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January 11, 2012 @ 11:39 am
Current rating: 3.80 Stars/5 Votes

PR Great Debate: Billick Would Be A Great Fit In Tampa Bay

Written by Mark
Mark Cook


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What head coaching candidate should should the Bucs hire? In this third installment of the Pewter Report Great Debate beat writer Mark Cook makes a case for Brian Billick as head coach with Brad Childress and Mike Nolan as coordinators.

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. Publisher Scott Reynolds began the debate with his choice being long time NFL coach Marty Schottenheimer. Eric Dellaratta sounded off second, saying that Todd Bowles should become Tampa Bay's next head coach. In this third installment, beat writer Mark Cook makes a case for who he believes would be a good fit to become the ninth head coach in Tampa Bay Buccaneers history.

While Tampa Bay's focus remains on an NFL experienced coach continues, none of the names being bantered about by the Pewter Report staff in the previous PR Great Debate columns or the coaches that have been interviewed thus far possess the ultimate crown jewel – a Super Bowl ring won as a head coach. One of those out there that have that pedigree – and hardware – is former Ravens head coach Brian Billick. For whatever reason, Billick, at least thus far, hasn’t been on the Bucs’ radar, but should be, in my opinion.

Billick brings exactly what the Buccaneers lacked this past season, which is a disciplined approach to football fundamentals and a supreme confidence in succeeding.

It was obvious the Buccaneers lacked leadership from the top all the way to the bottom, and while Raheem Morris brought several good things to the table the most important thing Billick would bring to the players, fans and organization is instant credibility. With a resume` of success coaching players like Randall Cunningham, Randy Moss, Cris Carter, Ed Reed, Ray Lewis and numerous other Pro Bowl players, how could the young Bucs not instantly look up to a man that coached and succeeded with many players they grew up idolizing?

Billick was a multi-sport star in high school in California where he played both quarterback and cornerback and still holds the state record with 21 interceptions (as a defensive back). Upon graduation, Billick signed with the United States Air Force Academy, playing one season at linebacker before transferring to BYU after learning his 6-foot, 5-inch frame would exclude him from being eligible to become a fighter pilot. Billick went on to earn All-Western Athletic Conference honors and was an All-American honorable mention during his senior season at BYU.

After graduation, Billick began his coaching career as a volunteer receivers coach at the University of Redlands, an NAIA program, while also serving as an assistant coach for his high school alma mater, Redlands High School. A year later, Billick served as a grad assistant at BYU and then joined the San Francisco 49ers, serving two years as an assistant in their public relations department.

The coaching bug became too strong, and in 1981, Billick joined San Diego University to serve as their recruiting coordinator along with coaching tight ends. After the 1985 season, Billick became the offensive coordinator for Utah State and took the second-worst offense in Division I-A to a top-10 offense in just two seasons.

The next stop for Billick brought him aboard Dennis Green’s Stanford staff where he served as assistant head coach and tight ends coach for three years before getting his first shot in the NFL coaching ranks with the Minnesota Vikings as their tight ends coach before being promoted to offensive coordinator after the 1993 season. During Billick’s tenure as offensive coordinator (1994-98) the Minnesota Vikings set several offensive records including a then-record 556 points and 41 touchdown passes during the Vikings' 15-1 regular season in 1998.

During the course of that season, Billick’s offense accomplished something that was sorely missed by the Buccaneers in 2011 – routinely making the big play. The Vikings led the league with 52 plays of 25-plus yards and had 22 offensive plays of 40-plus yards while no other team in the league had more than 16 plays of that length.

After reaching the NFC Championship game as the Viking offensive coordinator in 1998, Billick interviewed for the Baltimore head coaching vacancy and was hired less than 24 hours later.

While known as an offensive mind, Billick immediately saw the potential the Ravens had on defense and was open to changing his coaching philosophy to build around the talent that was already in place. During his nine season as Ravens head coach, the Baltimore defense finished ranked in the top 5 seven times, and was a top-10 defense eight of the nine years culminating in winning the Super Bowl against the New York Giants at Raymond James Stadium in 2001. Billick was able to accomplish this with an average-at-best roster of offensive talent. 

Billick’s overall record as a head coach is a respectable 85-67, including a 5-3 record in the playoffs. Why he is not getting looks by the NFL teams with coaching vacancies is a mystery. Some have said Billick carries a huge ego. So what makes him different than most who coach in the NFL? Butting heads on personnel decisions with a general manager isn’t the worst thing to happen and it helps keep both sides – coaching and the front office – in check to a degree.

Billick is a proven winner who has shown the ability to succeed with both offensive and defensive talent-laden teams. Billick has also proven the ability to choose top-notch assistant coaches with the likes of Rex Ryan, Marvin Lewis, Jim Fassel, Mike Nolan, Jack Del Rio and Mike Smith.

When it was learned that Brad Childress was being brought in to interview for the head coaching opening earlier this week it puzzled many. Childress struggled to win over the Vikings locker room and made some controversial moves that even ownership questioned leading to his departure. But as an offensive mind, Childress has proven the ability to move offenses up and down the field, and again, has instant credibility for the young Buccaneers.

After an extensive and impressive college coaching resume with positions at Illinois, North Arizona and Wisconsin, Childress was hired by Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid as the Eagles quarterbacks' coach in 1999.

The Eagles were coming off a 3-13 season and rookie QB Donovan McNabb struggled mightily in his first season as the starter. But under Childress’ tutelage, McNabb and the Eagles improved dramatically, winning 11 games in his second season after joining Reid’s staff. Over the course of Childress’ six seasons in Philadelphia, McNabb earned five Pro Bowl berths and a trip to the Super Bowl where they wound up losing to the New England Patriots in Jacksonville.

After an impressive stint in Philadelphia, Childress’ stock was rising fast and Minnesota came calling to fill their head-coaching void left when Mike Tice was fired after the 2005 season. Childress interviewed against Jim Caldwell, Al Saunders and Ted Cottrell. The Vikings selected Childress, and in his first season, the Vikings slipped from 9-7 to 6-10. The following season showed some improvement as the team won two more games to finish at 8-8 missing the playoffs by one game. In his second season as head coach, Childress’ Vikings offense improved to 15th in the league in scoring offense (22.8 ppg) and was ranked 13th in the NFL in total offense averaging 332.0 yards per game. 

The following season, the Viking won the NFC North with a 10-6 record and averaged 331 yards of offense ranking 17th in the league behind rookie Adrian Peterson’s monster 1,341 yards. And this was done with veteran journeyman Gus Ferotte and inexperienced starter Tavarius Jackson splitting time under center.

After a frustrating season of inconsistent quarterback play the Vikings made a bold move by bringing in legendary QB Brett Favre. The move paid off for Childress and the Vikings as Minnesota won their second straight NFC North title with a 12-4 record. Childress’s offense, paced by Favre’s 4,200 yards of passing and Petersen’s 1,383 yards on the ground, finished fifth in the NFL, averaging just under 400 yards and was the second-ranked scoring offense in the league putting up an average of 29.4 points per game. The Viking wound up reaching the NFC Championship Game but lost to the eventual Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints.

The improvement and turnaround under Childress earned the Vikings head coach a new contract in the offseason.

“Brad has done a tremendous job leading this football team and we value the positive environment he has created for the Minnesota Vikings on and off the field,” Vikings owner Zygi Wilf said at the time. “He has continued to positively impact this team and create a strong foundation for future success."

The following season Favre decided to come back for one last run at a Super Bowl title but the magic wasn’t there. A trade brought Randy Moss to the Vikings and the controversial receiver and the Vikings never got on the same page. That, combined with injuries to Favre, caused the season to implode, resulting in the firing of Childress after 10 games.

While Childress’ ability to be a successful head coach is debatable, his success as a play caller and an offensive mind can’t be questioned. Combining that along with his work in helping McNabb become a Pro Bowl quarterback, the Buccaneers would be wise to pursue Childress to help rectify Josh Freeman’s confidence and further develop the Tampa Bay offense.

Going back to the point of leadership and discipline, the Buccaneers would be well served to consider Mike Nolan as their defensive coordinator.

Nolan comes from a strong coaching lineage. His father, Richard, was a longtime Cowboy’s assistant under Tom Landry and also had several years of success building the 49ers with defense in the early 70’s. Like Jim and John Harbaugh, Nolan grew up around the game of professional football and understands the details and preparation like few others.

As a coach himself, Nolan began in the college ranks working at programs like Oregon, Stanford, Rice and LSU, earning a reputation as a defensive mind much like his father. Then-Broncos head coach Dan Reeves hired Nolan to coach his linebackers in 1987. When Reeves took over the New York Giants head-coaching job in 1993, Nolan followed his pro mentor to the Big Apple where he was elevated to defensive coordinator. Nolan’s Giants defenses were consistently ranked in the top 15 during his four seasons as coordinator in New York.

In 1997, he became the defensive coordinator for Norv Turner in Washington for two seasons, enjoying moderate success. After his stint in Washington, Nolan spent one season as the New York Jets defensive coordinator before joining Billick in Baltimore after the 2000 season, first as a wide receivers coach before taking over as the defensive signal caller in 2002. During Nolan’s tenure as coordinator in Baltimore, the Ravens ranked 22nd in 2002 before moving up to third in 2003, and finally ranking sixth in the league in Nolan’s last season with the Ravens.

Due to his track record of success, Nolan was hired in 2005 to be the head coach of the 49ers following in his father’s footsteps. Nolan’s tenure with the 49ers was short-lived, lasting just three-and-a-half seasons before being fired in 2008.

Nolan joined Josh McDaniel in 2009 as the Broncos defensive coordinator, implementing the 3-4 defense and helped the Broncos to a 6-0 start and giving up the fewest points in the NFL during that stretch. Denver finished ranked seventh in total defense.

Nolan’s most recent stop was in Miami this past season guiding the Dolphins to the league’s 15th-ranked defense.

With Nolan’s proven success and his familiarity from working with Billick in Baltimore, Nolan looks exactly like what this young, undisciplined Buccaneers defense needs. Does Tampa Bay have the personnel to run the 3-4? Probably not, but between free agency and the draft, and maybe experimenting with defensive end Da’Quan Bowers as a standup outside rush linebacker due to his athleticism, it may be able to make the transition.

Monday: Scott Reynolds' choice for Tampa Bay's head coach, offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator
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

Last modified on Wednesday, 11 January 2012 13:46

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  • avatar

    We need a HARBOUGH here. HIRE A HARBOUGH .....
  • avatar

    I am still trying to find out if JIM HARBOUGH or JOHN HARBOUGH has just one more brother, if they do, there's who we need .
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    Billick is being considered for OC job w/ the Falcons..."Billick, a former coordinator with the Minnesota Vikings, has not filled that role in over a decade but is very close with Smith (they are related through marriage)."
  • avatar

    Billick has been my choice since day 1. I would love to see Billick here.
  • avatar

    The only type of intelligence I care about around here is football intelligence. That's what I meant by he's not smart. Who cares what academy he went to? Our last LB coach Joe Baker when to Princeton but he wasn't football smart. Let's compare apples to apples. Gruden and Billick both have won Super Bowls. Both have huge egos, with Gruden's probably being the biggest. Billick made a public announcement that he was open to coaching again a few months ago but I have yet to read a report anywhere saying he was even questioned about a HC job, let alone interviewed. This includes both NFL and NCAA HC jobs. Gruden has made no public claims of wanting to coach in the last 2 years but ProFootballTalk reported the Dolphins asked him if he wanted the job after they fired Sporano. He said no and publicly said he's staying on MNF to keep others from bothering him. Gruden was also offered the Hurricanes job a couple years ago. Bottom line: If Billick was worth a damn somebody would have interviewed him for a HC job. I think the decision makers in the NFL and NCAA opinion of Billick is similar to mine.
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    I haven't even read this article yet, but I have to say that I would love to get Billick. I loved that Ravens team that one the Super Bowl. He's an offensive guy that coached a defensive team. I think that's a great illustration of understanding what you have and making a team work by it's strengths. I'm not sure that we've seen that approach in a long time here.
  • avatar

    After reading this article, I'm even more intrigued. And who cares if he has an ego, it's based on success and it isn't the kind of ego that interferes with coaching decisions. Otherwise he wouldn't have molded the Ravens into a defensive team. He won a Super Bowl with Trent Dilfer! That's pretty amazing. And I think he'd hire a DC that fits our personel, someone with a 4-3 background. And I definitely wouldn't mind Childress as an OC, but definitely not as our HC.
  • avatar

    Weeks before the season ended, Billick was saying publically that he wanted to get back into coaching. But his name hasn't been mentioned in connection to any job since. Not sure what is going on with him. Seems unlikely he's a serious candidate.
  • avatar

    I really hope they talk with Billick. Not sure how he would do, as I did not pay too much attention to him with the Ravens. But I like is analysis and that has kept him very involved with the evolvement of the NFL game. He has a great resume and it has been disappointing that the Bucs have not scheduled an interview with him since he has expressed interest in returning to coaching. I believe he would be as good as most names that have surfaced and definately better than some.
  • avatar

    I enjoy Brian Billick on the NFL Chanel Coach's Show but I've always had concerns about these former coaches who get cushy TV gigs and then having to return to the grinding that an NFL coach has to do. I think that's what impressed me about Marty. He never stopped coaching even having to step down in class to continue doing what he loves.
  • avatar

    Scubog, that's a very good point. Schottenheimer is growing on me; I still don't think the Glazer's want that strong of a coach who will be vocal to them when he wants things. That didn't go well with Gruden did it?
  • avatar

    Some of you speak as if we have a tenure of offensive juggernauts in the past and of recent memory. Geez, get real Buc fans...You are talking like it's some privilege to come coach here. You all should be glad there is any entertainment factor in this because nationally no one cares about this organization because of the Glazer's. Really, who cares who they hire with no checkbook and an eroding fan base???
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  • avatar

    I have hated every option heard so far untill Billick was brought up. I would be excited to get him.
  • avatar

    I would just like the question posed to the Glazers, you said, "extensive search", so why not interview a coach with a ring who wants to come hear?
  • avatar

    My Opinions: Billick/HC - This could work, always had a competitive Ravens squad... Got Trent D*ldo a SB ring (yeah I know the Ravens D was sick but still; Trent D*ldo!!). Childress/OC - D-Bag that the young players wont respect, looks like a pedophile. No please... Nolan/DC - Meh... Is capable of wearing a suit on the sidelines, and the very least, an upgrade from Raheem.
  • avatar

    Yeah, Billick can't bee very smart. It wasn't like he went to UCF, USF, FSU or UF. He was only able to get into the Academy. Everyone knows anyone can get in there. Billick is probably the smartest guy in most rooms. Now you might have an argument regarding his ability to be a good HC for this team. Personally, I do. But to think he isn't smart wasn't nearly the smartest thing posted on this board today, to say the least.
  • avatar

    I would be excited about billick but no to Nolan / chilly. I also don't get the 3-4 facination when we drafted 4-3 dlinemen in last two drafts. I really like the idea of Gregg Williams hope he gets an interview
  • avatar

    Ok Pinkstob, so you don't like it !!!! We get it !
  • avatar

    Good Article Mark and well thought out. I am okay with Billick; I'm not sure about Childress or Nolan ; anything is better than Morris and Olsen though. I'm thinking that we might be heading for the 3-4 and I think it is a good idea because the Offensive side is getting bigger and faster.
  • avatar

    No offense MC, but I hate all three of these options. Just hate 'em. They're all dead last for who I would want at these coaching postions. First there's Billick. What makes his ego so hard to deal with is he is not smart. He doesn't have anywhere near as firm a grip on the game of football as he thinks he does. Have you heard his commentary? Who couldn't put up points in Minnesota with two future HOF's at WR in Moss and Carter? His accomplishments at Minnesota should all have an asterick. Then he puts together that lousy offense in Baltimore and sticks with K. Boller and M. Clayton year after year even though they sucked. Chilly has a great offensive mind in the WCO (which we don't have the QB or RB for) but he has a horrible personality. Nolan's defenses for the Jets, 49ers, Broncos and Dolphins were all terrible. He uses some complex 3-4/4-3 hybrid that nobody understands but him. Like Billick in Minnesota, Nolan's work with the Ravens needs an asterick due to all the future HOF's Ozzie Newsome gave him to work with. Last but not least, all three of these guys couldn't be worse at player talent evaluation but yet they all have egos. All that being said, let me tell you how I REALLY feel about these 3 guys...
  • avatar

    Well if were talking about people that aren't options I say we get bill bellicheck and dick leboux...
  • avatar

    Good article, Mark. Especially the part about D'Quan Bowers being a stand up rrusher. A lot of people are down on Phillips and other candidates out of fear of the 3-4 defense. But like you said, Bowers, draft, and FA could make it possible. Lastly, I think Bowers would excel as an OLB in a 3-4.
  • avatar

    I love it Brian Billick would be a great coach for this team.Mike Nolan among others would be good for dc .Not the biggest Brad Childress fan but as a oc i would accept it.One problem, the Glazers are not even talking about Nolan or Billick for anything which i don't understand why they refuse to interview Brian Billick what are they afraid of ?My gut tells me they will go with either Mike Sherman or Marty Schottenheimer and then Marty will make his son oc.I do like Schottenheimer but come on he is 68 yrs old now i want someone older but not that old.Please bring in Brian Billick he said he would be interested in this job and we should have some interest in him atleast enough to give him a interview .Who knows you might like what he has to say only one way to find out.
  • avatar

    The main concern I have with Billick is where was his offense in Baltimore? Without a stifling defense, his coaching tenure for the Ravens wouldn't look nearly as good. He had a good running game, but the passing game was lackluster for an offensive minded coach. He was never able to draft and develop a QB either. Not that the Bucs need a QB at this point, but the lack of success in this area is another concern. I'm not too crazy about Childress either. As an OC it might be ok, but he's not known to be a good comminicator. His relationship with the players and media is a little rocky at times. Nolan is a good DC with consistent success. Switching to a 3-4 seems like a step backwards though. It's been done with success in a short amount of time recently, i.e., Wade Phillips in Houston and Dom Capers in Green Bay, but they made the switch with arguably better talent. Maybe the Bucs have the talent. Maybe the D lineman and LBs are better suited for a 3-4. I don't know the answer, but it seems to me that the talent is more suited for a 4-3. That's what Dominik spent two first round and two second round picks on, 4-3 lineman.
  • avatar

    Terrific article. I love the suggestions.
  • avatar

    I love Billick as the HC. I'm not crazy about Chilly (personality issues) or Nolan (switching to a 3-4)....But I think Billick is adaptable and intelligent. NO reason he shouldn't be interviewed. None whatsoever.
  • avatar

    Great article and absolutely agree - Billick HC, I like Childress as OC, but I would add Jack Delrio as DC. where are the Bucs on this? Billick has hinted directly that he is interested in the job??????
  • avatar

    Sorry Mark, but I hate your suggestions on coordinators. I'd be fine with the hiring of Billick as head coach, but in Chilly and Nolan you have 2 additional coaches that are generally considered 'strict disciplinarians' as well as poor communicators. Also there are plenty of rumors out there that Chilly didn't really like McNabb and that Reid called over half the plays. The fear with me is that Chilly's offensive coordinator position with the Eagles was much like Bill Muirs' when he was here. He may have drawn up the plans, but in the case of Muir, Gruden called the plays. Nolan might be a good defensive coordinator, but I've also never heard him referred to as a young players coach or a teaching coach, it's fine to be considered a disciplinarian, but if you don't have patience with our younger players, chances are you are not going to succeed. No thanks. JMO.
  • avatar

    Great article, Mark. You get my vote. I would love to see the Buc's get Billick. So what if he has an ego- this team needs to develop an ego and attitude so lets start with him. He's got the Ring and resume to back it up. After watching terrible, boring lack of effort football this past season the last thing this team needs to bring in is a dull, boring head coach ( Sherman, Phillips etc) Unfortunately, I don't think ithiring Billick will happen. Dom will probably bring in one of the dull "librarian" types so that he can maintain the power he has amazingly held on to.
  • avatar

    Why is everyone so eager to switch to a 3-4 when we have 4 high picks invested in the dine and a serious lack of the linebackers necessary to run a 3-4.
  • avatar

    I'm assuming Mike Nolan's dad is "Richard" LOL
  • avatar

    Really like this idea and the staff ideas are well thought out. Listening to Billick on TV it is clear that he knows football. This would be a positive move, alas, I suspect Billick will remain on TV.
  • avatar

    LOVE Billick. Only thing is that a Super Bowl-winning coach has NEVER gone on to win a Super Bowl with another team... oh well, that said, I'd love Billick!
  • avatar

    5/5. The staff makes a lot of sense to me. Nolan's connections to Billick. Good to see you bringing light to Childress' development of Donovan. Freeman is a similar quarterback in terms of skill set and Donovan had 5 pro bowls. Also important to note is Donovan's success after Childress left. Not so well actually. I think he'll get the most out of his quarterback. Wish we'd hear Billick's name thrown in the rumor mill as far as getting an interview. Too quiet. - 3SK
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