New Buccaneer Offensive Coordinator Les Steckel helped get Tennessee to the Super Bowl
In January, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were hoping for a chance to shut down Les Steckel's offense. Now, they want to reap its benefits.
At a 6:30 p.m. news conference on Sunday, February 20, the Buccaneers announced the hiring of Steckel as the team's new offensive coordinator. Steckel will replace Mike Shula, who had held that post for the previous four seasons since being appointed by Head Coach Tony Dungy in 1996. As offensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans for the past three seasons, Steckel was instrumental in helping the Titans advance to Super Bowl XXXIV at the end of the 1999 season.
"We are extremely excited to bring a coach with Les Steckel's experience to run our offense," said Dungy. "His track record with NFL offenses is impressive, especially this past year when he helped lead the Titans to the brink of a Super Bowl victory."
Tennessee reached the first Super Bowl in franchise history by defeating the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC Championship Game on Sunday, January 23. Later that afternoon, the Buccaneers made a bid to join Tennessee in the Super Bowl but fell just short with an 11-6 loss to the St. Louis Rams in the NFC Championship Game. Steckel and the Titans suffered a similar fate the following Sunday, as a furious rally by the Tennessee offense erased a 16-point deficit and came within a yard of tying the game in the final seconds.
Steckel brings 26 years of coaching experience to his post with the Buccaneers, including 18 seasons on the professional level. His resume also includes head coaching experience, as he held that position with the Minnesota Vikings in 1984. During his long and distinguished career, Steckel has had close personal experience with every aspect of offense, from coaching receivers in San Francisco, Minnesota, New England and Houston to tutoring the offensive line at the Naval Academy to handling the quarterbacks at New England, Tennessee and the University of Colorado. A rundown of Steckel's extensive coaching experience can be found at the end of this article.
Steckel, whose contract with Tennessee expired at the end of the 1999 season, jumps from a Titan team that was a model of balance and efficiency. Last season, Tennessee ranked 13th in the NFL in overall offense, a figure reached thanks to a ranking of 13th in rushing and 13th (tied) in passing. Further emphasizing the efficiency of the Titans' offense was the team's number-two NFL ranking in interception percentage, number-three mark in sacks allowed and number-seven standing in completion percentage. The previous year, Steckel's attack became the first unit to convert every one of its 'inside-the-20' possessions into a score since that statistic has been measured.
The Titans ranked ninth in the league in overall offense in 1998, again displaying remarkable efficiency with a 4.3-yard per-carry rushing average and a total of just 10 interceptions. In Steckel's first season as offensive coordinator in 1997, Tennessee ranked 18th in the league in offense thanks in large part to the NFL's third-best rushing attack.
A decorated Vietnam veteran as an infantry officer, Steckel remains a colonel in the United States Marine Corps Reserve, totaling 31 years of military service. Steckel, 53, is married to Chris and the couple has three children, daughter Lesley and sons Christian and Luke.
Les Steckel's Coaching History
1998-99: Tennessee Oilers/Titans, Offensive Coordinator 1997: Tennessee Oilers, Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach 1995-96: Houston Oilers, Wide Receivers Coach 1993-94: Denver Broncos, Tight Ends Coach 1991-92: University of Colorado, Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach 1989: Brown University, Offensive Coordinator 1986-88: New England Patriots, Quarterbacks/Receivers/Passing Game Coordinator 1985: New England Patriots, Quarterbacks/Receivers Coach 1984: Minnesota Vikings, Head Coach 1979-83: Minnesota Vikings, Receivers/Special Teams Coach 1978: San Francisco 49ers, Tight Ends/Wide Receivers Coach 1977: U.S. Naval Academy, Offensive Line Coach 1973-76: University of Colorado, Tight Ends/Wide Receivers Coach 1972: University of Colorado, Graduate Assistant