There are five new coaches on Greg Schiano’s staff this year, as well as three returning assistants whose positions have been redefined. That’s a middling amount of turnover just one year after Schiano’s first staff was put together, but the transition should be smooth.
That’s the expectation for several reasons. For one things, Schiano and some of his staff already have strong ties with several of the newcomers. In addition, the slight redistribution of responsibilities has created situations in which the new and returning coaches can work together for the players’ benefit.
For instance, incoming Quarterbacks Coach John McNulty had previously worked with Schiano and several others on the Bucs’ staff at Rutgers. He also shares some philosophical background with returning Offensive Coordinator Mike Sullivan. The combined input of McNulty and Sullivan should help Josh Freeman continue his development into an elite NFL quarterback.
“John’s a guy I’ve worked with very closely in the past,” said Schiano from the NFL Scouting Combine on Thursday. “We go back a long way. He’s a great football coach, a really solid guy, and I think he’ll be excellent. The thing I like is Mike Sullivan is still there so there’s the consistency for our quarterback, yet we have a guy in there that I think will do a great job. So I think it’s going to be a great combination. Sully and John have some common background as well in the systems that they’ve worked in, so I think it’s really good for us as a staff.”
During his three years with the Chicago Bears in the 1990s, Schiano worked under Head Coach Dave Wannstedt, who has taken over as the Buccaneers’ new special teams coordinator in 2013. In 1999, both Schiano and Wannstedt jumped to South Florida, where the former become the defensive coordinator at the University of Miami and the latter took over the same post for the Miami Dolphins. Two years later, both were head coaches, Wannstedt still with the Dolphins and Schiano at Rutgers. Schiano jumped at the opportunity to work with Wannstedt again and knows he has the necessary knowledge to run the Bucs’ kicking and return game.
“People have asked, ‘Well, has he ever been a special teams coordinator?’” said Schiano. “As a head coach, you really have to do everything and you’re involved in everything. In Dave’s career he’s done that, where he actually ran the whole show. Other times he assisted. So I’m very, very comfortable with it and, as importantly, he’s a guy with a lot of great experiences and a guy that I trust. To have all that and to have him our building – that was too good to pass up.”
The remaining additions to the Bucs’ staff in 2013 are Tony Oden, who will guide the cornerbacks, John Garrett, who will tutor the receivers, and Robb Smith, who takes over the linebacking corps. That latter position opened up when Bob Fraser was promoted to assistant defensive coordinator under Bill Sheridan. That’s a somewhat uncommon title in the NFL, but Schiano had several reasons to make the change, including the desire to bring Smith aboard. Schiano had wanted to hire his former Rutgers assistant last year but knew Smith wanted the chance to take over as defensive coordinator for the Scarlet Knights. After one very successful year in that post, Smith expressed interest in making the jump to the NFL.
“It was two-fold,” he said. “Number one, he’ll be able to assist Bill Sheridan in everything that he does. He’ll be able to do specific things that will free Bill up to do other things. The other part of it is to bring Robb Smith in to coach our linebackers. It’s worked out great because we’ve all worked together and all understand each other.”