Tuesday, May 30 2023

What are the Bucs getting in new offensive coordinator Dave Canales, who spent the last 13 seasons on Pete Carroll’s Seahawks staff and helped turn Geno Smith into a Pro Bowl quarterback this past season?

“There’s a culture that we created that just brings people together,” said receiver Doug Baldwin, who worked with Canales in all of his eight seasons in Seattle from 2011-18. “I definitely see the challenge of him leaving that, but Dave has had aspirations of being an offensive coordinator for a long time. This is his opportunity to do so, and he had to take it. I’m happy for him, proud of him, and I know the guys here in Seattle are happy for him because they know he’s capable of going there and doing a hell of a job.”

Canales, 41, got the Bucs job Wednesday night, a day after he was the 10th candidate to interview for the position. Head coach Todd Bowles and general manager Jason Licht cast a wide net, talking to quite a few young coaches, many of whom — like Canales — have never been offensive coordinators or called plays before.

Canales takes over for Byron Leftwich, who was fired last month after a disappointing season where the Bucs fell from one of the NFL’s highest-scoring offenses in 2020-21 to scoring almost two touchdowns less per game in 2022. Three assistants were also let go, so Canales will be able to help the Bucs hire new quarterbacks, running backs and receivers coaches shortly as well.


Baldwin saw Canales go from a low-level offensive assistant to being his receivers coach and finally the quarterbacks coach and later the passing-game coordinator in Seattle. In the three years that Baldwin had Canales as his position coach, he led the NFL in touchdown receptions with 15 in 2015, then made the Pro Bowl in each of the next two seasons.

“The thing about Dave, first and foremost and most importantly, he’s a good human being,” Baldwin said. “He’s gone through his trials and tribulations as a man through the coaching ranks, and the one thing that stands out to me in that he’s learned his lessons and he’s applying those lessons he’s learned as a young man and an adult and a father and a husband and sharing those lessons with the young guys. Why that’s important is, as you know in the NFL, when you build an offense or a team as a whole, there’s so many different personalities, and as a coach, you have to be adaptable to those personalities and be willing to work with those personalities to get the most out of them, and that’s what Dave is capable of doing. He has a personality that’s magnetizing, because he can speak to anybody.”

Watch this video clip of Canales at Seahawks training camp four years ago and you see a constant upbeat energy around him as he interacts with players.

“That’s the energy in Seattle, the culture we built in Seattle, and he kind of exudes that,” Baldwin said. “It’s the high-intensity energy, high standards and also a lot of fun. You’re going to go out and fight in a battle every day in practice, but it’s a lot of fun to so with the players you come to call your family. Dave was always at the center of that, always a part of that, helped us create that culture. What you saw is genuinely him. He’s passionate about coaching young men in the game of football.”

Canales got the job after an exhaustive 27-day search that included 10 candidates, some with multiple interviews. He hasn’t called plays before as he will in Tampa, but Baldwin said in some years, he was tasked with creating Seattle’s third-down package, and the offense had some of its best success in those packages. He worked under three different offensive coordinators in Seattle, learning from each as part of an offense that ranked in the top 10 in scoring eight times in the last 10 years. They’ve made the playoffs nine times in 11 years, going 9-7 one of the two years they missed. 

Todd Bowles knows this firsthand, personally. In his four years running the Bucs defense, the second-most points his team has allowed was 40 in an overtime loss to Seattle in 2019, when Canales was the Seahawks’ quarterbacks coach. Russell Wilson threw for five touchdowns that day — the most of any Bucs opponent in the last four years — along with 378 yards and no interceptions.

It’s easy to write off that success as coinciding with having an elite quarterback in Wilson, but Canales found a way to find the same productivity this past season with Geno Smith at quarterback. Smith had four touchdown passes over six years from 2015-20 before getting three starts as an injury replacement in 2021. Given the starting nod this past season, he threw for 30 touchdowns and 4,282 yards, completing a league-best 69.8 percent of his passes on the way to a Pro Bowl nod.

“It didn’t surprise me, if I’m being honest,” Baldwin said. “A guy like Geno getting matched up like Dave Canales, I don’t want to say it’s a match made in heaven, but those two guys together, it made sense to me. I know Dave had an important role in his development, in helping him bring out the best in himself. Dave has that ability. There are guys that have talent and all the skill in the world but may not necessarily know how to put it all together. Dave can show you the blueprint to do that. He’s really good at that … He’s just a good, solid human being, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are lucky to have him.” 

Greg Auman is FOX Sports’ NFC South reporter, covering the Buccaneers, Falcons, Panthers and Saints. He is in his 10th season covering the Bucs and the NFL full-time, having spent time at the Tampa Bay Times and The Athletic. You can follow him on Twitter at @gregauman.  

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