible hazard with retreads — and one that applies with the Bucs — is their potential reluctance to be patient.

"(Is he willing) to make wholesale changes?" Edwards said. "Is he willing to deal with youth? A lot of guys, a lot of old, veteran coaches, guys that have been through it, it's hard to play young players because of the pitfalls of young players doing things where you say, 'Really?' "

Along those lines, coaches who have been away for any length of time — Schottenheimer hasn't coached in the NFL since 2006 — must deal with "the modern-day player," as Jackson put it.

"It's not a knock," he said. "It's just that players are ever-changing."

Predicting if any of these former coaches are right for the Bucs is difficult at best. But with careful consideration of the many variables, the best man for the job could very well be one who didn't have great success the last time around.

Get the latest on the Bucs' coaching search at tampabay.com/blogs/bucs or on Twitter at @BucsBeat.

 
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