Former Cowboys OC Kellen Moore joins list of young Bucs candidates

As the Buccaneers try to get their offense back to regularly scoring in the 30s, their search for a new offensive coordinator has focused primarily on up-and-coming offensive minds still in their 30s.

Former Bucs and current Georgia offensive coordinator Todd Monken, 56, is still very much a candidate and is expected to interview this week, and the team has already interviewed former Tampa Bay wide receiver Keenan McCardell, now 53 and the Vikings’ receivers coach.

But as the Bucs’ search for a replacement for Byron Leftwich continues, we can look at five young assistants (four have been interviewed, one likely this week) who could follow the NFL’s trend of teams relying on coaches Offensives under 40 in important roles. . Prime examples of this trend include current head coaches Sean McVay, Kevin O’Connell, Mike McDaniel and Zac Taylor, among others.

It’s worth noting that Bucs head coach Todd Bowles hasn’t worked directly with any of those candidates, suggesting a willingness to hire someone from outside his immediate circle. The new coordinator will likely have a significant impact on the hiring of three vacancies on the offensive staff, for the new assistants to work with the quarterbacks, running backs and receivers. The Bucs had made Bowles the highest-paid defensive coordinator in the NFL under former coach Bruce Arians, so it stands to reason that they would be willing to pay handsomely for the coordinator on the opposite side of the ball.

There are 10 NFL teams with offensive coordinator openings, creating a competitive environment and urgency over the next week or two, especially as new head coaches are hired and can fill out their own staffs with assistants. These are the five young coaches linked to the Bucs vacancy:

Kellen Moore, 34 years old

The Cowboys parted ways with Moore on Sunday after four years as offensive coordinator despite Dallas finishing sixth or better in scoring three times. During Moore’s four years, only the Chiefs scored more points and gained more yards, with the Bucs (with Leftwich) third in both stats. Moore has had the best talent to work with, and the Bucs saw what he can do firsthand in their wild-card playoff loss, as Dallas piled up 425 yards in a 31-14 loss that saw the quarterback Dak Prescott got one of the highest. quarterback rankings in postseason history.

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That same offense was held in check by the 49ers in a 19-12 loss in the divisional round, but Dallas has gone 12-5 in each of the last two seasons with Moore calling the plays, so he’ll be coveted among many around the league. . coordinator vacancies and is reportedly already in contact with the Chargers.

Klint Kubiak, 35 years old

Last season was a disappointing one for Kubiak as the Broncos’ passing game coordinator under the firing of first-year head coach Nathaniel Hackett. But Kubiak’s three years in Minnesota, first as quarterbacks coach under his father, Gary, and then as offensive coordinator in 2021, were very productive. Consider Kirk Cousins’ numbers in three seasons working with Klint: 26 touchdowns against six interceptions as a Pro Bowl selection on a playoff team in 2019, 35 touchdowns against 13 interceptions in 2020, then 33 touchdowns against seven interceptions in another Pro Bowl season in 2021 The Vikings averaged at least 25 points per game in all three seasons.

Kubiak also has a history with one of the Bucs’ key players: He overlapped two years with wide receiver Mike Evans at Texas A&M in 2011-12, first as the offensive quality control coach and then as a graduate assistant.

Jim Bob Cooter, 38 years old

Like Kubiak, Cooter is a former coordinator who played a minor role last season, but his was a positive turn as the passing game coordinator with the Jaguars as they won the AFC South title and a playoff game in an impressive turnaround season behind the quarterback. Trevor Lawrence. Cooter was the Lions’ offensive coordinator from 2016 to 2018, working with Matthew Stafford on an offense that ranked seventh in scoring in 2017.

Cooter is a former Tennessee quarterback who worked in low-level roles with Peyton Manning in stops with the Colts (2009-10) and Broncos (2013). His time in Indianapolis overlapped with Tom Moore, who is still coaching at age 84 and is a trusted adviser to Bowles and Bruce Arians.

Dan Pitcher, 36 years old

With the Bengals missing a second consecutive Super Bowl appearance, there is interest in Pitcher, who has been Cincinnati’s quarterbacks coach for all three seasons under Joe Burrow. Pitcher interviewed with the Bucs last week and was able to secure a new contract with Cincinnati, which will make it harder to lure him, but not impossible. Pitcher is a former small-school quarterback (SUNY-Cortland) who came out as a scout with the Colts and has been with the Bengals since 2016. Cincinnati’s offense has ranked seventh in scoring in each of last two seasons

Shea Tierney, 36

Another up-and-comer who was never a player, Tierney was the Giants’ quarterbacks coach in 2022 as Daniel Jones led the team to a playoff berth and a wild-card upset of the Vikings. He followed Brian Daboll from Buffalo, where he spent four years, first as an offensive assistant and then in 2020 and 2021 as an assistant quarterbacks coach, working closely with Josh Allen. Tierney also worked with Nick Saban at Alabama in 2016 and 2017 as part of two national championship teams.

Greg Auman is the NFC South reporter for FOX Sports, covering the Buccaneers, Falcons, Panthers and Saints. He is in his 10th season covering the Bucs and the NFL full-time, having spent time at the Tampa Bay Times and The Athletic. You can follow him on Twitter at @gregauman.

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