NFC South: Ron Cooper

Around the NFC South

January, 17, 2013
Time for a look at the morning headlines from around the division:


The Bucs reportedly have parted ways with defensive line coach Randy Melvin. This comes after defensive backs coach Ron Cooper left the team. Tampa Bay’s defense ranked No. 31, so a little change on the defensive staff probably isn’t a bad thing.

Gus Bradley, who worked as a Tampa Bay assistant before going to Seattle, reportedly will be the new coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars.


Like a lot of people in New Orleans, offensive tackle Jermon Bushrod will be rooting for the 49ers to win the NFC Championship Game against the Falcons. But Bushrod has more at stake than the average fan. If the 49ers go to the Super Bowl, Bushrod will get to take Joe Staley’s place at the Pro Bowl in Hawaii.


Steve Harrison reports that a proposal to increase restaurant taxes by one percent likely would generate more than enough money for the City of Charlotte to give the Panthers $125 million for renovations at Bank of America Stadium


Despite going 13-3 in the regular season and having the home-field advantage, the Falcons are 4.5-point underdogs to San Francisco. The Falcons and their fans have been a little sensitive all season about a perceived lack of respect. Might be a good idea to use the slight in the betting line as motivation.

Unlike most teams the Falcons don’t elect captains before the season. They do it after the regular season and Matt Ryan, Todd McClure, Sean Weatherspoon, Jonathan Babineaux and Matt Bryant have been elected as the captains.

Around the NFC South

January, 12, 2013
Let's take a look at some odds and ends from around the division:


Atlanta linebacker Sean Weatherspoon said in this radio interview that he doesn’t believe the team’s recent playoff struggles bring added pressure. Instead, Weatherspoon said the Falcons will use what happened in past playoff games as motivation.

ESPN Stats & Information has four statistical reasons why Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan is ready to get his first playoff victory.

Jeff Schultz writes that the Falcons need to ride their offense if they’re going to win a playoff game. I couldn’t agree more. The Falcons have a lot invested in their offense, and it’s the strength of their team -- well, at least the passing game is the strength of this team. The Falcons have to come out throwing the ball against the Seahawks.

Winning brings attention, and Atlanta’s 13-3 regular season did that. The Falcons’ television ratings were up 13 percent over the previous season in the Atlanta market.


The team plans to interview Cincinnati assistant Hue Jackson for the vacancy at offensive coordinator. I think there also will be some other outside candidates interviewing, and I think quarterbacks coach Mike Shula is going to get serious consideration.


In this Insider post, Mel Kiper Jr. has a re-do of the 2007 NFL draft. The Saints used the No. 27 overall pick on receiver Robert Meachem and he never lived up to his potential. With the benefit of hindsight, Kiper gives the Saints running back Ahmad Bradshaw. I’m not sold on that, because it’s pretty similar to drafting Mark Ingram in 2011. When you’re a pass-happy team like the Saints, I don’t think you need to use first-round picks on running backs. If the Saints had used a first-round pick on a defensive player in 2007, they might not have had as many problems as they did on that side of the ball this past season.


Defensive backs coach Ron Cooper left the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a similar position at the University of South Florida. This wasn’t termed a firing, but I think it was something close to that. The Bucs almost set an NFL record for passing yards allowed in 2012. Someone had to take the fall for that, and it turned out to be Cooper.

Comparing Claiborne to Peterson

April, 26, 2012
Morris Claiborne is the best cornerback in this year’s draft. Patrick Peterson was the best cornerback in last year’s draft.

Besides that, they’ve got a lot in common. Both played at LSU. Peterson went No. 5 overall to the Arizona Cardinals. Claiborne isn’t expected to last past the Buccaneers at No. 5, and could go as early as No. 3. That would make LSU the fifth school to have multiple defensive backs drafted in the top five and the first to have defensive backs drafted in the top five in consecutive years.

Peterson had a great rookie season. How does Claiborne compare to him?

Well, let’s turn to ESPN Stats & Information for some numbers.

Claiborne played in 33 games and Peterson appeared in 39. Claiborne had 11 interceptions and 12 pass breakups. Peterson had seven interceptions and 22 pass breakups. Claiborne had 95 tackles and Peterson had 135.

Oh, one other thing. Ron Cooper coached both Peterson and Claiborne in college. Cooper is now defensive backs coach for Tampa Bay.

Around the NFC South

April, 24, 2012
Let's take a quick look at the early-Tuesday-morning headlines from around the NFC South. As you might expect, many of them include the New Orleans Saints and their various problems.
  • Free-agent defensive tackle Aubrayo Franklin, who spent last season with New Orleans, visited the Falcons on Monday. I’d say this one is just due diligence and, if anything is going to happen, it will come after the draft. Atlanta needs some depth in the middle of the defensive line, but isn't desperate. The Falcons have Corey Peters, Jonathan Babineaux and Peria Jerry. Peters has had a very nice first two seasons. Babineaux had a quiet 2011; Jerry has never come close to his potential since suffering a knee injury early in his rookie season. Franklin has some history with new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, so he could be an option if the Falcons aren’t satisfied with their situation at defensive tackle after the draft.
  • The Saints and general manager Mickey Loomis are denying a report that he had the ability to eavesdrop on opposing coaches from 2002 through 2004. But, John DeShazier writes, the news causes another distraction for a franchise that already has plenty of them as a result of what the NFL says was a three-year bounty program.
  • Here’s a statement from Loomis in which he emphatically denies the report.
  • Jim Haslett, who coached the Saints during the period in which Loomis allegedly had the ability to listen to opposing coaches, said he had no knowledge of Loomis actually doing so.
  • Mike Triplett writes that the news on Loomis probably won’t get the general manager fired. He might be right. Saints owner Tom Benson has stood by Loomis through the Vicodin scandal a couple years ago and through the bounty program that’s dominated the headlines for more than a month. There haven’t been any indications the latest allegations will change Benson’s mind.
  • Ron Green Jr. writes that Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly could make an instant impact if the Panthers take him at No. 9 in the NFL draft. No argument here. Kuechly had a highly productive college career and comes with very few questions. It’s rare that you can say that about a prospect near the end of the top 10. Plus, Carolina owner Jerry Richardson and general manager Marty Hurney really like guys that come with no obvious questions.
  • Tampa Bay’s coaching change affected more than the Bucs. It also affected the football team at Tampa’s Plant High School, which has been a state and national power in recent years. With former tight ends coach Alfredo Roberts joining the Colts, his son, Austin Roberts, a top college prospect at tight end, is leaving Plant’s program. But the Panthers are getting receiver/defensive back Tristan Cooper. His father, Ron Cooper, is the new defensive defensive backs coach for the Bucs.

Breaking down Tampa Bay's staff

March, 7, 2012
Now that the entire coaching staff of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is officially in place, let’s take a look at some interesting tidbits.

If you include Butch Davis, who officially is a special assistant to head coach Greg Schiano, the Buccaneers have a staff that includes five coaches who have served as a head coach at the NFL or college level.

Schiano previously was a head coach at Rutgers. Davis was a head coach for the Cleveland Browns, the University of North Carolina and the University of Miami. Defensive backs coach Ron Cooper was a head coach at Eastern Michigan, Louisville and Alabama A&M. Offensive line assistant Steve Loney was head coach at Morehead State, and quarterbacks coach Ron Turner was a head coach at San Jose State and Illinois.

Trivia question for you: What else to those five men have in common? They all were head coaches for a longer time than former Tampa Bay coach Raheem Morris, who had never been a head coach before the Bucs promoted him in 2009.

Also, including Davis, the Bucs have staff members that have been defensive coordinators at the NFL or college level. Schiano was defensive coordinator at the University of Miami. Davis was defensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys. Defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan was the coordinator for the New York Giants in 2009. Cooper was defensive coordinator at several college stops. Linebackers coach Bob Fraser was defensive coordinator at Rutgers.

The Bucs also have five staff members that have been offensive coordinators at the college or NFL level. Senior offensive assistant Jimmy Raye has been offensive coordinator for multiple NFL teams. Tight ends coach Brian Angelichio was offensive coordinator at Ithaca. Offensive line coach Bob Bostad was co-offensive coordinator at San Jose State. Loney was offensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings and at several colleges. Turner was offensive coordinator with the Chicago Bears.

Around the NFC South

February, 29, 2012
Time for a look at Wednesday morning's top stories from around the NFC South.

The New Orleans Saints continue negotiations to get quarterback Drew Brees signed to a new contract, but nothing is done yet. The Saints also have the option to put the franchise tag on Brees before Monday’s deadline, but that’s only a last resort. The Saints would rather complete a deal with Brees so that they would have the franchise tag available for guard Carl Nicks.

D. Orlando Ledbetter has his offseason depth chart for the Falcons. It’s fine as it stands right now, but changes will be coming in free agency. I’d be shocked if the chart looks like it does now in September and has Sam Baker and Will Svitek as the top two options at left tackle. He also doesn’t include free-agent cornerback Brent Grimes and middle linebacker Curtis Lofton. I’ve got a hunch the Falcons will find a way to keep both of them.

The Saints have signed exclusive-rights free agents Jonathan Amaya and Justin Drescher to their tenders.

Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano said the fact the Bucs hired Ron Cooper from LSU to coach their secondary doesn’t mean it’s automatic the Bucs will draft LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne. No, it’s not a given, but I think Claiborne is at least a possibility with the No. 5 overall pick.

Although he had some off-field issues earlier in college, North Alabama cornerback Janoris Jenkins is on Carolina’s radar when it comes to the No. 9 overall pick. Jenkins had a fine showing at the combine and did a good job answering questions about the problems that got him kicked out of Florida earlier in his college career.
We’ve heard most of the names and found out some of the roles, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers just officially made the announcement of their defensive coaching staff.

Here it is:
  • Bill Sheridan, defensive coordinator
  • Ron Cooper, defensive backs coach
  • Bryan Cox, front seven coach
  • Bob Fraser, linebackers coach
  • Jeff Hafley, assistant defensive backs coach
  • Tem Lukabu, defensive quality control coach
  • Randy Melvin, defensive line coach

Sheridan has been a linebackers coach in the NFL, and served as defensive coordinator for the New York Giants in 2009. Cooper has been with LSU the past three years, where he coached cornerback Morris Claiborne, who could be available to the Bucs with the No. 5 pick in the NFL draft.

Cox, a former NFL linebacker, has spent the past six years with the Jets, Browns and Dolphins. Cox worked with Sheridan when they were in Miami.

Fraser is following Schiano from Rutgers. Fraser worked as defensive coordinator, defensive line coach and linebackers coach for the past six years at Rutgers. Hafley and Lukabu also are coming from Rutgers. Hafley was defensive backs coach at Rutgers last season, and also coached the secondary at Pittsburgh and several small colleges before that. Lukabu spent the past two seasons coaching outside linebackers at Rutgers.

Melvin most recently coached in the Canadian Football League, but he also has a deep history at the NFL and college levels. Melvin coached with Bill Belichick in New England and Romeo Crennel in Cleveland. Melvin spent the 2010 season with Schiano at Rutgers, and was at Temple the previous year.

The Bucs haven’t officially announced their offensive staff yet, but we know Mike Sullivan is the coordinator, and the names of most of the other assistants have been reported at various times. The Bucs still are looking for a quarterbacks coach.

Also, Schiano announced at the scouting combine Thursday that Bob Ligasheski has been hired to coach special teams. Ligasheski previously has coached special teams in Jacksonville, Pittsburgh, Denver and Oakland.

Around the NFC South

February, 23, 2012
Time for a look at the Thursday morning headlines from around the NFC South.

The Buccaneers reportedly have hired Ron Cooper as their defensive backs coach. Cooper has spent the past three years as LSU’s defensive backs coach. That could be significant, because LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne is one of the players frequently tied to the Bucs in early mock drafts.

Alabama running back Trent Richardson, another player who has been tied to the Bucs, will not work out at the combine. Richardson recently had minor knee surgery.

An Atlanta scout reportedly spoke to former South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia after a recent workout. This is exactly what I talk about when I say don’t read too much into reports about which teams are talking to which players. All teams talk to just about every prospect, because they’re doing their homework. Garcia isn’t even likely to be drafted.

The Panthers and Dolphins will conduct a coin flip Friday at 7 a.m. at the combine to determine which team gets the No. 8 pick. The winner gets that pick and the loser gets No. 9.

New Orleans already is bracing itself for 2013, when the city will host a Super Bowl while Mardi Gras is going on.