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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs Beat: Davis' experience an asset to Schiano

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Published:   |   Updated: March 19, 2013 at 02:48 PM
TAMPA -

Greg Schiano is off to a pretty good start as the new coach of the Buccaneers. After winning his introductory news conference last month, he posted a second victory last week with the hiring of Butch Davis as a special assistant.

Davis won't spend his time here doing what he seemingly does best, which is coach players on the field and draw up defenses in the laboratory. In the long run, however, Davis may prove more valuable as an advisor.

Though the Bucs have yet to find one, there are plenty of coaches with the skills necessary to be defensive coordinators. What's harder to find is someone who has already done what Schiano is doing and is willing to share his experiences.

That will be Davis' role.

Davis, who left his job as head coach at the University of Miami to be the head coach of the Cleveland Browns in 2001, believes his presence and experience will give Schiano an advantage few of his contemporaries have had.

"Hopefully I can be a sounding board for him, you know, look over his shoulder at times and say, 'Here are some things that I did that were the wrong things to do,' '' Davis said. "He can learn from some of my mistakes and maybe from some of the things I did right, too.

"The bottom line is, I can help.''

Steve Spurrier, Dennis Erickson and Nick Saban, none of whom produced winning records or playoff appearances after jumping from college to the NFL, likely would have benefitted from that type of help, which is why the Bucs appear to have broken some new ground with this hire.

Instead of hiring an assistant head coach who also has a position group to worry about, the Bucs hired a highly respected former head coach who has been here and done this, a legitimate mentor who could expedite Schiano's transition to the NFL and the Bucs' return to respectability and relevance.

That isn't a bad thing.

Bucs reassured about Freeman

If the Bucs' belief that Josh Freeman is a franchise-caliber quarterback was shaken at all by Freeman's performance last season, it was restored during the team's search for new coaches.

General manager Mark Dominik learned during his search for a head coach "there is a lot of excitement around the NFL about Josh Freeman,'' he said.

Two new staff members supported that claim.

Offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan said Freeman was one of things that attracted him to the job. Davis said while he knew little about the team prior to arriving, he did know Tampa Bay had a keeper in Freeman.

"The one thing that is blatantly apparent, that I think everyone universally would agree on about, is that they got the quarterback part of it right here,'' Davis said. "And you have to have that part.

"Those who have one have a chance and those that don't, don't. And (Freeman) is a great looking kid and he's anxious and hungry and ready to get started in a new system and to learn and everything. That's a great beginning place.''

Passing fancy

Although their success was borne largely out of necessity, the Bucs had a more potent passing attack in 2011 than during their 10-6 season in 2010 under former head coach Raheem Morris.

Tampa Bay threw for 3,650 yards and ranked 16th in the league in passing offense in 2011 after throwing for 3,361 yards and ranking 17th in 2010.

Where the Bucs struggled in 2011, though, was in the deep passing game. They completed only 20 passes that gained 25 or more yards in, which ranked 28th in the league.

rcummings@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7979

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