New Bucs Offensive Coordinator Turn Heads With Play-Calling Response

Todd Bowles

Getty Todd Bowles has confidence in new offensive coordinator Dave Canales despite the lack of play calling experience.

Amid all of new Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Dave Canales‘ enthusiasm and vision, he made a notable admission during his introductory press conference.

Canales hasn’t ever called plays at the NFL, college, and high school varsity level. He called plays for the Carson High School junior varsity team in California 18 years ago. An NFL assistant since 2010, Canales didn’t hide from that fact in the interview with the Bucs nor the media on Wednesday, February 22. Canales has mainly served as a quarterbacks coach and wide receivers coach since his junior varsity play-calling days.

“Anyway, that’s way back then,” Canales told the media about his Carson High days. “But yeah, I’ll touch on that because that was a concern that came up in both interviews with Baltimore and with Todd [Bowles] and Jason [Licht].”

“I really respect the play-calling position. I respect how hard it is. I respect the skill that the guys that I worked for [have], that they had to have the mastery of the game plan and the call sheet,” Canales added. “I know that I’m going to take some lumps and have to learn my lessons along the way, but I’ll learn quick. I am a quick study.”

For the past 14 years, Canales has been studying under Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, including one year together at USC. Canales described the “real toughness in style of how we play, training the staff, [and] training the players” instilled in him by Carroll. The results speak for themselves with 10 playoff appearances, two Super Bowl appearances, and a Lombardi Trophy in 13 years.

Canales, who worked closely with quarterbacks such as Russell Wilson and Geno Smith, emphasized his job “to know the play sheet cold” in previous coaching roles.

“Feeding play ideas for the last three coordinators at different times in my career has allowed me to cut my teeth a little bit on what that looks like,” Canales said. “Just having a mastery of the call sheet comes with the role of being the quarterbacks coach, which is why it’s important.”

Dave Canales Faces Daunting Task in Tampa

Canales will need to be a quick study with a Bucs offense that stumbled to 18.4 points per game and finished last in rushing in 2022. He won’t have Tom Brady at quarterback, and the offense could face challenges in building on the Brady era quickly with $55.5 million over the salary cap and 20-plus pending free agents. Despite the challenges ahead, Canales confidently articulated his vision for the offense — which includes a balance between the running game and passing game.

“You’re going to see 11 people fly off the ball and really finish — finish drives, finish quarters, finish halves and finish games. It starts in practice,” Canales said.

Time will tell if Canales’ energy, enthusiasm, and execution can take the Bucs further on offense in 2023. For now, Canales can only work toward that behind the scenes and express his confidence to the media until his offense takes the field in August.

“This is not the Buccaneers of 2022,” Canales said.

Dave Canales on the Bucs Finding Balance

Tampa Bay finished last for 2022 in total rushing yards, touchdowns, and yards per attempt. Canales expects to change that in general, but he acknowledged he would lean on the passing game if needed — a tendency for the Bucs in recent seasons but with Brady under center.

“There will be days, [where] if they’re not fitting the runs right, we’ll run the ball 40 times and there will be days where you’ve got a matchup outside with Mike [Evans] or Chris Godwin and we’re blocking them pretty [well] and we can throw for 400-plus yards,” Canales said.

“That’s happened in our past in Seattle, as well,” Canales added. “It’s just like, ‘Do whatever it takes to win and above all, take care of the ball’. So, having that balance is critical and it’s not about establishing the run, it’s about establishing an attacking offense that makes you have to defend the run but also defend the pass.”

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