While the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made strides toward improving this season, the team will begin its offseason almost exactly the same way it did last year.
There's a little more clarity at quarterback, although Baker Mayfield doesn't have a deal for next year yet, but the Bucs will once again be searching for an offensive coordinator. Nobody was fired this time around, rather Dave Canales is leaving Tampa Bay after one season to become the Carolina Panthers head coach.
It wasn't unexpected, but it's still a shocking move that has left plenty of folks stunned. Canales was a position coach a year ago, one with over a decade of experience learning under Pete Carroll, but his ascension to head coach is truly wild.
Bucs fans are dealing with mixed emotions, as the loss of Canales has a ripple effect that could impact the offseason's trajectory. Whoever Tampa Bay hires will be Baker's eighth coordinator in seven seasons, and the change at coordinator might alter whether he returns. It also offers some excitement, as the Bucs are in a much better spot than they were last year in trying to convince coordinators to come aboard, although there's pressure to once again nail the hire.
For now, everyone is dealing with saying their goodbyes.
Dave Canales sends message to Bucs fans after taking Panthers head coach job
After the news broke, Canales waited to celebrate his new role until he had properly thanked the Buccaneers for all that they did for him in a short amount of time. That thank you message extended to the fans, who rallied around the first-year play caller and oftentimes called him out in ways that challenged him to grow.
It's clear that while short, his time in Tampa Bay meant the world to him.
Nice little dig there with the reference to playing the Bucs twice a year.
Heeding Canales' words, before we look too far ahead at what the Bucs offseason will look like now it's worth zooming out to realize how awesome this is. Canales is just the fifth Mexican-American coach in NFL history alongside Tom Fears, Tom Flores, Ron Rivera and Brian Flores, and will be the only Hispanic coach in the NFL this season.
Canales also got here by betting on himself. He left Seattle last year for a position that was no sure thing, and parlayed it into a head coaching job. Meanwhile, had he stayed with the Seahawks he likely would have been part of the mass exodus after Carroll's removal after the season.
All of this is also a massive feather in the cap of Jason Licht, Todd Bowles, and the Bucs. To have a coordinator leap after one year is almost unprecedented, and it further endorses how well-run the organization is from top to bottom.
Watching Canales leave isn't easy, and replacing him will be crucial, but it's a bittersweet moment that is hard to not step back and enjoy.