TAMPA, Florida — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will never know what their offense would have looked like under Jeff Tedford's guidance.
The former University of California coach and first-year NFL offensive coordinator was released from his contract with the team on Friday, less than four months after undergoing a heart procedure that's kept him away from practice, meeting rooms and games all season.
Tedford, 53, last called plays for the third preseason game in August. He returned to work at the team's headquarters within a few weeks, but eventually was granted an indefinite leave.
In his absence, quarterbacks coach Marcus Arroyo — despite having no previous pro coaching experience — has called plays for the sputtering Bucs (2-10), who rank 26th in total offense and 28th in scoring.
"Throughout these difficult circumstances, our primary concern was for Jeff's health and well-being," Bucs coach Lovie Smith said in a statement released by the team.
"After speaking with Jeff in recent days, it became obvious that a mutual decision to release him from his contract was the best way forward," Smith added. "We wish Jeff continued success in the next phase of his career."
Tedford said he's healthy again, "stronger for having gone through this temporary setback," and ready to pursue other opportunities.
"When my health issues arose, I simply tried to ignore them and then I made the mistake of twice trying to come back too early, said Tedford, who was Cal's head coach from 2002-2012.
"At that point, the organization proposed, and I agreed, that an indefinite leave of absence would allow me the proper amount of time to rest and rehabilitate myself," Tedford added. "I am happy to state that I'm healthy now and feeling great."
Tedford is the second offensive coordinator in the past six seasons to leave the team without ever calling a play during the regular season. Jeff Jagodzinski was hired by incoming coach Raheem Morris in 2009, but was fired before Tampa Bay's final preseason game.
The Bucs are averaging 313.6 yards and 18.3 points per game. However, Tedford feels the offense is on the right track.
And while Smith "left the door open for a possible return," Tedford said "coming back at this point would disrupt the trust and continuity that builds throughout the season in offensive meeting rooms and on the sidelines."
"I simply could not, in good conscience, become more of an obstacle to Lovie, to Marcus, the offensive staff and the whole organization — after all they have done for me," Tedford added. "You just can't go backward. I can see that they are so close to turning the corner, and I don't want to hinder that progress."
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