Commentary | Tampa Bay Buccaneers coordinator Tedford keeping offense under wraps

adell@bradenton.comJune 5, 2014 

Buccaneers Practice Football

Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford, center, talks during a May 27 workout in Tampa.ASSOCIATED PRESS

WILL VRAGOVIC — AP

He seemed to arrive out of nowhere wearing dark sunglasses as if to block anyone trying to read the game plan in his eyes.

Jeff Tedford resurfaced this week, meeting with the media after being in virtual hibernation since he arrived on Lovie Smith love boat.

You could've mistaken him for Jason Statham promoting a new movie. Shall we call it "Death to the Defense"?

The Tampa Bucs offensive coordinator is draped in secrecy.

Tedford has never coached or played a down in the NFL.

If he were hired by deposed Bucs head coach Greg Schiano, the crows would be circling One Buc Place howling about bringing in another college guy.

Tedford's 11-year record at California is eerily similar to the one Schiano had at Rutgers. It is wrapped in mediocrity that includes a 15-22 log in his final three seasons at Berkeley.

He used the word "evolving" multiple times in answering questions about his offense.

When asked why all the secrecy, including some players saying they were told to keep the offense under wraps, Tedford responded, "I don't know."

This makes Bucs fans uneasy.

They are already fragile after suffering through Raheem Morris and Greg Schiano, which led them to believe secrecy is a cover-up for ignorance.

Tedford comes under Smith's protective blanket, and you want to believe in him.

The two spent last season collecting paychecks as unemployed coaches watching game films.

They formed a bond, and Smith selected him to be his OC even before he got the Bucs job.

It's uncertain if this is a long-term relationship. Smith went through four offensive coordinators in his nine years as the Chicago Bears' head coach.

But this is OTA and minicamp season, and optimism rules the day.

If you are looking for signs to feel good about Tedford, try this one on.

He spoke for a little more than 15 minutes and said virtually nothing.

He left his audience baffled and starving for information, which hopefully will be the same way opposing defensive coordinators see the Bucs.

But you can't deny the question marks surrounding the Bucs offense.

It is being led by a man without a down of NFL experience and is counting on two rookies to play big roles in wide receiver Mike Evans and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins.

Evans tweaked his hamstring during workouts, and it's a bit worrisome because he was plagued with hamstring problems in the 2012 at Texas A&M. He injured it again in a collision with cornerback Mike Jenkins in a passing drill.

The offensive line has undergone a house cleaning, which could put the cache of running backs Tedford will have at this disposal in danger.

Tedford did say running back Doug Martin will not tote the ball as much as he did during his rookie season in 2012. That's a welcome relief from Schiano, who treated Martin as if he had found the reincarnation of Ray Rice and was still at Rutgers.

"I don't believe one back can carry the load. It's just too physical," Tedford said. "You need two to three guys to bring different things to the table, but at least need two to keep them healthy and provide depth."

This all takes time. Smith and Bucs GM Jason Licht have been cleaning up the mess left by Schiano and former GM Mark Dominik.

The rest of Tedford's diatribe was what you might hear at any NFL camp in 2014. He wants to change tempo, is looking for elusive runners who operate well in space, likes what you can do with two talented tight ends and says lots of teams are going to take a page from Chip Kelly's playbook in Philadelphia.

"Football is football. It's about matchups and getting things done and execution," Tedford said. "No matter how much you think you can trick people, it still comes down to execution."

So why all the secrecy?

Maybe someday Tedford will tell us.

Alan Dell, Herald sports writer, can be reached at 941-745-7056. Follow him on Twitter @ADellSports.

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