Four Head Coaches Ago …

February 23rd, 2023

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It’s been eight long years since the Buccaneers ran the football with authority. You think Dave Canales hasn’t noticed?

Tampa Bay’s new offensive coordinator spent 13 seasons on Pete Carroll’s staff in Seattle, where the Seahawks built a reputation as one of the NFL’s most physical teams.

From 2012-2015, Seattle went 46-18 in the regular season and 7-3 in the postseason, winning one Super Bowl and losing another to Tom Brady’s Patriots when Malcolm Butler turned in one of the most memorable defensive plays in league history.

The Pete Carroll way is clear, writes Ira Kaufman.

During those four glory years, here’s how the Seahawks ranked in rushing attempts and rushing yards.

2012: first, third

2013: second, fourth

2014: second, first

2015: third, third.

In those 74 games, the Seahawks were held under 100 rushing yards only 11 times. It helps when you’ve got a beast like Marshawn Lynch wearing down defenses, but Lynch started only six games in 2015 due to a sports hernia and undrafted rookie Thomas Rawls filled in rather nicely, averaging 5.6 yards on his 147 carries.

Canales didn’t dwell on the need for offensive balance during Wednesday’s introductory news conference in Tampa– but he didn’t have to. It’s no secret Todd Bowles wasn’t thrilled with 45-year-old Tom Brady averaging 43 pass attempts last year.

That over-reliance on the passing game didn’t work for Byron Leftwich and Bowles isn’t about to let it happen again. That’s why Texas running back Bijan Robinson will be tough to pass up if he’s still on the draft board at No. 19.

Despite winning the NFC South, the Bucs finished last in rushing attempts and rushing yards in 2022. That marked the seventh consecutive season Tampa Bay ranked 24th or lower in yards on the ground.

High hopes for Rachaad White.

Doesn’t want Bijan Robinson.

The last time the Bucs boasted a robust run game, Doug Martin was scampering for 1,402 yards in 2015. How long ago was that? It was four head coaches ago.

Canales has high hopes for Rachaad White, who flashed at times as a rookie, but there are decisions to be made about Leonard Fournette, whose rushing average plunged from 4.5 to 3.5.

To be fair, neither Fournette nor White were treated to many big holes as Tampa Bay went 8-9.

With Ryan Jensen set to return as the anchor, this offensive line needs a shakeup. Donovan Smith looks like the odd man out, courtesy of a rich contract and a poor season at left tackle.

The Bucs can reap significant salary-cap savings by releasing Smith, who led all NFL offensive linemen with 100 yards in penalties. Smith also topped his peers with seven holding calls and seven of his 12 accepted flags came in the fourth quarter or overtime.

Tampa Bay’s best player, Tristan Wirfs, should be given every opportunity to claim the blind-side tackle job, with Robert Hainsey potentially shifting to right tackle — a position he played extensively at Notre Dame. Playing a new position, Hainsey struggled to forge running lanes as Jensen’s replacement at center. He figures to be far more comfortable playing off Shaq Mason’s right shoulder.

During Brady’s three years in Tampa, the Bucs threw on approximately two-thirds of their snaps. That worked for the first two seasons. but proved to be a formula for failure in 2022 — when the Bucs posted only three games with at least 100 rushing yards. Tampa Bay won all three of those matchups, topped by a 161-yard effort on the ground in Munich, with Canales looking on as Seattle’s quarterbacks coach,

Canales did a superb job with Geno Smith, who resurrected a drab career by throwing 30 TD passes and leading the league with a 69.8 completion percentage. Smith also registered 24 first downs with his legs.

Kyle Trask, Tampa Bay’s only quarterback under contract, is hardly known for his mobility.

If Trask wins the starting job out of training camp, he won’t be throwing 43 passes when the games count. Canales and Bowles won’t put that kind of pressure on an inexperienced quarterback, so a more effective run game is an absolute priority.

The same principle applies if a Drew Lock comes in to compete against Trask. The Seahawks acquired Lock from Denver last March in the Russell Wilson deal, but he never threw a regular-season pass.

Canales can’t stress ball security enough, another reason to try and revive Tampa Bay’s dormant ground game.

In Seattle, he witnessed first-hand what a dynamic run game can do for a young quarterback named Russell Wilson. Those run-happy years (2012-15) in the Pacific Northwest happened to coincide with Wilson’s first four seasons as a pro.

Under Canales, Tampa Bay’s offense will be hanging in the balance.

Yes, that warranty includes USED vehicles!
Ira drives a 2020 Ford Escape (cherry red).

19 Responses to “Four Head Coaches Ago …”

  1. ben Says:

    The old passing attack was so much more fun to watch and took the Bucs all the way .. NOT so sure about the Bucs choice for head coach after watching coaching decisions last year .

  2. Chris@Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    IMHO, this Canales is like a breath of fresh air!

  3. A Bucs Fan Says:

    Many don’t like change… especially after having success, but it’s the only way for the franchise to move forward.

    I like what the new OC has said. Let’s hope Licht can stock the cupboard and that the Bucs coaches can get the most out of their guys this year with fresh voices on the offensive side of the ball.

  4. gp Says:

    I’m all for a solid running game and don’t care HOW we get the wins, as long as they keep coming.
    I also think that if we are “one dimensional” we will have difficulty racking up those wins.
    The really BIG question is… Will we game plan for each individual opponent this season? Avoiding their strengths and taking advantage of their weaknesses. IMHO, this is something we did NOT do last season. One game plan, for the entire season, is a recipe for yet another losing season. Regardless of who’s calling the plays or who’s running those plays.
    Last season was not an anomaly, just poorly coached.

  5. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    I’m ok with letting D Smith walk…..but I’d rather draft Oline at 19 than a RB…

    We have significant cap space tied up on the offense….need to draft some defensive players to replace departing players….like Dean, LVD, Hicks/Gholston.

  6. JP09 Says:

    O’cyrus Torrence in Rd 1 if you want to improve the run game. Jensen, Torrence and Wirfs on one side with hainsey and the new left tackle on the other

  7. Buddha Says:

    Good young, energetic coach trained by some of the best in the league. Góod choice by Bowles. Also like the new running back coach. The signing of Brady meant Trask would never see the field. I doubt they will be roll with him given the talent on offense.

  8. zzbucs Says:

    Uncle Ira, your resume speaks for himself, I do respect you a lot…..But just running the game on todays NFL is not good enough, I agree that in order to get to se SB you need to run the ball well, but you also have to throw it…..

    Obviusly we all know we are not a SB candidate

  9. Cobraboy Says:


    Canales cannot make up for the incompetence and lack of leadership of the HC.

    “I didn’t fire Leftwich because nobody else could be OC.” I completely lost all respect for Bowles with that blatant lie. Or incompetent lack of judgment.


    That’s not leadership. That is cowardly.

  10. Bojim Says:

    I’m actually excited!

  11. Who Says Says Can't Say Says:

    It’s a bit misleading to look at the pass attempts… many many many of Brady’s throws were to points behind the line of scrimmage or very close to it, making them basically runs.

    They just count as passes, but they are basically running plays.

  12. Defense Rules Says:

    Love the write-up Sage; spot on. With so many other NEEDS though, the only thing I’d question is your assessment that ‘Texas running back Bijan Robinson will be tough to pass up if he’s still on the draft board at No. 19.’ I do think that we’ll draft a RB, but not until the later rounds.

    I still see our Top-3 Rnds as being the most critical. We simply can’t afford to miss, this year OR next year. We’ve got so many defensive FAs that it’s hard for me to envision NOT using Rnds 1-3 for defense. DT, DE/OLB, CB, S & ILB all come to mind, and we obviously can’t fill all those empty slots with just 3 draftees. At the same time though, we NEED to be drafting an OLineman high just about every year if we expect to get out from under all these high salaries.

    It’s interesting to go back to the 2018 & 2019 drafts because we ended up with extra picks in the Top-3 Rnds in both years by moving down just a little. In 2018 we picked up Vea (Rnd 1), plus RoJo, MJ Stewart & Davis (Rnd 2) by trading down with Buffalo (yes Bills did get Josh Allen though). In 2019 we picked up White (Rnd 1), SMB (Rnd 2), plus Dean & Edwards (Rnd 3) by trading down with the Rams. Overall I’d say Licht used that tactic of trading down quite effectively in those 2 years.

  13. Rayjay1122 Says:

    I am about as excited for the next season as a kid about to get a tetanus shot.

    If they want to be a running team then they need a new OL because the current OL can’t open a hole to save their lives. It is about to be very painful to be BUCS fans again for the foreseeable future.

  14. Bucamania Says:

    Ground and pound is outdated. Here are the top 3 rushing teams last season.

    1. Bears
    2. Falcons
    3. Ravens

    Now you can’t be as impotent rushing the ball as the 2022 Bucs but the passing game is far more important to winning.

  15. Buddha Says:

    I would take the Ravens season and the falcons greatly outperform the roster. The Bears were number one only because they have no wide receivers and their quarterback was a running machine. Seattle was a top 10 offense.

  16. Goatfarmer Says:

    The Bucs won 6 games in 2015, mostly due to a historically bad Lovie Smith defense. “Tennessee Ready” and all that. What a clown show.

    Expecting similar results in 2023 although 6 games is on the high side for wins.

  17. Larrd Says:

    Hopefully this guy will be great but I don’t see what Marshawn Lynch and those teams have to do with anything. As stated, the Bucs ran the ball okay then, too. Canales was probably the coffee boy then.

  18. DoooshLaRue Says:

    Someone should ask Canales to come clean about the J.R. Sweezy scam they pulled on us.

  19. 1#bucsfan Says:

    Everyone thinks we are just going to run run run. Dude said balanced. We couldn’t run last season and it was hard to throw cause defenses knew it was coming. Got to be able to run the ball especially in the playoffs. Beef up the line but I agree with DEFENSE this will be a defensive draft this year with all the wholes we have on that side of the ball. I don’t think we need to go OLINE in round 1. JL has bin able to find good Oline in rds 2 n later. Ex. Marpet cappa