New Bucs Offensive Coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski is in an absolutely perfect situation.
Sure, he doesn't necessarily have a future Hall of Famer at quarterback, and yeah, there isn't a ton of wide receiver depth, but Jagodzinski has to be the envy of offensive coordinators across the league.
Why? Because expectations at One Buc Place are low and some quality offensive pieces are already in place.
In all seriousness, no one really expects a whole lot from the Bucs offense this season. Not with a new head coach (Raheem Morris), new offensive coordinator (Jagodzinski) and a starting quarterback (Luke McCown) with only 12 games on his NFL resume.
How many coordinators come into a situation knowing they have at least a full season to install their playbook?
And believe it or not, McCown fits pretty well into Jagodzinski's system. He's mobile, he can move the pocket and throw on the run, and while we might not know exactly how good his arm is, we do know it's been strong enough to keep him in the league for six seasons.
Add an Allstate-level wide receiver (good hands) in Antonio Bryant, a stud tight end in Kellen Winslow, and a dual-threat backfield of Derrick Ward and Earnest Graham, and Jagodzinski has to feel like he's playing a video game.
Here's the frustrating thing: Jagodzinski and Morris are probably going to play it safe this season.
Bucs fans should expect a lot of max protect sets designed to give McCown as much time as possible to find Winslow sitting down in coverage or Bryant and Michael Clayton running five to 10 yard outs.
The run game will be huge for the Bucs in 2009-10, and at least early in the season, Ward and Graham will be expected to keep the pressure off of McCown as he gets his feet under him as a starting quarterback.
Fullback B.J. Askew will be a busy man, and he might be spelled by Graham for five to 10 snaps a game as Graham proved last season he's willing to line up at fullback if it will help the team.
The problem there is, if you and I know the Bucs will rely heavily on the run, then you'd better believe every team in the NFC South knows it, too. Expect Carolina, Atlanta, and even New Orleans to stack the box and make McCown try to beat them.
Bucs fans should fully expect Morris not to meddle in Jagodzinski's system. Morris has a defensive background and already has enough on his plate as a first-time head coach. That means Jags will have some room to experiment, all while paying attention to the personnel limitations (quarterback, wide receiver depth) that he's inherited.
For all we know, Clayton could emerge as this year's Bryant: a breakout, Comeback Player of the Year candidate that no one saw coming.
Clayton already has a fantastic relationship with McCown and has shown an increased intensity and work ethic already this off-season.
But Clayton is no Joey Galloway. And at least when it comes to speed, neither is Bryant. So don't expect the Bucs to stretch the field and try to beat coverages deep. At least up until the bye week, look for a conservative, run-heavy offensive system that will rely on McCown's feet to move the pocket and throw on the run.
The good news is Jagodzinski made Matt Ryan into last year's Rookie of the Year by using that same system at Boston College. We'll have to wait and see whether that system will have the same success against the speed and size of the NFL.
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