As the end of the NFL season approaches, it seems inevitable that Buccaneers head coach Raheem Morris will be fired on Black Monday following the final game of the season. We at Bucs nation have examined what the Glazers are likely to do, compiled a list of options at head coach and constructed some criteria for a future head coach. What we haven't done yet, is examine specific candidates in depth. That's what we'll do in this story, and a few more in the near future.
Today's Candidate: Rob Chudzinski
Carolina Panthers profile
Rob Chudzinski also known as 'Chud' is currently the offensive coordinator for the Carolina Panthers. He's been brought up as a head coaching candidate based on the terrific work he has done with Cam Newton this season, producing a very powerful offense with a talented but raw rookie passer as the focal point. He seems to be the hot coordinator of the year, and will probably get a lot of attention from various teams this offseason.
Played tight end, University of Miami (Florida), 1986-90
Graduate assistant, University of Miami (Florida), 1994-1995
Earned master's degree in business administration, 1996
Tight ends coach, University of Miami (Florida), 1996-2000
Offensive Coordinator, University of Miami (Florida), 2001-2003
Tight Ends Coach, Cleveland Browns, 2004
Tight Ends Coach, San Diego Chargers, 2005-2006
Offensive Coordinator, Cleveland Browns, 2007-2008
Tight Ends Coach, San Diego Chargers, 2009-2010
Offensive Coordinator, Carolina Panthers, 2011
Hit the jump for some analysis.
Why he should be the Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach
- Has had massive success as a coordinator and tight ends coach
Not only has Chudzinski turned an abysmal Panthers offense into a dominant unit this season, he has also had a lot of success as a coordinator in previous stints. He was the offensive coordinator for the 2001 undefeated national champion Miami Hurricanes, the 2002 11-1 Miami Hurricanes, and the less successful but still pretty good 2003 Miami Hurricanes. He managed to turn Derek Anderson into a Pro Bowler with the Cleveland Browns, although he had significantly less success in his second year. He also coached Kellen Winslow to his best statistical season and was Antonio Gates' tight ends coach for his statistically best season, and the 2010 season when Gates seemed primed to re-write the record book before suffering through injuries, forcing him to miss six games. Chudzinski has been successful at each of his stops, and has shown that he can create an explosive offense.
- Runs an aggressive and creative offense based on tight ends
This should appeal to Kellen Winslow, who seems to have lost a step, and Luke Stocker, who hasn't been featured much this season. The Bucs have struggled to use their tight ends to the best of their abilities, and Josh Freeman has hurt his own team by trying to force the ball to Kellen Winslow. With Chudzinski, the tight end position will likely be used in more creative ways and could be the foundation of the Bucs' offense. That's likely to help Freeman, who loves to throw the ball to tight ends, and it will help the Bucs exploit defenses around the NFL as tight ends are becoming the key players to dictate matchups and create mismatches.
- Is relatively young, but has experience and has succeeded with young players
Chudzinski has a total of 17 years experience as a coach, including six years as a coordinator. His experience as a coordinator will help him as a head coach, as he will have learned to delegate tasks and rely on his assistants. He has also succeeded with young players, which should help him get the most out of an extremely young Buccaneers team. At Miami he obviously had to work with young players, but at Cleveland and Carolina he's been forced to get production out of young players. Derek Anderson, Kellen Winslow Jr, Cam Newton and Braylon Edwards are just some of the players who have thrived under his tutelage.
- Is still very young and relatively inexperienced
Six years worth of experience as an offensive coordinator is decent, but he's only been in the NFL since 2004. He doesn't have a lot of experience dealing with different locker rooms and hasn't had a lot of seasons to prove himself as a manager of people. Hiring Chudzinski would be more of a gamble than hiring a more experienced coach. Moreover, the Bucs have had a young coach take the reigns the past three years - and the results are why they're likely to look for a new coach.
- Chudzinski focuses on tight ends, while Josh Freeman is the franchise
Chudzinski is a tight end coach at heart, and has always built his offenses around the tight end position and throwing the ball. The problem there is that the Bucs have some talent at tight end, but none of it is overwhelming: Kellen Winslow is slowing down, while Luke Stocker seems to be completely average at everything he does. The Bucs may be better served finding an offensive coordinator who will establish the run game first, or someone who has a knack for mentoring quarterback to further Freeman's development.
- What will Chudzinski do with the defense?
This is a question no on but Chudzinski can answer, but it's a very relevant one. The Bucs need to re-vamp the back seven of their defense, while the front four has seen a massive investment of talent in recent seasons. No one knows what kind of scheme Chudzinski will want to run on defense, but there's a real chance he will want to move to a two-gap 3-4, essentially scrapping the one part of the defense that is talented: the defensive line.
Moreover, Chudzinski has only been in the NFL for six years and may not have built the kind of network you need to attract quality defensive coaches. Does he know the right people to run this team's defense?