The Bucs have been known as a defensive team for as long as most of us can remember. It appears that is going to change abruptly in 2016.
Last season, Tampa Bay finished 5th overall in total yards with an average of 375.9 yards per game which was the best in team history.
Most of the difference came on the back of a stellar rookie campaign by quarterback, Jameis Winston, who threw for 4,042 yards.
Even with just 22 touchdown passes for the season, Winston did plenty to justify a #1 overall pick and to solidify his position as the starter for the near future.
Another big boost came from Doug Martin who rushed for 1,402 yards, which was good enough for 2nd in the league behind Adrian Peterson.
Martin also contributed 271 yards on 33 receptions and finished with 7 total touchdowns.
In just his second season, Mike Evans managed to become the team’s top receiver as he hauled in 1,206 yards on 72 receptions.
His 3 touchdowns, were a disappointment after having 12 the year before but the team has to be encouraged by how high his ceiling can be as he continues to develop chemistry with Wilson.
Tight end Austin Seferian-Jackson is another player who failed to live up to expectations. He’s started only 16 games in two seasons as he’s battled through injuries. What should have fans excited is the fact that the 6’5″, 262 lbs monster target had 4 touchdowns on only 21 receptions last season.
However, the biggest boost to the Buccaneers hopes for 2016 came with the hiring of former offensive coordinator, Dirk Koetter as the team’s Head Coach.
In just his first year as OC for the Bucs, Koetter developed a strong relationship with Winston and gave the team’s its best offensive performance in 40 years of existence by raising their overall yards from 292 the year before.
There is talent and potential scattered all over this roster for a coach who has been successful at every level he has been at.
As a head coach in college, he took the Boise State Broncos and Arizona Sun Devils to 6 bowl games in 9 seasons.
Then he established a couple of potent offenses for the Jacksonville Jaguars and Atlanta Falcons as an offensive coordinator before bringing his skills to Tampa Bay.
The Buccaneers filled Koetter’s position with new offensive coordinator/ wide receiver coach Todd Monken.”I am very excited to add a coach with the type of experience and tenacity that Todd brings,” Koetter said.
“I have always been impressed with his approach to the game as well as his ability to teach concepts and get the best out of his players. During his more than 25-year coaching career, he has made a name for himself as a very successful offensive coordinator and head coach on the collegiate level. Todd also happens to be a terrific receivers coach with a proven track record of helping his players reach their true potential. We are fortunate to have him join our staff.”
Monken served as the wide receiver coach under Koetter in Jacksonville from 2007 – 2010 and the two developed a great relationship.
Now they will work together to develop this young offense as Koetter plans to continue to call plays and stay heavily involved in game planning.
Monken’s previous job was at Southern Mississippi where he took over as head coach in 2013.
The Golden Eagles who were 0-12 in 2012, had a massive turn around under Monken and finished last season with a record of 9-5 as they earned an appearance in the Heart of Texas Bowl after winning the Conference USA West division.
Under his leadership in 2015 Southern Miss finished the season ranked 13th in scoring offense (39.9 ppg), 12th in passing offense (329.7 ypg) and 12th in total offense (509.5 ypg).
The Golden Eagles led the nation in plays of 20+ yards (109) and ranked second in the country in plays of 30+ yards (54) to prove themselves as one of the most dynamic teams in college football.
Now he has a chance to bring that explosiveness to one of the most raw and talented offenses in the NFL.
This sheds a little bit of light on why it was a simple decision for the Buccaneers to strip themselves of the “defensive” tag and move on from Lovie Smith even after the team’s success in 2015.
It may seem a bit premature, but Buccaneers fans should be prepared to watch this unit take the league by storm in 2016.