Dirk Koetter anticipated keeping most of his offensive coaching staff intact, but changes have come quickly to the leadership on defense and special teams.
On Tuesday, four days after Koetter was introduced as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' new head coach, the team announced the hiring of four new assistants: Special Teams Coordinator Nate Kaczor, Defensive Line Coach Jay Hayes, Linebackers Coach Mark Duffner and Secondary Coach Jon Hoke. The latter three assistants will work under Mike Smith, who was named the Buccaneers' new defensive coordinator on Friday.
All four additions to the Buccaneers' new coaching staff have extensive NFL experience, and two of them – Kaczor and Duffner – have a previous connection with Koetter during his time with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Kaczor spent the last three seasons coordinating special teams for the Tennessee Titans after serving one season (2012) as the team's assistant offensive line coach. From 2008-11, Kaczor and Koetter were on the same Jaguars staff, the latter as the offensive coordinator and the former as the assistant special teams coach.
Prior to jumping to the NFL in '08, Kaczor had spent 17 years coaching on the collegiate level, with stops at Utah State (1991-99), Nebraska-Kearney (2000-03), Idaho (2004-05) and Louisiana-Monroe (2006). He tutored quarterbacks and tight ends during various times and was the offensive coordinator or co-coordinator at Nebraska-Kearney, Idaho and Louisiana-Monroe.
The Titans' specialists had some of their best seasons under Kaczor. Punter Brett Kern posted a career-best net punting average of 40.8 in 2014 while placekicker Ryan Succop set his own personal best this past year with an 87.5% success rate on field goals. Kern dropped 94 punts inside the 20 over the past three seasons, the third-highest total in the NFL over that span. Kaczor's special teams crews in Jacksonville were particularly strong on kick coverage. Over the span of his four seasons with the Jaguars, the team allowed the lowest punt return average (6.5 avg.) and the eighth-lowest kickoff return average (21.8 avg.) in the NFL. The Jags' Montrell Owens was a Pro Bowl selection as a special teams player under Kaczor's guidance in 2010 and 2011.
Hayes, who played defensive end in the short-lived USFL in the mid-'80s, has been coaching in the NFL since 1999, including the last 13 as a the defensive line coach for the Cincinnati Bengals. Hayes joined Marvin Lewis's initial staff in Cincinnati in 2003 after one year with the Minnesota Vikings and three with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He coached special teams in those first two NFL stops.
Hayes had 11 years of coaching experience at major colleges before joining the pro ranks, with stops at Notre Dame (1992-94), Cal (1995-98) and Wisconsin (1999-2001). His USFL playing days came with the Memphis Showboats and the Michigan Panthers.
The Bengals went to the playoffs each of the last five years and six of the last seven, with Hayes' crew playing a big role in the team's success. This past year, Cincinnati was the only team to boast two players in double-digit sacks, as Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins had 13.5 and 11.0, respectively. The Bengals also ranked seven in the NFL in rush defense in 2015. Hayes helped develop Atkins from a fourth-round pick in 2010 to one of the league's most dominant interior defenders, as Hayes won first-team All-Pro honors in 2012 and 2015 and Pro Bowl nods in 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2015.
Duffner is joining his fifth NFL team but he won't have to leave his home state of the last decade. He comes to the Bucs directly from the Miami Dolphins, where he was the linebackers coach for the past two seasons under Joe Philbin and Dan Campbell. Prior to that, he held the same position for eight seasons in Jacksonville (2006-13), overlapping with Koetter for five years. Duffner's first two NFL stops were in Cincinnati (1997-2002) and Green Bay (2003-05), also as the linebackers coach, though he added the title of defensive coordinator for his last two years in Cincinnati under Dick LeBeau.
Duffner began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Ohio State in 1975 and moved quickly up the ranks. He was the defensive coordinator at the University of Cincinnati by 1977, a position he held for four years before moving on to the same job at Holy Cross in 1981. In 1986, he was elevated to head coach at Holy Cross, beginning an extremely successful six-year run at the helm. His Crusaders went 60-5-1 under his guidance and won five Patriot League titles. That led to the head coaching position at Maryland, which he held from 1992-96.
During Duffner's two seasons with the Dolphins, he helped Jelani Jenkins evolve from a special teams player to the team's leading tackler in 2014, as Jenkins was one of only three players in the NFL that year to record 100+ tackles, 3.5-or-more sacks and two-or-more forced fumbles. Duffner also coached Paul Posluszny to a Pro Bowl selections with the Jaguars in 2013 and was instrumental in the development of standout linebacker Nick Barnett while with the Packers.
Hoke is familiar with the Bucs' home state, as well, having coached at the University of Florida from 1999-2001. That run capped two decades of coaching on the collegiate level before he moved on to the NFL in 2002 with the expansion Houston Texans. The assistant head coach and defensive coordinator for the Gators during his last two years, Hoke joined Dom Capers' initial staff in Houston as the defensive backs coach. He stayed on in that capacity when the Texans replaced Capers with Gary Kubiak in 2006, remaining in Houston through 2008. He then joined the Chicago Bears in 2009 as the defensive backs coach under former Buccaneers Head Coach Lovie Smith. Hoke stayed in Chicago through 2014, then spent last year as the co-defensive coordinator at the University of South Carolina.
During his six years with the Bears, Hoke helped the defense rank fourth in the league in cumulative interceptions (111) and first in picks returned for touchdowns (20). Cornerbacks Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman earned a combined for Pro Bowl berths in that span; in fact, in 2012 Jennings and Tillman became the first pair of cornerback teammates to start a Pro Bowl together since 1998.