TAMPA — Todd Monken could return to his old job as the Bucs’ offensive coordinator, but this time he’d be wearing two national championship rings earned as the play-caller at the University of Georgia.
Monken was part of the Tampa Bay coaching staff under Dirk Koetter from 2016-18 as receivers coach and offensive coordinator. He will interview with the team next week for the opening created by the firing of Byron Leftwich.
The Bucs better be prepared to open their checkbook. Monken, 56, earns $2.01 million a year and is the highest-paid assistant coach in college football.
Georgia’s offense ranked fourth nationally last season, averaging 41.1 points per game. Quarterback Stetson Bennett became a Heisman Trophy finalist after passing for 4,127 yards with 27 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
A year earlier, the Bulldogs finished ninth in the nation in scoring at 38.6 points per game.
In Monken’s final season as the Bucs’ primary play-caller, they finished third in the NFL in total offense and 12th in scoring offense (24.8 points per game).
Monken spent the 2019 season as the Cleveland Browns’ offensive coordinator under head coach Freddie Kitchens, where he coached quarterback Baker Mayfield, who is a free agent.
Getting Monken to leave the two-time national champion Bulldogs to return to a job he once had would be quite a coup for the Bucs. But there isn’t much left for Monken to accomplish as a play-caller in college football, and he always enjoyed working in the NFL.
Could he be pried away from Georgia? Asked at the podium about his relationship with Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart before the national semifinal against Ohio State, Monken made it clear he doesn’t view those he works under as family.
“This is a business, this isn’t family,” he said in late December. “You’re going to fire me if we suck, so don’t say it’s a family.”
The Bucs on Friday met virtually with Bengals quarterbacks coach Dan Pitcher, who interrupted his preparations for Sunday’s AFC Championship Game against the Chiefs.
Pitcher was the fourth candidate interviewed by the Bucs. Jaguars passing game coordinator Jim Bob Cooter, Vikings receivers coach Keenan McCardell and Broncos quarterbacks coach Klint Kubiak met with Tampa Bay earlier this week.
Pitcher spent seven seasons with the Bengals, but his promotion to quarterbacks coach came as Cincinnati made Joe Burrow the first overall pick of the 2020 draft.
After a torn ACL ended Burrow’s rookie season, he went 22-10 as the Bengals’ starter over the past two seasons and is making his second straight appearance in the AFC title game. The Bengals lost to the Rams 23-20 in Super Bowl 56.
The Bucs also plan to meet with Giants quarterbacks coach Shea Tierney.
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New York quarterback Daniel Jones made a big leap in his development this season, leading his team to a wild-card playoff win over the Vikings while setting career bests in passing yards, completion percentage, fewest interceptions and passer rating.
Much of the credit will go to Giants head coach Brian Daboll or offensive coordinator Mike Kafka, and rightfully so. But don’t overlook Tierney, who was instrumental in cutting down Jones’ turnovers this season.
Tierney worked at Alabama with Daboll, who left his job as the Patriots tight ends coach to become offensive coordinator under Nick Saban. The Crimson Tide won the national title that season (2017), and Daboll took Tierney with him when he went to Buffalo as the Bills’ offensive coordinator.
Tierney spent two seasons there as an offensive assistant before being promoted to assistant quarterbacks coach under Ken Dorsey, the former University of Miami quarterback.
The Giants were fifth in the NFL in rushing yards per carry this season, averaging 4.8. Bucs head coach Todd Bowles fired Leftwich primarily because his team was last in rushing attempts (386) and rushing average (3.4 yards per carry).
While Tom Brady remains undecided about his football future and is set to become a free agent, both Tierney and Monken would be good candidates to develop Florida’s Kyle Trask, currently the only quarterback on the Bucs’ roster.
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