In the first edition of the Pewter Report Great Debate, the PR staff – Scott Reynolds, Mark Cook, Andrew Scavelli and Eric Dellaratta – offers its opinions on which head coach, offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator the Buccaneers should hire to replace Raheem Morris. Reynolds sounds off first, saying that Marty Schottenheimer, whom the Bucs will be interviewing on Tuesday, should become Tampa Bay's next head coach.
SR's PICK FOR HEAD COACH: MARTY SCHOTTENHEIMER
The Buccaneers are interviewing former Cleveland, Kansas City, Washington and San Diego head coach Marty Schottenheimer on Tuesday to fill the vacancy created when Tampa Bay fired head coach Raheem Morris on January 2 after he went 17-31 in three seasons from 2009-11. If Schottenheimer, who will turn 69 in September, has a good interview, the Bucs need to hire him as the franchise’s ninth head coach.
While the Buccaneers were loose, unfocused and undisciplined under the young Morris, who was hired in 2009 at the age of 31, they would quickly become the exact opposite under Schottenheimer, who is known for fielding tough, disciplined football teams during his NFL head coaching career in which he compiled a 200-126-1 record (61.3 percent). Schottenheimer’s last season in the NFL came in 2006 when he led the Chargers to a 14-2 record, but he was fired after a second-round exit in the playoffs after he and general manager A.J. Smith couldn’t resolve their differences.
Although Schottenheimer has a disappointing 5-13 record in the postseason and has never made it to the Super Bowl, he has never posted a losing record at any of his four NFL stops. He posted a 44-27 mark (62 percent) in Cleveland and took the Browns to the AFC Championship Game twice in five years. The Browns went to the playoffs in four out of five seasons under Schottenheimer.
In Kansas City, Schottenheimer was 101-58-1 (63.5 percent) and took the Chiefs to the playoffs seven times in 10 years, including one trip to the AFC Championship Game. The Chiefs posted 10 wins or more in six out of Schottenheimer’s 10 years in K.C.
In Washington in 2001, Schottenheimer went 8-8 (50 percent) before being fired in favor of Steve Spurrier, who was a disaster as the Redskins coach. That was the only coaching stop in which Schottenheimer did not post a winning record during his tenure.
Schottenheimer was 47-33 (58.8 percent) in San Diego from 2002-2006. After going 8-8 in his first season, followed by a 4-12 campaign in 2003, the Chargers went 12-4, 9-7 and 14-2 in his final three years in San Diego. Schottenheimer took the Chargers to the postseason twice in his five seasons as the team’s head coach.
Schottenheimer won his first championship as the head coach and general manager of the UFL’s Virginia Destroyers this past season with a 3-1 record in a shortened season. Some may think that Schottenheimer’s age would be a detriment with the youngest team in the NFL, but the young Buccaneers are smart enough to recognize success when they see it. Keep in mind that at age 68 Schottenheimer related quite well with the Destroyers players.
Also, Kansas State’s Bill Snyder produced a 10-3 football team this year at age 72, which made Snyder the oldest active coach in the FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) ranks of college football. With the Wildcats being picked eighth to finish in the Big 12 this year, the fact that the Wildcats became a top 10 team made Snyder one of the finalists for coach of the year honors in college football.
In the NFL, former Buffalo head coach Marv Levy took the Bills to Super Bowl in his late 60’s before retiring in 1997 at the age of 72. Levy returned to the Bills to serve as the general manager from 2006-07 until he retired at the age of 81.
With some head coaching candidates shying away from Tampa Bay due to the fact that the Bucs play in the elite NFC South division, Schottenheimer is used to coaching in a rugged division as the AFC West was during his time in Kansas City. The Chiefs were division winners only three times under Schottenheimer (1993, ’95, ‘97) as the Los Angeles Raiders, San Diego Chargers and Denver Broncos each winning the division and making the AFC Championship Game at least once during his tenure in K.C.
In his 21 years as an NFL head coach, Schottenheimer has produced 15 winning seasons, four seasons with a .500 record and just two losing seasons, which is one of the most impressive and prolific records in league history. Simply put, Schottenheimer is a proven winner that knows how to win and teach the art of winning.
Albeit not flashy, Schottenheimer’s teams are hard-nosed and physical, which are traits that general manager Mark Dominik admires and Morris tried to create during his three-year stint as Tampa Bay’s head coach. Schottenheimer is an old-school, no-nonsense disciplinarian whose methods are highly applicable and rooted in success. He will be the best candidate to get back to teaching sound, fundamental football, which is exactly what Tampa Bay needs. Keep in mind that Dominik worked with Schottenheimer in Kansas City in 1994 when Dominik was a scouting intern with the Chiefs, so there is a strong degree of mutual respect between the two men.
A former NFL linebacker, Schottenheimer believes in a strong running game and a stout defense that gets to the quarterback, built around the linebacking corps, which desperately needs revamping in Tampa Bay. During Tampa Bay’s heyday in 1979, the Bucs won with a strong, linebacker-led defense and a chain-moving running game. Over two decades later, the Bucs would nearly reach the Super Bowl in 1999 and ultimately win it during the 2002 season with a suffocating defense led by linebacker Derrick Brooks and a potent running game fueled by Mike Alstott and Michael Pittman.
Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman was called on to do too much in 2011, a season in which he threw a career-high 22 interceptions and only 16 touchdowns. Schottenheimer believes in a run-first approach on offense and likes to use the play-action passing game, which would actually play to Freeman’s strength and help his development as he enters his fourth year in the NFL.
Schottenheimer has always liked big running backs, and has had success with Kevin Mack in Cleveland and Christian Okoye and Barry Word in Kansas City. Inheriting a big back like 240-pound LeGarrette Blount, who will be an exclusive rights free agent in 2012, would be a great starting point to build a strong running game around.
One of Schottenhimer’s strengths has been identifying, hiring and developing great assistant coaches. Big names such as Bill Cowher, Tony Dungy, Herman Edwards, Cam Cameron, Gunther Cunningham, Lindy Infante, Wade Phillips, Tony Sparano and Mike McCarthy have all coached under Schottenheimer in the past.
While Schottenheimer likely wouldn’t coach more than four or five more years given his age, there is a possibility that he could – and might want to – lure his son, Brian, to Tampa Bay to serve as offensive coordinator and potentially serve as his eventual replacement as head coach. Brian Schottenheimer, 38, served under his father as the Chargers quarterbacks coach from 2002-05, and has been the New York Jets offensive coordinator since the 2006 season.
REYNOLDS' PICK FOR OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR: JOE PENDRY
While Brian Schottenheimer is still under contract with the New York Jets, the elder Schottenheimer might be best served to convince Pendry, an old friend and colleague, to come out of retirement. The 64-year old Pendry retired from the University of Alabama last year where he served as the Crimson Tide’s assistant head coach and offensive line coach since joining Nick Saban’s staff in 2007.
Pendry was the offensive coordinator in Kansas City from 1989-92 as part of Schottenheimer’s original coaching staff. Pendry was fired by Schottenheimer, who also terminated two notable assistants in Bruce Arians (running backs) and Howard Mudd (offensive line) following the 1992 season.
“These are very, very fine football coaches, and they have worked tirelessly,” Schottenheimer said at the time. “I reflected long and hard on this, and I and I alone have made the decision.
“We need to find a way to score more points. Our inability to be more point-productive necessitated the changes.”
Schottenheimer was criticized by fans for having an unimaginative offense, which led to Pendry’s dismissal despite him helping the Chiefs get back to their winning ways.
During the 1989 season, the Chiefs posted a winning season with an 8-7-1 record with Okoye rushing for an NFL-high 1,480 yards and 12 touchdowns on 370 carries (4.0 avg.).
Former Bucs quarterback Steve DeBerg threw 23 touchdowns and tossed only five interceptions for the Chiefs in 1990, while the running game produced 1,948 yards on the ground and scored 11 touchdowns, led by Barry Word (1,015 yards, four TDs) and Christian Okoye (805 yards, seven TDs). In ‘90, the Chiefs offense improved and scored 360 points, averaging 23.1 points per game, which ranked sixth out of the 28 NFL teams at the time.
In 1991, the Chiefs won 11 games and won their first playoff game since the 1970 Super Bowl. During the ’91 season, the Chiefs finished 10-6, scoring 322 points and averaging 20.1 per game, which ranked 10th in the NFL. Kansas City had a dominant running game, rushing for 2,217 yards and 14 touchdowns on 521 carries (4.3 avg.). Okoye led the way with 1,031 yards and nine touchdowns on 225 carries, with Word (684 yards and four TDs) and Harvey Williams (447 yards and one score) also contributing.
Injuries to Word and Okoye in 1992 hurt Pendry’s offense as they rushed for 607 yards and four TDs and 448 yards and six scores, respectively. Yet the Chiefs offense scored 348 points (21.8 avg.) in 1992, which ranked seventh in the NFL, before Pendry was fired.
Pendry has 19 years of NFL coaching experience and has played an integral role in developing NFL offensive linemen and future pros in Andre Smith, Antoine Caldwell, Mike Johnson and Barrett Jones, who was this season’s Lombardi Award winner.
And if Pendry doesn’t want to come out of retirement to either run Tampa Bay’s offense or develop the Buccaneers offensive line, Schottenheimer could turn to Terry Shea in the interim. Shea, who worked with Freeman and Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford prior to the 2009 NFL Draft, served as Schottenheimer’s offensive coordinator for the Virginia Destroyers this past season.
Shea is one of pro football’s most noted quarterback tutors and has worked with Sam Bradford prior to the 2010 draft and Blaine Gabbert before the 2011 draft.
SR's PICK FOR DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR: KIRBY SMART
Adding Pendry to the Buccaneers staff could bring some additional benefits in the form of Smart, Alabama’s current defensive coordinator. The 36-year old Smart is considered to be one of the best up-and-coming coaches in the college ranks.
He joined the Alabama coaching staff in 2007 and has called the Crimson Tide defense since 2008 under Saban. He also carries the title of assistant head coach. Smart is the highest-paid assistant on the Alabama staff, making $750,000 per year and turning down a similar offer from Georgia, his alma mater, to stay with Saban. It might take a salary of $1 million or so for the Bucs to pry Smart away from Alabama.
Smart was named the winner of the Broyles Award, which is given to the top assistant coach in college football, and he became the first winner from Alabama to claim the honors.
This season, the 2011 Crimson Tide defense leads the nation in all five major categories, including total defense (191.25 ypg.), scoring defense (8.83 ppg.), rushing defense (74.92 ypg.), passing defense (116.33 ypg.) and pass efficiency defense (83.97 rating). Linebacker Dont’a Hightower was a finalist for the Lombardi Award, the Lott Trophy, the Butkus Award and the Bednarik Award.
Smart has helped develop the likes of future pros in defensive backs Robert Lester, Mark Barron and Dre Kirkpatrick, in addition to NFL players like linebacker Rolando McClain, cornerback Javier Arenas, defensive tackle Terrence Cody, defensive end Marcell Darius, safety Rashad Johnson and cornerback Kareem Jackson, who have been drafted over the last couple of years.
Smart does have one year of NFL experience, serving as the Miami Dolphins safeties coach in 2006 under Saban. He is well versed at calling plays for a 3-4 defense, which is a scheme the Buccaneers might switch to if Schottenheimer and/or Smart are hired.
THE REST OF THE PEWTER REPORT GREAT DEBATE:
Tuesday: Eric Dellaratta's choice for Tampa Bay's head coach, offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator
Wednesday: Mark Cook's choice for Tampa Bay's head coach, offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator
Thursday: Andrew Scavelli's choice for Tampa Bay's head coach, offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator