We can add two more names to the Buccaneers’ list of possibilities to replace offensive coordinator Dave Canales, who was promoted to head coach of the division-rival Panthers after a good year as Tampa Bay’s offensive coordinator. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, the Bucs have either interviewed or sought interviews with Texans quarterbacks coach Jerrod Johnson and Lions wide receivers coach Antwaan Randle El.
Johnson, 35, is a popular name in this year’s hiring cycle, having already met with the Browns, Saints, Eagles, and Steelers for vacant offensive coordinator roles (Philadelphia went a different route, hiring Kellen Moore yesterday). Johnson was an offensive quality control coach for the Colts from 2020-21. He joined the Vikings as assistant quarterbacks coach in 2022 and took his current role with Houston when DeMeco Ryans was named the Texans’ head coach last year.
Of course, Johnson’s work with C.J. Stroud has piqued the curiosity of rival clubs. As a rookie, Stroud led the league in passing yards per game and interception rate, but was sixth in quarterback rating. That production, combined with Stroud’s outstanding performance in a wild-card round victory against the Browns earlier this month, significantly increased Johnson’s stock. He had a second interview with New Orleans yesterday, so if Tampa Bay wants him, it may need to move quickly.
Meanwhile, it appears that this is the first time we are hearing Randle El’s name in connection with an OC post. The former college quarterback entered the NFL as a wide receiver and served as an auxiliary target and return man for Pittsburgh and Washington over his nine-year playing career (he earned a Super Bowl ring as a member of the Steelers in 2005 and caught 12 passes for 119 yards and a touchdown during the team’s four-game run in that postseason).
Now 44, Randle El began his coaching career with the Bucs as an offensive assistant in 2019 and accepted his current post with the Lions in 2021. While Detroit offensive coordinator Ben Johnson has understandably drawn rave reviews for his work in the Motor City — which is likely to earn him an HC job of his own in the very near future — Randle El has coaxed strong
He has watched the development of 2021 fourth-round pick Amon-Ra St. Brown as well as productivity from the Lions’ supplementary wideouts. St. Brown was named to the Pro Bowl in 2022 and solidified his position as one of the league’s finest receivers in 2023, racking up 119 receptions for 1,515 yards and 10 touchdowns on his way to First Team All-Pro honors.
The Bucs will have to wait until the Lions’ season ends before interviewing Randle El. Detroit faces the 49ers in today’s NFC Championship game, and assuming Ben Johnson secures one of the remaining head coaching positions — the Seahawks and Commanders are now the only two clubs with vacancies – Randle El would be an obvious choice to take over as Lions coach.