The High Five: Staff shakeup

Today is the debut of the "High Five." Each week Bucsblitz.com will bring you analysis, opinions and inside information on five key issues surrounding the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Today find out why Carnell Williams is in a "dark, lonely" place, how wide receiver Paris Warren is feeling and why a reunion between Bill Callahan and Jon Gruden is making less sense.

STAFF SHAKEUP

When I first heard that Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden spent five minutes with his assistant coaches on Monday, I wasn't sure what to think.

Then, when I heard that he told them to make an appointment with general manager Bruce Allen if they wanted to remain in Tampa Bay, it became obvious that Gruden was showing most of them the door.

But by Friday, it appeared many of the offensive coaches were on their way back.

Offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Bill Muir and wide receivers coach Richard Mann signed extensions on Thursday, according to GM Bruce Allen. Offensive line assistant Aaron Kromer will talk to Allen this weekend, but Allen made it sound as if brining Kromer back wouldn't be an issue.

There is no word yet on quarterbacks coach Paul Hackett or tight ends coach Bob Casullo.

Former Tampa Bay running backs coach Art Valero. (Getty Images)
But running backs coach Art Valero, much to my chagrin, is gone.

Valero confirmed to one Tampa news outlet that he was on his way to St. Louis for a new job under head coach Scott Linehan. He may coach running backs or offensive linemen.

This is a huge blow for the Bucs. Valero molded Earnest Graham into the back he proved to be this season and did great work with Carnell Williams when the rookie arrived in 2005. More importantly, he was a great spokesman for the organization and for his players every time I spoke to him. He was a terrific quote and I can safely say I learned a great deal about the game by listening to him.

I don't think the Bucs can afford to lose Hackett, either. He's done yeoman's work in tutoring Luke McCown and Bruce Gradkowski, though the latter hasn't progressed the way I think Gruden wanted him to this season. That could be a reason the Bucs are dragging their feet a bit on Hackett.

The Bucs shook up their defensive staff last year. With an offense that finished 17th in the NFL despite weapons like Jeff Garcia and Joey Galloway, it appears an offensive shake-up — albeit not as serious as I first thought earlier this week — is in order.

Best wishes to Valero. He's going to make someone a great coordinator one day.

"DARK, LONELY" CADILLAC

Read this statement by Gruden after a reporter asked him about running back Carnell "Cadillac" Williams on Monday:

"It's a dark lonely world right now that he's in," Gruden said.

Gruden was referring to Williams' rehabilitation from a torn patellar tendon in his knee. Williams is back at One Buc Place rehabbing the injury.

The words sounded ominous, but I think Gruden was trying to make a point. Williams' injury is career threatening. I think what Gruden wanted to get across was that Williams would get out of it what he puts into it. Williams is rehabbing alone and he isn't around his teammates. He probably won't participate in offseason drills and, potentially, training camp. He has little to look forward to at the moment except daily workouts with a trainer.

Will Williams be strong enough to handle it and maintain his focus on getting better, instead of getting down on himself and losing track of his progress? It has happened to some athletes that have suffered that type of injury.

Gruden expressed faith that Williams could get it done. So did Bruce Allen on Thursday. But the implication of his statement above was clear.

It's all up to Williams. And how he rehabs his injury this offseason will define his career in the NFL.

BRINGING ON BILL?

I asked our Scout.com senior NFL writer Adam Caplan to talk a little about Gruden's and Bill Callahan's partnership in the past:

"They worked together twice, with the Raiders and with the Eagles, so it makes sense considering how many of their coaches' contracts that have expired. He could be the offensive coordinator or the offensive line coach. Bill Muir is well respected, though, so it would be a surprise if he wasn't back."

Former Nebraska and Raiders head coach Bill Callahan. (AP photo)
Muir will be back, so hiring Callahan as an offensive coordinator is out.

Callahan was Gruden's offensive coordinator during the Raiders' top offensive seasons under Gruden and took over the Raiders when Gruden left in early 2002. As head coach he kept the ship running all the way to the Super Bowl and the offensive numbers didn't drop.

Gruden faces a problem if he wants to hire Callahan. His position discipline appears to be offensive line, where Muir is already positioned. He doesn't appear to have coached any other position.

So where do you put Callahan? I supposed he could take Valero's position on the staff, but he has no experience with running backs. The same goes for quarterback, where Hackett's future is in flux.

Allen said Thursday that they haven't talked to or offered anything to Callahan, but the rumors will persist until Callahan's future is settled. With Muir now re-signed and the Jets interested in Callahan, brining Gruden's former protégé to Tampa Bay makes much less sense than it did a few days ago.

SIMMS SPEAKS

Note to Chris Simms: If you don't want to speak to us, don't come near the locker room.

On Monday the media was in the locker room waiting to talk to players as they packed up their belongings. Simms — who hasn't been in the locker room during media periods since he was placed on injured reserve — took one look through the window to the locker room, saw us, threw his arms down and turned around.

We all gave chase, but Simms didn't go far. After we moved away from the equipment room door, he gave us five minutes.

Simms is savvy enough to know how the game is played. He said he wants to remain in Tampa, but he has to know his future is not here. He's in the final year of his contract, and it's a pretty reasonable one for a team that needs a quarterback — and there are plenty of them.

By talking to the media, Simms got the word out that his injury woes are behind him (at least that's what he said). That could stoke some trade talk for Simms, as the Bucs could use some late-round picks in this draft. We'll see.

THE WARREN FACTOR

Some players I've talked to said that the Paris Warren injury — as gruesome as it was at the time — galvanized this team emotionally. Seeing every player on the field wishing Warren well as he rode away on that cart became perhaps the iconic image of this season.

Well, Warren certainly would have come in handy for a receiving corps that became one of the most depleted by injury in the NFL. All Warren could do was watch.

"There's nothing you can control," Warren said. "It plays out on its own."

Warren told reporters on Monday that he should be full strength by the start of the organized team activities in late March.

Whether Warren can reclaim the momentum he built during last year's preseason ¬— and in the final year of his contract — will be crucial to next season. Joey Galloway will be 36, Ike Hilliard will be 32 and Michael Clayton continues to disappoint. Wide receiver will be a priority in 2008, either in free agency or the draft, and Warren will have competition. This will be his last chance to shine.

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Listen to Bucsblitz.com's Matthew Postins every Tuesday with former Buccaneers linebacker Scot Brantley on WHBO 1470 ESPN Radio in Tampa and Clearwater from 3-6 p.m. If you miss the show, check out Bucsblitz.com's exclusive team media center for Postins' archived appearances.

Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for Bucsblitz.com and the Charlotte (Fla.) Sun-Herald. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers Association, and his coverage of the Buccaneers has won numerous state and national awards.


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