Buccaneers QB Coach Mike Bajakian Hired as Offensive Coordinator

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Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterbacks coach Mike Bajakian will join Steve Addazio’s staff as the new offensive coordinator, according to Yahoo! Sports’ Pete Thamel. BC Athletics confirmed Thamel’s report on Monday afternoon, announcing that he would additionally act as the quarterbacks coach.

“Mike has shown throughout his career he is an excellent offensive mind and a terrific quarterbacks coach,” Addazio said in the press release, per BCEagles.com. “He has had great success developing quarterbacks in the NFL and on the collegiate level and will be a tremendous addition to our staff.”

Addazio is turning to Bajakian after Scot Loeffler accepted a head coaching job at Bowling Green. Bajakian has worked with quarterbacks for much of his career, including the last four years, but has had stints as an offensive coordinator at the collegiate level. After several years as the Chicago Bears’ offensive quality control coach, Bajakian oversaw offenses at Central Michigan (2007-09), Cincinnati (2010-12), and Tennessee (2013-14).

His first three seasons as an offensive coordinator were spent under Butch Jones, with whom he would connect often throughout his career. The Chippewas went to three bowl games and shattered many school records with Bajakian calling the plays—Central Michigan posted it’s three-highest scoring offenses since it joined the Mid Atlantic Conference. He enjoyed the talents of future Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown, while quarterback Dan LeFevour was a two-time MAC Offensive Player of the Year.

After going 12-2 in 2009 with an offense that averaged 33.9 points per game—13th in the country—Bajakian moved on to Cincinnati with Jones. Similar success followed, especially at the quarterback position with Zach Collaros enjoying a prolific two-year run. The Bearcats went 4-8 in their first season with an offense that ranked 68th in scoring, but Bajakian oversaw an increase to 27th and 39th in the next two years, respectively.

When Jones took the head coaching job at Tennessee in 2013, it was clear who he was going to turn to to oversee the offense. Bajakian spent two years in Knoxville, overseeing the likes of Joshua Dobbs and Alvin Kamara. The Volunteers took a step back in his first year with the offense, but that was with Dobbs buried in the depth chart. When he finally won the starting job, Bajakian’s offense took off, averaging 38.6 points per game over the final five games of the season, a stretch in which Tennessee went 4-1.

A move back to the NFL came amid rumors of Bajakian potentially throwing his hat in the ring for the head coaching job at Central Michigan. After spending eight years alongside Jones, Bajakian reconnected with another former boss, Lovie Smith, who he coached under when he was with the Bears. While Smith lasted just two seasons, Bajakian saw plenty of success as he oversaw a breakout rookie campaign from Jameis Winston, who won the NFL Rookie of the Year Award. The Buccaneers had two quarterbacks—Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick—play meaningful games this past season, and the duo combined to finish first in the league in yards, second in net yards per attempt, and third in touchdowns.

Tampa Bay opted to move on from head coach Dirk Koetter, though, and Bajakian wasn’t included on new head coach Bruce Arians’ staff. It didn’t take long for him to find a new job, though, as he’ll arrive on Chestnut Hill at a pivotal time for Addazio and the Eagles. Boston College underwhelmed in 2018, going 7-5 despite climbing as high as No. 17 in the national rankings. The Eagles finished 39th in points per game (32.0), but struggled at times to find any rhythm on offense—the notorious “run, run, pass” play-calling style resulted in many opponents packing the box and limiting chances.

While BC is losing a lot of talent on both sides of the ball, the offense is poised to take less of a step back. Losing offensive lineman Chris Lindstrom, wide receivers Jeff Smith and Michael Walker, and tight end Tommy Sweeney are all notable losses, but much of the talent at the skill positions remains. Quarterback Anthony Brown took a step forward in 2018—he threw for 2,121 yards and 20 touchdowns with just nine interceptions—and running back A.J. Dillon still cracked 1,000 rushing yards for the second year in a row despite struggling with injuries. Throw in a deep tight end unit and returning leading receiver Kobay White, and Bajakian has the existing talent to find success in his first year at BC.

Featured Image by Bradley Smart / Heights Editor
This story was updated at 5:42 p.m.

Bradley Smart
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Bradley is the sports editor for The Heights. He believes that America does truly run on Dunkin, baseball teams should always wear stirrups, you can't outrun a bear, and being down 3-1, in anything, is never cause for concern. You can follow him on Twitter @bradleysmart15.