Panthers are poaching Dave Canales from Bucs and hiring him as head coach

It's a double whammy of throwing continuity out of whack while a division rival lays a solid foundation.
NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Philadelphia Eagles v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Philadelphia Eagles v Tampa Bay Buccaneers / Julio Aguilar/GettyImages

Around this time last year the Tampa Bay Buccaneers fired offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich and hired a first-year play-caller to replace him. Dave Canales was not a household name when he came to the Bucs, but less than a year later he's already leaving to become a head coach elsewhere in the league.

The Carolina Panthers called Canales in for multiple interviews once the window to do so opened, and it turns out they liked what they heard. Not only did the Panthers have Canales among the finalists for their vacant head coaching job, the team ended up giving it to him.

Buccaneers insider Greg Auman confirmed the report on Thursday that Dave Canales would be leaving Tampa Bay to become the next head coach of the Carolina Panthers.

Essentially the Panthers saw what Canales did with Geno Smith and Baker Mayfield and would like him to do the same for Bryce Young. Not for nothing but the move also weakens an NFC South rival, so it serves dual purposes for Carolina.

Dave Canales becoming Panthers head coach is stunning but not surprising

While it felt like things went from 0-to-60 out of nowhere, there were growing rumblings late in the week that Canales could be poached by Carolina. ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reported on Thursday morning that he heard the Panthers were high on Canales, but

"I'm hearing the Panthers have four or five candidates they are really high on. One is Buccaneers offensive coordinator Dave Canales, who interviewed Wednesday afternoon in Charlotte. Canales' offense caught fire late in the season, his work with quarterbacks is strong, and he learned under Carroll for 13 years," Fowler reported.

The question now becomes who will the Buccaneers get to replace Canales, which just became the most important thing that needs to be addressed this offseason. Baker Mayfield revived his career with Canales -- a year after the coach did the same for Geno Smith -- but it's yet another massive change the quarterback has to endure.

One of the reasons everyone felt so good about Baker in Tampa was that he finally had continuity. Not only had he bounced around different teams recently, but he was cycling through offensive coordinators as well. With Canales gone after one year, the cycle is repeating itself as Baker will now enter next year with his eighth different coordinator -- not exactly ideal.

Tampa Bay is in a much better spot than it was last season, though. Without Tom Brady the Bucs lost a lot of the luster they had over the previous three seasons, but they showed this year that something good remains. It's not hard to argue the Bucs as a destination for a coordinator, either an established one or a younger coach who might want to do what Canales just did and parlay a great year into a head coaching job.

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