In Todd Monken’s debut as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers play-caller, the offense shattered records and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick played like an MVP.
The Todd Monken era has begun for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Tampa Bay’s offense matched a team record 48 points, and Ryan Fitzpatrick had a career performance. With Monken at the helm, the Buccaneers put together their best offensive output in 15 years.
In the days leading up to the season opener, head coach Dirk Koetter wouldn’t discuss whether himself or Monken would be calling the offense. After FOX broadcaster Chris Myers mentioned that Monken was calling the plays, things began to make sense.
The Buccaneers looked like a different team. The offense was aggressive on third down, wide receivers were running open down the field, and the running game gained traction. The play Tampa Bay displayed in the preseason translated into the regular season.
It was a solid debut for Monken, who played a crucial role in helping the Bucs topple their division rivals. Even left tackle Donovan Smith couldn’t contain his excitement for Monken after the game.
Monken only has one game under his belt, but it’s hard not to overreact to such a historic performance. The complete domination of what was a solid New Orleans Saints defense on paper is mighty impressive.
I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself. Koetter deserves a ton of credit for trusting his offensive coordinator to make decisions. Taking something off of Koetter’s already stacked plate is a smart move. He can focus more on clock management and less on the play-to-play grind.
Admittedly, I didn’t believe for a single second that Koetter would give up play-calling duties. I thought that because he loved the aspect of having full control of the offense that there would be no way he would give it up. Thankfully, I was wrong as Monken appears to be more suited for the role at this point.
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Monken understands his personnel. He put every player in a chance to succeed and gave them each an opportunity to make an impact. Adam Humphries, for example, sits near the bottom of the depth chart, but Monken found a way to get Humphries involved in the gameplan.
The offense was much less predictable on Sunday. Although the Bucs were assuredly in a pass-first mindset, the Saints had no idea who the ball was going to. Monken used the talented receiving corps to create constant mismatches and give a mediocre quarterback like Fitzpatrick a pathway to success.
Now, Monken isn’t some genius who invented this new look offense. Koetter has used the same system for years. The difference comes in the decision making. While Monken uses similar concepts, he will opt for a different play than Koetter would have, typically a more aggressive approach.
Monken didn’t let up. Last year, I would have guaranteed that the Buccaneers would allow New Orleans to tie the game up. Monken kept his foot on the gas and continued to call for Fitzpatrick to push the ball down the field. It gave Tampa Bay enough breathing room to escape with a victory.
The real test for Monken comes next week, against the defending Super Bowl Champions who shut down the high-powered Atlanta Falcons offense in the opening week. For now, Bucs fans will keep their faith in the new play-caller.