The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have officially begun their search to replace Byron Leftwich as the team’s offensive coordinator.
Leftwich was fired after the Buccaneers 31-14 Wild Card loss to the Cowboys, and after a season in which the team ranked 25th in total points and had one of the league’s worst rushing attacks.
To be fair, any negative mention of Leftwich needs to be chased with reminding everyone that he coordinated an offense that won a Super Bowl in 2020 and should have won Tom Brady the MVP.
But the Leftwich era is over, and rather than dwell on the past the Buccaneers are already starting to look for his replacement. According to Rick Stroud, Tampa Bay has scheduled two interviews with potential candidates, and one of them stands out as particularly interesting.
Let’s talk a little bit about Jim Bob Cooter.
Jim Bob Cooter coaching history
First of all, it needs to be said: is there a better Florida Man name than Jim Bob Cooter?
Cooter is actually from Fayetteville, Tennessee and while it’s easy to go full and Butthead about his name, his resume is outstanding and he presents perhaps the most intriguing option the Bucs might cross paths with.
Here’s a quick rundown of where Jim Bob Cooter has coached over the course of his career in the NFL:
- Indianapolis Colts (2009-2011)
- Offensive Assistant
- Kansas City Chiefs (2012)
- Offensive Quality Control Coach
- Denver Broncos (2013)
- Offensive Assistant
- Detroit Lions (2014-2018)
- Quarterbacks Coach
- Offensive Coordinator
- New York Jets (2019-2020)
- Running Backs Coach
- Philadelphia Eagles (2021)
- Jacksonville Jaguars (2022)
- Passing Game Coordinator
Cooter’s worn a lot of different hats in his 13 seasons coaching, but he’s also crossed paths with some of the best minds in the game right now. Over the last decade, Cooter has spent time under Andy Reid, Doug Pederson, and Nick Sirianni; that’s a wide swath of football knowledge to be absorbing.
Reid’s resume speaks for itself, while Pederson has once again proven himself to be one of the best coaches in the league after what he did with the Jaguars this season. Then there’s Sirianni, who appears to be leading the charge of the next generation of great coaches with what he’s doing in Philadelphia.
Cooter has worked under all three, and a common thread between them all is how modern and inventive their offensives have been. He worked with Peyton Manning near the end of his career (twice, including a Super Bowl run with Denver in 2013), helped reinvent and extend the career of Alex Smith in Kansas City, helped Mathew Stafford and Calvin Johnson in Detroit, set Jalen Hurts up for success in Philly, and unlocked vintage Trevor Lawrence in Duval.
Keep in mind the range Cooter has displayed.
It’s unclear who will be under center in Tampa Bay next season, but getting Cooter in the door could be a good way to start laying ground work for the next franchise quarterback. If Brady returns, it could harken back to Cooter’s days working with Peyton near the end of his career; if Blaine Gabbert is the man then Cooter has a sandbox to install his vision for whoever the Bucs draft in 2024.
One of the most exciting pairings would be Cooter with Kyle Trask. There’d be no better way to see if Trask has what the Bucs need him to offer than putting him with the guy who recently worked with Hurts and Lawrence. The ideal scenario is Trask becomes the next guy Cooter unlocks, and the Bucs don’t need to go searching for a franchise quarterback in the draft.
To be clear, this is all based on Cooter’s work as a man pulling strings rather than the guy in charge of the offense as a whole. He did spend three seasons running the Lions offense, though, and then went on to work with two of the most exciting quarterbacks in the league, which implies he has the kind of upside that franchises look for in the next Hot Shot offensive coordinator.