“Fire is the test of gold; adversity, of strong men.” – Martha Graham
Mark Duffner is a man who was thrown into a fire he had no real place being in. He took a broken defensive squad and put them on track. The defense was on the verge of becoming one of the worst in history and Duffner made them mediocre. It almost sounds disrespectful to say that.
A lot of amazing things happened under Duffner as acting DC: Jason Pierre-Paul broke the double-digit sack drought, Andrew Adams having multiple turnovers in one game, and the list goes on. But the fact remains that those feats happened under Duff’s guidance.
There a few guarantees in the NFL, injuries, retirements, and terminations, all of them bring new beginnings. After Mike Smith brought the Buccaneers to the edge of ruin, a new leader emerged, Mark Duffner. He was by far the fittest person for the job within our organization. He put his own spin on the same scheme and did more with it, which allows him an impressive addition to an already solid resume.
Head Coach of the Holy Cross Crusaders at the College of the Holy Cross from 1986-1991. Head Coach of the University of Maryland, College Park from 1992-1996. Linebackers Coach and Defensive Coordinator for various NFL teams over an ongoing 21-year career.
Mark Duffner made his jump to the NFL with the Cincinnati Bengals in 1997 as their Linebackers Coach. Linebackers Coach remained the most consistent role during his 21-year career. However, he had his first shot at being an NFL Defensive Coordinator in 2001, with the Cincinnati Bengals, which lasted two seasons. The Bengals were horrible in his last year as Defensive Coordinator. The team fell from being ranked 14th to 32nd in one season year. After 2002, when Dick LeBeau and the Bengals parted ways, Duffner found work as the Linebackers Coach for the Green Bay Packers. He stayed with the team from 2003-2005. He then moved on to the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2006-2013 where he coached the linebackers under Defensive Coordinator Mike Smith for two seasons 2006-2007. After 2013 he moved on to the Miami Dolphins as Linebackers Coach until leaving after the 2015 season for Tampa Bay. He is currently the Linebackers Coach and acting Defensive Coordinator for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Duffner had always found consistent work as a Linebackers Coach because he is good at his craft, but he was a defensive coordinator only two times in his career. I am not surprised by the results.
Do we keep Duffner as Defensive Coordinator?
Duffner has moxie, and you can see it in how he conducts himself during press conferences and interviews. He is a no frills kind of guy, and no-nonsense, and he is a very passionate man. Lavonte David even stated in a short interview that Mark Duffner teared up when Kwon Alexander tore his ACL. I think more than a few people did. You don’t teach that kind of compassion. He is vested in the players he coaches, and the players respond to that. But passion doesn’t always equate success, and just because you want something bad enough, doesn’t mean you always get it.
Duffner was able to push a team that was on the edge of humiliation forward to being respected.
Should Mark Duffner stay in Tampa next year?
I think he should stay on as the Linebackers Coach, which is his specialty. The new Head Coach will most likely bring in his own Defensive Coordinator, which will end up being the best thing for the Buccaneers.
Hopefully, the new Head Coach will like what he saw from Mark Duffner, and keep him on the coaching staff. He is worth the money they pay him.
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