It's safe to say the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offseason didn't exactly get off to a smooth start. Almost as soon as the NFC Divisional Round wrapped up Todd Bowles was getting dragged for potentially blowing the game with a boneheaded mistake, and things only spiraled from there.
The angst toward eventually Bowles simmered, but general chaos around the Bucs exploded. Dave Canales left his role as offensive coordinator to take the Carolina Panthers head coach job, creating both a notable vacancy and a new top need for the Bucs to address.
Coming into the offseason the biggest thing the Bucs needed to do was find a way to bring back Baker Mayfield and Mike Evans. Losing Canales complicated matters, but it appears Jason Licht has found a way to land the plane and restore some order.
Everything to know about new Bucs offensive coordinator, Liam Coen
Tampa Bay has hired Liam Coen to replace Canales as offensive coordinator next season, which feels a lot like the move Tampa Bay made last season.
Forced into a corner after all of the top candidates moved on, the Bucs hired a relatively unknown Canales who went on to become a head coach less than a year later. Whether or not that actually pans out is yet to be seen, but the idea seems to be that Tampa Bay has pulled off the same trick twice.
Liam Coen coaching history
While he's not a household name, there's a lot to love about what Coen brings to the Bucs.
He comes from the Sean McVay coaching tree, having worked within the Rams offense since 2018 with a few stints in Kentucky. That's where Coen would be coming from, as he served as the Wildcats offensive coordinator last season after having bounced between Los Angeles and Lexington over the last couple of seasons.
Coen got his start in the NFL thanks to McVay, who hired him to be an offensive assistant back in 2018 after which he rose up the ranks to eventually become offensive coordinator in 2022. Before he got elevated to that role he spent a year as the Kentucky Wildcats offensive coordinator, which is some key experience that could help add an extra dynamic to the Bucs offense.
After returning to the Rams in 2022, Coen left again after McVay gave his coaches permission to seek other jobs while it was unclear what the future held in Los Angeles. McVay ultimately returned last season but it gave Coen a chance to return to Kentucky in the role he originally held there and continue to diversify his play sheet.
Let’s rewind to 2022, though, as that’s a critical year in bridging how Coen fits in Tampa Bay. Late in the year Baker Mayfield arrived in LA and it was Coen who worked with him as his offensive coordinator while he laid the groundwork for what he’d end up doing this season with the Bucs.
This is important because it means some semblance of continuity for Baker. He was facing a reality of where he’d be working with the eighth different coordinator of his seven year career next season, which is why Alex Van Pelt was such an intriguing top candidate.
Coen wasn’t an obvious choice in that regard but he provides a similar level of comfort.
With that in mind, the hiring of Coen seems to indicate that the Bucs plan on building the offense around a returning Baker next season. It already seemed like the relationship was going to continue, but the Bucs going out and hiring someone who already has experience working with Baker is telling.
Whether or not he actually comes back is yet to be determined, but all signs point to that and the team is making it clear what their intentions toward him are.
Baker isn’t the only person Coen has an existing relationship with. He worked with running backs coach Skip Peete, which increases the likelihood that he’ll be retained and could help the Bucs finally fix the run game.
It wasn’t an obvious hire, but it seems like another lowkey home run move. Tampa Bay was in a similar position last season when it plucked Canales and everyone is hoping that things work out even better the second time around.