Bucs co-chairman Joel Glazer spoke to PewterReport.com at the NFL Owners' Meetings in Orlando on Wednesday morning. Glazer talked about the team's approach to free agency, the upcoming draft and reports and rumors regarding ownership's financial commitment to the Buccaneers. Read the Q&A in this article.
PewterReport.com's question and answer session with Bucs co-chairman Joel Glazer took place Wednesday morning at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Orlando, which is hosting the NFL Owners' Meetings.
What are the expectations for the Buccaneers under Raheem Morris and Mark Dominik as they head into their second year as head coach and general manager, respectively?
"The expectations are what they've been starting 12 months ago. It's all part of a plan to build a team with young talent that can grow and make steady improvement. Our belief is that in order to build a successful franchise you have to build the foundation first and build it from there. Trying to do it the reverse way would prevent us from reaching the ultimate goal, which is to win a championship and compete year after year."How did Raheem and Mark perform in their respective roles last year?
"I think they had their ups and they had their downs. Anytime you're 3-13 that's obviously not good enough. I know the fans are satisfied, and I know they're not satisfied and I know we're not satisfied. But they came into a challenging situation. The first thing they had to do was make some tough decisions. I think that says a lot about them to be able to make those tough decisions because a lot of people wouldn't be willing to make those tough decisions. They took a lot of criticism, some of which was for making decision to part ways with some players that had been here a number of years and that the fans had great love for. But with an eye towards the future, you have to recognize the situation you're in and form a path and plan that can build a team that can compete for a championship. At the beginning and the end they had to make some tough decisions. There's no question there were some struggles early on and throughout the season and some growing pains. They were both new in their jobs, and historically new coaches struggle in the beginning. Raheem had never been a coordinator. As they come out of their first year there are a lot of lessons learned. I know it's frustrating because nobody wants people to be learning on their watch while they're watching the team, but sometimes that's what is best for the long term."
The philosophy the Bucs have embarked on in terms of staying young and building through the draft is a lot different than the one fans experienced under Jon Gruden and Bruce Allen. At the same time, it's one you saw succeed under Tony Dungy and Rich McKay.
"If you look around the league the teams that have the longest sustained success and are constantly competing for championships are the ones that have drafted well, re-signed their own key players and opportunistically signed some free agents. We looked at ourselves and teams like the Colts, Steelers, Eagles and Chargers and saw that they were teams that were built from the ground up and have had sustained success. Their fans believe every year that their teams are going to be competing for a championship. We got off that path. There's no question we got off that path. We did have some success - we're 12 months removed from back-to-back 9-7 seasons. A lot of teams would be pretty content with that. But from our perspective that was about as far as we were ever going to go, and that's not what this is about. This is about competing for championships, even if it means having to endure some criticism and pain. We're up for the challenge."What are the chances of Bucs home games being blacked out in 2010 due to the drop off in season ticket sales and renewals, and a struggling economy?
"There are a few factors at play. The economy and we were 3-13 last year. Those factors make it tough for our fans. We haven't had a blackout in about 15 years. But as we sit here today we are looking at the realistic possibility of having games blacked out this year. That's not what we want and we're working hard to avoid it, but that's where we are today. We've taken some steps to try and make things easier for our fans. We've introduced youth pricing for the first time and lowered ticket prices to make them more affordable for fans. But as we sit here today we are looking at the realistic possibility of having home games blacked out for the first time in a long time. I think it's important for people to know so that the fans aren't surprised if it does happen. We worked hard to avoid it last year, but this year is a taller mountain to climb. We're hoping to avoid it."Many fans believe the debt associated with Manchester United has impacted the money invested in player payroll and other aspects of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. What comments or evidence can you provide to speak to that or disprove it?
"Our commitment to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hasn't changed since the day we had the privilege of becoming owners in the National Football League. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a very healthy franchise. It just so happens that we're in other businesses that are high profile. We're in a lot of businesses - people don't talk about the low profile businesses - just the high profile ones. People are always looking for reasons why we're 3-13 or spending the way we're spending. The reason we are where we are is because you have to go back five or six years. We lost draft picks and then we've drafted poorly during that time. Where the big money is spent in the NFL is re-signing your own players. If you draw the line back five or six years that's potentially four, five or six players that would have been re-signed a year or two ago at pretty big money. That can add up quickly. We've never lost a player in free agency that we drafted and wanted to keep. Ever. That's never happened under our ownership. Where we are today, we don't believe free agency is the answer to building long-term success. There is a place and time for free agency, but that can't be the foundation. Bringing in 29- or 30-year old players at this stage won't allow a young person to grow and develop, and that person won't be here in a few years to be part of the solution. That, along with the rule changes in free agency, makes this free agency class not a very deep pool. It's set up in a way to where there are years where you spend high in free agency, which we have had here, and then there are years where it comes back down. We're in that period right now, but the commitment to spend is there when needed. I look at Kellen Winslow last year where the opportunity was there to acquire him for a second-round pick, which doesn't typically require a lot of money, and we made him one of the highest-paid tight ends in the NFL. People always look for simple answers, but with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers it runs a little deeper, and you have to look at some history to understand where we're at today."You mentioned the team's plan to build through the draft, but as you also mentioned the drafts haven't been up to par lately. What is your confidence level that this regime can break that trend and have the success needed in the upcoming draft?
"This draft is crucial for our plan and the future success of the Buccaneers. Twelve months ago we took a big step back because the results obviously hadn't been what we expected or what we need. So everyone was told to take a big step back and look at things differently to eventually set us off on this path. It was a good exercise and a few things were learned from that. Those things were applied last year and this year. It is critical that we as an organization do better identifying and drafting because without that there won't be long-term, sustained success."What should the fans' expectations be for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers coming off a 3-13 season and heading into 2010?
"They can expect improvement. I'm excited about this year and excited to see Josh Freeman in his second year. He had a lot of exciting moments last year, but he was a rookie. He got a full year under his belt, and there's a big difference being a rookie and a second-year quarterback. Whether it's Raheem and his staff learning the defense or Greg Olson and his staff learning the offense, we have a lot of draft picks in a strong draft, and we do have a lot of younger players who have been with us for a few years within our systems. I think fans should expect an exciting team. Just like last year, they're going to work their butts off from the second the game starts to the finish. There should be definite improvement from last year. In the National Football League things can change and turn around really quickly. Personally, I'm very excited about the upcoming season. I hope the fans are, too."
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