Savior Sparano?

January 9th, 2014

SparanoEntering this past season, Joe had an unhealthy obsession with how former Bucs offensive coordinators Greg Olson and Mike Shula would fare with their respective new offenses in Oakland and Carolina, respectively.

Joe couldn’t believe those guys were hired to run NFL offenses again. Shula was dreadful as a young man running the Bucs offense under Tony Dungy and, well, the Benn’d Around and other 2011 nonsense by Olson should have had college teams questioning his sanity.

So Joe paid quite a bit of attention to what went on in Oakland, where new Bucs offensive line coach Tony Sparano was hired to fill the same job there last season.

There was all kinds of talk in Raider nation about how their zone-blocking scheme of 2012 screwed up the team and running back Darren McFadden, and Olson was coming to restore a power-running game with Sparano leading the way. 

If you remember, the Bucs went zone-blocking in 2009, when Raheem Morris’ regime launched. But offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski was fired during the preseason and Olson took the reigns right before that season and slowly brought back a power-running attack over the next couple of years.

Ironically, Olson wanted then O-line coach Pete Mangurian ousted immediately following LeGarrette Blount’s dominant 2010 season. (Great timing, huh?) Olson went to his hand-picked offensive line coach Pat Morris and the Bucs’ running game collapsed.

But in Oakland last season, Sparano was widely praised for his job with the Raiders’ offensive line.

You think losing Carl Nicks was messy in Tampa? The Raiders dealt with seven injuries to their O-line — and that was only midway through the season, noted beat writer Paul Gutierrez.

It began in training camp when left tackle Jared Veldheer underwent surgery on his left triceps. Then guard Tony Bergstrom, the first pick of the Reggie McKenzie/Dennis Allen regime, was lost for the season with a lisfranc injury to his right foot. 

“It just trickles down,” Sparano said. “The most that I’ve seen in a long time.” 

Guard Lucas Nix dealt with an ankle sprain and Stefen Wisniewski missed two games with a sprained right knee, though he practiced Wednesday for the first time since injuring it on Sept. 29 against Washington. Right tackle Tony Pashos, who was signed just before the season opener, has dealt with groin and hip issues and did not practice Wednesday, nor did backup center/left guard Andre Gurode, who is nursing a quad injury. 

Rookie second-round draft pick Menelik Watson has been sidelined with calf problems, then knee problems, and then calf problems again. Coach Dennis Allen surmised the Raiders have had Watson for maybe 10 practices total. 

“We have not played with the same unit for two weeks in a row since the third quarter of the Jacksonville game,” Sparano said. And that was in Week 2.”

All those injuries also led the Raiders to have O-linemen out of position in order to patch together a unit, all while adjusting to Olson’s new offense and a learning-on-the-job bad quarterback in Terrelle Pryor, who lost his job to undrafted rookie Matt McGloin.

Sparano only signed a one-year deal in Oakland, where he also was assistant head coach.

Now Sparano is in Tampa hoping to resurrect a talented and disappointing Bucs line that easily was the team’s biggest letdown of 2013. Sparano was a center in college and cut his teeth in the NFL as an O-line coach, most notably for Bill Parcells in Dallas. He was a strong hire by Lovie Smith.

Joe can’t say whether Lovie will keep the high-paid Bucs offensive line in tact, but Joe is confident Sparano will have massive input and be relied on heavily, from picking players to coaching.

29 Responses to “Savior Sparano?”

  1. Patrick in VA Says:

    Still haven’t seen a hire by Lovie that I have any questions about. Seems like he’s finding the right men for the job. If he’s filling the team with leaders and teachers then he should be able to get the most out of the players we have when the season starts. Much better days ahead in Tampa.

  2. Bucnjim Says:

    Seems like a solid group of coaches they are assembling. Surprised we haven’t heard more about bringing in Hardy Nickerson. I know he has somewhat limited coaching experience, but his motivational skills I’m sure will be what helps not only the LB’s, but the D in general. Glad to have him back in Tampa!

  3. BucfaninMi Says:

    I really like what’s going on in Buc nation, can’t wait!!

  4. Patrick in VA Says:

    I think that Ernest Byner and Bryan Cox should be given an opportunity to at least interview for their old jobs back. Their players played at a high level and I think their services would be nice to have

  5. biff barker Says:

    Bostad, Mangurian, Sporano, all very capable and credible coaches who were bitten by injury bugs as well.

  6. Bruno Says:

    I like this move. I’m hoping Matthews falls to #7. If the Bucs take him, it’ll be nice that he has a very good coach and advocate in the draft day “war room”.

  7. Scotty in Fat Antonio Says:

    Joe, can you talk about Mike Williams and his rehab? I heard a rumor that we may have another Josh Freeman/Kellen Winslow on our hands with his budding “rap” music career in between his missing meetings and team rehab appointments.

    Looks like we might just be picking a wide receiver in the upcoming draft if these rumors are true.

  8. Hank Says:

    One of the best hires so far, imo.

  9. Hank Says:

    @Patrick in VA: Wasn’t Cox in charge of pass rush? High level?

  10. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Another ex HC on the staff…..great….there is a reason why these guys get their shot…its usually because they excelled. Now they are back doing what they do best and have found out that HC is not their thing.
    We have tentacles that reach out all over the NFL….this shoud bode well for our FA acquisitions.
    This off-season is like waking up to Christmas every other morning!!!

  11. FLBoyInDallas Says:

    No to Cox. Yes to Byner.

  12. Patrick in VA Says:

    @hank – Maybe not Cox so much as Byner. I was thinking specifically about the development of LVD and GMC but they’re superstars and they’ll do well regardless of the system. If Cox were doing well he would’ve made Bowers and Claiborne better than they were. I’ll retract that portion but I stand by Byner. Getting what he did out of James and Rainey behind that garbage line was impressive.

  13. Crags Says:

    Joe brings up a strong point about the injury problems at Oakland. Every team has injuries and, in fact, some had it far worse than the Bucs. The few remaining Schiano apologizers (and Schiano himself) cite the fact that we had something like 17 players on I.R. Well, sadly, most of those guys lacked talent in the first place. Nicks (damaged goods from Day 1), Williams and Martin were the only key injuries. The Defense was largely intact. We would be fortunate to have that kind of injury luck next year. Look around the league.

  14. Patrick in VA Says:

    Chris Ballard was blocked from interviewing by the Chiefs. Sucks, I liked his resume.

  15. FLBoyInDallas Says:

    Lovie’s final say has cost them a good GM candidate in Ballard. Wondering if giving him complete authority over personnel was the best idea. Jury’s still out on that one. I’ll wait for a couple years’ worth of evidence before stating a strong opinion on the issue.

  16. bucsfan13 Says:

    Last coaching search everyone complained about how retread coaches are the worst. Now lovie is assembling the re-tread team here with a handful of failed nfl head coaches. It’s the whos who of firing over the last few years! Tedford is the only fresh nfl guy and even joe has doubts about him!

  17. FLBoyInDallas Says:

    ^Oh no! The sky is falling! Lol

  18. Oil Derrick Brooks Says:

    I like the hire. It’s good to see some more actual NFL coaching experience on the O side. Other than him, it’s just Spencer and Hayes-Stoker that have coached in the league, right?

  19. Patrick in VA Says:

    @Bucsfan13 – Everyone reaches their level of incompetence in their professions. The coordinators and position coaches that we have that were HCs at other time got those HC jobs because they performed really well in the capacity that we have them in now. Just because they didn’t make it as HCs doesn’t mean their failures as coaches. They’re just not good in the HC role.

  20. ManzielMadness Says:

    I heard recently that Larry Marmie took a position with the bucs, anyone have any info on him??

  21. Mike J Says:

    What Sparano will provide right off the top is an objective, experienced, knowledgeable evaluation of the O-line talent on the roster now.

  22. Cannuckbuc Says:

    Hey Joe are the Bucs going to allow the press to interview the new OC/DC any time soon?

    These guys are gone. The Bucs have no control over them. –Joe

  23. Brandon Says:

    Larry Marmie resigned from the Raiders to become a scout with the Bucs. I think he’s officially done with coaching. If he isn’t, didn’t we already sign a DB coach?

  24. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    FLBoyInDallas Says
    “Lovie’s final say has cost them a good GM candidate in Ballard.”

    Lovie having final say has nothing at all to do with Ballard. Ballard was not permitted to interview with other teams.

  25. Clowney Says:

    I like Lovie but I loved Jay Gruden as HC.

    Jay just signed on as the Redskin’s HC. It seems almost all the the teams with openings were fighting for his services and the Bucs would have been the front runner in that contest.

    Former Redskin defensive great Lavar Arrington, when interviewed on the NFL Am Show, voiced displeasure. He actually commented that it appears the Skins are becoming the Buccaneers North.

    Sometimes I wonder if the Glazers will ever make the correct or best decision?

    This organization bungled the Chip Kelly hiring and that turned into a 2 year nightmare.

    I like that Lovie is not concerned about a rebellion among the former Head Coaches on staff and he will probably disable all the spy cameras and listening devices.

  26. Jon Says:

    Patrick. Kool-aid this time of year always tastes the best.

  27. Orca Says:

    Hey Joe. Intact is one word… it’s not “in tact”.

  28. Patrick in VA Says:

    @Jon – You’re right. I need to be skeptical and down on my team. Because I really don’t have anything better to do with my time than follow a team that I don’t believe in and does nothing but disappoint me. I’m going to drink a lot of the kool-aid and I’m going to enjoy the flavor.

  29. PRBucFan Says:

    The biggest disappointment of the 2013 season was easily Free Free

    After he bombed and than tried to bomb us, the o-line..