Saturday, January 21, 2023

Bucs could hire Super Bowl-winning coach to replace Byron Leftwich, Bucs Insider says

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With Byron Leftwich’s departure, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers could make Super Bowl-winning coach Frank Reich their next offensive coordinator.

Reich had that role when the Philadelphia Eagles defeated a New England Patriots squad led by Tom Brady in the 2018 Super Bowl. Pewter Report’s Scott Reynolds, who broke the news of the Bucs’ plans to fire Leftwich, pitched Reich as a possibility for the Bucs.

A former quarterback, Reich has enjoyed success as an NFL assistant coach with the Indianapolis Colts since 2008 and had brief stints with three other teams, including the Eagles. Notably, Reich served as quarterbacks coach for the Colts when Peyton Manning led the team to a Super Bowl victory in the 2010 season.

While Reich’s tenure as head coach with the Colts this season ended in November 2022, Reich would bring the Bucs a championship pedigree and previous success with quarterbacks. Reich had a winning record in two of his first three seasons, and the only losing season came when Andrew Luck suddenly retired in 2019. All of Reich’s teams averaged more than 20 points per game in his first three seasons.

Tampa Bay rallied just 18.4 points per game, down from 11.7 points per game from 2021. Reich as offensive coordinator had his teams average 20 points per game in Philadelphia in 2016-17 and San Diego in 2016-17, normally more 2014 to 2015.

The running game Bucs fought hard for the last places in all important categories. Reich trained a solid running attack in San Diego, averaging over 1,000 yards each season. The Eagles’ running game under Reich hit opposing teams for 1,800–2,100 yards per year, and the Eagles accumulated 25 rushing touchdowns in two seasons. None of these teams had an elite running back like Jonathan Taylor to run the ball.

Reich has also worked successfully with quarterbacks as an offensive coordinator or head coach. Philip Rivers threw for 4,200 or more yards and 29 or more touchdowns in two of three seasons with Reich. Luck had one of his best seasons under Reich in 2018 with 4,593 passing yards and 39 touchdowns. Carson Wentz emerged as the 2017 MVP candidate under Reich with 3,296 yards and 33 touchdowns. Nick Foles started the 2017 playoffs as Super Bowl MVP Wentz is out through injury.

With the Bucs, Reich could work with Brady for a season — if he stays and doesn’t retire. If not, Reich’s previous success with quarterbacks could help attract a viable starting quarterback to Tampa, assuming the Bucs can improve the roster overall in a tough salary-cap situation. The Bucs have $55 million over the salary cap to work around, according to Spotrac.

Reich’s end in Indianapolis could be a cause for concern after a 3-5-1 start, but the Colts arguably had a more chaotic situation than the Bucs in 2022.

The Colts went into the season with a fourth other quarterback in four years after the team shipped Wentz to Washington. Colts quarterback Matt Ryan couldn’t return to MVP form with the 2022 team given the slow start, and things never got better after Reich’s exit. The Colts (4-12-1) have won just one more game under interim coach Jeff Saturday and are averaging 17 points per game for the season.

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