Possible candidates to replace Byron Leftwich as Bucs offensive coordinator

Based on the Bucs’ feeble 2022 production, whoever succeeds Byron Leftwich as offensive coordinator will be attempting to clear a pretty low bar.

Albeit with equally low job security.

Suddenly, this gig isn’t exactly glamorous. As it stands, Kyle Trask — who has nine attempts in one career NFL appearance — is the only quarterback under contract, and Todd Bowles will enter his second season coaching for his job.

Barring a return of Tom Brady or a bonanza in the draft or free agency (all long shots), Leftwich’s successor has a dicey, daunting task ahead. Here are a few candidates Bowles and general manager Jason Licht might be considering:

Bill O’Brien, Alabama offensive coordinator

Before being hired as Alabama’s offensive coordinator in 2021, Bill O’Brien spent the previous seven seasons as Houston Texans coach. [ DAVID J. PHILLIP | Associated Press ]

Could the hiring of Brady’s former coordinator in New England (2007-2011) convince the 45-year-old to give it one more go in Tampa? It’s all enticing, but it’s all speculation, too. O’Brien also could land his old gig with Bill Belichick, and he reportedly interviewed with the Patriots. Bear in mind that O’Brien, whom the Bucs contacted last year when Leftwich appeared destined for Jacksonville, also worked with Licht in New England.

Todd Monken, Georgia offensive coordinator

Todd Monken, who served as the Bucs' offensive coordinator in the Dirk Koetter era (2016-2018), has worked in the same role the last three seasons at the University of Georgia, winner of back-to-back national titles.
Todd Monken, who served as the Bucs’ offensive coordinator in the Dirk Koetter era (2016-2018), has worked in the same role the last three seasons at the University of Georgia, winner of back-to-back national titles. [ HYOSUB SHIN / AJC | The Atlanta Journal-Constitution ]

In his initial stint as Bucs offensive coordinator (2016-18) Monken performed so efficiently that Dirk Koetter gave up play-calling duties in 2018 and handed them off to this college/NFL journeyman. That year, the Bucs set a franchise record with 48 points in the first NFL game Monken ever called and finished the year with 396 points and 6,648 yards — also team records at the time. Thing is, Monken’s got it so good with the back-to-back national champions, would he consider walking away for what could conceivably be a one-and-done gig?

Frank Reich, former Colts head coach

Frank Reich was dismissed in midseason after nearly a half-decade as Colts head coach.
Frank Reich was dismissed in midseason after nearly a half-decade as Colts head coach. [ GREG M. COOPER | AP ]

It’s hardly Reich’s fault that Indianapolis has had a laughable carousel of quarterbacks since Andrew Luck’s retirement. Granted, the Matt Ryan experiment in 2022 flopped, and Reich’s decision to replace Ryan with second-year newbie Sam Ehlinger was baffling. But he served as coordinator of the Eagles’ Super Bowl title team (2017), and oversaw top-10 offenses with the Colts in 2018 and 2020. Reich’s experience as an NFL quarterback and his unflappable demeanor may ideally suit a green quarterback, which the Bucs just might have.

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Greg Roman, former Ravens offensive coordinator

Greg Roman resigned as Ravens offensive coordinator after four seasons, during which Baltimore established a number of NFL records for a rushing offense.
Greg Roman resigned as Ravens offensive coordinator after four seasons, during which Baltimore established a number of NFL records for a rushing offense. [ TERRANCE WILLIAMS | AP ]

If the Bucs want to get their running game back on track, Roman, 50, seems as solid a candidate as anyone. Before resigning amid fan unrest on Thursday, Roman oversaw an offense that established NFL records for rushing yards in a season (3,216 in 2019), average time of possession (34:47 in 2019) and consecutive 100-yard rushing games (43 from 2019 -2021). Granted, Lamar Jackson’s footprints were all over those records, but a handful of tailbacks (such as Mark Ingram, Gus Edwards, JK Dobbins) flourished on Roman’s watch. Problem was, Roman struggled to devise a respectable passing attack to complement the run — the polar opposite of Leftwich’s problem.

Chan Gailey, retired college/NFL coach

Longtime college/NFL coach Chan Gailey, who served as Todd Bowles' offensive coordinator for two seasons with the Jets, retired after one season as Dolphins coordinator in 2020.
Longtime college/NFL coach Chan Gailey, who served as Todd Bowles’ offensive coordinator for two seasons with the Jets, retired after one season as Dolphins coordinator in 2020. [ PHELAN M. EBENHACK | AP ]

Total spitball here, but Gailey, 71, was Bowles’ coordinator in New York in 2015, when the Jets finished 10-6 behind journeyman quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. A Gators quarterback in a previous life (1971-1973), Gailey worked in the NFL as recently as 2020, where he lasted only one season as Dolphins coordinator.

Thad Lewis, Bucs assistant receivers coach

Thad Lewis, a former record-setting quarterback at Duke, has spent the last three seasons on the Bucs staff.
Thad Lewis, a former record-setting quarterback at Duke, has spent the last three seasons on the Bucs staff. [ KYLE ZEDAKER | Tampa Bay Buccaneers ]

While a number of Bruce Arians holdovers were let go in Thursday’s purge, Lewis wasn’t among them — for good reason. Both Arians and Bowles thinks highly of this 35-year-old former Duke quarterback, who joined the team as a coaching intern in 2020. Before that, Lewis had a vagabond NFL career, with nine different clubs. Probably a long shot, but not a name to dismiss either.

Contact Joey Knight at jknight@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.

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