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superbuc

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: September 05, 2007, 10:19:39 PM

I guess this will appear in the times this Friday's Preview.  The doctor writes eerily similar to many of our favorite posters on another board (sort of long but you can skim and get the idea):

Feeling the fire
By Rick Stroud
Published September 7, 2007


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The expiration date of the Super Bowl victory has come and gone.

In the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately world of sports, coach Jon Gruden accepts this. The two division titles have been tarnished by three losing seasons. Since the Super Bowl, the Bucs are 27-37. As a result, Gruden's job is on the line.

How did it come to this?




TOASTING THE GM

March 2003

At 39, Gruden had just become the youngest coach to win a Super Bowl. He arrivesat the owners' meetings in Arizona and receives congratulations from his peers. But just a few weeks after the pinnacle of his career, Gruden already is unnerved.

"I feel like a big red tomato that everyone is waiting to take a bite out of,"Gruden says.

With beers flowing, Gruden reportedly criticizes general manager Rich McKay.

The Bucs won't be big players in free agency because of salary cap restrictions that come with fielding the league's No. 1 defense and numerous Pro Bowl players in the prime of their career.

Gruden yells at Rams general manager Charley Armey, who had just signed offensive tackle Kyle Turley to a five-year, $26.5-million contract with a $10-million signing bonus: "Hey, Charley,don't you have a (expletive) salary cap?"

Adding to the intrigue, running back Emmitt Smith, who is looking for a new home, says he won't consider Tampa because he doesn't want to be part of a power struggle between Gruden and McKay.

The tension continues into the spring, when both are asked to throw out the first pitch at the Devil Rays' season opener. The only surprise is they don't aim the ball at each other.

REJECTING SIMMS

April 26-27, 2003

The Bucs paid a huge bounty for Gruden, two first-round picks, two second-round picks and $8-million. They use their second- and third-round picks on defensive end Dewayne White and quarterback Chris Simms, respectively.

Gruden isn't a big fan of Simms, who is left-handed and immobile. The only other two from that draft to stick around are center Sean Mahan and cornerback Torrie Cox.

Even though it resulted in a Lombardi Trophy, the lost draft picks begin to eat away at Gruden.

 

STICKING WITH ERRACTICA

Sept. 14, 2003

Kicker Martin Gramatica gets the yips. The offense, fresh off a 17-0 win at Philadelphia in Week 1, scores just three points against the Panthers before Brad Johnson's touchdown to Keenan McCardell with no time left ties it at 9.

But the Panthers, who already had blocked two field goals, get another on Gramatica's extra point. The Bucs snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, losing 12-9 in overtime. Gruden sticks with Gramatica, who makes just 7 of 17 field goals of 30 yards or longer for the season.

Worse, the Bucs learn Mike Alstott suffered a neck injury and Joe Jurevicius torn knee ligaments when they collided during a third-quarter play. Alstott is lost for the season. Jurevicius is not the same despite returning in Week 11.

 

MONDAY NIGHT COLLAPSE

Oct. 6, 2003

The Bucs appear to have righted the ship with a 31-10 win at Atlanta. But facing the Colts and ex-coach Tony Dungy on national TV, Gruden's team chokes.

Cornerback Brian Kelly's injury opens the floodgates. Second-year pro Tim Wansley is asked to cover Marvin Harrison and is burned time and again. Gruden and defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin refuse to use Ronde Barber on him. The Colts, down 35-14, score three touchdowns during the final 3:37 to tie it then win 38-35 in overtime.

"We do what we do," is the refrain. What the Bucs are doing is losing. Losing games they have all but won.

FREEZING OUT KEYSHAWN

Oct. 19, 2003

At 3-2, the Bucs head west to face the 2-4 49ers. Flamboyant receiver Keyshawn Johnson is miffed. The team is floundering on offense. Johnson believes he can help, but the ball seldom comes his way.

He's convinced Gruden is freezing him out, concentrating on making McCardell the go-to guy. After catching just one pass for 4 yards in a 24-7 loss, Johnson remains in California for a parent-teacher conference. He's seething because Gruden asked if he wanted to go back in during garbage time to increase his touches.

Johnson informs the front office he won't play for Gruden in 2004 even though he is under contract. He puts his Harbour Island house up for sale.

Coincidentally, McKay begins his dialogue with the Glazers about leaving after the season. Trouble is brewing.

KEYSHAWN DEACTIVATED

Nov. 18, 2003

To Gruden, Johnson is a threat,undermining him in the locker room.

There is enough blame to go around. Frustration is building as the Bucs face falling from Super Bowl champion to out of the playoffs.

Finally, Gruden pulls the plug. With the blessing of McKay, Johnson is deactivated (with pay) for the final six games of the season.Go home, he's told. He goes to Foxas a broadcaster.

It's an unpopular decision with many veterans, who believe, at 4-6, the season can be salvaged. It also has salary cap ramifications and leaves a void of a big, possession receiver the Bucs still have yet to find.e_SClBMcKAY BOLTS

Dec. 15, 2003

Tired of being undercut by Gruden and, perhaps reading the writing on the wall, McKay strikes a deal with the Falcons to become general manager. Not only does he sell this to the Glazers, they don't ask the Falcons for compensation. Five days later, McKay high-fives owner Arthur Blank after the Falcons' 30-28 win in Tampa. It's getting very hard to be Gruden, who goes 7-9 and misses the playoffs.

 

HAND-PICKED BRUCE ALMIGHTY

January 2004

At the postmortem news conference, Gruden insists he has no clue whom the Glazers might hire as general manager. On the same day, Bruce Allen, an executive with the Raiders when Gruden coached them, is on his way to meet with the Bucs.

Did Gruden know this? You think? A week later, Allen is hired as GM. To most, it means Gruden has total control. He can pick the players while Allen manages the salary cap. Leftovers from the previous regime, such as Tim Ruskell (director of player personnel) and John Idzik (assistant general manager), are asked to leave town. Scouting director Ruston Webster follows a year later.

WHO NEEDS SAPP AND LYNCH?

March 2004

Gruden cements his reputation as a great coach but lousy personnel director. His first big decisions, with Allen rubber-stamping, are releasing Pro Bowl safety John Lynch and allowing defensive tackle Warren Sapp, a free agent, to walk.

Lynch played the final four games of 2003 with a neck injury, but surgery repaired it. He is willing to take a pay cut but wants a chance to start. The Bucs want Jermaine Phillips to take over and flunk Lynch on a physical.

Lynch signs with Denver, where he will make the first of three straight Pro Bowls.

Meanwhile, Sapp can't get an offer even though Gruden professes to being one of his biggest fans. The Bucs sealed their fate seven months earlier when McKay signed Booger McFarland to a long-term extension on advice of the staff, which believed McFarland could make the shift to under tackle. Sapp heads to Oakland, where he has 171/2 sacks (10 last season) in three seasons.

MORE BAD DEALS

2004

With Michael Pittman facing a suspension for an incident with his wife, the Bucs throw good money after bad by signing four has-beens: offensive tackles Derrick Deese andTodd Steussie, guard Matt Stinchcomb and running back Charlie Garner. Their signing bonuses total more than $12-million.

Garner, who was damaged goods, would blow out his knee in Week 3. Steussie would be replaced after Week 5, when his matador block against New Orleans leaves Simms with a separated shoulder.

Meanwhile, McCardell says Gruden promised him a renegotiated contract. He would hold out until a midseason trade to San Diego. And the Bucs salvage something by dealing Johnson to the Cowboys for receiver Joey Galloway, who was close to being released.

 

HINDSIGHT IS 20/20

April 24-25, 2004

Drafts are an inexact science. Gruden and Allen's first nets mixed results. With running back Steven Jackson available, the 15th pick is used on LSU receiver Michael Clayton. He would lead all rookies with 80 catches for 1,193 yards and seven touchdowns. Since then, though, he has 65 catches and one touchdown. In 2006 alone, Jackson rushed for 1,528 yards and 13 touchdowns and caught 90 passes for 806 yards and three touchdowns. Among the eight picks, only Clayton, safety Will Allen (fourth round) and guard Jeb Terry (fifth) remain.

CAPTAIN HOOK

September 2004

In the season opener at Washington, the Bucs lose 16-10 as Galloway drops a touchdown and strains his hamstring on the same play. He would miss six games. By now, washed-up receiver Tim Brown has been signed. After just 15 offensive plays of the Week 2 home opener, Gruden benches Brad Johnson in favor of Simms, who has never taken aregular-season snap. Simms fumbles and throws an interception in Seahawks territory in a 10-6 loss.

 

QB QUANDARY

October 2004

Johnson starts the next two, both losses, so Gruden decides on a permanent change. Johnson tells him veteran Brian Griese, signed during the past offseason, gives the Bucs a better chance to win while Simms would signal the team is rebuilding and serve as an excuse for losing. Gruden picks Simms, who lasts a half against New Orleans until Steussie's missed block. Griese comes off the bench and goes 5-3.

 

UNDER .500 AGAIN

Jan. 2, 2005

Simms returns to start the season finale at Arizona. He goes 16-of-32 for 224 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown to Clayton, in a 12-7 loss. The Bucs end the season with a four-game skid to finish 5-11, their second straight losing season since winning the Super Bowl.

BROKEN-DOWN CADDY

Oct. 2, 2005

Running back Cadillac Williams, the No. 5 overall pick who would win Rookie of the Year, gains 434 yards in his first three starts, an NFL record. After averaging 29.3 carries over the 3-0 start, Williams sustains a foot injury during a 17-13 win over the Lions.

The downfall had begun. Since making history, Williams has missed four games due to injury and last season averaged just 3.5 yards per carry with one touchdown.

After two seasons, it looks as if Williams might be a bad fit for Gruden's offense and many of his pre-draft concerns have proved true. At 5 feet 11, 217 pounds, he's not durable, and he has struggled catching the ball.

 

PLAYOFF FLUBS

Jan. 7, 2006

A 11-5 record and division title earns a home playoff game against the Redskins. But on the first series, two Williams runs net no yards and Simms (who had started since Griese's season-ending knee injury Oct. 16) is sacked. Simms starts the second with an interception that leads to a Washington touchdown. The third ends with a Williams fumble returned for a touchdown. And down 17-10 late, Edell Shepherd drops a sure touchdown to help seal the loss.

ANOTHER QB QUANDARY

March 2006

Simms, who went 5-1 against the NFC South in the previous season, is named the starting quarterback. Griese, 5-1 when he was injured, is released. Essentially, Simms is flying without a net with only Tim Rattay and rookie Bruce Gradkowski behind him after Luke McCown's offseason knee injury. Jay Fiedler is signed, buta bum shoulder prevents him from seeing the field.

FOUR-LETTER BOMBS AND A BLOODY QB

Sept. 24, 2006

You don't have to be much of a lip-reader to blush when Gruden reacts to plays. Some have suggested his demeanor eroded a lot of Simms' confidence. It's understandable why Gruden is not happy, though. Simms has thrown no touchdowns and six interceptions in losses to the Ravens and Falcons.

Then in Week 3 against the Panthers, Simms ruptures his spleen. Despite internal bleeding, he rallies the Bucs from a 20-7 halftime deficit in a game Carolina wins26-24 on a last-second field goal.

After the game, with Simms across the street at St. Joseph's Hospital, Gruden sings the praises of Gradkowski, suggesting many assistants believed he played well enough in training camp to win the starting job.

THE GREAT GRADKOWSKI

Sept. 25, 2006

At 0-3, Gruden has a decision to makesimilar to the one in 2004, when he chose Simms over Griese. This time, it's Tim Rattay, a savvy veteran familiar with the offense, or Gradkowski, a sixth-round pick five months ago. Gruden picks the rookie, essentially signaling to the veterans that the season is over.

 

THE NOT-SO-GREAT GRADKOWSKI

Dec. 17, 2006

Gradkowski starts 11 games, winning three. After struggling against the Bears, Rattay relieves and nearly pulls off a victory against the eventual NFC champ. Down 24-3 early in the second half, Rattay hits Ike Hilliard for a 44-yard touchdown with 3:44 left to force overtime. The Bears, though, win 34-31.

ON THE A-TRAIN

Dec. 24, 2006

It might have been a slip of the tongue, but when Gruden was introduced as the Bucs coach in 2002, he referred to the fullback as "Mark" Alstott. What cruel symbolism. Gruden has had trouble calling Alstott's name ever since. The fullback has been reduced to a bit role, getting about six touches a game over the past three seasons. But at Cleveland, Alstott rushes for 56 yards on 22 carries. Pittman adds 86 and a touchdown on 16 carries in a 22-7 win.

RETURN TO NORMAL

Dec. 31, 2006

Alstott gains 4 yards on ... six touches (all rushes). The 23-7 loss to the Seahawks ends a 4-12 season.

MEANWHILE ...

NOT LETTING ASSISTANTS ADVANCE: Gruden is not the lone ranger on this policy, but the Bucs have generally refused to let assistants interview for other jobs. At least three times, they prevented defensive line coach Rod Marinelli from interviewing for a coordinator job. Three times, they did the same to linebackers coach Joe Barry. Even special teams coach Rich Bisaccia reportedly was unable to interview for a position with Notre Dame. At times, it has been a point of irritation among the staff.

DISHONESTY IS THE BEST POLICY: Gruden admits he isn't good at saying goodbye. That's what has led to the clumsy departures of Shelton Quarles and Simeon Rice, to name just two, this season. Having Rice report to training camp only to release him appeared calculated. The Bucs said they didn't know the condition of his shoulder. Did they lose his phone number? With Quarles, the team kept saying it was his decision on returning long after they had told him he could not pass a physical. Trust is in short supply at One Buc Place, inside and outside the walls of the sparkling facility.

YOUNG PLAYERS DON'T GET BETTER: If there is a trend among Gruden's draft picks, it's they rarely get better. Michael Clayton has gone from 80 catches for 1,193 yards and seven touchdowns to off the radar;Cadillac Williams from Rookie of the Year to 3.5 yards per carry. For all the draft picks used on the offensive line, where are the Pro Bowl players? Who gets better after they come to the Bucs? Gruden has been accused of favoring veterans. Perhaps that's because he doesn't develop the young players.


jerseybucsfan

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#1 : September 05, 2007, 10:35:54 PM

What's the over-under on a certain poster typing 'There's nothing really untrue in that story?'  That's all well and good if we were to print the conversations that went on behind the scenes regarding the agenda against Mr. Gruden. Did they happen? We can only speculate. We WON'T see those meaning we may only have half of the story. We also won't see certain writers' criminal records.
Key omissions aren't lies, but they don't help tell the whole story either. This is an outline for hatred. Gruden doesn't have great people skills. He's not a genius. And he very well may be fired by year's end. But he sure as heck isn't the only one in Tampa/St. Pete that needs to be ousted if that's the case. By no means!

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#2 : September 05, 2007, 10:37:32 PM

Interesting read.....some of it no doubt is true, but it was pretty biased.

vladin

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#3 : September 05, 2007, 10:41:26 PM

Meh, uninteresting journalism lacking depth and creativity.  I don't mind bias, but at least make it an entertaining read.



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#4 : September 05, 2007, 10:41:36 PM

brings back bad memories.

jerseybucsfan

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#5 : September 05, 2007, 10:57:04 PM

We stink. We get it. But there's a little too much tenacity to drive the point home and not enough of the entire story. In general, it's not only bad for Gruden and Allen, the Bucs organization and the Glazers, but the entire city and community. That community supports this newspaper. That doesn't mean to be biased FOR the Bucs, but when in doubt understand who you are writing for. These guys are writing for their own malice.

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superbuc

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#6 : September 05, 2007, 10:50:41 PM

That's all well and good if we were to print the conversations that went on behind the scenes regarding the agenda against Mr. Gruden. Did they happen? We can only speculate. We WON'T see those meaning we may only have half of the story. We also won't see certain writers' criminal records.
Key omissions aren't lies, but they don't help tell the whole story either. This is an outline for hatred.

Yeah, I posted it because it IS so biased.  Stroud is a very good journalist when he's objective, but, it seems like he writes something like this about 4 times/year much like a few other fishwrappers.  If I were Gru or Allen, I'd shut it all down like the Patriots do.  He can give interviews periodically to who he wants or use the radio show to get his word out.  I'm not saying he's perfect, far from it.  I'm just tired of so much negativity and bias.

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#7 : September 05, 2007, 11:05:45 PM

Well just about everything is true, just a few inconsistencies.

It is terribly biased, though.

superbuc

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#8 : September 05, 2007, 11:15:02 PM


Ok...I didn't think this deserved its own thread.  Here's Peter King's response to a scathing email from a Brooks fan (someone here on our board HAD to write it!):

YOU HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT. From Tom of Omaha: "Derrick Brooks may have lost a step, but he still made the Pro Bowl last year, for about the 12th time. What a ridiculous column [rating the top 500 players in the NFL] and just more proof of what a hack you are. Maybe you should stick to blathering about your kids and talking about coffee. For a sportswriter, you're a pretty good coffee reviewer.''

Of all the players I either included or did not include in my ranking of the top 500 players, Brooks was the one who caused the biggest firestorm. I understand the rancor, because Brooks is a great guy -- one of the top character people in NFL history, which is not any sort of exaggeration -- and formerly a great player. But he is in decline as an impact linebacker. He turned 34 in April, is playing an extremely physical position for the 13th year, and my guess is this will be his last starting season with the Bucs.

My list was not about what you did for your team in the past. It's about what you're going to do for your team going forward. Tom Nalen is on the list, even though he's an old man, because I think he'll play at a high level at least two more years. I don't believe Brooks will. When I made this list up originally and began showing it to coaches and personnel people, not one of them said: "Where is Derrick Brooks?''

Now, you might logically ask the question that if Brooks is not on the list, how can a guy like Michael Strahan, who just walked back into Giant camp Monday and may play only one more year, be on the list? You may not agree, but here's why: Strahan plays a more valuable position, can still impact a game more than Brooks, and, at the time I finalized the list, I believed Strahan was coming back not only for one more year, but for two. I think he'll have a good year, earn one final signing bonus, and play one more year beyond this -- if he plays well this year. Those are big ifs, but the upside with a guy like Strahan is 15 sacks. That's playoff-type impact.




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#9 : September 05, 2007, 11:20:04 PM

could someone explain the extreme hatred most of you, media, and sports analyst have towards Gruden?

quite honestly, I'm fed up with it.

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#10 : September 05, 2007, 11:28:01 PM

An interesting explanation by King. I give him credit for a fair assessment in terms of Brooks-Strahan although I too believe Brooks belongs somewhere between 400 and 500. But to have Trueblood where he is, no Joseph on the list and Ovi Mughelli on the list is kind of weird. Having Reggie Bush so high, Brian Westbrook so low, McNabb so low also struck me as odd. It generated conversation, which is good. But in terms of quality, it's way off IMHO.

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#11 : September 05, 2007, 11:29:50 PM

Quote
The Bucs won't be big players in free agency because of salary cap restrictions that come with fielding the league's No. 1 defense and numerous Pro Bowl players in the prime of their career.

What's interesting is that, other than this mention, there's rarely been any comment on this fact from any local writer after McKay left.....as if the problem walked out the door with McKay.

If you mention it in one context you should mention it in all the others.

I also think the "Dr. Stroud" title of the thread is hitting the nail on the head and it's obvious that it struck a nerve with Mr. Stroud. This is his answer.

Happy and Peppy and Bursting with love.

superbuc

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#12 : September 05, 2007, 11:35:20 PM

could someone explain the extreme hatred most of you, media, and sports analyst have towards Gruden?

quite honestly, I'm fed up with it.

I'm fed up, too.  Especially for that fact all the teams are 0-0 right now and many things could happen to result in a winning season, even a championship.  It's possible.  Don't rob us of the possibility.

That said, I'll tell you what I think they think since I don't hate Gru at all.  

As was pointed out, there are 2 or even 3 sides to every story  (what each person says and what really happened).  I think many have short memories of the awful decades before the Glazers bought the team.  They bought the team with a new attitude, uniform, and personnel.   All of that added up to many playoff berths.  Then, expectations changed; playoffs weren't enough anymore - we all wanted a SB.  We changed the coach. We got what we wanted, but, lost picks, players got old, and we forgot the first 25 years of losing.  

We forgot that we weren't getting over the NFC championship game hump without Gruden.  

That's the nature of the beast, the NFL.  Highs, lows.  

"What have you done for me lately?"


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#13 : September 05, 2007, 11:36:43 PM

Good lord that was depressing... the years since the superbowl have been just like 1990 and 1991 all over again.


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#14 : September 05, 2007, 11:44:39 PM

This piece totally makes me ill. He leaves out all of our good games and highlights and forgets things like Keyshawn flipping us off and leaving the Colts game early to shower up. Heck, Coach might have wanted to put him in but he wasn't there. As a former Keyshawn fan I was so fed up with his behavior that I cheered when Coach sent him home. Enough was enough of his childish behavior. And that thing with him walking across the field to shake Bill Parcells' hand...I would have taken my 19 jersey off if I had a shirt under it.

And him with the McKay crap!! Like poor McKay. He screwed us! He played golf with Arthur Blank instead of showing up for mandatory mini camp (before our season even started).

COACH PLEASE CLOSE THE PRESS OUT OF 1 BUC PLACE!! We don't need this bull from the news.

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