4,758 yards given up through the air. 7.3 net yards per attempt given up. 30 touchdowns given up versus 18 interceptions. Those are the numbers on Ron Cooper's first season as a defensive backs coach, and it looks like those dismal results are reason enough to move on from him. That, at least, is what Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times deduces from 'indications':
No final decisions have been made or announced, but indications are the Bucs will allow DBs coach Ron Cooper to explore other opportunities— Rick Stroud (@NFLSTROUD) January 10, 2013
According to Stroud, Cooper could join the University of South Florida coaching staff. Justin Pawlowski reports that Cooper would be an assistant head coach at USF.
Releasing Cooper may seem like a good idea, but it's not clear to what extent he's to blame for this year's poor results on defense. The scheme certainly didn't help him, and he lost both Aqib Talib and Eric Wright for half the season due to injuries and suspensions. Being forced to start undrafted free agents will make every defensive backs coach look bad. Meanwhile, Mark Barron enjoyed a reasonably successful rookie season and Ronde Barber looked stellar in his first year at a new position.
If Cooper is indeed let go, the Buccaneers will have at least three coaching vacancies to fill. Receivers coach P.J. Fleck left to take a head coaching job at Western Michigan, while quarterbacks coach Ron Turner took a job as Florida International's head coach. The Bucs could even lose offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan, who is one of over a dozen coaches to interview for the Chicago Bears head coaching position. The Bucs will probably use the Senior Bowl to fill those coaching vacancies, which functions as a sort of job market for NFL coaches. The Senior Bowl will be held on January 26, although the job market there takes place throughout the week.