The Bucs have started an extremely busy and important couple of weeks that will reflect their future. We all know that general manager Jason Licht was at the Rose Bowl to watch Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston. We also know that the team has started their search for an offensive coordinator. The timeline for these decisions is very important.
After watching Mariota in the Rose Bowl and numerous other games the past two seasons, I have some legit concerns about him fitting into a true pro-style offense. I mean, the guy does not take a snap from under center. In addition, more than half of Mariota's passes were screen passes in the Rose Bowl, which was a microcosm of his collegiate career.
On the other side of the field, Jameis Winston showed off his insane ability in a pro-style offense and continuously made "NFL throws" throughout the Rose Bowl. It was just one game, and all of the games for both prospects will be evaluated, but Winston proved to easily be the more "NFL-ready" QB playing in that Rose Bowl.
Most Bucs fans and media have immediately made the assumption that the style of offensive coordinator the Bucs hire will be a precursor to which quarterback they will select. The only issue with this is that we do not know if both Winston and Mariota will enter the NFL Draft.
"I'm not focused on that at all," Winston said when asked whether he would leave school early. "I'm looking forward to next season and playing baseball. So I'm just trying to get better every day."
Relax, I fully anticipate at least one of, if not both, QBs to enter the 2015 NFL Draft. However, I do feel the Bucs should be hesitant on an offensive coordinator until they know which quarterback(s) will be eligible for the draft. Committing to a pro-style offense and being limited to selecting Marcus Mariota would be a disservice to Mariota's skills.
The timeline is vital, but here's how I would play it out:
-I would start interviewing offensive coordinator candidates as soon as possible. I'd also interview as many as possible at the same time. By giving yourself multiple options with multiple systems, you will be ready for any scenario.
-I would not hire an offensive coordinator until both Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston have announced their intentions...unless that new offensive coordinator has a scheme or a mind that fits either quarterback (Rob Chudzinski, Greg Roman, etc...). The cut-off date to enter the NFL Draft early is January 15th, but remember, Marcus Mariota will not announce anything until after the National Championship Game on January 12th. Luckily for the Bucs, there seems to be a good number of quality offensive coordinators available.
-Once you know which quarterbacks are available, and select the offensive coordinator, the rest of the off-season should be filled with tracking the QB(s) that have entered the draft, evaluating current personnel for the new offense, evaluating potential 2nd-7th round picks that fit the new offense, and strategically signing free agents that fit your plan.
This is a very important off-season for the Bucs, and in particular their offense. The first and most important aspect of this off-season might be patience for the next two weeks until the dust finally settles.
Follow Bucs Blitz on twitter: @TBBucsOnScout