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Jagodzinski fired by Bucs for prolonged 'attention to detail' issues

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The surprise firing of Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski on Thursday -- one day before the team's final preseason game -- stemmed from prolonged "attention to detail" issues that the team had been monitoring for weeks, a league source with knowledge of the situation said.

"We needed more direction and we needed more precision," Bucs coach Raheem Morris said Thursday, "and we weren't getting it at the time, so we made the change."

The decision to fire Jagodzinski 10 days before the Bucs' regular-season opener came because the team saw no improvement in the situation during the preseason and it wanted to make the change in time for quarterbacks coach Greg Olson to call the plays in Friday night's preseason finale against the Houston Texans. The Bucs also wanted the team's quarterbacks to have enough time to grow accustomed to a new play-caller before facing the visiting Dallas Cowboys on Sept. 13.

Mark Humphrey / Associated Press
Jeff Jagodzinski (left), who was fired as the Bucs' offensive coordinator Thursday, talks with quarterback Luke McCown (right) before a preseason game, but he favored Byron Leftwich as the starter.

Jagodzinski is the second offensive coordinator fired this week by a team with a new head coach and new management. Kansas City fired Chan Gailey on Monday. While Gailey's termination was somewhat of a surprise, it seemed somewhat understandable because he was a holdover from Herm Edwards' staff and Haley is a former offensive coordinator accustomed to calling plays.

Jagodzinski, hired in late January, was dismissed by a defensive coach (Morris) and a team that went through a fairly exhaustive hiring process to find the offensive successor to fired head coach Jon Gruden, who previously called the plays for the Bucs.

The source said decision-makers within the Bucs organization noticed some red flags in Jagodzinski's preparation and teaching in more of the "classroom setting" during the offseason but figured things would improve once training camp began. When they didn't, the Bucs opted to fire Jagodzinski now instead of waiting for things to continue to stagnate or possibly deteriorate during the regular season, the source said.

In a statement released by the Bucs on Thursday morning, Jagodzinski said Morris had offered him the quarterbacks coach job, but he "felt that the timing for such a move was not in the best interest for either side."

"I'm not here to bash Jeff Jagodzinski," Morris said. "What he did -- coming here and implementing the plan, getting us started -- was good. We're just at a different state right now; we need to be more direct, have more precision and know where we're going."

Jagodzinski's firing had nothing to do with any personal conflicts with players, coaches or other team employees, legal matters or the decision to start Byron Leftwich at quarterback instead of Luke McCown or Josh Freeman. In fact, a source said Jagodzinski favored Leftwich all along.

Jagodzinski's zone-blocking scheme and overall offense will not change under Olson and neither will most of the offense. Some of the ways in which plays are called could be altered, but otherwise, things will remain as Jagodzinski designed. Olson, a holdover from Gruden's staff, was in charge of the passing game, so that will remain intact.

"Fundamental core beliefs of our offense are the same," Morris said, "just the direction and where we're going from here is going to change."

Jagodzinski's stunning dismissal casts a second dark cloud in a matter of months over a coach whose star has been on the rise and who is well respected by many of his peers -- he was the offensive line coach in Atlanta and offensive coordinator with Green Bay. Jagodzinski was fired after two seasons as Boston College's head coach this past winter after interviewing for a job with the New York Jets. Boston College officials had warned him that he would be terminated if he entertained the interview.

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