FAB 2. Monken Needs To Continue To Call Plays
Dirk Koetter made a stunning admission in January of 2017 after he completed his first season as Tampa Bay’s head coach, going 9-7 and narrowly missing out on the playoffs. He was considering giving up the play-calling duties.
Part of the reason Koetter had been hired to replace Lovie Smith was because of the work he did as the Bucs’ offensive coordinator and play-caller during the 2015 season when the team had a top 5 offense and rookie quarterback Jameis Winston and running back Doug Martin wound up in the Pro Bowl. Leading the team, calling plays and being an effective game manager was a difficult challenge, and Koetter recognized it.
After careful consideration, Koetter remained the play-caller during the 2017 season, only to see the Bucs’ red zone woes continue en route to a disappointing 5-11 record in a season filled with high expectations coming off HBO’s Hard Knocks. But this year, Koetter surprised everyone when he put offensive coordinator Todd Monken in charge of calling the plays during the preseason.
— PewterReport (@PewterReport) August 10, 2018
That’s a role Monken needs to continue in during the regular season.
Koetter has enjoyed watching the game from a different perspective as a head coach during the preseason and being able to watch each play unfold as it happens rather than always being one play ahead in your mind as a play-caller. Monken has done a fantastic job with the offense in the preseason.
Tampa Bay is averaging 387 yards per game, which is the second-most in the NFL, and more importantly 28.6 points per game through three preseason contests, which is also second-most in the league. Red zone scoring is in the Top 10.
With the starters playing in the first half, the Bucs have outscored their opponents 46-23, while converting 42.9 percent of their third down conversions (18-of-42) and 100 percent of the team’s fourth down conversions (2-of-2).
Tampa Bay’s top three quarterbacks completed 69.2 percent of their passes in the preseason for 938 yards with six touchdowns and no interceptions through the first three preseason games. The team leads the NFL in passing yards per game in the preseason with 315.
The Bucs scored touchdowns on two of their first possessions in the three preseason contests with running back Peyton Barber doing the honors. Barber has averaged 5.8 yards per carry on 15 totes in August.
Why would the Bucs want to go way from what is working?
I know calling the plays is the fun part of being a competitive coach on Sundays, and I’m sure there is a part of it Koetter misses. But Koetter opens the 2018 season on the hot seat. He can’t afford another losing season or he could meet the same fate as the team’s two previous head coaches – Greg Schiano and Smith – who were both fired by the Glazers after back-to-back losing seasons.
The thing is, if Koetter lets Monken call plays during the regular season the head coach gets all the credit for making that strategic move. And if at any point in the season Monken struggles, Koetter reserves the right to take over the play-calling duties once again.
“I’ve said it plenty of times and I mean it – I’m a better coach when I’m around Coach Koetter, as an offensive coach, I’m a better coach,” Monken said. “From his detail, organization, allowing you to grow – so that part of it’s one of the big reason was because, not because of our relationship. I have relationships with a lot coaches but that doesn’t mean I want to coach for them or believe in everything that they’re teaching. But there’s a lot of what I believe in that he believes in, so, that was a big part of me coming.
“So it doesn’t matter who is calling it, we all could have the same sheet and we’d be calling a little bit different. What we emphasize, when we do what we do, when we call it. It’s a hell of a lot more fun when it works and it’s not any fun when it doesn’t work. At this point, we’ve done fine, we’ve moved it and made some plays, to me that’s fine.”
Koetter needs to realize the jeopardy he would put himself in if he took over the play-calling duties in Week 1 and the offense sputtered, scoring seven or 10 points at New Orleans in a losing effort. He would come under serious criticism from the media and the fans for rocking the boat and messing with something that was working.
It makes sense for Koetter to let Monken continue on in the role of play-caller for the Saints game and see how the team fares. So far Koetter has made all the right moves when it comes to Tampa Bay’s offense, and Monken has pretty much made all the right plays calls thus far.