“We don’t need more 5-yard plays. Who needs more 5-yard plays? How can we be explosive? That’s what the game is about, man. People like big plays. I like big plays.
"So how do we figure out how to get big plays? In football trick plays are fun. I mean, what isn’t fun about explosive plays and throwing it down the field and guys making plays?”
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are just a mess of a franchise, saddled with a franchise quarterback who just isn’t very good and a defense that is about as bad as a defense can be. Yet, in 2018, the Bucs were one of the most entertaining teams to watch, largely because of offensive coordinator Todd Monken.
Monken, a native of Wheaton, Illinois, was a quarterback for Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, where he earned an economics degree. Monken left a wake of successful offenses behind in college, leading a high scoring Eastern Michigan team and, in his last stop, turning around an atrocious Southern Mississippi squad in just a few years.
I first noticed him running the Bucs offense this season, his third in Tampa. Monken runs a big-play, deep passing offense that targets the middle and deep sections of the field, stretches defenses, and makes them defend every inch of territory. Monken trusted his passing game to work despite lackluster quarterbacks in retread Ryan Fitzpatrick and bust Jameis Winston. Fitzpatrick in particular thrived in Monken’ offense, hitting big play after big play to lead one of the league’s best passing offenses and finishing 5th in DVOA.
Monken was also involved in one of the strangest incidents of the season, when head coach Dirk Koetter took over play-calling duties for the November 11th game against Washington. Koetter, who was fired after the season, never explained why he did this:
“After the game, Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter revealed he took over play-calling duties from offensive coordinator Todd Monken, but he wasn’t forthcoming on why he made the change. 'My own reasons,' Koetter responded when asked what spurred the change.”
The Packers interviewed Monken on January 5th, and it’s easy to see why he would be attractive. He runs a quarterback-friendly offense that focuses on big plays in the intermediate and deep portions of the field. If you are looking for a coach to gel with a surly quarterback who waves off called plays to throw bombs, you could do worse.
I’m a tentative fan, and while he’s still a bit green to jump to head coach in the NFL, going with someone a bit green may not be the worst idea. Monken’s offense is fun and progressive and he was, as far as anyone could tell, the only adult on the Tampa staff. I’m not sure if the Packers will land him, but wherever he goes, I’ll be watching next season.