The PR Bucs Monday Mailbag is where PewterReport.com’s Mark Cook answers your questions from our @PewterReport Twitter account. You can submit your question each week via Twitter using the hashtag #PRMailbag.

Below are the questions we chose for this week’s edition of the PR Bucs Monday Mailbag. Read them over and offer up your thoughts in the comment section.

Question: Honestly where do we go from here? How can you be that unprepared on defense for a divisional rival? So sick and tired of excuses, this WILL be the worst defense in NFL history … let that sink in for a minute, in NFL history … worse than the Yucks, worse than 0-16!

Answer: The play of the defense this year is perplexing for sure. How can a bad 2017 defense, get worse with additions like defensive ends Jason Pierre-Paul and Vinny Curry, defensive tackle Beau Allen and players drafted with premium draft picks? Sounds impossible, but somehow this team has accomplished it. As you mentioned, the Bucs are on pace to give up some some historically bad numbers. And not franchise records, but NFL records. I didn’t expect the Bucs to necessarily win on Sunday, but I also wouldn’t have bet they would give up 35 first half points.

I have seen some really bad Bucs defenses in my 40 years of watching this franchise, but I haven’t seen anything like this. I am at a loss, as you are, and as the franchise itself is. I really have no idea how it possibly changes this year, and fear the only way it gets better is a complete purge of this defensive staff is the offseason. I am not ready to say that a complete housecleaning is needed across the board just yet, but how does anyone on the defensive side of the ball survive this, especially if it doesn’t get better between now and January?

Question: If Dirk Koetter gets the axe does Jason Licht stay and hire his guy? Or was Koetter his guy?

Answer: That is a difficult to say as there are still eight games left to see where this team is. Perception-wise with the Glazers there could be a big difference between a Bucs team that finishes 5-11 and one that finishes 8-8. But going with your scenario, I would say it would be very difficult for the owners not to let everyone go. I suppose the Glazers would need to take a look at the roster and determine where the fault lies. Was it on the drafting and free agent acquisitions or lack of acquisitions? Or was it on the coaching staff for not developing the young talent and putting the players in the best situation possible?

Bucs QB Jameis Winston and GM Jason Licht - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs QB Jameis Winston and GM Jason Licht – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

The big factor could be how the quarterback situation pans out as well. If the team gives up on Jameis Winston, that is another tough blow to absorb if you are the general manager who drafted him first overall in 2015. Everyone inside the building at One Buccaneer Place is keeping their fingers crossed that this team can somehow get five more wins to be in the realm of being safe. And even then it may not be enough. This will be as important a last half of the season as we have seen in Tampa Bay in a long time. I think the Bucs need to go at least 5-3 down the stretch to avoid regime change.

Question: I swear every week it’s another excuse: Execution, wrong routes, communication – inconsistencies all over the place. When does it come to the same guys that have coached this team the last three years (five years for offensive line coach George Warhop) are the problem and accountability falling on them?

Answer: Great question. And a fair one. But as Jason Pierre-Paul said on Sunday following the game, it is on the players. That sounds good, and there is no question that offensive line coach George Warhop or secondary coach Jon Hoke haven’t missed a block or blown a coverage, but like any business, the performance of the company falls on management (coaches, in this case) at the end of the day.

You can’t fire 53 employees at once, even if many deserve it. For whatever reason, the message is being lost or it isn’t being communicated properly. Or there is little or no accountability or consequence. Either way, the coaching staff has to bear a big part of responsibility for the last two seasons, which have been a debacle.

Question: Would the Bucs be interested in Ravens head coach John Harbaugh or Raiders special teams / assistant head coach Rich Bisaccia in the offseason as possible head coaching candidates?

Answer: I suppose everyone, even Panthers offensive coordinator Norv Turner, as Scott Reynolds mentioned on Sunday, is a candidate if the Bucs move on from the current staff. John Harbaugh is intriguing to me, but not John as much as Jim, who currently has the Michigan Wolverines in contention for the college football playoffs this year. Plus Jim Harbaugh also has NFL experience with the 49ers where he was pretty successful.

I think if the Glazers do decide to make a change they will look to the college ranks as well as the NFL. It will be a pretty exhaustive search as their patience in finding a successful coach must be wearing thin. Trust me. They want to win, and hate going to places like the NFL Owners Meetings to rub shoulders with the Bob Krafts of the world, coming off of another 5-11 or 6-10 season.

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Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at [email protected]

41 COMMENTS

  1. This falls on last years draft, and scouting department for a lot of the issues. I like some of the moves Licht has made. But they should have seen how extremely deep this years draft is for defensive linemen. Meaning last year they should have drafted Derwin James yes, beating a dead horse I know. They also should have traded up in the second round and drafted Nick Chubb. I do think Carlton Davis will be a good player, I also think Whitehead has upside. But Cappa has not dressed once this year. Now think if we drafted James and Chubb last year. We could then put our focus on a corner and the defensive line this year, instead of needing a safety, corner, defensive line, and a replacement at right guard, and running back. I am just saying if the draft was handled differently last year then this years draft we would be sitting pretty.

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    • Hindsight is always 20/20. Actually, if we were going to trade up in the 2nd to get THAT high, we may as well gone 1 spot higher and gotten Willie Hernandez. Chubb has been one of the worst, if not the worst, receiving backs in the NFL and he’s been out and out miserable in pass protection. Guys like that tend not to play in Koetter’s system. The really bad pick in the 2nd wasn’t Jones (I don’t see how anyone could foresee how bad he’d be–maybe trading BACK and taking Kerryon Johnson would have been the best move in retrospect, but again, hindsight is always 20/20), it was MJ Stewart while passing on Isaiah Oliver.

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      • I will agree, we definitely should have taken Oliver

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  2. I think the problem is the despair among the fan base is sky high. Sure the offensive play makers are great, but the team has trouble running the ball and the quarterback going forward is a huge question. On defense despite specific pieces playing well, they cannot stop anyone from scoring – absolutely no one. A good game for them is giving up less than 30 points in a game – and that has happened twice this year so far in 8 attempts, both with Fitzpatrick playing (Winston turns it over too much to get the defense under 30 points).

    So say they go 8-8 and keep Kotter and Licht – what do you do about quarterback, and the defense overall? You cannot blame Kotter for the QB problems, he was not even coach when that happened. However the defensive gaps are huge after many years below .500 (Koetter’s first year being an aberration) and many draft picks. It is scary how bad this team is right now on one side of the ball.

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  3. Could we talk Bruce Arians out of retirement? He’s healthy now and 6 months younger than Bill Belichick. Knows offense and defense. He talked to Ian Rapoport and said Cleveland is the only team he would consider coming out of retirement for. Bucs need to get in the mix now and save this guy from the factory of sadness. Great weather, no income tax and total control could win him over. Everywhere he’s gone he’s been able to turn that team around. Besides, I like his hat too. lol. Go Bucs!

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    • Actually Arians would not be a bad choice at all. Tough no nonsense guy who will field a great Defense. If you don’t play D for Arians, You’re history..in a hurry.

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    • Arians is a quality coach, but if you were Arians and just retired a couple years ago from the grind of coaching, at his age, would you really want to take on a basket case like the Bucs? I rather doubt it.

      A more likely candidate would be a younger coach, preferably a successful coordinator at the NFL level. I don’t think college coaches do very well on average in the NFL, though they were the talk of the league a few years ago. Sean McVey of course was the epitomy of what would be great, if there is another one out there like him right now. But I’d also want an “old NFL hand” to make that evaluation, which does not include any of the baby Glazers. Someone like Tony Dungy who has built quite a network of former assistants who went on to success is someone whose judgment a lot of Bucs people would trust.

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      • Is it just me, or has some of Sean McVey’s early success come because he was able to put together an all-star team this year?

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        • McVey did pretty damned well last year – his first as an NFL head coach – too. No. 1 rated offense in points for, no. 12 rated defense in points allowed, 11-5 record, and a trip to the playoffs … with a roster that he inherited.

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  4. koetter better be gone, we waited for a couple of years and we still suck no matter what. I’m all for Jason going too, as he has failed to build a team. All his offseason pick ups has sucked except JPP, his projects of Donovan smith and benenoch has failed. We need to make big changes, we’re garbage.

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  5. If I was the owner, a 9-7 record management stays in place with a push to clean house on the defensive side of the ball. 8-8 says to me time for Jason Licht to go. 7-9 says Koetter thanks for your hard work, but we are going in another direction. 6-10 or worse says let’s sell this team to the highest bidder.

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  6. I would not keep Koetter or Licht. Even if they go 8-8. We are not going to the top with Koetter. I just don’t see it. None of our 1st tders or draft picks this yr have been significant contibutors. Its almost like we did not even gave a draft. I say, Turn the page. Get us a great head of Football Operations like a Tony Dungy and lets build ourselves a winner with a kick [email protected]! Defense like we use to have. Bucs are losin a lot of fans/ We did not have that many to began with. Jameis is back next year. But let a new coach evaluate him.

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  7. As much as we try blame Jason Licht we have to remember he never has hired a coach here. As lovie was his hire I believe lovie was fired by the glazers so Dirk could be elevated to hc also by the glazers. I think he has given the team alot of talent that I think the coaching staff has done a horrible job of not developing the talent or putting them in bad schemes or in coverages they didn’t practice or taking out plays that benefit players or not firing members of the staff where the team is failing.

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    • No – that is NOT true. Licht was given full carte blanc by the Glazers to hire any head coach he wanted, and he wanted Koetter. That is extremely clear.

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      • There is no such thing in the NFL as “carte blanc” Most bad teams start at the top – owners thinking that it’s Fantasy Football, listening to the commentators, reporters, and fans and making a knee-jerk reaction based on the flavor of the week. Malcom’s biggest strength was realizing that he was not an “expert in football operations”. McKay’s best draft was obviously when Malcom agreed to draft Sapp (rumors that he smoked pot dropped him to the Buc’s pick – how times have changed) and having the sense to draft Brooks. Again, for the umpteenth time – bring in some experts above the GM and Coach, evaluate the team, refuse any coach who wants to start from scratch and thinks he is the answer to personnel and game decisions … thank God we didn’t bring back Gruden – shows what an ego can do as he totally dismantles a team.

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        • Uhhh …. yes there IS such a thing as having carte blanc to hire a coach. Glazers granted that to Licht, we all know that is true, and that Licht talked the Glazers into letting him fire Lovie Smith. He was allowed to hire anybody he wanted, total freedom of choice.

          Licht is 100% on the hook for all his personnel decisions, coaches and players and front office.

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    • Licht admitted he gave the recommendation to ownership to fire Lovie. Licht was deeply involved in the inviterview process for the coaches and Koetter was his guy.

      Despite the constant lamenting over coaching we change coaches every 2-3 years and the same GM’s miss on their first or second round picks nearly every year. It’s not like an NFL coach with decades plus experience forgers how the game is played once he gets to Tampa. If his cornerbacks are rookies that ran 4.54 and 4.56 40’s at the combine (MJ Stewart, Carlton Davis) or he’s relying on injury prone (VHIII) or old 35 year old corners(Grimes), it’s going to be a long day no matter who the coach is.

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      • Lovie isn’t competitive in Division 1, doubt he would be much better in Division II – the NFL – come on guys, be real. 4 times out of eleven tries he won double digits with much more talent than the Bucs. Norv Turner 3 times in 15 seasons. Whoever the GM is next year, whether they keep Licht or bring in someone new, it is time for “new blood” – based on the fact we have somehow the best offense in the NFL it would make sense to bring in an offensive coach for continuity and bring in a Division I coach who has a proven track record as a Defensive Guru in stopping the spread offense as the NFL has copied the college game (when is the last time you’ve seen an NFL game where the Defense shuts out the offense or games which are consistently 21 vs 14, etc.???? The game has changed – fyi it is cheaper and better to buy an off-brand tire than opt for a re-tread. Unless you can lure a coach who has actually one a Super Bowl in the past five years, then it is time for a transfusion.

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  8. “Will they survive” is the weekly question. I think the bigger question is, will they ever thrive? I think the answer is No for Koetter, who doesn’t make changes until too late.

    Licht is meh. I was looking at all Tampa’s drafts from Rich McKay to 2018. We were spoiled with McKay who is a GM outlier. Despite his failures, Licht is a better GM than Allen or Dominick. Licht has also done well with salary cap management and learning from mistakes.

    Tampa can upgrade from Koetter, but my question is who would they upgrade from Licht?

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    • Here’s a GM candidate list from last year: https://www.si.com/nfl/2017/12/21/future-general-managers-nick-caserio-eliot-wolf-nfl-notes-mmqb

      The problem is these guys rarely make news until they take the big seat. Just because fans aren’t aware of the next crop of candidates doesn’t mean that there aren’t successful pro personnel men throughout the league who know better than to trade up to draft a headcase kicker in the 2nd round, build losing football teams almost every year or fail miserably in free agency.

      The only people that should want the Bucs to keep or extend Licht beyond Scott Reynolds are Panthers, Saints and Falcons fans.

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      • “It can’t just be the meathead football guy,” said an NFC GM. “That doesn’t fly with ownership, it doesn’t fly with community relations, and that’s not how a lot of the younger scouts think.

        OUCH … zinger!

        Thanks for the article, good read.

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    • In 1995 McKay had a good draft, afterwards, Upshaw, Marcus Jones, Cosey Coleman, Nate Webster, Marquez Walker, DeWayne White, Marcus Cooper, etc., etc., etc. Even though Atlanta brought him on they were smart enough to keep him out of the war room.

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      • Also drafted Mike Alstott, Warrick Dunn, Ronde Barber, Donnie Abraham, Dwight Smith, Dexter Jackson, Booger McFarland…signed Simeon Rice, Brad Johnson, Keenan McCardell, Greg Spires…also Marcus Jones had one season where he had 13 sacks and 24 total for his career (think Noah Spence is getting 24 career sacks?). Cosey Coleman was a full-time starter at guard 6 of his 7 years in the league.

        “McKay constructed the 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Super Bowl-winning roster that featured seven Pro Bowl players. Also, the Buccaneers’ 41 Pro Bowl selections between 1997 through 2002 were the most in the NFL.” https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rich_McKay

        But sure dbenn, other than the league leading 41 Pro Bowl selections, Super Bowl Title and almost annual trip to the playoffs after 97 McKay’s career here is like, totally comparable to Jason Licht’s 😂

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  9. The Sad part is that Tampa has had a legendary record on Defense over the years (from time to time) Dating back to the John McKay years. The Tampa 2 after Dungy and even during the Gruden yrs was so vaunted it was adopted throughout the NFL. We were close to putting things together with McCoy, David, Alexander, Evans, and with all these free agents and Vita Vea and what looked like promising Corners taken in the 2nd round. But now, we are on course to be the worst Defense in the History of the NFL. If Licht survives, it will be a miracle.

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  10. Koetter has to go. No substantial improvement year over year.

    A head coach has to know more than Xs and Os, he needs to be able to anticipate. Koetter couldn’t anticipate the need to fire Mike Smith. He didn’t recognize that the half year Smith’s defense played well was due to turnover creation, not because they were actually good enough to stop offenses without them.

    He hasn’t been able to turn the most pro-ready college QB in NFL history into a pro-capable QB. As a matter of fact, few of the players under his watch get much better than how they played in college or when we acquired them from other teams.

    Jameis may very well be the modern version of Jay Cutler. A pro scout predicted as much when he entered the draft. But, seeing what good coaching did with Goff in LA, I would take one more chance on Jameis. I’d try to sign him for a more $ friendly two year deal with a third year option (if he’d take it) and see if a new coaching staff could help him reach his potential, instead of letting him go only to have some other team do it.

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  11. It is silly to even discuss firing Koetter and keeping Licht.

    Licht hired Koetter – it was put solely on his shoulders to hire the head coach after Lovie Smith was fired, and Ketter was Licht’s choice.

    Licht signs 100% of the players. All of them, including decisions to retain old timers who were on the roster when he arrived (of which there are damned few).

    It is clear that the baby Glazers do not know how to hire a quality GM, or head coach. So they need help. Even if it is just a super consultant, hired on a short term contract, to help them select a GM, that would be better than the DIY results they’ve achieved so far since the old man suffered his stroke 11 years ago. Better if they hire a PFO, but heck, even if it a board of consultants, or one consultant … somebody that knows a lot more about how to succeed in the NFL than they know.

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  12. Unless there is a total collapse, offense included, I’d prefer the D staff and players get blown up. I am tired of blowing up the entire team.

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    • Given that the offense is generally performing pretty well, with some caveats (the offensive line is not protecting our quarterback very well, and the running game is pretty meh), a new regime is most likely going to focus first on the defense, since that is clearly the part of the team that flat out is not working at all. You can’t change an entire roster out in one season even if you wanted to. And whoever it is has got to be able to fix the defense without trading away the offensive stars or mortgaging the future by too much trading, either for free agents or in the draft.

      The mantra for the new regime should not be “win now at all costs”, but “play better now, and figure on a three year rebuild”. That is do-able. If the Glazers hire the right guy to make the personnel decisions, it will become a sustainable path, not a one and done path.

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  13. The main problem is Defense; the rest can be tweaked with lower draft picks and free agency.

    Meanwhile we are wasting many millions when it comes to our present non producing defensive players who are not on a rookie contract. There’s only one player who is earning his keep JPP. Most of these second contract players should be released after season ends. Again, I’m discussing defensive players only so far.

    QB is a tough one to figure out what we should do, or is it? Winston has trade value so make him an offer of 12 million guaranteed, or trade him, or take the compesary draft pick. After this season is over, we could release Winston and sign Fitzpatrick to a 12 million two year contract deal; 6 million guaranteed year one, and year two with 2 million guaranteed and 4 million non guaranteed.

    As to Licht, Kotter, gone. They had their chance. Would like to keep Monkin if possible.

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  14. I’ve written this before on other websites that permit fan comments, but I’ve never said it here. Is the defense’s problem, Gerald McCoy? Since 2010, McCoy has been the one constant on defense for the Bucs. Since 2010, the team has changed general managers, head coaches (four times), defensive coordinators and defensive position coaches more times than I can count. The one piece in the puzzle that hasn’t changed in those nine years is McCoy. Sure we hear OCs around the league have to account for McCoy in their game planning, but save for one short stretch two years ago, it seems they’ve been doing a pretty good job of accounting for McCoy. Another puzzler is what has happened to Beau Allen and Vinny Curry? No they weren’t HOFers in Philly last year, but combined with everyone else they got the job done. In Tampa this year, bupkis save for 1.5 sacks by Curry. The only off-season defensive acquisition that is playing up to expectations is JPP. Since McCoy’s arrival, the team has amassed a 50-86 record. Now one player can’t change that record, but it sure makes one wonder that despite all the changes the Bucs still occupy the cellar of the NFC South with the only constant being a single player: McCoy. Anyone care to provide a thoughtful assessment of that? How about you, Mark Cook, any ideas?

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  15. Here are 3 Jason Licht transactions that directly impacted the Bucs Panthers game in favor of the Panthers yesterday:

    1. Drafted Charles Sims over 3x Pro Bowl Guard Trai Turner in the 3rd round of thd 2014 Draft (hey I think we could use a guard couldn’t we?)

    2. Drafted MJ Stewart over Donte Jackson who had an interception during the game as well as using his 4.32 speed for solid coverage of DeSean Jackson all game.

    3. Sat on his hands and let Eric Reid sign with the Panthers. Reid, like Jackson had an interception during the game.

    Now is the game closer if you take away the two interceptions and play of the Panthers seconday while putting them in our defense and adding a pro bowl guard to the Bucs roster?

    Nah guys, it’s gotta be the coaching right? 😂

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    • Arm chair quarterbacking is easy.

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      • Oh so you were a big MJ Stewart fan during the draft? 5′ 11 senior corner who runs in the mid 4.5 range and didn’t have a pick in the past two years? You were excited about using a 2nd round pick on him?

        You didn’t want to sign Eric Reid? 2013 Pro Bowler, former first round safety who was on the street purely due to his kneeling? Would rather have Chris Conte start the season?

        Big fan of Charles Sims out of West Virginia? Senior RB who transferred from Houston who no one saw as a full-time back who was drafted because of his hands rather than attempting to address the giant hole at LG with Turner, Jackson or hell just getting a starting caliber back in Devonta Freeman.

        Everyone misses on picks but you have to admit the amount of bad picks and poor free agent signings have snakebit this team far more than most people here care to admit. And when you take a player that busts while your division rival take a similar position that pays immediate dividends against you it makes it worse.

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      • Being the real GM and making those decisions is even easier still … that is, if you are never held accountable for destroying the best part of the franchise, the Bucs defense, combined with whiffing on the once in a career no. 1 overall draft pick, along with making the most ridiculed draft decision in the last decade of trading up to get a kicker in the second round, only to turn out to be one of the worst kickers to ever dress out in a Bucs uniform.

        If a GM won’t be held accountable for any of that, then what the hell DOES amount to a firing offense around here? Why is this even a topic of debate?

        Really?

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        • The answer is nothing Naplesfan. There are people who cover Tampa who will never hold Licht accountable for his record or transactions. Then you have the fans who blindly follow whatever they read and get their pitchforks out for the next coach that is the new distraction to deflect blame away from the failures of the front office.

          I guess it’s George Warhop’s time in the barrel now. Surely he’s responsible for all the ails us.

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          • You mean, it wasn’t all Mike Smith’s fault?

            I coulda swore he was the Jonah on board the Bucs pirate ship, according to all of the extremely smart and knowledgeable commenters and media talking heads around her.

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    • Lest we never forget passing on James Bradberry with the awful Aguayo pick.

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  16. fitz is not the answer only a stop gap, why go there??

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    • That’s the valid point, other than it might give us a year or two to find another quarterback that presently won’t cost us an arm and a leg to play just about the same as what we have right now.

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    • Some times stop gaps are you have when the GM does a lousy job of drafting.

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  17. As Bucs fans we now anxiously await the NFL Draft and Free Agency with the hope of new players improving our team. GM’s miss on most of the picks and Free Agents . Coaches fail to develope the players that were drafted and brought in. Team loses and fans are back to anxiously awaiting the NFL Draft and Free Agency. Repeat cycle with new GM and coaches (Allen/Grudenn, Dominik/Morris, Dominik/Schiano, Licht/Smith, Licht/Koetter, ?/?).

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