After shocking the NFL in week one, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are looking to make a statement in week two that it wasn’t just a fluke; that the Bucs are back and finally going to live up to all that hype from last year. But within Buccaneers’ fandom, the conversations are a bit different. They range from the overly optimistic to obnoxiously cynical.
Perhaps the biggest conversation happening in the fandom right now, is the fact that Head Coach Dirk Koetter has ceded play calling to Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken. And after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hung 41 offensive points on the Saints this last week, it seems to be a decision.
As we’ve discussed this issue on this weeks The PewterCast, a Tampa Bay Fan Podcast, there are a couple of things I’d like to point out.
Giving Todd Monken the Play Calling Duties is Working Out Really Well.
For a solid year, it seemed as if all we heard about was the predictable, vanilla, predictable, uninspired, predictable play calling of Dirk Koetter. To be honest, I never really had a major problem with the plays Coach Koetter was calling seeing as how I’m not on headset; so I don’t really know which play was called, which one was changed at the line, which one broke down, which one was poorly executed, or which one was just a bad call.
It also seemed to me that a main talking point of the TV broadcasters across the NFL was to question the play call, not just for the Bucs, but for everyone. So the problem never seemed entirely local to Tampa to me.
That said, promoting Todd Monken to full time offensive coordinator and handing off the play calling duties seems to be working out well for everyone involved. W The players seemed to be enjoying their day a lot more. Its been nice to see Head Coach Dirk Koetter not bogged down only really thinking about the next offensive play.
From the way everyone I have heard talk about this situation, you’d think Koetter threw Monken the playbook and said, “You figure it out”.
That’s simply not the case.
As great as it is for Monken to be calling the plays, remember, he isn’t doing it in a vacuum. Until it was confirmed (by either the television broadcast or the QB Sneak by Fitzpatrick), most people, myself included, saw Koetter with the play sheet and assumed he was still the one calling the plays.
It just wasn’t true.
It is true that Monken may be the one picking the final play and calling it over the headset, but Koetter is still very much in the mix of crafting the game plan and deciding with Monken which play comes next. However, it’s working now, if week one, plus a four week trial run through the preseason, is any indication, this situation is working out well for everyone involved.
The Biggest Difference from Last Season to this Season is not the Play Calling, it’s the Execution!
Don’t shoot me, I already said that shifting the play calling duties to Monken was a great idea and should be carried forward, but I will still maintain that execution, not play calling, is making the biggest impact.
While fans continue to fixate on who’s calling plays, if you watched, and listened to what both the players and the coaches have been saying, it’s mostly been the players not executing.
It’s running backs losing yards instead of gaining them. It’s linemen not blocking well. It’s receivers being out of position. It’s a quarterback not putting the ball where it’s supposed to be.
The truth of the matter is that it doesn’t matter what play is being called, player must execute.
This year, we’re seeing a running back who’s gaining positive yardage even it’s only in four yard chunks. The receivers being where they are supposed to be in their routes. It’s the offensive line being enforcers in the trenches, and most importantly, it’s the quarterbacks putting the ball where it’s supposed to be. (Please note I said “quarterbacks.” I know we’ve only seen Fitzpatrick in a game so far this year, but Jameis Winston and Ryan Griffin for that matter, were spot on all through the preseason.)
In short, the team is executing the plays called better, which allows the play caller the freedom to try some more creative stuff.