Pro Bowl G Davin Joseph believes the Bucs have the type of dedicated players who will work hard to absorb a new offensive system
The two new coordinators on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' coaching staff – Jim Bates on defense and Jeff Jagodzinski on offense – will get their first chance to interact with the local media this week and introduce themselves, and their football philosophies, to their new fans.
However, Jagodzinski and Bates may have already faced the toughest interviews they will encounter in Tampa. During the hiring process, energetic new Head Coach Raheem Morris picked the brains of the Bucs' two eventual selections and emerged with a sense of excitement and the belief that some fresh ideas will be circulating on both sides of the ball.
"You always let a guy tell you what he believes, and see if it matches you," Morris said of his interviewing style. "It's just my way of doing it. It's not right; it's not wrong, but you want to see their philosophies and what they believe in. If you give a guy a chance to do what he can do, and he believes in it, he'll do it to the best of his ability. So I'm going to give them a chance to do that."
As new General Manager Mark Dominik explained after Bates' hire, some traits shared by Morris and Bates – namely high levels of intensity and energy – should result in an outstanding relationship between the two and hopefully produce results on the field. Morris agrees.
"His energy, his passion, his knowledge, his history, his background, everything about him," said Morris, listing some of the things he appreciates about Bates. "He was a perfect mix with me. He brings an energy; I bring an energy. It's a little bit different, a different swagger, but it is what it is. I love it."
Morris was also quick to point out that as similar as he and Bates may be in certain respects, the differences between the two – and any new ideas Bates can bring with him – are going to be crucial to the Bucs' success on the defensive side of the ball.
"If you know Jim at all, you know [his system] is not that different," Morris said. "But his tweaks will be definitely added, because it's got to be him. It's got to be his character. You can't ask a guy to duplicate another guy. You have to let a guy go out and do what he does best.
"You've got to hire people with great ability and let them do what they do. If he chooses to use some of the things we've done in the past, we will. A lot of that stuff was really good. But he has some good stuff coming from his place, too. If you go down to Miami and talk to those guys, they'd be pretty fired up about having Jim Bates. He has a lot of similar techniques, a lot of similar systems, and he's just an overall great coach that I was fired up to get. He brings a certain amount of 'juice' to our staff; he brings energy and excitement."
As for the offensive side of the ball, Jagodzinski also comes to Tampa with a wealth of experience and a resume full of success at both the collegiate and professional levels.
When Bates and Jagodzinski make their tweaks on their respective sides of the ball, it will mark the first substantive changes to the Bucs' systems in seven years. But, according to guard Davin Joseph, whatever offensive scheme the Bucs end up going with and whatever new wrinkles that come along with it, mastering a new playbook won't be an issue.
"There are a lot of unanswered questions, but we have a lot of guys that can adapt," Joseph said. "We have a young offensive line, I believe a talented offensive line that is going to get better this offseason. We're going to commit ourselves. We have a great running back coming back in Earnest Graham, some really talented tight ends, and hopefully all of those guys will be back, and one receiver [Antonio Bryant] that really made a name for himself. So we have all the makings to really run any style of offense that you would want to throw at us. Maybe [we'll make] a couple additions here and there, but the core is there to really let this offense flourish."
Jagodzinski has been a part of some outstanding offenses in both the NFL and NCAA ranks throughout his career, and even if it means some additional hours of offseason homework, Joseph said he's excited to see what his new coach can bring to the table in Tampa.
"I've never been through [a change in systems], but we have some guys with some experience," Joseph said. "It's all about committing yourself in the offseason. We have a lot of time, from March all the way through training camp to the first game. We have a lot of time, it's just all about how committed the guys are. Having previous experience with the same group, we should be fine. Everybody's going to be there every day and we're going to put in the extra time if necessary.
"I think there's a lot of anxiety. We're really waiting for that first meeting where the team gets back and everyone can sit there and talk and really see what direction he wants to go with everything and all the coaches they've hired. There's a lot of anxiety, I guess you could say."
Bucs fans will get their first introduction to the team's new coordinators this week and will get some information regarding individual strategies and styles, but Morris and his new coaches already have the gears turning behind the scenes in preparation for the 2009 season.
"The plan is set," Morris said. "The people are in place, and I'm going to let them do their jobs."