Lovie Smith said that the Buccaneers coaches had to coach better in 2015 than they did this past year in order to improve on the team’s 2-14 record, but that’s not to say that there weren’t some assistants that did a good job. In PewterReport.com’s estimation, one Tampa Bay assistant coach stood out among all others and deserves to be recognized for his accomplishment.
This award was voted on by the PewterReport.com editorial staff. Tomorrow will feature PewterReport.com’s 2014 Pewter Performances. Stay tuned to PewterReport.com through the weekend.
An asterisk (*) indicates the first year the award was presented.
2014 BUCCANEERS ASSISTANT COACH OF THE YEAR Linebackers Coach Hardy Nickerson
Nickerson barely edged out defensive line coaches Joe Cullen and Mike Phair for PewterReport.com’s 2014 Buccaneers Assistant Coach of the Year honors. While Cullen and Phair were able to help Tampa Bay defensive tackle Gerald McCoy make his third straight Pro Bowl, develop unheralded defensive end Jacquies Smith into an edge pass rusher, and had to deal with a rash of injuries along the defensive line, Nickerson had to deal with similar challenges with the Bucs linebackers.
Despite missing two games with a hamstring injury, Lavonte David finished second in the NFL with 146 tackles, which broke his career high of 145 from a year ago. David, a Pro Bowl alternate, also had a team-high 19 tackles for loss and lead the Bucs with four forced fumbles and had a fumble recovery and a sack.
But what really earned Nickerson the award was his development of linebacker Danny Lansanah, who beat out Jonathan Casillas for the starting strongside position at the start of the season, and then was called on to fill in at both middle linebacker and weakside linebacker when Mason Foster and David missed games due to injury. Lansanah had a career-high 81 tackles, which ranked second on the team, in addition to nine tackles for loss, eight pass breakups, three interceptions, including two for touchdowns and 1.5 sacks.
Nickerson, a legendary linebacker in Tampa Bay from 1993-99, also spent his first season in Tampa Bay developing reserve linebackers Dane Fletcher (39 tackles, half sack) Orie Lemon (23 tackles and four tackles for loss) and newcomer Jason Williams (seven tackles) in 2014. A total of six different linebackers started at the linebacker position, with a total of eight different linebackers seeing playing time on defense due to injury, which meant Nickerson had his hands full when it came to coaching the unit.
“He’s a great coach,” Foster said. “When he played he was a great player and he knew what it took to get different guys going and get their mind right for the game. We had a good unit and a lot of guys got better throughout the year and progressed as the year went on. It was a tribute to Coach Hardy. I’m excited to see where this defense is going to go and how the linebackers are going to continue to progress and play at a high level under his leadership.”
2013 STs Dave Wannstedt
2012 WRs P.J. Fleck
2011 STs Dwayne Stukes
2010 OC Greg Olson
2009 STs Rich Bisaccia
2008 STs Rich Bisaccia
2007 DBs Raheem Morris
2006 STs Rich Bisaccia
2005 QBs Paul Hackett
2004 WRs Richard Mann and DL Rod Marinelli
2003 DBs Mike Tomlin
2002 DC Monte Kiffin
2001 DC Monte Kiffin
2000 DL Rod Marinelli
1999 DC Monte Kiffin
1998 DBs Herm Edwards and DC Monte Kiffin
1997 DL Rod Marinelli
1996* STs Joe Marciano
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
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