What Canales Brings To The Buccaneers’ Offense


After nearly a month after parting ways with offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have finally replaced him. It took interviewing no less than ten candidates, but the extensive search finally paid off.

The Bucs have hired Seattle quarterback coach Dave Canales to be their new offensive coordinator. The longtime Seahawks position coach has worked as wide receiver coach, passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach since 2010. Now he will finally be taking the next step forward as a play caller.

This in itself leaves us with a lot of questions. What will a Canales offense look like as a first time offensive coordinator? What exactly will he bring to the table in Tampa Bay? I took a look at his history to try and understand what we can expect.

Passing Game Coordinator

I felt like the best insight would come from looking at his time as the Seahawks passing game coordinator. Canales held this role in the 2020 and 2021 season. A few notable things stood out to me about those seasons.

In the 2020 season, the Seahawks ranked 10th in play action pass attempts. And while that number did go down to 19th in the 2021 season, the effectiveness went up from 14th to 6th in passing yards off play action. This would be a great change from the previous regime.

One thing that does not look like it would change is the desire to throw the ball down field. In 2020 the Seahawks ranked 14th in average depth of target (how far each pass is thrown on average). In 2021 that number jumped from 8 yards average to a 9 yards average, which ranked 1st in the NFL. 

Keep in mind that Canales was not the play caller for these offenses. However, it was his design for the passing attack. If this is any indication then these two aspects of play action passes and throwing the ball down the field should be a staple of the Buccaneers offense in 2023.

Work With Quarterbacks

Canales changed roles with the team last season, moving from passing game coordinator to quarterbacks coach. This was a difficult position to be in as the team had traded away star quarterback Russell Wilson. This left Canales the task of developing either Drew Lock or career journeyman Geno Smith.

In the end, Canales was able to do good work with Smith. So much so that Smith went to the pro bowl this season (the first of his career) and was named the NFL Comeback Player of the Year. It’s never clear how much credit goes to an individual coach after a breakout year, but certainly it reflects positively on Canales.

For a team like the Bucs, who have nothing but questions surrounding their quarterback position, this must have been a draw. Turning a career backup into a pro bowler is very impressive. This might be the hope the team has for the 2023 season as they look to bring in a veteran quarterback of a similar caliber.

It seems likely that this quarterback will be someone with a degree of mobility. After designing a passing attack around Wilson, we saw the utilization of play action and roll outs fairly regularly. Even Smith has a degree of mobility, matching a career high of 366 rushing yards last season.

Wide Receivers

Where Canales has most of his experience is working with wide receivers. During his time he was a major factor in helping develop the likes of Golden Tate, Tyler Lockett, and D.K. Metcalf. He has a strong background in developing this position group without investing premium resources into it.

This isn’t a pressing need right now. With Mike Evans and Chris Godwin in place, the Bucs are strong at the wide receiver position. However, the depth behind them leaves something to be desired.

It seems likely that the Bucs will invest a mid to late round draft pick on a wide receiver. With his history with this position we can draw some conclusion that Canales values quickness with this position. Looking at guys like Tate and Lockett, both were very quick and good route runners.

Expect the team to target a smaller, quicker wide receiver. Someone who Canales can utilize in motion, which was used regularly during his time as passing coordinator. 

Overall View Of The Offense

If history truly does repeat itself, then we might have an idea of what Canales wants to do with the offense. This would be a down field passing attack that utilizes play action as well as motion. It’s also an offense that values quarterback mobility.

There are still many questions to answer with the offense. However, with Canales in place it at least gives the Buccaneers direction and the team can bring in players to fit Canales plan. The dominos will now start to fall one by one in accordance with his vision. 

Regardless of what the future holds, expect a very different approach to the Buccaneers offense. I believe this change will make a drastic difference regardless of who the quarterback will be. Only time will tell exactly how this new hire will play out.

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