The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have promoted Dwayne Stukes to the role of special teams coordinator. Stukes inherits the Buccaneers' special teams from his mentor of the past five seasons, the departing Rich Bisaccia.
Stukes has held several different titles since first joining Tampa Bay's staff in 2006, but he has worked with the team's kicking and return units throughout his five-year coaching tenure. He has helped build the Bucs' special teams into one of the NFL's most consistently productive units, and he is now prepared to take over as that crew's coordinator.
"This organization and our players are excited to have Coach Stukes in this role," said General Manager Mark Dominik. "For the past five years, Coach Stukes has aided in the preparation and development of our young players. He's ready for this opportunity.
The Buccaneers are expected to return most of the coaching staff in 2011 that helped guide the team to the greatest single-season turnaround in franchise history in 2010. However, where there is change in the staff, the Buccaneers view it as another opportunity to make the most of an up-and-coming talent, just as they did on the field this past fall.
A rash of injuries in the second-half of the season forced the Bucs to embrace a "next-man-up" mentality on the field, often relying on inexperienced players in key roles. In the case of Stukes, however, the Buccaneers' next man up is a coach who has thoroughly proved himself within the organization.
Stukes first joined the Buccaneers' staff as a coaches' assistant in 2006, spending two seasons in that role. He spent a portion of those two seasons helping Bisaccia with the Buccaneers' special teams, and in 2008 was formally named the team's special teams quality control coach. Stukes was then promoted to assistant defensive backs coach in 2009, but he continued to work with Bisaccia in the kicking and return game over the past two seasons.
Those proved to be the last two of Bisaccia's nine years with the team. During that time, Bisaccia emerged as one of the most respected special teams coordinators in the NFL, and a powerful teacher for Stukes. The Buccaneers were fortunate to have the opportunity to groom a talented internal candidate to replace Bisaccia upon his inevitable departure.
Stukes takes over a core of special teamers that has produced at a high level for many years. That group currently includes such on-field leaders as Adam Hayward, Corey Lynch and Dekoda Watson, all of whom already respect and respond to Coach Stukes. In 2010, the Buccaneers were among the league leaders in kickoff and punt return coverage, kickoff return average, field goal percentage and several other special teams categories. With Stukes stepping in as coordinator and providing both continuity and a meticulously detailed approach, that group is positioned to excel again in 2011.