Defensive Coordinator Monte Kiffin is known as a masterful teacher, not just of players but of coaches
Mike Tomlin has left to become the Minnesota Vikings' defensive coordinator. Jon Gruden concedes that Rod Marinelli, his defensive line coach/assistant head coach, is a man being "sought out" by other teams.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have asserted on many occasions that they believe their coaching staff to be one of the team's great strengths. Apparently, other teams agree, and that sometimes leads to greater opportunities for coaches who have built strong reputations. That has happened for Tomlin, and it comes as no surprise. The Bucs' coaching staff will be at least somewhat different in 2006; the extent is yet to be seen.
"Well, that's the exciting part of this business," said Gruden, the Bucs' head coach. "Change is a big part of it. We've got some talented coaches that are drawing interest from other teams. There are some talented coaches from other teams that are interested in our situation. So, it is doubly exciting that way.
"If an opportunity does present itself to some of these talented guys, we'll do everything we can to surround ourselves with the most talented people we can."
With at least nine teams set to head into next season with a different head coach than the one with whom they began 2005, there will be a lot of movement in the NFL over the next two months. New head coaches mean a lot of new assistant positions, but the turnover also means a lot of qualified assistants who were employed in 2005 are looking for new gigs. The Bucs have also had great success plucking lesser-known talent from the college ranks, as it did with both Marinelli and Tomlin.
One of the main reasons the Bucs are confident in their ability to replace strong coaches like Tomlin with very able new men is that Defensive Coordinator Monte Kiffin is still on the job. As well as coaches like Tomlin have developed Buccaneer players, Kiffin has helped developed those coaches.
"I feel good about Monte Kiffin," said Gruden. "It's one of the reasons I really wanted to come here to Tampa, to be with the Glazers and to be in this organization to reunite myself with my good friend, Monte Kiffin. He's a great coach, and he's a great developer of coaches. [He's] tremendous, outstanding, phenomenal."
Kiffin has been the Bucs' defensive coordinator since 1996, and his teams have ranked in the top 10 of the NFL's defensive standings for nine straight years, a remarkable run. Some of the former assistants on his staff in Tampa include Kansas City Chiefs Head Coach Herm Edwards and Chicago Bears Head Coach Lovie Smith.
"He's had a lot to do with the up-rise in a lot of coaches over the years," said Gruden of Kiffin. "You can say he's been a great defensive coach. You can go on and on about the accomplishments as a defensive football coach, but I think what's very underestimated is his ability to develop young coaches. He's helped me, he's helped a lot of guys like me, get better. He'll continue to do that."
Allen Addresses Offseason
General Manager Bruce Allen will conduct a press briefing on Thursday morning, during which he will field questions regarding the 2006 offseason and its myriad issues.
Allen's briefing will begin at 11:00 a.m. ET and will be carried live on Buccaneers.com. In addition, a recorded version of the press conference will be posted on Thursday afternoon.
Paul Gruber is considered one of the finest players in Buccaneer franchise history, and is generally considered the best offensive lineman ever to pull on a Tampa Bay uniform. A first-round pick in 1988, Gruber was a starter at left tackle from the first game of his first season, and he stayed there for a dozen years. He played 12 NFL seasons, all with the Buccaneers, and missed only nine games over that span.
That gave Gruber 183 games played and 183 games started, both franchise records. And, because he was an offensive lineman, that's pretty much the beginning and the end of his career statistics.
Unfortunately for Gruber, his two Buccaneer records are in danger of falling in 2006. During the 2005 season, both tight end Dave Moore and linebacker Derrick Brooks appeared in all 16 contests, giving Moore 177 career games as a Buccaneer and Brooks 176. That means either Moore or Brooks could finish the 2006 season as the most tenured player in franchise history. Brooks, who pushed his career starts total to 173 in 2005, could also move into first place on that chart.
Of course, it's doubtful that the stoic Gruber would be too distraught over his records being broken. More importantly, the loss of either or both standards next year would do nothing to tarnish Gruber's place in Buccaneer history.