It hasn't been a pleasant start to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offseason. Any hope that seemed to be put in place by the surprisingly deep playoff run the team went on has been dashed, and it's hard to not give into the gloom-and-doom cloud hanging over everything.
Dave Canales left to become the head coach in Carolina, a move that vacated the Bucs offensive coordinator position and put extra pressure on all of the corresponding decisions that need to be made. The futures of Baker Mayfield and Mike Evans were already up in the air, but the chaos -- and inability to harness it -- has created anxiety that Bucs fans didn't really need to deal with.
Yet, here we are over a week after Canales left and the list of offensive coordinator candidates continues to shrink. Kellen Moore, Ken Dorsey, and Zac Robinson were all viewed as perfect fits for the open role, but all three chose to take jobs with other teams.
Things are starting to feel a lot like they did last season when the Bucs seemed unable to land a top coordinator to replace Byron Leftwich. It was a journey that eventually led them to Canales, but history repeating itself despite the Bucs seemingly being in a better spot than they were last season is less than ideal.
Add Alex Van Pelt's name to the gorwing list of coaches who would rather spend their season anywhere other than Tampa Bay in 2024.
Alex Van Pelt burns Buccaneers to take job with Patriots instead
On Thursday Van Pelt decided to take the vacant offensive coordinator job on Jerrod Mayo's staff in New England. It's yet another strikeout for the Bucs and there seems to be no end in sight to the brutal blows.
Missing out on Moore -- for a second straight year, no less -- and Dorsey was a bummer, but the Bucs missing on Robinson and Van Pelt is even more demoralizing. Moore and Dorsey came with high-powered offensive backgrounds and had a track record of success that they were looking to prove after enduring down seasons.
Both Van Pelt and Robinson had a history with Baker Mayfield, which seemed like an ace up Tampa Bay's sleeve but ended up being meaningless. It also complicates things for the Most Improves Player moving forward, as Baker is set to be paired with his eighth different coordinator in seven years.
That was part of the appeal of the Bucs landing Van Pelt or Robinson, as it would have provided some sort of continuity that Baker has been robbed of for yet another year. An extra twist of the knife is that Van Pelt interviewed for the job in person, something none of the other top three candidates did.
Tampa Bay still has options, but we're firmly in the same territory the team was last year when it hired Canales. Potential continuity with Baker still exists, as Los Angeles Rams Pass Game Specialist Jake Peetz is a candidate for the job.
It's hard not to feel demoralized, though, that a Bucs team in a better position than it was last season is having the exact same problems as it was then.