Seeking A Ticket To The Top

August 23rd, 2019

Ex-Bucs offensive coordinator Todd Monken talks about preconceived notions, coaching choices and more.

The Sage Of Tampa Bay Sports

Todd Monken won’t be calling the plays for Cleveland this season, but he may soon be calling the shots.

Tonight’s preseason game against the Bucs marked a homecoming for Monken, who served ably as Dirk Koetter’s offensive coordinator for three years. When Bruce Arians replaced Koetter in January, Monken mulled over several options before choosing the Browns – although he won’t be calling the plays this fall.

New head coach Freddie Kitchens is keeping that responsibility, even though the Bucs finished with the third-ranked offense in the league last season under Monken’s command. Instead of retaining Monken on his staff, Arians hired Byron Leftwich to run the show and get the most out of Jameis Winston and company.

If the Browns live up to the pre-season hype and end a playoff drought that stretches back to 2003, Monken’s profile will be greatly enhanced. He almost nailed the Jets head coaching job before losing out to Adam Gase, so he’s clearly on the NFL radar screen as an assistant on the rise.

Ira Kaufman types columns three times weekly for, plus his two podcasts. And he’s been known to maul a buffet.

At the age of 53, Monken senses he’s in the right place at the right time.

“Do I like calling the offense? Of course,” he says. “Do I like developing the game plan? Of course. More importantly, you want to be around really good players and you want to be able to move the football because when you are a part of it and you do not, I do not care what role you have, it stinks. That was a big part of me coming here.”

Buc players swear by Monken, who orchestrated the NFL’s No. 1 passing attack last year.

“I like Todd,” says Demar Dotson. “He’s smart and he’s upcoming. When Dirk gave him an opportunity to call plays, he did a good job with it. It’ll be good to see him Friday night. I look at him as one of the offensive masterminds in this game. If he does a good job with Cleveland I think he’ll definitely be a head coach somewhere.”

In Tampa, Monken was known for an innovative mind and a sharp tongue.

Who can forget his response in May, 2018 when he was asked about Tampa Bay’s struggles in the red zone?

“We absolutely chose to suck,” Monken said. “We made that decision as an offense to play poorly.”

When things go awry, Monken doesn’t look for excuses. He can be brutally honest and he owns up to his own shortcomings, a rare trait in the coaching community.

“He has a bright future,” says Peyton Barber. “He did very well for us here in Tampa. I respect him as a player and love him as a coach. The man doesn’t mince words.”

Monken looked around the NFL landscape and decided Cleveland was the place to be.

Smart man.

With Baker Mayfield under center, the LSU tandem of Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry on the flanks and sneaky good tight end David Njoku, the passing game should be potent. Factor in Nick Chubb’s running skills and the Browns could feature the kind of offensive balance that was sorely lacking in Tampa last year.

Before Monken arrived on the shores of Lake Erie, he heard a lot about Mayfield, the gifted second-year quarterback who doesn’t lack for confidence.

“You are going to have a preconceived notion,” Monken says, “just like when I was in Tampa with Jameis. “You can have a preconceived notion from the outside of what you think someone is and rarely is that really who they are. At the core from a competitive nature standpoint, I have said this many times, Baker is what I thought he was.

“He likes to have fun and he loves to play football, but do not confuse that with that he just clowns around because he does not. It is important to him. It is important to the meetings. He asks great questions. He wants to be on the same page. He wants to be elite. When you are that way, all of these guys want to be elite players, but he is at the top of that group.”

Behind the scenes, Monken and Leftwich are both looking to step onto center stage. Winning is their ticket to the top as two forlorn franchises met Friday night in Tampa, each seeking a new beginning.

The quest is a simple one: don’t absolutely choose to suck.

Great fun, food and Bucs passion at Buffalo Wild Wings all season long. Watch every road game with Ira Kaufman and readers. Great giveaways, too. The preseason opener was a blast.

12 Responses to “Seeking A Ticket To The Top”

  1. D-Rome Says:

    Well written article, Ira!

  2. Chris@Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    Cleveland is going to be a real test for us tonight, when they have their starters in.
    It is going to be interesting and a real test of Bowle’s defense to see how we go about stopping their offensive attack.
    They are absolutely loaded with talent on both sides of the ball, and now that they rid themselves of Hue Jackson, are well coached.

  3. Kobe Faker Says:

    “Why does the Bucs always make the wrong choice

    Monken should have been the head coach of the Bucs this

    He is a perfect HC of a NFL team

    Like Kobe has stated 3 years ago, Klueless has security and awareness personality disorder. Kluless hid Monken for 2 years as wr coach. Monken finally was abled to call plays and was great and doing fantastic. The instant a minor bump Klueless had a anxiety inferior complex attack and down the drain it went

    Monken will be a superbowl winning NFL head coach”

    Kobe Faker

  4. DB55 Says:

    I hate the fact that we lost monken dude has some talent and balls as an OC.

  5. RustyRhinos Says:

    As OC was Monken not responsible for the sad Running game we displayed game after game after game? Or is that someone else’s responsibility? I love the guys moxie, just not the wanting to place him above the bad Running game he displayed as our former OC. Good luck in the future coach Monken. I do believe a Head coaching position is in his future.

    Go Bucs!

  6. 813bucboi Says:

    if monken was so good, why did dirk play musical chairs with the play calling duties?….lol….

    GO BUCS!!!!

  7. 813bucboi Says:



    monken was str8 trash!!!!!!

    he couldnt score in the red zone either…..piled up a ton of yards but when it got down to getting into the paint, he failed just like dirk…..

    that entire coaching staff was in over their heads…..

    GO BUCS!!!!!

  8. Rod Munch Says:

    What is with this guy, is he just a completely hateable d-bag or something? The games last year, where he was calling plays, the Bucs were awesome. Then Dirk the dumbass, at half-time of the Eagles game, comes in and tells Monken he must run the ball more – you know because being 2-0 is less important than having a balanced 50/50 split even if you can’t run the ball worth anything while having one of the best passing offenses ever.

    Cleveland is really dumb to not have him running the offense and calling the plays. What idiots.

  9. johnnybuc3 Says:

    Gets way to much credit for last season. After first 2 games offense was so predictable. How many times were they down multiple scores at half and not because defense was god awful but because offense struggled to put up points ? How many times did the majority if not all of our points come in the 2nd half
    When game was basically already decided. Terrible run game and scheme for the run game overall. Non existent screen game. I get it was koetter off that he was running but still predictability comes from the play caller and far too many times was it too obvious what the call was going to be. Especially in shorter down & distance or once got past the opponents 30 yard line.

  10. Ben real Says:

    Lol monken as head coach … please … good thing you guys are not GMs boy you would be fired after a year

  11. Rod Munch Says:

    johnnybuc3 – BUZZZ, fake new. You mean how many times did the Bucs offense get the ball and they were already down by 21 points after 2 possession? The answer, a lot. Always amazing to me the dopes who think the #3 offense, and top passing offense, was the problem and not the #32 ranked defense. I just don’t get how you’re that stupid and still manage to be able to sign up to something, create an account, put one letter after another, it boggles my mind…

    Anywho cupcake, Monken only called the plays last year for basically the first two games.

  12. Lamarcus Says:

    Over rated coach Monken. The leader of choosing to suck