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With much anticipation, I got the chance to meet new Buccaneers offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski today and came away thoroughly impressed in his demeanor and approach to offense and football in general. With Boston College pumping several NFL prospects into the league over the last couple of years, I’ve watched my fair share of Eagles football, so I am familiar with his coaching style. While Boston College didn’t blow many opponents out, they won a lot of games, and that’s clearly all Jagodzinski cares about.
He said on a couple of occasions that he’s not a big stats guy. Jags doesn’t care about offensive stats or quarterback stats. He cares about scoring one more point than the other team and doesn’t care if his quarterback throws for 300 or 400 yards if his team loses.
What I came away with was that in many ways, Jagodzinski was the anti-Jon Gruden. Where Gruden had trouble relating to some players, Jags appears to be more of an effective communicator. I’m not just basing that on what he said today before the Tampa Bay media, but also what his former BC players have had to say about him. Jags said that every player would always know where they stand with him.
Jags is a religious, upbeat, funny kind of guy. He's a real positive guy that is very laid back with a witty sense of humor. I'm sure the players will think that this is a refreshing contrast to Gruden's demanding, intense coaching style. Not there is anything wrong with Gruden's style. But we've all heard that the players are embracing the change.
Also, I don’t think Jagodzinski is going to have a doghouse, whereas Gruden did. That should help player morale, too.
Unlike Gruden, Jagodzinski doesn’t believe in a lot of verbiage in his play calls, which can slow down the learning process. Jags intimated that it wouldn’t take three years for a player to learn his offense, and that should not only help the Buccaneers’ veterans quickly assimilate themselves into the new offense, but also help younger, inexperienced players like quarterbacks Luke McCown and Josh Johnson and – dare I say – possibly a rookie quarterback learn the playbook, too.
And no, I don't think there will be near as much shifting and motion going on before the snap. Some Bucs players felt that was unneccessary in the past and confused Tampa Bay as much as its opponents.
Bucs fans that have read Pewter Report’s edited transcript of Jagodzinski’s interview with the media on Tuesday, were probably smiling when he said that his red zone philosophy is “touchdown, then check down,” in addition to the fact that he coaches to win rather than not to lose. There are times when Gruden could be accused of playing not to lose and going the check down route instead of the touchdown route too many times in the red zone.
Expect Tampa Bay’s offense to run the hell out of the ball behind this offensive line. I believe the Bucs will come out running to set up the pass, whereas with Gruden, it was passing to set up the run.
Jags’ offense will also feature more four-wide receiver sets and less two- and three-tight end sets. When Jags wants to pass the ball, fans will know it. He also believes in letting the offensive line protect the quarterback and getting as many eligible receivers out in the routes as possible. Jagodzinski’s offense is diverse enough where you will see some aspects of the spread passing game.
The Bucs’ passing game will still have some West Coast offense tendencies with slants and crossing routes, but I believe that Jags will take more shots downfield and that the passing game will be vertical in nature. I expect more gambling in the passing game and a more aggressive approach than the dink-and-dunk approach that Gruden’s offense had at times. There will be plenty of five- and seven-step drops – not just three-step drops.
It will be interesting to see how well McCown and Brian Griese fit into this offense. Luke is an outwardly spiritual guy and that may spark a subtle attraction to him from Jags that Tony Dungy had for Trent Dilfer. Jags was clearly excited about McCown’s athleticism from watching the tape.
At the same time, Griese drew praise for his intelligence and that may even give him a leg up on the competition early. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised that if Griese sticks around that he winds up the starter heading into camp. But will Captain Checkdown be aggressive enough with the ball downfield to please Tampa Bay’s new play-caller? It will be interesting to find out.
Don’t be surprised to see the offense gravitate from being a quarterback-led unit under Gruden to a running game-led unit under Jagodzinski. Notice that I didn’t say running back-led. The members of the offensive line will be the stars of this new offense and their ability to zone block in the running game will dictate the amount of success Jagodzinski will generate.
Earnest Graham’s name was mentioned more so than any other offensive player at Jagodzinski’s meeting with the media. Graham is the physical, pile-moving, one-cut, downhill runner that will likely star in this new offense. Warrick Dunn was mentioned, but about as much as Clifton Smith was. That was great for Smith, not so great for Dunn.
The fact that Jagodzinski viewed Smith’s 27 carries and 15 receptions from the preseason and regular season and saw enough of the rookie running back’s ability to suggest using him as a receiver in some one-on-one situations shows Jags’ attention to detail and how he’ll leave no stone unturned when trying to find playmakers on offense.
In all, Jagodzinski made a great first impression. He lit up the scoreboard when it came to his first press conference. Now let’s see if his offense can do that on Sundays.
Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: email@example.com