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Scouting the possibilities for Bucs offensive coordinator

Marc Trestman is the former head coach of the Chicago Bears. [Getty Images] 
Marc Trestman is the former head coach of the Chicago Bears. [Getty Images] 
Published Jan. 6, 2015

TAMPA — Bucs coach Lovie Smith won a lot of games with the Bears. He also had a lot of offensive coordinators who didn't always produce a lot of points.

From Terry Shea to Ron Turner to Mike Martz, and finally offensive line coach Mike Tice, Smith struggled to find the right man for the job in his nine seasons in Chicago.

Smith is back in the hiring business after his choice of former Cal head coach Jeff Tedford didn't pan out, in no small part because of health concerns. Smith was sold on Tedford after talking ball with him in the basement of his Illinois home in 2013.

But after spending a 2-14 season in the NFC South basement, Smith is casting a wider net to attract his next play-caller.

The Bucs own the No. 1 overall pick, and the new OC will have a big voice in selecting the next quarterback, possibly Oregon's Marcus Mariota or Florida State's Jameis Winston.

"That will affect it a little bit," Smith said. "But it's not like we're going to reinvent how football is played or anything like that. There are certain parameters that I'm looking for in an offensive coordinator and I think we'll be able to get them.

"Of course I'm going to give him hard, specific things that I want him to do. … We want to have balance. We want a productive offense. … We're keeping all options open, from spread looks to — we just want to be able to run and pass the football when we want to and when we need to."

Here is a look at some of the candidates the Bucs have interviewed and some who are on their radar.

Rob Chudzinski

Special assistant to Colts head coach Chuck Pagano

Chudzinski, 46, took one of the league's worst offenses in 2010 and transformed it into one of the best in 2011 with rookie quarterback Cam Newton, a first overall pick. The Panthers finished seventh overall on offense and fifth in points and set a franchise record for total yards in a season.

Chudzinski went 4-12 in his only stint as Browns head coach in 2013. He was runner-up to Greg Schiano for the Bucs head coaching job in 2012. But he's generally regarded as one of the brightest offensive minds in the NFL. Currently, he helps with the Colts passing game, which ranked No. 1 in the NFL.

Chudzinski knows the NFC South and how to transition a spread option QB to the NFL. The Bucs may have to wait until the Colts are out of the playoffs to interview Chudzinski.

Dirk Koetter

Offensive coordinator, Atlanta Falcons

The Bucs interviewed Koetter last week. The pluses are he's a former quarterback and was successful as a head coach at Boise State (1998-2000) and Arizona State (2001-06). He has NFL play-calling experience with the Jaguars and Falcons. Atlanta put up 56 points on the Bucs in Week 3.

Koetter became available when the Falcons fired head coach Mike Smith. The Falcons ranked eighth in the NFL in total offense and 12th in scoring offense with a substandard offensive line and a QB who was drafted third overall in Matt Ryan.

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While he has a good volume of plays and knowledge of the NFC South, detractors say Koetter has a stubborn streak, believing his plays work against any defense. He also was accused of being too pass-happy. Koetter could be in play for the staff of Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn if Quinn gets a head coaching job.

Marty Mornhinweg

Offensive coordinator, N.Y. Jets

Mornhinweg, 52, has some pedigree, having coached quarterbacks and later called plays for the Packers, 49ers and Eagles.

His only stint as a head coach ended after two years with the Detroit Lions, where he compiled a 5-27 mark. Head coach Andy Reid thought so much of Mornhinweg that he yielded play-calling duties to him for nearly two seasons with the Eagles.

Mornhinweg brings a West Coast offense that should translate well to either Winston or Mariota. But he failed to develop former spread option QB Geno Smith.

Greg Roman

Offensive coordinator, 49ers

Roman, 42, has a long association with former 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh, who was pushed out at San Francisco and took the job at Michigan. He worked for Harbaugh as an offensive assistant in 2009-10 at Stanford when the Cardinal offense ranked No. 18 and No. 14 overall.

Roman had early success with Colin Kaepernick, a read-option quarterback like Mariota. But the Niners' offensive rankings fell from 11th to 20th in 2014 despite a ton of talent. The problem is nobody knows who called the plays that worked. Harbaugh had the headset and final say.

Roman, who interviewed with the Bucs in Los Angeles last week, is not expected to stay with the 49ers.

Marc Trestman

Head coach, Bears

Trestman, 58, was seen with his wife and Bucs quarterback Josh McCown on Clearwater Beach on Thursday and interviewed with the Bucs on Sunday. It could turn into a stay-cation for the ex-Bears head coach, who was fired after two seasons.

McCown had the best year of his career in 2013 under Trestman, throwing 13 TDs and one INT. "I think Marc is an outstanding coach and an outstanding person and he has a great sense of offensive football, especially quarterback play," McCown said. "I played my best football in my career under him. So obviously I have good things to say. But I've been around a bunch of different guys over the course of my career, and he was probably the most detailed with game plans and things like that."

Even with a franchise QB in Jay Cutler, the Bears fell to 23rd in scoring offense. They also committed 23 false starts, second most in the NFL. Trestman worked as coordinator and coached Steve Young with the 49ers. Interestingly, he was the Bucs quarterbacks coach the last time they had the No. 1 pick in 1987 and selected Vinny Testaverde.