Click here to watch the video: http://www.buccaneers.com/av/flvideo.aspx?id=1643From Buccaneers.com http://www.buccaneers.com/news/newsdetail.aspx?newsid=5830Buc Fans Get ConnectedGM Bruce Allen treated a gathering of fans to an information-rich presentation at team headquarters Thursday night during his Get Connected event, presented by Verizon WirelessGeneral Manager Bruce Allen didn't shy away from the hard topics or the tough questions Thursday nightJun 15, 2007 -
A rabid Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan dressed in team gear walked out of One Buccaneer Place on Thursday evening, looked back over her shoulder at the giant steel-and-glass football that adorns the buildingâ€™s entrance and mouthed a quiet, â€śWow,â€ť under her breath.
Unknowingly, this fan had supplied the perfect summary of the evening on her way out. It was not the first time that word was uttered at Buccaneer headquarters on Thursday night.
When average, unconnected fans have direct access to Buccaneers General Manager Bruce Allen; when they are supplied with the sort of intricate, inside information that makes an NFL team tick; when they are privy to and able to benefit from the state-of-the-art technology and management systems that are the lifeblood of One Buc Placeâ€¦well, letâ€™s just say the â€śWow!â€ť factor goes through the roof.
On Thursday night, about 100 Buccaneer fans found themselves plugged into the teamâ€™s information highway, thanks to Allen and the Get Connected event presented by Verizon Wireless. When they finally walked out of One Buc at 8:15 p.m., they had been at team headquarters for roughly two-and-a-half hours, enjoying a meal in the team dining room, an extensive tour of the less-than-a-year-old One Buc grounds and, best of all, over an hour of give and take in the expansive team auditorium.
The concept of Get Connected is straightforward, if rarely executed. Bring in a group of people from the Bay area community who truly care about the Buccaneers â€“ fans, that is â€“ and give them the information theyâ€™ve long wanted to know, direct and unfiltered. Thanks to a thorough, 45-minute presentation by Allen, this lucky group found out many things they didnâ€™t even know they didnâ€™t know.
Thursdayâ€™s event marked the second year in a row that Allen has met with the fans through Verizon Wirelessâ€™ Get Connected event, and the event promises to be an annual affair. This year, the majority of the attendees won the right to attend through a contest run at Verizon Wireless locations throughout the Bay area.
After dinner and a round of tours, the guests assembled in the auditorium at 7:00 p.m. for the featured event. Supported by a wide range of materials projected on the massive, 25-foot screen behind him, Allen delivered an informal but information-dense presentation that ranged in topics from the demands on coaches to the intricacies of the salary cap.
Allen began his presentation by stating the organizationâ€™s belief that success or failure in any professional sport is determined by a teamâ€™s structure, talent and desire. From there, he touched on the many specific, practical ways a team can fulfill the demands of those concepts.
First and most obvious among his examples was the new team headquarters that most of the guests were seeing from the inside for the first time.
â€śThis place is designed to help every player and every coach win a football game and win a season,â€ť said Allen. â€śA player in the NFL is a business. Some people say that is an insult to players; we understand itâ€™s a fact. A player needs to maximize what he can do as a professional football player on the field. Thatâ€™s in terms of intelligence, preparation, coaching, weight-training and medical concerns. If we can keep them healthy, they can prolong their careers. The average NFL career is 3.6 years. Theyâ€™ve been playing since Pop Warner with the dream of playing in the NFL, and the average career is 3.6 years. If we can help them maximize that and get to 4.6 years, they want to be Tampa Bay Buccaneers.â€ť
Allen went on to share specific and relevant information on the Bucsâ€™ coaching staff, scouting department, video retrieval system, draft-day methods and tools and salary cap situation. He also included a section he had entitled â€śFacing Facts,â€ť which he admitted wasnâ€™t his favorite part of the conversation. In it, Allen touched on the shortcomings that led to the teamâ€™s 4-12 mark in 2006 and the challenges it would face in turning that record around.
The â€śWowâ€ť slide in his Facing Facts presentation contained passer rating numbers for the Bucs and their opposition over the last decade. The numbers, presented in offensive and defensive columns from 1997-2006, were startling. In only two of those seasons did the Buccaneers fail to have a better passer rating numbers than their opponents â€“ 1998 (the only non-playoff season between 1997-2002) and 2006. When the Buccaneers won the Super Bowl in 2002, the variance between their passer rating and their opponentsâ€™ was +37.9. Last year, it was -24.8.
While admitting that he often found statistics misleading, Allen used those numbers to share with the invited guests the core of the teamâ€™s offseason strategy in 2007. Basically, the Bucs decided that they had to do whatever was necessary to improve upon their own 66.2 passer rating and to dramatically lower their opponentsâ€™ mark of 91.0. Exhibits A and B in that regard: Jeff Garcia and Gaines Adams.
â€śYou have to face the facts, whether you like it or not,â€ť said Allen of his teamâ€™s offseason evaluations. â€śWhether a playerâ€™s getting it done or whether heâ€™s not; whether the talentâ€™s good enough; did we make mistakes in coaching or did we not?
â€śThis tells the story â€“ passer rating. Passer rating involves more than just an individual passer. It talks about pass protection, it talks about dropped passes, it talks about system. Defensively, your opponentsâ€™ rating tells you about the pass rush, it tells you about your coverage, it tells you about game decisions.â€ť
Here and in other portions of his presentation, Allen made use of game film to support his points. That he could do so readily was also one of the more interesting packets of information, if one were judging by audience reaction. The guests were amazed at the volume and the organization of the game tape that coaches and players make use of on a daily basis through the teamâ€™s XOS Technologies system. With simple prompts, for instance, Allen easily showed the audience a breakdown of every play the Seattle Seahawks have run in â€śAceâ€ť personnel (two tight ends and one back) in the last three seasons.
Other intriguing notes Allen shared with Thursdayâ€™s guests:
Coaching in the NFL is a â€śdangerous job.â€ť Since 2000, there have been 47 new head coaches, 72 new offensive coordinators and 93 new defensive coordinators in the NFL. Only two teams have kept the same three people in those positions since 2002: the Buccaneers and the Colts. Said Allen: â€śWe believe weâ€™ve supplied them this year with the talent that will allow them to continue.â€ť
Pro scouts use the XOS system to scout hundreds of potential free agents at the beginning of every offseason. In setting free agency strategy, the team considers that tape breakdown to be by far the most crucial scouting element. Allen referred to game tape as a playerâ€™s â€śDNA.â€ť â€śHow he performs on tape in the NFL,â€ť said Allen, â€śis who he is.â€ť
The Buccaneers will spend $1 billion on player salaries over the next seven years. The salary cap has grown immensely since its introduction in 1993, when it was set at approximately $34 million. The new CBA directs 62% of league revenues to player salaries.
The NFC South has been the NFLâ€™s toughest division since the NFL realigned into eight divisions in 2002. The Bucsâ€™ division is the only one to have a team in a conference championship game every season since then, and it is the only division to have had all of its teams make a championship game in that span.
After his presentation, Allen conducted a lengthy question-and-answer session in which he encouraged the guests to hit him with the tough topics. They took the bait, lobbing such grenades as the Jake Plummer trade, the Chris Colmer draft pick, the possibility of throw-back uniforms, the length of the preseason and the leagueâ€™s new approach to player misbehavior.
Twenty minutes of dialogue later, Allen capped the evening with one more show on the auditoriumâ€™s giant screen. Giving the fans a taste of how thrilled Defensive Coordinator Monte Kiffin was to get Gaines Adams in the draft, Allen shared an internal highlight video that Kiffin had assembled in the days after draft weekend. As Adams toasted one left tackle after another and hunted down a string of college quarterbacks, there were a few more â€śWowsâ€ť to be heard in the crowd.
Clearly, it was a thrilling experience to Get Connected at One Buc Place on Thursday night.