The Tampa Bay Buccaneers prepared for their first game under new head coach Lovie Smith without the services of new offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford, who was resting after a heart operation during the preseason.
According to Smith at a press conference on Monday, Tedford is expected to be back in his normal role this week as the team prepares for a game against the St. Louis Rams.
The offense looked disjointed and ill-prepared on Sunday, struggling to get anything going in the first half. The players settled into the game and played better in the fourth quarter, but the playcalling was the same, slow-developing, unimaginative display fans saw last year under Mike Sullivan.
In other words, there may still be a lot of the offense under wraps as Tedford has been unable to install everything he'd like to see run with the Bucs.
"We would eventually like to be an up-tempo team." Smith said on Monday, indicating that the Bucs' struggles on offense and lack of practice time with Tedford on the sidelines may have slowed down the team's ability to prepare fully for the plays they'd like to run and the tempo at which they'd like to run them.
On the other hand, this is similar to the "we didn't run the no huddle because we didn't practice it" debacle from Greg Schiano's final days as head coach of the Buccaneers a season ago. The difference, of course, being that Smith has only been in charge for one regular season week, and there are legitimate concerns that the team hasn't been able to install everything it wanted to as they shifted into a new coaching regime.
But the time for excuses and "things take time" is running out, especially with a very winnable game against the St. Louis Rams on deck. If the coach and front office are serious about contending this year, change must come in a hurry. Otherwise, the "return to relevance" may quickly become a long-term operation.