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Liam Coen Is Having Fun As Bucs OC, And Drawing Rave Reviews

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By: Scott Reynolds

New offensive coordinator Liam Coen has been drawing rave reviews from the Bucs’ brass behind the scenes at the AdventHealth Training Center. The team’s new play-caller comes to Tampa Bay with two years worth of experience calling plays at the University of Kentucky, as well as a few games where he took over play-calling duties for Sean McVay in Los Angeles at the end of the 2022 campaign.

Following Baker Mayfield’s press conference last week, Coen updated reporters on how the installation of the Bucs’ new offense, which has some similarities to former offensive coordinator and new Panthers head coach Dave Canales’ system conceptually, is going with the coaching staff.

“We’re on a good track right now,” Coen said. “The majority of the general info, the run game – we’ll do the pass game next – and have everything in by the time the guys get here. I feel really good about where we are at right now and the staff – getting this all together. Obviously we have a little continuity with guys I’ve worked with in the past and also guys that are in this system already. There is so much familiarity it should be a seamless transition.”

Coen skipped the NFL Scouting Combine to hire some new position coaches, as wide receivers coach Brad Idzik and offensive line coaches Harold Goodwin and Joe Gilbert left for Carolina with Canales, who spent just one year as Tampa Bay’s play caller.

Bucs WRs Coach Bryan McClendon – Photo by: USA Today

Outside of quarterbacks coach Thad Lewis and running backs coach Skip Peete, Coen has revamped Tampa Bay’s offensive coaching staff this offseason. Coen worked with new offensive line coach Kevin Carberry in L.A. and new assistant O-line coach Brian Picucci at Kentucky. Both have experience in Coen’s offense and will play an instrumental role in developing second-year guard Cody Mauch and whoever Tampa Bay drafts this year.

The Bucs hired wide receivers coach Bryan McClendon from Georgia, and he comes with an impressive and proven track record for developing young receivers. Players like Georgia’s Ladd McConkey, Texas’ Adonai Mitchell, Oregon’s Troy Franklin, South Carolina’s Xavier Legette are all regarded as Day 2 draft picks and have been groomed by McClendon in his various coaching stops over the past few years. Young receivers like Trey Palmer and Rakim Jarrett could take a big step in 2024 under McClendon’s tutelage.

Coen recently hired former Falcons tight ends coach Justin Peelle, who brings a wealth of technical knowledge about the position. Peelle played tight end for 11 years in the NFL and helped Kyle Pitts become a Pro Bowler during his rookie season in 2021. He’s expected to help the Bucs tight ends become better blockers and aid in the run game.

Bucs OC Liam Coen

Bucs OC Liam Coen – Photo by: Matt Matera/PR

Peelle’s addition transitions former tight ends coach John Van Dam to the role of pass game assistant, which is his specialty. Van Dam will work with new pass game coordinator Josh Grizzard, who comes to Tampa Bay after spending seven years in Miami as the Dolphins receivers coach and quality control coach. Grizzard played football at Yale, is as smart as they come, and will play an instrumental role in Coen’s passing attack with fresh ideas and concepts.

“I’m a little bit on the younger side for some of the experience pieces, even though going into my fifth year in the NFL,” the 38-year old Coen said. “I want guys that are going to work their tails off, that are going to grind, that are really going to work at this thing. Guys that want to be the best at their position.

“Obviously, you want guys to have aspiration. I always had aspiration. But you know, you want the wideout coach to be the best wideout coach – not to want to be the pass game coordinator, as well. You want guys to own their position groups.”

Liam Coen Is Having “The Most Fun” He’s Ever Had In Coaching

Tampa Bay offensive coordinator Liam Coen has yet to step foot on the grass at One Buccaneer Place, yet alone meet with or coach a single Bucs player. Phase I of the offseason program, which begins with weight lifting and conditioning, does not start for another few weeks on April 15.

Rams HC Sean McVay, Bucs OC Liam Coen and Rams QB Matthew Stafford

Rams HC Sean McVay, Bucs OC Liam Coen and Rams QB Matthew Stafford – Photo by: USA Today

Yet Coen and his staff are meeting for eight hours a day during the week to watch film, install the playbook and add new plays through collaboration with input from every coach. Despite his work being confined to the meeting rooms so far, Coen is having an absolute blast.

“This has been the most fun I’ve had coaching in my career – here,” Coen said. “The last couple months – the last month really. Similar feeling to when I went to Kentucky the first time to where it’s yours – it’s ours, as a unit. And when you collaborate and you can do things together – yeah, I’m bringing the verbiage, the terminology. But if it’s something that they did last year that fits, and I can adjust to it, it’s better than the rest of the whole building having to adjust to just one person. I’ve had as much fun coaching since – well, in a while.”

Coen spent four years working with Sean McVay in Los Angeles as an offensive assistant from 2018-2020, as well as 2022 season. He got the chance to run his own room at Kentucky during the 2021 and 2023 seasons where he was the Wildcats offensive coordinator and play-caller. But this is Coen’s first opportunity to have that title and responsibility at the NFL level and he’s relishing in the moment.

“I haven’t done this fully on my own – it was Sean’s deal [in Los Angeles] and we were helping teach that, and I was helping him,” Coen said. “It’s more the leadership. It’s not about me and it’s not about it (the offensive system) being mine. It’s being in the leadership position and to be able to be in a collaborative state of mind – an environment – and that’s what this place is.”

The Bucs’ brass loves what it has seen so far from Coen in terms of his work ethic and the high level of football I.Q. that he’s brought to Tampa Bay. The expectation is that the Bucs offense can hit the ground running with some continuity and carryover from last year, but also have more success early on in the season without the learning curve Dave Canales had to endure last year as a first-time play-caller.

“Yeah, the positivity with Dave got us through some tough times, but Liam is a hell of a football coach, a hell of a football coach,” Bucs head coach Todd Bowles said. “I’ve seen him coach over the past three years. I’m very confident in what he can do. [I] don’t expect him to be like Dave. I don’t think anybody can come in and be alike. You have to have your own niche. We always say there’s more ways to skin a cat – to win ball games.

“And he’s got a system that I really like. He’s got intelligence that I really like. He has an understanding that I really like. Although some of the concepts will be the same, it will be a different offense to a degree. But the terminology for some of the guys, half of it will at least be the same. But I like the new ideas that he has. I like the energy of the young staff he’s bringing in here. And I’m excited to see him.”

Bucs QB Baker Mayfield and OC Liam Coen

Bucs QB Baker Mayfield and OC Liam Coen – Photo by: USA Today

If Coen thinks he’s having the most fun of his coaching career now, just wait until he hits the field with a pair of 1,000-yard wide receivers in Pro Bowler Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, as well as reuniting with Pro Bowl quarterback Baker Mayfield. The chance to coach those stars is a big reason why Coen was tempted to leave Kentucky for the chance to call plays in Tampa Bay.

“There’s no doubt,” Coen said. “That’s a huge part of it. I’ve been around some really good wide receivers, but never really a true X [like Evans], a true guy that can line up and win one-on-ones wherever he is. That’s fun, right? That’s a tool. That’s a piece to this whole puzzle. As soon as you get into this whole work week, the defense has to be planning for that. So that’s something we can use to our advantage in multiple, different ways.

“You look at Chris [Godwin], you look at Tristan [Wirfs] and you look at Rachaad [White] and you look at Cade [Otton] and you look at some of those pieces, and then obviously the guy that is pulling the trigger, and that’s fun to game plan for.”

If Tampa Bay can improve in scoring from 21 points per game and make significant strides in the running game in Coen’s system, the Bucs offense will certainly be having more fun this season.

“Liam’s a very bright guy,” Bowles said. “Kentucky had a heck of a rushing game, he was with Sean McVay, who had a hell of a passing game. He knows both. He understands that, and as he gets more comfortable and sees how he fits the players in, I’m very confident he’ll do a good job.”

The post Liam Coen Is Having Fun As Bucs OC, And Drawing Rave Reviews appeared first on Pewter Report.

Originally posted on Pewter Report