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. Dellaratta sounds off second, saying that Todd Bowles should become Tampa Bay's next head coach.
DELLARATTA'S PICK FOR HEAD COACH: TODD BOWLES
Former Bucs head coach Raheem Morris lost his team during the final 10 games of the 2011 season – all of which were losses. Some called it the worst display of football that they had ever seen. Sadly, I would have to agree with them.
The Buccaneers failed to even execute the basics of football. They were not disciplined and committed too many penalties, which is something that the head coach is ultimately responsible for and needs to correct. Some of the players didn’t even look like they were trying during the last few games of the season. Players were routinely out of position on defense, and when they were in position they were unable to even make a proper form tackle. This should be something that defensive players should know coming out of college.
Most of the blame was being placed on Morris, who was fired on January 2 after Tampa Bay’s 45-24 loss at Atlanta, for not having his team prepared for battle on Sundays, and the blame was placed correctly. The Buccaneers were clearly heading in the wrong direction and the Tampa Bay community made its collective voice heard. The majority of fans were calling for Morris to be fired during the team’s 10-game skid, but the Buccaneers lacked a coach that could take over on an interim basis. Morris’ firing was only a matter of time.
Morris and the entire coaching staff were all fired, leaving an incredible amount of coaching positions to be filled. Tampa Bay’s first duty will be to find a new head coach and that coach should be Miami defensive backs coach Todd Bowles, who served as the Dolphins’ interim head coach for the final month of the season after Tony Sparano was fired.
While he is not the big name coach that most Buccaneers fans have been pleading for, Bowles is an impressive fallback option if the Bucs are not able to lure in more excitable names, such as Mike Zimmer or Rob Chudzinski. Bowles would also most likely be the cheapest option out of the limited 2012 coaching pool.
Bowles has experience in both 4-3 and 3-4 base defenses, and has learned under some notable coaches such as Mike Nolan, Bill Parcells, and Wade Phillips, who is reported to be interviewing with the Bucs later this week.
Bowles is intriguing because of his underrated track record. If you look into his resume, you will find that Bowles was a key factor in sculpting some of the NFL’s best secondaries in the past decade.
He began his coaching career as the defensive coordinator and secondary coach for Morehouse College in 1997. Bowles later went on to be the defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach for Grambling State from 1998-1999 where he served under former Bucs quarterback and director of pro personnel Doug Williams.
He then made the leap into pro football. Bowles’ first coaching position in the NFL came as a defensive backs coach for the New York Jets in 2000, which was a unit that only allowed 183.3 passing yards per game and ranked sixth in the NFL in pass defense.
Bowles was a part of the Cleveland Browns organization for four years (2001-04). During his first three years with the Browns, he was a defensive nickel package coach. In 2001, the Browns led the league in interceptions with a total of 33, which was also a franchise record. In his final season with the Browns, Bowles acted as the secondary coach. The Browns ranked fifth in interceptions with Bowles as the secondary coach in 2004.
The New Jersey native was hired by the Dallas Cowboys in 2005. Bowles coached the Cowboys secondary for three years (2005-08). During that time, Bowles coached three Dallas defensive backs to Pro Bowls. Safeties Ken Hamlin and Roy Williams combined for four trips to Honolulu, and cornerback Terrance Newman contributed with another invitation. Bowles did a phenomenal job getting the most out of these players, and clearly guided them in the right direction during his tenure as a part of the Cowboys’ organization.
Bowles also had an exceptional pro career as a defensive back. He played eight years in the NFL, including seasons with the Washington Redskins and San Francisco 49ers.
The Redskins captured the Super Bowl championship in 1987 with Bowles starting at free safety. He’s someone that players can relate to today’s NFL players because he’s already “been there and done that” as a player, and not just as a coach like Morris was. The sight of his Super Bowl players ring might bring some extra motivation to a Buccaneers team that desperately needs it.
Bowles also had a short stint in the talent evaluation department. After his playing career ended, Bowles took a job in the player personnel department for the Green Bay Packers in 1995. This is an interesting part of his resume. It would be extremely beneficial to have a head coach that understands how the front office aspect of the job works from the minute he steps in his office. His player evaluation skills would be a nice complement to his coaching expertise.
Bowles, 48, has spent the last four seasons with the Miami Dolphins as the defensive backs coach and the assistant head coach. He is being credited for the successful development of Miami’s impressive young secondary. Bowles helped cornerbacks Vontae Davis and Sean Smith adjust to the NFL after being drafted in the first and second round in 2009. They have proven to be one of the best and most underrated young cornerback tandems in the league. He also assisted safety Yeremiah Bell during his Pro Bowl season in 2010.
Bowles was named the interim head coach after Miami fired Sparano with just three games left to play in the 2011 season. He led the Dolphins to a 2-1 record, which included wins over the New York Jets and the Buffalo Bills. The Dolphins also played a good game against the New England Patriots with Bowles at the helm. The Fins almost came away with the win, but in the end lost the game by a final score of 27-24.
When Bowles gives a post-game press conference, he is soft-spoken, humble, and gives credit where credit is due. But according to Dolphins safety Yeremiah Bell, Bowles is a no-nonsense coach on the football field.
“He’s soft-spoken, but if he needs to get in your face, believe me, he’ll get in your face,” Bell said. “There is another side. He’s not that quiet guy people make him out to be.”
Veteran defensive back Will Allen had similar things to say about the Dolphins interim head coach.
“He’s not afraid to call you out,” Allen said. “If you’re doing something wrong you'll hear about it first hand. He’s not going to pull you to the side. Everyone in the room is going to hear him do it.”
Bowles would bring a fresh, new attitude to the Buccaneers locker room. The players will relate to him because of his playing experience, but they also will respect his “no-nonsense” philosophy.
Based on his experience and personality, Bowles is a good, realistic candidate to be the next head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
DELLARATTA’S PICK FOR OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR: TOM CLEMENTS
The Buccaneers need an offensive coordinator that will continue the development of quarterback Josh Freeman. That coach should be Green Bay Packers quarterbacks coach Tom Clements.
The Green Bay Packers have had amazing success on the offensive side of the ball during Clements’ tenure as the team’s quarterbacks coach. The Packers have become one of the best passing offenses in the NFL, led by their stud quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The Packers quarterback has developed into arguably the best passer in the league, and that is large in part due to the coaching of Clements, who was also the quarterbacks coach for legend Brett Favre from 2006-07.
Favre threw for more than 4000 yards in 2007 and Rodgers threw for more than 4000 yards in 2008. This was the first time in NFL history that a team had back-to-back 4,000-yard passers were different quarterbacks. All of this happened with Clements as the quarterbacks coach.
Last year, Rodgers and Clements both captured a Super Bowl ring after defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers. Clements’ ring would be yet another ring that would be worn around One Buc Place by a coach that would make an impression on this young football team. At this point, Bowles, Spagnuolo, and Clements would all bring Super Bowl experience to a Buccaneers locker room that needs a winning mentality.
In addition to assisting in the development of Rodgers, Clements looks like he sprinkled some of his magic on Packers’ backup quarterback Matt Flynn.
Flynn was able to start against the Detroit Lions in week 17 this season, as the team wanted to rest Rodgers for the playoffs. The former LSU quarterback ended up throwing for a team-record 480 yards and six touchdowns against Detroit. It might be hard to wrap your head around it but Flynn threw for more yards in a single game than Rodgers, Favre, or Bart Starr ever did. This impressive performance happened with Clements as the quarterbacks coach.
Clements also spent two years as the offensive coordinator of the Buffalo Bills. From 2004-05, he was given the reigns of the Buffalo offense, which featured the talented Willis McGahee at running back. In 2005, quarterback Kelly Holcomb broke the Bills’ all-time completion percentage record (63.7 percent) under Clements’ tutoring.
In total, Clements’ has 19 years of coaching experience. He has had the chance to coach quarterbacks under coaches such as Bill Cowher, Lou Holtz, Mike Ditka, and Mike McCarthy. Clements also played 12 years in the CFL as a quarterback, where he went on to capture two Grey Cup championships. He was inducted into the CFL Hall of Fame in 1994.
I think Clements would be the ideal offensive coordinator candidate for the Buccaneers based on his track record of developing quarterbacks, his 19 years of coaching experience, and his 12 years of playing experience.
DELLARATTA’S PICK FOR DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR: STEVE SPAGNUOLO
The last major coaching vacancy to fill is the position of defensive coordinator. Since Bowles has never been a defensive coordinator at the NFL level, the right move would be to sign a proven defensive coordinator. With that being said, the Buccaneers should pursue former Rams head coach and former Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.
Spagnuolo would be a premium defensive coordinator option and might be more expensive than other options on the market. But with Bowles coming to Tampa Bay at an affordable price, the Bucs can use the money they saved on Bowles in order to lure Spagnuolo to One Buccaneer Place. Although it is probably an unrealistic option, it would be the best move for the Bucs to make.
The former St. Louis head coach uses a 4-3 base defense, which is what the Buccaneers will most likely be implementing next season based on their current roster. His scheme has a heavy emphasis on blitzing, and features many exotic blitzes that involve safeties and cornerbacks. It will be a fresh defense to present to the current Buccaneers roster, which desperately needs some change.
He helped construct and lead the 2007-08 New York Giant defenses, including the defense that took down the undefeated New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. If hired, the Buccaneers would have two coaches at high-level positions that would sport a Super Bowl ring around One Buc Place.
Spagnuolo has been especially good at getting the most out of defensive lineman. During his career as an NFL coach, he has worked with players such as Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck, Chris Long, and Michael Strahan. He has also worked with well-known coaches such as Ron Rivera, Andy Reid, Tom Coughlin, and Pat Shurmur. It is clear that Spagnuolo meets the criteria as far as experience is concerned.
Spagnuolo has coached many different positions over the course of his career in football. Some of these include defensive backs coach, defensive quality control coach, defensive line coach, linebackers coach, and even special teams coach. His experience in positions that cover the entire football field would be extremely beneficial to the success of the Tampa Bay defense. The Buccaneers could also make Spagnuolo the assistant head coach in addition to his defensive coordinator duties.
Spagnuolo is a well-rounded coach that would be a perfect hire to fill the Buccaneers’ vacant defensive coordinator spot.
THE REST OF THE PEWTER REPORT GREAT DEBATE:
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