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Liam Coen confirms he’s with Bucs to coach Baker Mayfield

Tampa Bay’s new offensive coordinator worked with the quarterback for five weeks with the Rams in 2022 and was hired to be reunited with him.
 
New Bucs offensive coordinator Liam Coen speaks to reporters during a news conference Tuesday at AdventHealth Training Center in Tampa.
New Bucs offensive coordinator Liam Coen speaks to reporters during a news conference Tuesday at AdventHealth Training Center in Tampa. [ JEFFEREE WOO | Times ]
Published Feb. 6|Updated Feb. 6

TAMPA — Whether the deal was made in a back room or everyone is suddenly being up front, Liam Coen knows he is the Bucs’ offensive coordinator for one prevailing reason: quarterback Baker Mayfield.

Coen said the Bucs contacted him shortly after Dave Canales was hired as head coach of the Carolina Panthers but kept it from leaking until he became the final candidate to interview for the position last week.

“He’s obviously the reason that I’m here,” Coen said of Mayfield, who could become a free agent in March. “That’s real. But at the end of the day, this is going to be collaborative. I think he wants to be here, but we know it’s a long way to go. I want him to be here.”

… I think he wants to work with me and do this with Coach (Todd Bowles) and the organization. He has nothing but great things to say about this place. Hopefully, that can be done.”

Coen, 38, was introduced Tuesday as the Bucs’ new offensive coordinator. The son and grandson of football coaches, he didn’t lack energy or a plan for how to install a new offense.

Coen met Mayfield in 2022 after Los Angeles claimed the quarterback off waivers from Carolina. The two worked very closely together for the final five games of the season.

“Baker, as you guys know, he’s an igniter,” Coen said. “And that’s the type of guy you want to be around. He came into our organization, and we were having a really difficult time. A time when we weren’t having a lot of fun. He came in and made football fun for a lot of people at that time. He came in and made football competitive again in practice. And he’s throwing at (cornerback) Jalen Ramsey, and they’re going at it.

“That was something we hadn’t felt in a little while, right? It was a tough year. And the opportunity to be around him potentially every day, to coach a guy who is as competitive as he is, that has that moxie, I mean, that’s fun. You can’t coach that. And when a guy has that ability and the ability to communicate with others, that’s something I really wanted to be around and was very intriguing for us.”

Both Coen and Mayfield find themselves craving stability and opportunity in the same place. This is Coen’s fourth job in as many years. He spent three seasons with the Rams as assistant receivers coach, went to Kentucky as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, returned to the Rams as offensive coordinator but didn’t call plays, and then went back to Kentucky last season when he finally did.

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“I go back to the Rams because an opportunity presented we felt like we couldn’t pass up,” Coen said. “They’d just won a Super Bowl. I’m an assistant position coach there two years ago, and to go back there, what an honor. Well, it was a tough year, and I probably misinterpreted how much I would miss calling plays. I knew what I was going there to do. I wanted to help my friend. I wanted to help an organization that gave me an opportunity.

“Then, you go through it and it’s not yours. So the opportunity to do it at this level in the National Football League, which has been my dream since I was a little kid, to come here and work for an unbelievable organization and a head coach who seems like he really wants to give me that ability to do so and help harness that? What’s better than that?”

While the Bucs have not really had any substantive contract talks with Mayfield, Coen is getting to work on helping Bowles fill out an offensive staff that has openings for a receivers coach, offensive line coach and run game coordinator. It’s still undecided, he said, whether the team will retain quarterbacks coach Thad Lewis or tight ends coach John Van Dam. Both interviewed for the offensive coordinator job.

Coen said his offensive system will provide some continuity for the Bucs. Canales worked in Seattle, where former Rams assistant Shane Waldron was hired. Canales brought some of those principles to Tampa Bay.

One change from Canales’ offense will be moving Chris Godwin back into the slot. In an effort to keep the receiver heathy last season, the Bucs moved him outside to the boundary. He still caught 83 passes for 1,024 yards and two touchdowns.

Coen said he’s hopeful receiver Mike Evans returns to the Bucs as well: “When you can call a go-ball and those 50-50 balls are now 80-20 or 70-30s, that’s not anything I can coach.”

Coen frequently mentioned Evans and Godwin during his news conference. Running back Rachaad White and receiver Trey Palmer, too.

But he’s here for Baker. He said as much.

“Baker just has some of those abilities, and when you get around him the guys want to play for him,” Coen said. “You can feel it. You can feel it when you watch the tape, when he runs around and makes some plays. You saw it the other day (at the Pro Bowl) with his arm. It just doesn’t fatigue. He’s going to rip.”

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