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New Bucs offensive coordinator Liam Coen excited for opportunity to potentially work with Mayfield

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Liam Coen says leaving Kentucky to become offensive coordinator for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and potentially work with Baker Mayfield again was a “no-brainer.”

Coen was formally introduced as the newest member of the Bucs coaching staff on Tuesday, a move that could enhance the team’s chances of re-signing Mayfield.

‘Baker is an igniter, and that’s the type of guy you want to be around,” said Coen, who was the offensive coordinator of the Rams when the 2018 No. 1 overall pick played with Los Angeles for five games late in the 2022 season.

“He came into our organization at a difficult time, a time we weren’t having a lot of fun. He came in and made football fun for a lot of people at that time. ... It was a tough year. The opportunity to be around him potentially every day, to coach a guy that’s as competitive as he is, that has that moxie, I mean, that’s fun," Coen added.

Mayfield, playing with his fourth team in less than two years, revived his career by leading the Bucs to the NFC South title and a wild-card playoff win over the Philadelphia Eagles this season.

The 28-year-old quarterback will be a free agent in March and has expressed an interest in staying with Tampa Bay. He spoke favorably of Coen at the Pro Bowl Games before news of the hiring broke last weekend.

Coen was the Rams’ offensive coordinator two years ago, however he did not call plays. He left for Kentucky in 2023 for an opportunity to develop his play-calling skills with the Wildcats in the Southeastern Conference.

The offense he plans to install in Tampa Bay is similar to a system the Bucs ran this season under Dave Canales, who’s moved on as head coach of the Carolina Panthers.

“There were a lot of good coaches out there. Liam best fits what we want to do offensively,” Bucs coach Todd Bowles said. "There will be some similarities, but there will be some differences as well.”

In addition to being familiar with Mayfield, who’s a finalist for AP Comeback Player of the Year after throwing for a career-best 4,044 yards and 28 touchdowns, Coen also worked with one of Tampa Bay’s backups, John Wolford, when he was with the Rams.

Mayfield said at the Pro Bowl Games that he enjoyed the time he spent with Coen in Los Angeles, but that it's also important to him to have an opportunity to continue playing with receiver Mike Evans.

Evans, who like Mayfield will become a free agent next month, had 79 receptions for 1,255 yards and tied Miami’s Tyreek Hill for the NFL lead in TD catches with 13.

Meanwhile, one of Coen's top priorities in 2024 will be improving a running game that ranked last in the NFL each of the past two seasons.

“The marriage of the run and the pass is what we’re striving for," the new offensive coordinator said. "We’re striving for balance, but to be explosive in both the run and the pass. That’s something that I honestly take a lot of pride in.”

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