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SR’s Fab 5 is a collection of inside scoop, analysis and insight from yours truly, PewterReport.com publisher and Bucs beat writer Scott Reynolds. Here are a few things that caught my attention this week at One Buc Place and around the NFL.

FAB 1. Bucs Are Trailblazers For Black Head Coaches, QBs

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr. in his historic speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963

As America celebrates Black History Month in February, it seems like the perfect time to honor the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for being trailblazers in the NFL when it comes to hiring African-Americans for the two most important roles in football – head coach and quarterback.

That’s right. No other NFL team has done more for the advancement of African-Americans when it comes to coaches and quarterbacks – faces of the franchise – than the Bucs, especially with the Glazer family at the helm. King dreamed of a colorblind society in America, and in the realm of professional football, no team has been more colorblind or done more to advance towards that goal than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Glazer family, and that should make Bucs fans feel proud of their team.

Let’s start by recognizing the franchise as a whole, and the part played by prior owner Hugh Culverhouse, who spent the team’s first-round pick in 1978 on Grambling quarterback Doug Williams, who was just the second black quarterback to be selected in the first round in the NFL since Oakland drafted Eldridge Dickey in the first round in 1968.

When Williams played for the Bucs from 1978-82, he was the only black starting quarterback in the NFL at that time until Chicago’s Vince Evans began to start for the Bears at the end of the 1979 season. While Williams made history as the first African-American quarterback to play in and win a Super Bowl in 1987 with the Washington Redskins, his NFL roots were grown in Tampa Bay.

Former Bucs QB Doug Williams - Photo courtesy of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Former Bucs QB Doug Williams – Photo courtesy of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Bucs also became one of the first NFL franchises to hire an African-American in the personnel department of the front office as former general manager Bruce Allen and head coach Jon Gruden tabbed Williams to be the team’s personnel executive in 2004. Williams served in that capacity through the 2008 season before becoming Tampa Bay’s director of pro scouting for two years (2009-10) under former general manager Mark Dominik.

Williams went on to become the general manager of the Virginia Destroyers in the now defunct United Football League (UFL) for the 2011 season before returning to his alma mater to be the head coach at Grambling State University from 2011-13. Williams had previously coached the Tigers from 1998-2003 prior to joining the Bucs in a personnel role. When Allen surfaced in Washington as the general manager in 2009 and the team’s president in 2014, Williams resumed his role as a personnel executive from 2014-16 for the Redskins before being promoted to the role of senior vice president of player personnel in 2017.

Williams has had rare success as both a player and a front executive in a personnel role for an NFL franchise – and both of those career paths began in Tampa Bay. The drafting of Williams in 1978 started the Bucs down the path for doing the most for black quarterbacks in the modern day NFL.

Former Bucs QB Josh Freeman and former Bucs personnel executive Doug Williams - Photo courtesy of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Former Bucs QB Josh Freeman and former Bucs personnel executive Doug Williams – Photo courtesy of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

With Williams, Josh Freeman (2009) and Jameis Winston (2015), Tampa Bay is the only NFL franchise that has spent three first-round picks on African-American quarterbacks. Washington, Houston/Tennessee and Minnesota are the only teams that have drafted two, and there are a host of NFL franchises that have yet to spend a first-round pick on a black quarterback.

Winston became only the fourth black quarterback to be selected with the first overall pick in the NFL Draft, which happened in 2015. The first was Michael Vick in 2001 by Atlanta, followed by Oakland’s JaMarcus Russell and Carolina’s Cam Newton (2011).

Here are some more interesting and important Bucs statistics as it relates to African-American quarterbacks:

Starts By African-American Quarterbacks In Tampa Bay
Doug Williams – 67 (71 including playoffs)
Josh Freeman – 56
Jameis Winston – 45
Shaun King – 22 (25 including playoffs)
Josh Johnson – 5
Byron Leftwich – 3
Parnell Dickinson – 1

• Three of Tampa Bay’s top five leaders in QB starts are African-American.

• Four of the Bucs’ top nine leaders in QB starts (including postseason) are African-American.

• Tampa Bay has had four African-American quarterbacks start at least 25 games (including postseason).

• The Bucs have had three African-American quarterbacks start at least 45 games, joining Houston/Tennessee for that distinction.

• Tampa Bay has had an African-American quarterback start 206 games of the team’s 675 games (30.5 percent), including postseason.

• Under Glazer ownership, the Bucs have had an African-American quarterback start 131 of 368 games (35.6 percent).

• Since 2009, Tampa Bay has had four African-American quarterbacks combine to start 112 of 144 games (77.8 percent).

• In 2009, the Bucs are believed to be the only NFL franchise to have three African-American quarterbacks – Byron Leftwich, Josh Freeman, Josh Johnson – on the depth chart at the position at one time, and are the only NFL team that had three African-American QBs start at least three games and all 16 games in the same season.

• Tampa Bay is the only team in NFL history to have drafted an African-American quarterback in the first round three times (total of 19 in NFL history).

• Under Glazer ownership, the Buccaneers are one of four teams to have drafted two African-American quarterbacks in the first round (Washington, Houston/Tennessee, Minnesota). Minnesota did so under two different owners.

Not only have the Glazers and the Buccaneers done the most for African-American quarterbacks – outside of the Houston/Tennessee franchise which saw Warren Moon start 148 games, Steve McNair start 140 games and Vince Young start 51 games – Tampa Bay was also the first and only franchise to hire three black head coaches with Tony Dungy (1995-2001), Raheem Morris (2009-11) and Lovie Smith (2014-15).

Former Bucs coach Tony Dungy – Photo by: Getty Images
Former Bucs coach Tony Dungy – Photo by: Getty Images

When Malcolm Glazer hired Dungy as Tampa Bay’s head coach in 1996, he became just the fourth African-American head coach in modern day NFL history, following Oakland’s Art Shell (1989-94, 2006) and Dennis Green, who coached in Minnesota (1992-2001) and Arizona (2004-06), and Ray Rhodes, who coached in Philadelphia (1995-98) and in Green Bay (1999). The first black head coach in league history was Fritz Pollard in the original NFL back in 1921. Pollard was one of the first African-American professional football players in 1920 for the Akron Pros, and became a running back and a co-head coach at the same time with the Pros in 1921.

Dungy’s hiring helped blaze a trail for other black head coaches that he originally hired and coached with in Tampa Bay, such as Herman Edwards (New York Jets, Kansas City), Lovie Smith (Chicago, Tampa Bay) and Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh). Today there are only 10 NFL franchises that have never hired an African-American head coach in any capacity, either as a full-time coach or an interim coach. Those teams that have not employed a black head coach in any capacity include the Cowboys, Giants, Rams, Seahawks, Panthers, Saints, Texans, Titans, Ravens and Patriots.

Then there are five more franchises that have only had African-Americans as interim head coaches, including the Redskins (Terry Robiskie, 2000), Falcons (Emmitt Thomas, 2007), Bills (Perry Fewell, 2009), Dolphins (Todd Bowles, 2011) and Jaguars (Mel Tucker, 2011).

That’s 15 NFL franchises – almost half the league – that have yet to hire an African-American as a head coach. Meanwhile, the Bucs lead the way with three. Here is a list of the 17 teams that have hired an African-American as a head coach:

Buccaneers – Tony Dungy, Raheem Morris and Lovie Smith
Raiders – Art Shell and Hue Jackson
Chiefs – Herman Edwards and Romeo Crennel
Vikings – Dennis Green and Leslie Frazier
Colts – Tony Dungy and Jim Caldwell
Jets – Edwards and Todd Bowles
Eagles – Ray Rhodes
Packers – Ray Rhodes
Bengals – Marvin Lewis
Steelers – Mike Tomlin
Cardinals – Dennis Green
Bears – Lovie Smith
Lions – Jim Caldwell
49ers – Mike Singletary
Browns – Hue Jackson
Broncos – Vance Joseph
Chargers – Anthony Lynn

Dungy is in rare company as there are just three black head coaches that have been fired and gone on to become a head coach again with a different team, joining Rhodes, Green, Edwards, Caldwell and Jackson in that distinction. In Tampa Bay, of the six head coaches the Glazers have hired, 50 percent of them have been African-American, which is the highest percentage in the league among owners that have owned a team longer than a decade.

Ex-Bucs head coach Raheem Morris - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Ex-Bucs head coach Raheem Morris – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Here’s a look at the progress that the league has made – partly due to the Rooney Rule in 2002, which states that teams must interview at least one minority candidate before hiring a head coach. Between 1989 when the Raiders hired Shell and 1995 when Dungy was hired by the Bucs, there were a total of 31 coaches hired. Only four were African-American head coaches – Shell (Raiders, 1989), Green (Vikings, 1992), Rhodes (Eagles, 1995) and Dungy (Bucs, 1996).

Over the following 31 hires, only two African-Americans were hired in Edwards (2001) and Lewis (2003), but the over the next 31 head coaching hires the league saw five more black men assume those roles – Smith (Bears, 2004) Tomlin (Steelers, 2007) Singletary (49ers, 2008), Caldwell (Lions, 2009) and Morris (Bucs, 2009).

In 2010, the number of black head coaches increased to a record six with Frazier (Vikings), Lewis (Bengals), Tomlin (Steelers), Smith (Bears), Singletary (49ers) and Morris (Bucs). That number shrank temporarily when Frazier, Smith, Singletary and Morris were fired in the ensuing years, but it’s currently back to six with Tomlin (Steelers), Lewis (Bengals), Jackson (Browns), Vance Joseph (Broncos), Anthony Lynn (Chargers) and Todd Bowles (Jets) in head-coaching roles.

While it may seem like progress has stalled, NFL owners are showing more patience with African-American head coaches than Rhodes got, lasting just one season in Green Bay. After a 10-6 finish in 2015, Bowles has survived back-to-back 5-11 seasons and will get the 2018 campaign to turn the Jets around.

The Glazers felt it was time for a change and fired Bucs head coach Lovie Smith three days after the 2015 season ended - Photo by: Getty Images
The Glazers and ex-Bucs head coach Lovie Smith – Photo by: Getty Images

Joseph finished 5-11 in his first season in Denver, but kept his job this offseason, while Lewis has yet to win a playoff game (0-7) in his 15 years in Cincinnati, but just signed a contract extension. And Jackson has been given the most grace, as he followed up his initial 1-15 season in Cleveland in 2016 with a 0-16 record last year.

It’s certainly not equitable yet, but strides have being made in the black coaching community evidenced by the number of African-American men in position coach and coordinator positions now waiting their turns to become head coaches as compared to 10 years ago. Perhaps if more NFL owners would look to Tampa Bay and follow the Glazers’ lead, even more deserving minorities could receive the opportunity to become head coaches and increase that number around the league.

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32 COMMENTS

  1. Don’t worry Scott, we won’t forget which Bucs site was touting Vea first.

    By the way Jimmy Lake, defensive coordinator at Washington, is completely convinced that Vea will be selected before the Bucs at #7. Seems like his current rise up draft boards even before the combine takes place might support that conviction. I guess we’ll see how it plays out soon enough.

    One positive is if Vea does end up being drafted before the Bucs that means another elite prospect falls into the Bucs’ lap (just like last year with OJ Howard). There’s only so much room in those first 6 picks for players to “jump” ahead of the Bucs. Not concerned one bit.

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    • I think it sounds like his coach is just trying to talk up his former player. Vea may be rising slightly but him being taken before 7 is ludicrous. That only happens if a team (mistakenly) thinks he is Aaron Donald. Which he is not.

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  2. The Glazers have checked all the boxes because they hire & fire coaches almost on pace with Cleveland. Since Dungy & Gruden I would say that the choices & patience has been a garbage pit. They blew the thing up & hired Morris, meh, then they brought in the A-hole, yuck, then Lovie, boy, and finally Koetter. Koetter is the best of of the bunch since Gruden and I as a fan call for some patience & stability. This team was years & drafts away when Lovie was hired, and are still I think 2 draft classes or 3 years from being in place. Once you have a team and the coach can’t get you over the hump (Dungy to Gruden) make the move.

    Which leads me to Licht. He is a good GM, period. Who have we had in TB that has been better? Rich? Licht is a good scout, he is gatherer of talent, and has drafted pretty darn good. He swung for the fences on Roberto, and Roberto turned out to be a head case flame out. IF Roberto turned out to be Automatica would the cry’s be so loud, don’t think so. A GM has to take some risks, and risks are what they are…risks. His hit rate is good, and his undrafted FA pick-ups are money. Stability with a solid back office is very important. Look at some of the clown GM’s on other teams, TB stay the course.

    PS- I honestly believe that part of the problem last year was hard knocks. This team was not mature enough for that, pumped expectations too far, and made them believe they were better than they were. Fun to watch but I rather have a play-off team.

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  3. Aside from A kicker and VH3 Licht has drafted well.

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    • VH3 was the best pick at that spot. It was the correct pick. But yeah grabbing Aguayo with Byard and Ngakoue still on the board is not great.

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      • Sorry he WAS NOT.

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  4. Thanks Scott for addressing the bucs pitch to free agents. I hate it when people say stuff like “why would anyone want to sign with Tampa?” theres a lot of reason why a free agent would want to sign with the bucs and you made some good points.

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  5. I hear you Scott but I just can’t see the Bucs drafting a DT that high with such low production. When you picking in the top 10 the selection has to be a game changer and Vita Vea is not that. A trade down is the only way you draft Vea. Losing team draft players based on how good they perform at the NFL Combine. I still can’t get over 9 1/2 sacks in 3 years, and you mocking him to the Bucs at 7. I say once again, I can’t wait until your next mock draft after getting intel from the combine. I expect you to have another player mocked to the Bucs.

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  6. Could we please wait until Koetter has a few games under his belt in 2018 before we start talking about life after he leaves?

    Kind of a downbeat fab five in many ways. Strange spin on free agency. Why wouldn’t free agents want to sign with the Bucs? The Bucs have money and plenty of talent and a great draft position. With all the QBs going early the Bucs effectively have a top three draft pick. They were a half dozen scores and a kicker away from making the playoffs this year. They’re not the Browns.
    FAs realize the Bucs are a pretty good place to go.

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  7. Nice work on the trailblazer piece, Scott. I look forward to Mac-commentary? As far as Koetter, the jury is still out; can he adapt? Can push a little harder in the offseason? Can he make more in-game changes? We’ll see.. As far as Meathead is concerned; I’ve always been a fan. All GMs have hits and misses, but when you look at the overall picture, he has restocked this team with talent in his tenure. I think that he’ll get extended. I still like a trade down scenario with the Bills and with their two first rounders, picking up Billy Price & Da’ron Payne.

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  8. The Glazer sons have checked every box when it comes to hiring coaches except one: Get someone besides the Glazer sons to do the hiring. They are the common denominator in the lousy direction this team has taken since they started calling the shots in the mid 2000’s: From the HC to the GM to the team record to the ugly uniforms to the ticket prices.

    They need to either hire an outside firm to hire a President/CEO to run the team who can hire the GM and coach (making the Glazers silent owners) or sell the team.

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    • Pinkstob, that just isn’t going to happen. It’s a family business and it will stay that way as long as they choose to make hundreds of millions off their investment.

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      • With enough pressure from the fans and local media you can make change happen in the sports world, even all the way to ownership…if you apply the pressure for long enough. The owners are human, they can be embarrassed just like us…only for different reasons. Again, they can transfer power to a President/CEO without selling the team.

        If guys like SR and other local media condemn the Glazers consistently for the product they have produced we have a chance at seeing positive change. If the fans and local media defend them for trying we’ll never win another Super Bowl. Remember, the Glazers boys weren’t running the team when we won the Super Bowl.

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  9. Love the bit about Licht, not enough credit for at least giving us talent and holding onto it than we’ve been able to in a long time. But are we so sure that Dirk was Licht’s guy all the way, wholeheartedly? I somehow get the feeling that he wasn’t. Either way he’s stuck with him and if he has another good offseason, he should be free to bring in a whole new coaching staff of his own.

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    • I totally agree with you Charlie. I think Licht has done an excellent job in the draft outside of Roberto Aguayo of course.

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  10. Thanks for recognizing what the Bucs have done in their personnel with African Americans, great nugget with Parnell Dickinson, many people didn’t know he was the first black QB to start for the Bucs, I believe he is still part of the community there. They have also given opportunities to fornmer GaTech QB Joe Hamilton was on the roster.
    On note of correction I believe Jacksonville had Leftwich, David Garrard and Quin Gray on the roster all at once as well.

    Unfortunate for all three coaches unable to finish the job, but I believe Raheem is a better coach now because of his experiences, Tony D. was always class and Lovie, I think with time we would’ve been competitive, I mean, I don’t think we would’ve drafted a kicker over a defensive lineman.

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  11. OK, So E you want the black guy to comment on the Glazer’s trailblazing with black coaches and QBs. Lol. Actually I’m not a black guy, I’m simply sporting a full body freckle. Lol. For those of you new to PR, some time back I posted a photo (age 45) of me so everybody knew the nutcase that posted the long posts. Well now I’m really 68 and having a great time and hope all of you are too!

    Now my take on the subject. I think the Glazers were trying to get the best players/coaches that were available. They were ahead of the Rooney Rule but I don’t think they were thinking color – they are first and foremost businessmen. Things were changing, colleges were starting/featuring black QBs and the HBCUs had long been providing talent to the NFL. They like all NFL owners wanted people of color and women to fill seats too.

    Big ups to them and other NFL teams for seeing and acknowledging that trend. Now the trick is to hire/draft/sign anyone of any hue or persuasion that can win. Now let it be said that even though they had the will to hire, never have they been hesitant to fire anyone that didn’t work out regardless of color. Fortunately, that’s not an issue today – we’ve (you/me/us/them) have come a long way.

    Now I have to warn you after this post I will be going back to my Alfred E. Neuman avatar. I have no intention of being taken seriously and hope you guys are having as much fun as I am. Go Bucs! Old Dudes Rule! Lol.

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    • Ha ha! I’m must say that you display impressive freckling skills. Maybe by not thinking of color, they were ahead? You know that there are a number of people that look forward to your posts; freckled or otherwise… 🙂

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    • You sure are one handsome guy macabee. We’re both the same age and, from the looks of your photo, like me, you still have all of your hair and teeth. I love your sense of humor, your often sarcastic remarks, but most of all your in depth knowledge and perspective of all topics.

      Me, I’m just a smart ass with a relatively quick wit. Wish you were my neighbor. Love to meet you someday.

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  12. Amen. Mac, you’ve got a few years on me, but we’re not that far apart. My Take – If we just focus on what a coach or player can produce the rest should take care of itself. Ability is the best and should be the only qualification.

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  13. For all of you who think Licht’s done a good job, don’t look at the many needs we still have, just look at our won loss record during his tenure.

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  14. A GM’s job is not to make “good” draft picks. A GM needs to build a winning roster. In four years, he has not done that. He has neglected the D line almost entirely, and the offensive line only has two solid draft picks and he has mostly struck out on free agents. Maybe Licht figures it out this off-season and drafts purely trench guys, and signs some more. But his four years here have been mostly hot garbage.

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  15. Scott’s argument for FAs coming to Tampa:

    Think what you want about his coaching job in 2017, Koetter became only the second head coach in Bucs history to win in his first season at the helm in Tampa Bay other than Gruden…

    Koetter is already winning the offseason by moving on from former defensive line coach Jay Hayes

    There are a host of very talented players on this team…There are teams with less talent in the league that can’t make their roster a selling point. Tampa Bay can.

    Who wouldn’t want to live in sunny Tampa, Fla. where it’s beach weather about eight months out of the year?

    Raymond James Stadium always has the top playing surface as voted on by NFL players

    Yet the biggest pitch the Bucs can make is in dollars and cents…Money talks in free agency, and free agents can keep more of their own money in Tampa Bay without paying state income tax.

    ———-

    This is one of the most pathetic SR/PR articles I’ve ever read, which is saying a lot. Free agency….Is it about Ownership? Nope. Culture? Nope. Community? Nope. Proud history? Nope. Commitment to excellence? Nope. Coaches and players who know how to win? Nope.

    It’s, come to Tampa, our coach doesn’t suck as bad as most of them have, it’s sunny and warm and the grass is soft, and since it’s all about the cash anyway you’ll get to keep more of it here.

    Absolutely freakin’ pathetic!! How can you write this bull——? Instead of pumping your customers you should be outraged by the epic incompetence of this franchise and the gross negligence of its idiot owners and the people they hire. Until leadership changes we’re doomed to mediocrity, I’m twisting in agony and you’re sending out the Pom-Pom girls to distract the patrons from their watered down drinks.

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  16. Well, Mac, I have a couple of years on you. You have a deeper football knowledge than I, however. I love your positive attitude and enthusiasm as a fan.

    I fell for some of the hype last year. But I still see the team as having made steady progress under the current regime. I still think the Bucs are set to become a playoff team.

    I see Winston as breaking through to elite status this year. I think he was a little young in years and a bit of a kid when he arrived. I look for him to really blossom in his 4th year rather than his 3rd year as a result. What think you?

    ___________
    Go Bucs!!!

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  17. I’ll get serious for a moment. My last post, and Honey Bears were critical of Licht, and got half negative votes. Just proves people believe what they want to believe. Fake news I guess but what I said was fact. Licht’s won, loss record is bad, we have many needs in many areas, after being here four years our pass rush is worse then when he got here. If you consider that a success enjoy losing.

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    • Surferdudes,. Agree with you. This has to be a make-or-break season for Licht .

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    • OK surferdudes, I’ll give you the fact that we haven’t won a lot lately and our pass rush is worse than when he got here, but…
      You have to take into account that we have had a VERY young QB over that span, hard to win a lot of games with a rookie/young QB in this league. Also, you have to admit that even though our pass rush is worse, our QB, WR’s, TE’s, and LB’s are all vastly improved over that span too. You can’t fix everything at once. Light has just concentrated on other positions.

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  18. Horse, Surferdudes, and Honeybear are right on the money. Licht is the CULPRIT folks. Just go back to his first statements of how he operates when he was hired. He believes in getting good value deals on free agents that are not the most expensive. On drafting he wants the BPA irregardless of needs as the best way to build teams. And what did the Glazer Boys do but open up the pocket book and he had Carte Blanche. Just look how many free agents he got to hire when he started. The problem was he was an awful chooser of talent and there were so many busts can you blame the Glazers from then not letting him blow out their wallets every year? Yes, he has found some talented players taking BPA instead of our needs. He has not filled our line needs on either sides of the ball and failed to get us a great RB when there were a lot of them in the last draft. The reason the Jaguars rose way up in just one year was their brilliance in getting as their GM the former Giant’s Coach who had beaten the Patriots in the SB by building up the needs of his lines first and added an outstanding RB, and he did exactly that again for the Jaguars taking the top RB in the draft, then building up their OL and DL and having good pass rushers like Campbell. He did just the opposite of Licht!!!
    If you keep Licht you will never get out of the cellar because he will get out smarted by every other GM in our Division just like he did in 2017. He keeps fooling the Glazier Boys but their Daddy would have already sent him packing.

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  19. Glazer boys are the problem, not Licht. Their dad would have given him better support so thus far. The kids meddle too much with coaching decisions they know nothing about. Like seriously Dirk doesn’t want to run the ball, period. He says he does, but doesn’t. The glazers picked him like they try to pick every coach not licht.

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  20. You have to compare Licht to other GM’s in the Division first then the league, not to Mark Dominic and his sorry drafting record. Licht has pissed a ton of money away on free agents and doesn’t seem to be able to get it fixed. Now it’s time to go shopping again and frankly I have zero confidence in him getting the right guys. If he doesn’t get at least 3 free agents to come in and start and play well, we need to find a new GM.

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  21. Licht also has to draft for our needs for the first time here, not BPA. Fix our trenches and get a top RB. Fix the backfield and Special Teams with Free Agents unless you can get the Gators Place Kicker in the Fifth or later in the draft.

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  22. They’re great at hiring, but quick to fire, since all those examples turned out to be a train wreaks in the end. Some did it to themselves, others weren’t given enough time. Nice article anyway.

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