table of contents
- SR's Fab 5 - 5-11
- 2012 Bucs' Draft Evaluation: SS Barron
- 2012 Bucs' Draft Evaluation: RB Martin
- 2012 Bucs' Draft Evaluation: LB David
- Bucs' 2012 Draft Evaluation: LB Goode
- Bucs' 2012 Draft Evaluation: CB Tandy
- Bucs' 2012 Draft Evaluation: RB Smith
- Bucs' 2012 Draft Evaluation: TE Dunsmore
- Four Positions Need To Be Addressed In Tampa Bay In 2013
- The Glazers Delivered Big Time This Offseason
- Point-Counterpoint - Which 2012 Draft Pick Was The Bucs' Best?
- David’s Sure Tackling Will Help Bucs Defense
Two months later, the Glazers have in fact done exactly that in showing a commitment, and now it is time to give credit where credit is due. And while a segment of fans remain somewhat cynical, and maybe rightly so, it is hard to believe how the entire organization has made a complete 180-degree turn from where they stood January 2, the day Raheem Morris was fired.
When the 2011 season ended with a 45-24 drubbing by the Atlanta Falcons on New Year’s Day, it was maybe the low point of the franchise. The Buccaneers were down 42-7 by halftime and a member of the organization told PewterReport.com recently, he was actually so distraught over what was taking place on the field that he began looking up the NFL record for most points allowed. It was that bad.
The following day the media gathered at One Buccaneer Place and awaited what was supposed to be a Morris press conference at noon. Most felt the chances of the Morris press conference taking place were slim, and the thought proved to be true. Just before 11 a.m. on January 2 a member of the public relations department entered the media room with a two paragraph statement announcing that Morris and his staff had been relieved of their duties.
Two hours later, as co-chairman Joel Glazer stood at the podium emphatically stating the Buccaneers would do whatever it takes to bring respectability back to the organization, it was met with predictable cynicism by the media and the fans, who were watching the press conference, which was carried live by most of the local television and radio stations in the market.
As the coaching search began things were still looking bleak. Re-tread names like Mike Sherman, Brad Childress and Marty Schottenheimer were being bantered about, and the long, drawn out process of the search provided even more fuel to the fire for skeptical Bucs fans.
While in Mobile, Ala. for the Senior Bowl, PewterReport.com received a text from one of our sources inside the organization that Oregon’s Chip Kelly was close to being named head coach. Two hours later in the middle of the night, the deal fell apart and Tampa Bay had to turn to Plan B, C, or D, depending on who was counting.
A few days later, when the name Greg Schiano was leaked to be close to being named the ninth head coach in franchise history, it was met with a lukewarm – at best – response from most. But as Schiano stood in the media theater at One Buc Place a few days later and talked about his vision for the “Buccaneer Way,” it seemed to gain the attention and respect of fans and the media. But just naming a coach who has a catchy mantra was still light years away from giving many much hope. It was, however, a start.
A little more respectability was earned as Schiano began to assemble his staff. Highly respected Giants QBs coach Mike Sullivan, an Army Ranger and owner of two Super Bowl rings, was brought in to lead the offense. Former Browns, Hurricanes and Tar Heels coach Butch Davis was brought in as an advisor, as was 30-plus year NFL coaching veteran Jimmy Raye.
Bob Bostad, one of the nation’s top offensive line coaches, was added along with former NFL star players-turned-coaches, Earnest Byner and Bryan Cox.
But the best coaches wouldn’t provide much more than the four wins in 2011 without a serious upgrade in talent. As free agency was set to begin in March there were some rumblings coming from One Buccaneer Place. Would general manager Mark Dominik get the go-ahead to open up the Glazers’ checkbook and actually be a player in free agency after Tampa Bay had basically sat the previous three years out?
That answer came quickly as free agency opened. Not only were the Buccaneers players – they were big-time players. Chargers free agent receiver Vincent Jackson received an average of $11 million per season to come to Tampa. The Buccaneers soon thereafter added a starting cornerback in Eric Wright, who signed a five-year, $37.5 million deal. Then Tampa Bay made another splash by adding the best free agent offensive linemen available, inking Saints free agent Carl Nicks to a five-year, $47.5 million deal.
Suddenly, many fans and members of the media had to believe that the Glazers were indeed serious about reconnecting with their fan base. Cynics still abound, claiming the Glazers had to spend money, as the league’s salary cap floor will soon go into effect, which is true. But if the Glazers were so cheap, why not wait until the last possible minute to spend?
If the Glazers genuinely didn’t care about the franchise they could have sat tight and waited for the new FOX TV deal to kick in 2014, spend the bare minimum, never need to sell a ticket, and still rake in record profits.
Did the Glazers take their eye off the ball for a period of time with too much attention being focused on Manchester United and other interests? Probably. Did they just assume the 60,000-seat waiting list for tickets would continue? Most likely.
To their credit, the hiring of Schiano, who will make over $3 million per season, and the recommitment to the franchise, has been a huge boost to the morale of Buccaneers fans. That is something that many, including myself, wondered if it would ever come back. It all started with the hiring of the head coach.
Schiano fits Tampa Bay area perfectly. Although he is a New Jersey guy, his blue-collar style fits the region perfectly. Make no mistake, the Tampa Bay area – despite the beaches and palm trees – is a blue-collar community. From the strawberry farmers in eastern Hillsborough County, the phosphate workers in Polk County and the boilermakers who work in the shipyards at the Port of Tampa, Tampa was built on the backs of hard working, God-fearing folks who appreciate the same thing in their coaches. Schiano is one of them – and will connect even more so, especially if the wins follow.
Just like in 1996 when the attempted hires of Jimmy Johnson and Steve Spurrier fell through, and like the ill-conceived plan to bring in Bill Parcells to take over for Tony Dungy in 2001, the Glazers seemed to have struck gold with their second or third choice with the hiring of Greg Schiano.
Like a child who brings his or her grades up for one semester after years of struggling, it will take more than one report card from the Glazers to satisfy the fans. But you have to admit, going back to January 2, not many people could have envisioned the turnaround from then to today. Hopefully the commitment is a long-term plan and not a stop-gap measure to just appease the fans. But you would have to believe Schiano would not have left a program with the lifetime security he had at Rutgers without a genuine belief the commitment to win was real.
Hats off to the Glazers for making the effort to make the Buccaneers relevant in the Tampa Bay sports market once again. Now about those blackouts…