Tampa Bay Buccaneers Coaching Search: Ranking the Coaches Interviewed

Dustin HullAnalyst IJanuary 19, 2012

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Coaching Search: Ranking the Coaches Interviewed

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    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have certainly searched thoroughly trying to find their next head coach. They've interviewed the experienced—and the even more experienced.

    If Green Bay's offensive coordinator Joe Philbin and Packers QBs coach Tom Clements both interview for the job, the number of coaches with interviews will run to eight.

    And that's not even including Wade Phillips, who had at one time been set up for a meeting with the Bucs, and Mike Mularkey, who was considered a favorite for the job before taking the helm in Jacksonville.

    So how do the eight coaches stack-up? We attempt to find the coach that fits the organization better than all the rest.

8. Mike Sherman

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    Yes, he's at the very bottom. It's hard to tell now that there are so many coaches under consideration, but Mike Sherman could still be the lead candidate for the Bucs' head coaching position.

    Sherman's experience as a head coach in the NFL seems to be the attraction that has led the Bucs to consider him heavily for the open job in Tampa Bay.

    But that's where the positives of Sherman should stop, because, on top of just being fired after a 6-6 season with Texas A&M, Sherman took Super Bowl-caliber teams and turned them into above-average squads.

    He may be at the top of the Buccaneers' list, but with the abundance of up-and-coming coaches, it's clearly a fact that Mike Sherman wouldn't be the right choice in Tampa, or in any other NFL city for that matter.

7. Brad Childress

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    Brad Childress was one of three former head coaches whose names surfaced last week, along with Marty Schottenheimer, who is in the running, and Wade Phillips, who was never interviewed.

    Childress doesn't seem to be in the top three or four for the Buccaneers, and with good reason. In Minnesota, he was one step away from the Super Bowl with Hall-of-Famer Brett Favre, but never got over the hump.

    Following that season, a tremendous decline took place for the Vikings, and Childress lost the respect of veterans in the locker room, including Favre.

    Even though Childress wouldn't have to worry about so many veterans in Tampa Bay, the Bucs won't be as high on Childress as he is on them.

    With the amount of options on the table, there should be no more consideration of Childress' name.

6. Jerry Gray

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    Is Jerry Gray ready to step into a head coaching role? Certainly. But is he the correct fit for this organization? Well, that's a much more difficult question.

    The Bucs might want to base their head coaching selection on how well the coach can help Josh Freeman. They haven't said as much, but it certainly looks as if the idea moving forward is to develop their franchise quarterback.

    In that case, Gray wouldn't be the right fit, unless he brought in an off-the-charts offensive coordinator with him. And the chances of that becoming a reality are quite farfetched.

    Gray will eventually get a head coaching position somewhere in the league, but while Tampa Bay may want to use high draft picks in the secondary, their primary concern should be the play of Josh Freeman and the players around him on offense.

5. Mike Zimmer

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    Now out of the running for the Miami Dolphins' head coaching job, the Bucs have a clear shot at Mike Zimmer, unless the Indianapolis Colts decide to pursue him.

    Zimmer is the top possibility among defensive-minded coaches to take the job in Tampa Bay, but that might not be saying much in this case.

    He has taken a far below-average defense and turned it into one of the best in all of football. His Bengals ranked in the top 10 in stopping the pass and run in 2011, staking his name as a head coach-to-be.

    If the Buccaneers decide to stay with tradition and build their team through defense, then Mike Zimmer is definitely a solid option. But it doesn't appear that they will go that direction.

4. Marty Schottenheimer

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    Many in Tampa Bay are excited about the possibility of Marty Schottenheimer becoming the Bucs' next head coach. And rightly so, as he's the most well-known name on the list.

    But is he really what the Bucs are looking for?

    Well, there's certainly a big difference between Schottenheimer and the last hire the Glazers made at head coach. Over 30 years of it, in fact.

    Is Schottenheimer, a "retread" as many call him, too old for the job? Being 68 certainly doesn't help his chances, not knowing how many more years he will be able to coach at a high level.

    While Schottenheimer may not be at that point in his career quite yet, it's hard to say where his mind will be four or five years from now. But still, there's more than an outside chance that he'll get the job, because there's no denying the success he's had.

3. Tom Clements

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    If there's one thing Tom Clements is good at, it's turning offenses around.

    In his first of two seasons as the Buffalo Bills' offensive coordinator, his team scored 152 points more than the previous season.

    Despite such an impressive mark, Clements has done even more as the quarterbacks coach in Green Bay for the Packers. Helping develop potential MVP Aaron Rodgers will without a doubt add to any resume, and the Bucs should take in consideration all he has done for his current organization.

    Though he's third on this list, he could just as easily be first, with nearly as much credit owed to him as Mike McCarthy and Joe Philbin for creating one of the strongest offenses in all of the NFL.

    The Buccaneers have made an excellent decision by setting up an interview with Clements. And forming an offense where even a backup QB can throw six touchdowns, why wouldn't he be consideration for a head coaching spot?

2. Rob Chudzinski

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    Maybe a few people are giving too much credit to Rob Chudzinski when it comes to the turnaround of Carolina's offense, but why not?

    Sure, Cam Newton is the stud with the outstanding rookie season, but Rob Chudzinski has certainly put the young star and his offensive teammates in a good spot to score points on a weekly basis.

    Chudzinski has taken more pro-style plays, and mixed them in with some of the spread option plays Newton ran back while at Auburn.

    With a strong balance to start, Chudzinski has slowly and successfully placed Newton in more and more vertical passing opportunities, which the Panthers did not have during the John Fox era.

    Now Chudzinski has become a contender for a few vacancies with his recent success, and has deservedly received a strong look from Tampa Bay this week.

1. Joe Philbin

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    I've stuck beside this candidate from the beginning, and I'll continue to stick by him now.

    Even with the recent death of his son, and the less-than-impressive showing against the New York Giants, Joe Philbin is still the man for the job.

    The problem for the Bucs is that they may lose him to the Dolphins before making him an offer themselves. With Miami's coaching search down to three, time is not on Tampa Bay's side.

    Philbin has grown to produce teams that score often and turn the ball over rarely. He has been the Packers offensive coordinator for the past four years, the biggest four-year scoring span ever.

    Even more than the heydays of Brett Favre.

    Along with Mike McCarthy, Philbin has assembled possibly the most potent, quick-strike offense in the entire NFL. He had three rookies on the offensive line in 2006 as the O-line coach, and their run game still improved, along with pass protection that went beyond expectations.

    Philbin has long been ready to take the next step in his coaching career, and his success more than proves it. The Buccaneers need to let him take that step in Tampa Bay, and fast.