For the second time in less than a week, a team has dismissed its offensive coordinator with the regular season on the horizon.
The first casualty was Chan Gailey, who was let go by coach Todd Haley and the Kansas City Chiefs. Now we can add Jeff Jagodzinski to the list of the recently unemployed. The decision comes as a shock to Buccaneers fans and fantasy owners alike, as the offensive ground attack seemed like it has just started to click with Jagodzinski at the helm.
Of course, Jagodzinski is no stranger to controversial dismissals. He was fired as the head coach of the Boston College Eagles this past January after ignoring an order from the school and interviewing for the vacant head coaching position with the New York Jets.
With Jagodzinski out of the mix, coach Raheem Morris will turn to quarterbacks coach Greg Olson to take over the OC duties.
Olson has served as an offensive coordinator twice over the past five years, first with the Detroit Lions (2005) and then with the St. Louis Rams (2006-2007).
While with the Lions, Olson's offense finished 27th in the league. Quarterback Joey Harrington floundered, throwing for 2,021 yards with 12 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. In his second NFL season, Kevin Jones rushed for a mere 664 yards with five touchdowns in 13 games. Roy E. Williams, also in his second season, had 45 catches, 687 yards and eight touchdowns.
Things did turn around for Olson in his first season with the Rams, though, as the offense finished sixth overall in the league, including fourth in passing offense. Quarterback Marc Bulger had one of his best seasons as a pro, throwing for 4,301 yards with 24 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Of course, it helped that he had veteran receivers Torry Holt (93 receptions, 1,188 yards, 10 touchdowns) and Isaac Bruce (74 receptions, 1,098 yards, three touchdowns) at his disposal.
The run offense finished just 17th that season, but ironically it was Steven Jackson's best fantasy season. Jackson finished with an amazing 90 receptions, 2,334 yards from scrimmage and 16 total touchdowns. Unfortunately, that level of offensive success wouldn't last for Olson. The Rams offense dropped to No. 24 in 2007. Bulger's final numbers tumbled (2,392 yards, 11 touchdowns, 15 interceptions), and Jackson (1,002 rushing yards, six total touchdowns) was a serious fantasy disappointment as well.
What makes the move from Jagodzinski to Olson even more odd was that the two have differing offensive philosophies. Jagodzinski had the team in a transition to more of a power running game with a vertical pass attack, while Olson is well-known for his West Coast schemes. Fantasy owners have to wonder how much the offense will change, especially with just over a week before the Buccaneers open their regular season against the Dallas Cowboys.
The answer to that question is, not much.
Morris has already named Byron Leftwich the starting quarterback. That won't change with Olson at the helm, even if Luke McCown is a better fit for what Olson has done in the past. Remember, Olson was already very much in tune with the current passing game as the team's quarterbacks coach. So while he is a West Coast coach, it's hard to envision a scenario where Jagodzinski's designs would be seriously altered. While there could be some changes to how the plays are called, the offense should remain mostly intact.
Still, Leftwich isn't going to warrant a lot of fantasy attention outside of much deeper leagues. Wide receiver Antonio Bryant, who is back to work after missing time with a knee injury, could benefit from the switch. Olson was a holdover from former coach Jon Gruden's staff, and Bryant broke out last season with Gruden at the helm. Overall, though, Bryant is still a risk-reward fantasy wideout based on the changes at quarterback and an offense that should still lean on the run.
On a positive note, the St. Petersburg Times is reporting that running back coach Steve Logan, who is a close friend of Jagodzinski, will remain with the team. Logan was Jagodzinski's offensive coordinator at Boston College and was heavily involved in the offense. He even had some play-calling influence.
That means the Bucs should stay with the zone-blocking scheme Jagodzinski installed to benefit the trio of Derrick Ward, Earnest Graham and Cadillac Williams.
Regardless of who leads the offense, the Buccaneers still plan to use a 2-2-1 backfield format. The starter (projected to be Ward) will play the first two series, the No. 2 back (projected to be Graham) will play the following two series, and the No. 3 runner (projected to be Williams) will take the fifth.
Of course, that's not exactly what owners were hoping for when Ward left the Big Apple for what was supposed to be a bigger role in Tampa Bay. Sure, Ward did post a solid 41 receptions with 1,409 yards from scrimmage last season, but he scored only two touchdowns while Brandon Jacobs saw most of the short-yardage and goal-line work. With Graham and Williams in the mix (and better options at the goal line), Ward figures to see around 15 touches per game and will have a ceiling on his fantasy value.
News and notes
- » The Dallas Morning News reports that Felix Jones has improved his skills as an inside runner and could see additional red-zone carries this season. Marion Barber will continue to see the goal-line looks and remains the better fantasy option, but Jones will see more work inside the opponent's 20-yard line. That just adds to his value as a potential sleeper this season. Look for Jones to become a viable flex starter in 2009.
- » According to the Texans official website, quarterback Matt Schaub has made good progress in his recovery from the injured ankle he suffered in last week's preseason game. In fact, coach Gary Kubiak said Schaub is on a "regular treatment schedule" and is "trying to get ready for New York in Week 1]." Schaub is currently listed as day to day, but chances are he'll be active to face the [Jets. His injury woes remain a concern, though.
- » The Denver Post is reporting that Broncos running back LaMont Jordan is in danger of not making the final roster. He's battled injuries throughout training camp and seems to have fallen behind Knowshon Moreno, Correll Buckhalter and Peyton Hillis on the depth chart. Speaking of Moreno, coach Josh McDaniels said the rookie is near 100 percent back from an MCL sprain. He appears to be on track to be active for Week 1.
- » Patriots running back Sammy Morris could have been passed on the depth chart by BenJarvus Green-Ellis, according to the Boston Globe. Morris has missed a lot of practice time in recent weeks and could be on the bubble, while Green-Ellis has looked strong in the preseason with a 6.2 yards-per-carry average. With Fred Taylor, Laurence Maroney and Kevin Faulk also in the mix, fantasy owners should avoid most Patriots runners.
- » The Akron Beacon-Journal reports that Browns wide receiver and second-round draft pick Brian Robiskie might open the regular season fifth on the team's depth chart. Robiskie was considered the most NFL-ready wideout in the 2009 class, but he's fallen behind Joshua Cribbs, fellow rookie Mohamed Massaquoi and Mike Furrey. In what will be a run-based offense, Robiskie warrants little consideration in most seasonal drafts.
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