The Jets have asked the Buccaneers for permission to interview Todd Monken for the head coaching position. Monken currently serves as the Bucs’ offensive coordinator, but appears to be in line for a head coaching job this offseason. What does he bring to the table?
Head Coaching Experience
Monken served as the head coach of Southern Mississippi from 2013-2015. He inherited a team that came off a 0-12 season, and in three years turned it into a winning program. He took a team that was averaging 19.7 PPG, which ranked 112th in the country, and built it into an offensive powerhouse that averaged 39.9 PPG, which ranked 13th in the country.
Many of his 2015 players turned into NFL-caliber talents. His starting QB in 2015 was Nick Mullens, who has been the 49ers replacement for Jimmy Garrapolo over the second half of the season. He also produced two NFL running backs, Jalen Richard and Ito Smith. Both Richard and Smith have played important roles in their teams’ offenses.
A Pass-First Mentality
Monken’s success at the collegiate level earned him an offensive coordinator gig for the Bucs. The Bucs had a very successful year offensively with Monken calling plays. The Bucs ranked third in total offensive yards with 6,648, behind only the Chiefs and the Rams. They were also top three in yards/play, passing touchdowns, and they led the NFL in passinf first downs.
He ran the top passing offense in football with quarterbacks were Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jameis Winston. His receiving core was excellent, which included Mike Evans, Desean Jackson and O.J. Howard, but to have that much success with mediocrity at the quarterback position is impressive.
Monken failed to create a successful running game in his three years with the Bucs. Since 2016 the Bucs have only averaged 3.91 yards/carry, which ranks 31st in the NFL. The only other teams to average less than four yards/carry over that span are the Cardinals, Jets, and Eagles.
Granted, his offensive line and his running backs were never great. But several teams and coordinators have done better in worse scenarios. Having an abysmal rushing attack with a young quarterback behind a shaky offensive line is a disaster waiting to happen.
Absence of Fear
Have you ever heard the saying “Play to win, don’t play to not lose”? Well, Todd Bowles didn’t. Bowles and Jeremy Bates consistently took the conservative route in late game and third down scenarios. Todd Monken would be a different story.
Monken goes by a three-word principle: absence of fear.
The Bucs lit up the field with aggressive and creative plays on offense. They were second in the NFL in pass plays that gained at least 20 yards, trailing only the Chiefs (and let’s be real, who was ever gonna top that Chiefs offense?). His big play mentality seems fitting for a team who lacks excitement on the offensive side of the ball. The Jets need to find the right guy to utilize Robby Anderson and Quincy Enunwa, and Monken could be the guy to do it.
Former Jet and current Buccaneers QB Ryan Fitzpatrick spoke to the NYDN regarding Monken, and he had some strong words: “As a quarterback, you have an absence of fear. It’s great being able to play with that type of confidence and know that if you make one mistake, we’re not going to shrivel up and run the ball the next 15 times and throw a screen on third down. To be able to play with an absence of fear as a player, not just a quarterback, but as an offense is so important. The way the NFL is going right now with everybody lighting up the scoreboard and trying to keep up with some of these teams, I think to have an offensive mind like that is very important.”
Todd Monken is an aggressive offensive mind the Jets desperately need. Sam Darnold needs a play caller who has faith in his guys to make plays. The Jets would be silly to not seriously consider Monken for the head coaching position.