New Bucs offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford is known for his complicated offensive schemes, but during his career at Fresno State, Oregon and California, he’s produced some NFL-caliber QBs and running backs.
Former University of California head coach Jeff Tedford is poised to become Tampa Bay’s offensive coordinator under new Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith. Tedford has a proven track record for developing both quarterbacks and running backs at the college level and prepping them for NFL careers.
Under his 11-year reign at Cal, Tedford produced 40 NFL draft picks, including eight first-rounders. The 52-year old Tedford has developed the likes of quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Kyle Boller, who were both first-round picks, at Cal, along with running backs J.J. Arrington, Marshawn Lynch, Justin Forsett, Jahvid Best and Shane Vereen.
At stops at Fresno State and Oregon where he served as the quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator, the 52-year old Tedford groomed the likes of quarterbacks Trent Dilfer, David Carr, Akili Smith and Joey Harrington – all first-round selections.
Now Tedford’s task is to take his pro-style offense, which has elements of the spread offense, to the NFL. Tedford’s offense has been called “voluminous,” “complicated,” “intricate” and “complex.” It’s a good thing that Buccaneers quarterback Mike Glennon, who will be entering his second season after breaking a slew of Tampa Bay rookie records, is very intelligent and graduated from North Carolina State with a master’s degree. His intelligence will be put to full use as Tedford’s playbook is quite thick and demands an awful lot from the quarterback position.
“When you first get into it, it’s confusing as hell,” Kevin Riley, Cal's quarterback from 2008-10, told the San Jose Mercury News. “It takes a good two-and-a-half years before you understand what we’re trying to do.”
Keep in mind that college football players were limited to just 20 hours of practice and film room time per NCAA regulations, whereas NFL players have the luxury of spending upwards of 60 hours per week practicing and studying the game plan and the plays. Still, there’s no doubt that Tedford’s offense is challenging to digest at first.
“It’s a lot harder than the usual offense,” said former Cal backup quarterback Zach Maynard. “There are a lot more plays, and you have to be a lot more dialed in to what’s going on.”
“I’ve heard our offense is more complicated than a lot of NFL offenses,” former Golden Bears quarterback Brock Mansion said. “It's hard to imagine that, but at the same time it seems so overwhelming because there is so much responsibility on the quarterback. But it all becomes second nature when you get reps. Ever since I’ve been here, the quarterback has always grasped it.”
Dilfer, a current NFL analyst that starred for Tedford at Fresno State prior to being drafted by Tampa Bay in 1994, said that his offense is definitely quarterback-driven and requires the QB to do a lot of reads and checks at the line of scrimmage. He also Tedford puts an awful lot of time into preparing the quarterback for any possible situation that may happen on game days.
“Jeff is a volume-based coach,” Dilfer said. “He likes having all the answers to the tests going into the game. If you can handle the load as quarterback, it’s awesome. You never feel like you don’t have an answer. The more you ask athletes to do, the more they’ll respond. It puts a greater burden on the player to put in the work and to own the information, but that’s not a bad thing.”
Whether it is Glennon, a rookie quarterback acquired in the 2014 NFL Draft or a free agent veteran, Tampa Bay’s quarterback will need to be smart and detail-oriented, and be able to quickly go through progressions in order to thrive in Tedford’s system.
“You better be smart, if you want to play quarterback for Jeff,” former Cal coach Roger Theder, a noted private quarterback tutor, told the San Jose Mercury News. “He puts a lot of pressure on his quarterback. Andrew Luck could handle it, but there are a lot of guys who couldn’t.”
Former Bucs general manager Mark Dominik and head coach Greg Schiano routinely praised Glennon for his football I.Q., and the 6-foot-6 passer appears to have the accuracy and pocket presence to thrive in Tedford’s offense. Evaluating Glennon’s tape to see if he has the tools and makeup to be an NFL starter will be the first order of business for Tedford, Smith and the Bucs’ new general manager. With a plethora of quarterbacks available in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Bucs could bring in another quarterback to start instead of Glennon or bring in another arm to compete with him this offseason.
While Tedford has made his name in college football as a quarterback guru, in addition to developing some fine wide receivers as a result, including DeSean Jackson, Lavelle Hawkins, Marvin Jones and Keenan Allen, the Golden Bears’ potent running game has helped set up the pass. When Tedford first took over at Cal, he established a power running game out of the I-formation with pulling guards.
Arrington ran for a school-record 2,018 yards and 15 touchdowns and a 6.9-yard average in 2004, and paved the way for more successful Cal running backs. In three years at Cal, Lynch, who replaced Arrington, rushed for 3,230 yards and 29 touchdowns and a 6.6-yard average, including back-to-back seasons of 1,250 yards or more in 2005-06.
In 2008, Best ran for 1,580 yards and 15 touchdowns, while averaging 8.1 yards per carry, until a severe concussion derailed his 2009 season. Best rushed for 2,668 yards and 29 touchdowns in three seasons at Cal. Vereen teamed with Best before ultimately replacing him, and rushed for 2,834 yards and 29 touchdowns during his Golden Bears career, while averaging 5.1 yards per carry, including a 1,167 yards rushing in 2010.
Tedford’s success with producing a strong running game for much of his Cal career bodes well for Pro Bowl running back Doug Martin, whose 2013 season ended prematurely with a torn labrum, Bobby Rainey and Mike James. All three of those running backs fit the mold of Tedford’s offense, which features short, but stout runners that can also catch the ball out of the backfield.Tedford’s Coaching Career
Tedford began his coaching career with the Canadian Football League’s Calgary Stampeders from 1989-91. He went to Fresno State to become the quarterbacks coach in 1992 and then became the offensive coordinator from 1993-97. He was hired away by Oregon where he served as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach from 1998-2001 before becoming the head coach at Cal from 2002-12. He compiled an 82-57 mark as a head coach and was 5-3 in bowl games, winning the Pac-10 championship in 2006 and becoming the Pac-10 coach of the year twice in 2002 and 2004.
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