If the report from Tampa Bay Times reporter Rick Stroud is, in fact, accurate, and the Glazers have decided to keep head coach Dirk Koetter for another season, they have rolled the dice like no other time in team history – especially if Jon Gruden ends up in Oakland, New York or coaching for another team that will have an opening in three days, and ends up having success.
Throughout the team’s history, and really any other franchise for that matter, you have to gamble.
Former Bucs head coach John McKay and DC Wayne Fontes – Photo by: Getty Images
Hugh Culverhouse gambled on a college coach who ended up losing his first 26 games in John McKay. They had success as McKay built the Bucs into a playoff team in his fourth season and three of his seven total seasons as Bucs coach.
The next gamble, allowing Doug Williams following the 1982 season to walk, was a disaster. Combined with the gamble to select Bo Jackson No. 1 overall in 1986 set the franchise back for nearly two decades. That is without taking into account Ray Perkins, Richard Williamson and Sam Wyche.
Malcolm Glazer’s first gamble was to try and hire Steve Spurrier and Jimmy Johnson before being turned down and eventually settling on Tony Dungy.
Although Dungy never got to hoist the Lombardi Trophy as a Buccaneer, the demure, quiet leader of men, changed the culture of a floundering franchise and opened the door for the next gamble. The midnight trade for Jon Gruden.
Former Bucs head coach Jon Gruden – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Multiple draft picks and millions of dollars changed hands overnight, but it paid off with the team’s first, and so far only, Super Bowl win.
The jackpot shrank over the years, although two more times in Gruden’s tenure the Bucs managed to win the NFC South and reach the playoffs. Following the monumental collapse of 2008 – a year where the Bucs were poised to have the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs starting the season 9-3 until a four-game skid and a 9-7 non-playoff year left Bucs fans and ownership scratching their heads wondering what happened – the Glazers gambled again.
Gruden was fired and a “youngry” Raheem Morris took the reins.
There have been a more bad rolls of the dice since then.
Bucs head coach Lovie Smith – Photo by: Getty Images
What will Koetter’s legacy end up being in the Bucs gamble history? It is too soon to say, but the Glazer have apparently went all in and pushed their chips to the middle of the table.
Maybe 2018 sees a Bucs team that stays healthy. Maybe Winston reaches the elite franchise status. Maybe the young draft class of 2017 continues to develop. And maybe, just maybe the 4-12 (or 5-11) Bucs flip their record, win the NFC South and Koetter is the NFL Coach of the Year.
That’s a lot of maybes, and a huge gamble, especially if Gruden, Josh McDaniels or another coach would have been the answer.
In the meantime changes must be made. There is no way this organization can sell this current product to the fans or corporate sponsors in 2018.
One of the worst defenses in the NFL, an average scoring offense, an anemic pass rush, a possibly suspended quarterback, a muddied running back group, an underperforming offensive line.
Are you excited Bucs fans?
But if the report is true and Koetter gets another year to turn things around, it has to work. There is no other option.
The Glazer chips are all in.
They bet has been made.
The dice have been rolled.
Hopefully it isn’t the Glazers crapped out 12 months from now watching Gruden in the playoffs with another team.
That would be the worst roll in franchise history, and one that will be hard to recover from.