After a week off due to complete computer hard drive failure, a brand new SR’s Fab 5 is back to kick off June.

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. Right Move With Glazer, Gruden in Bucs Ring Of Honor

A few week’s ago I campaigned to have legendary Tampa Bay cornerback Ronde Barber enshrined into the Bucs Ring of Honor this year as it is also the first year he’s eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Barber’s debut will have to wait another year as the team announced this week that late owner Malcolm Glazer and former head coach Jon Gruden would be inducted into the Bucs Ring of Honor this year.

It was the right call by the Glazers to have Gruden go into the Bucs Ring of Honor with their father, who purchased the Buccaneers franchise for a then-record $192 million in 1995 from the Culverhouse trust and owned the team until his death in 2014 at the age of 85. This season marks the 15th anniversary of Tampa Bay’s first and lone Super Bowl appearance in 2002 when the Bucs beat the Oakland Raiders, 48-21 in Super Bowl XXXVII.

Bucs owner Malcolm Glazer
Bucs owner Malcolm Glazer – Photo by: Getty Images

Glazer and his sons oversaw the rise of the Buccaneers from a 13-year playoff drought when head coach Tony Dungy guided the team to a 10-6 record in 1997, his second year on the job. Dungy, whom some Bucs fans thought should have been inducted into the Bucs Ring of Honor before Gruden, would be fired after three straight playoff appearances and back-to-back first-round postseasons exits in 2000 and 2001, which was his final year.

Firing the respectable Dungy after a 10-6 season in 2001 drew wide criticism locally and nationally, and the Bucs became laughing stocks as finding his replacement became increasing difficult and lasted into February. Former general manager Rich McKay interviewed Marvin Lewis and recommended him for the job, but he was a defensive-minded head coach like Dungy, and that went against the grain of the Glazers’ specific instructions, which was to find an offensive-minded head coach to help bring balance to a defensive-laden team.

The Glazers sidelined McKay and proceeded to find an offensive-minded head coach on their own, interviewing Ralph Friedgen and Steve Mariucci among others. McKay had checked on the availability of acquiring Gruden, who was in a contract dispute with the Raiders, but McKay deemed Al Davis’ price was too high to trade for him. On the eve of making an offer to former San Francisco head coach Mariucci, who didn’t want to leave the West Coast, the Glazers circled back around with Davis and agreed to trade two first-round picks, two second-round picks and $8 million dollars in cash.

Acquiring the 38-year old Gruden was one of the boldest trades in NFL history and it paid off for Glazer and the Buccaneers as Gruden’s West Coast offense and overhaul of the offense in free agency with McKay paid immediate dividends. With eight new players that would start at least one game on Tampa Bay’s revamped offense, the Bucs would post a franchise-best 12-4 record en route to winning Super Bowl XXXVII against Oakland, Gruden’s former team.

Former Bucs head coach Jon Gruen & owner Malcolm Glazer - Photo by: Getty Images
Former Bucs head coach Jon Gruen & owner Malcolm Glazer – Photo by: Getty Images

The usually media shy and reserved Glazer came alive with joy moments after the Bucs’ thrilling victory and taking the Lombardi Trophy from the hands of NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue.

“First I want to thank Coach Gruden for what he did,” Glazer told Mike Tirico on the Super Bowl post-game platform on the heels of Bon Jovi playing “It’s My Life.” “He came from heaven and he brought us to heaven!

“Next I want [to thank] the players. We have the greatest players in the whole world. They’re the Tampa Buccaneers! If you haven’t heard about them, you heard about them today! And then the fans! We have the best fans in the whole world! Tampa Bay! Tampa Bay! Tampa Bay! We love you!”

Tirico then asked Glazer about Gruden’s sudden impact in 2002.

“We were waiting for the right man, and the right man came,” Glazer said. “Jon Gruden!”

The usually outspoken Gruden, who became the youngest head coach to win a Super Bowl, turned out to be a man of few words after beating his former club, but with class, showed respect to Dungy before a national audience.

“I knew it was going to be a very sensitive situation,” Gruden said about his arrival in Tampa Bay. “Tony Dungy did a great job, and I reaped the benefits of a lot of his hard work. But this is Tampa Bay’s night and I’m going to enjoy it.”

After remembering Glazer utter the words “He came from heaven and he brought us to heaven!” and “We were waiting for the right man, and the right man came – Jon Gruden!” it’s clear that if Malcolm Glazer were alive today and could pick one person to enter the Bucs Ring of Honor with him it would be Gruden.

The Bucs made the right call this year, and that’s no disrespect to Dungy, who will have his day for enshrinement into the Bucs Ring of Honor soon – perhaps next year.

While there is no doubt that Dungy built a Super Bowl-ready defense, he could never figure out how to fix the offense so that the team could play complementary football, going through three different offensive coordinators in his final three seasons, and going 1-3 in the playoffs from 1999-2001. That wasn’t good enough for the Glazers, who risked it all by firing Dungy and trading for Gruden, yet were rewarded in the end with a Super Bowl XXXVII championship.

Gruden’s selection this year over Dungy has revived the debate amongst fans about who was the best coach in franchise history. While Dungy only had one losing season, which was a 6-10 record in his first year as a head coach in 1996, Gruden surpassed him as the all-time winningest head coach in Tampa Bay history with 57 victories, achieving that milestone in 2008, which would be his final season with the Bucs. Like Dungy, Gruden was fired by the Glazers after a winning season with the Bucs finishing the 2008 campaign with a 9-7 record,

but losing their final four games to miss out on the playoffs.

Jon Gruden and Bucs owner Malcolm Glazer
Jon Gruden and Bucs owner Malcolm Glazer – Photo by: Getty Images

The Glazer family was following in their father’s footsteps by not accepting mediocrity, a practice they continue today, evidenced by the firings of Raheem Morris after three years and the early dismissals of Greg Schiano and Lovie Smith just two years into five-year contracts.

Gruden won two divisional titles in Tampa Bay in 2002 and 2005, which is the most in franchise history. Dungy won his lone division title in 1999.

While some might argue that Gruden won the Super Bowl with Dungy’s team, 27 players on Tampa Bay’s Super Bowl roster were new in 2002 and never played a down for Dungy. That’s more than half the roster.

And while the Bucs defense was the star of the Super Bowl with five interceptions, including three pick-sixes, Gruden’s offense still outscored the Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII, 27-21. As great as Tampa Bay’s defense was under Dungy, it never achieved the No. 1 league ranking until Gruden gave defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin full autonomy to run it. The Bucs had the NFL’s top-ranked defense in 2002 and again in 2005.

If Dungy isn’t bitter about Gruden going in first, then Bucs fans shouldn’t be, either.

“I am thrilled for Mr. Glazer and for Jon,” Dungy told the Tampa Bay Times. “I think it’s very fitting they go in the Ring of Honor together. Fifteen years after the championship is special. Malcolm was so special to me as you know. I would not be where I am today without him making the decision to hire me.

“I couldn’t be happier. I’m glad they are going to do the ceremony on Thursday night so I can be there.”

Dungy has already been enshrined in the Indianapolis Colts Ring of Honor after helping that franchise win Super Bowl XLI, becoming the first African-American head coach to achieve that feat. And of course Dungy has been enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which is a distinction that will likely elude Gruden.

Former Bucs coach Tony Dungy – Photo by: Getty Images

In the end, head coaches are hired to win Super Bowls – not just make the playoffs.

History shows that Dungy was the architect of a tremendous defense in Tampa Bay and resurrected a woebegone franchise. But he didn’t win a championship.

Lightning struck in 2002 as a miraculous trade by the late Glazer produced Gruden, who indeed produced a miracle by winning the only Super Bowl in franchise history in his first year in Tampa Bay. Gruden and Glazer will forever be linked together in Tampa Bay and NFL history.

It’s only fitting that Gruden and Glazer have their names illuminated on the walls of Raymond James Stadium together this year, too.

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Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]
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Iowabucfan

I do agree with you, Scott, that no apology from Koetter was necessary. But, I always believe a person wins by taking the high road. He did that. The Falcons did not. I am interested in reading other people’s reaction though. 7-3 in the playoffs with one Super Bowl win is amazing. So the Sweezy signing was to replace Mankins which was a good plan. Too bad his back injury messed that up. That type of experience will be valuable for this Buccaneer team. Fantastic interview with Antonor Winston. I hope there are more to come, especially during the season… Read more »

cgmaster27

Loved me some John Gruden . He deserves to be in the ring. He brought offensive accountability to a team that sorely needed it. My only complaint against him was that he hated rookies. He much preferred veterans and we probably never would’ve had a franchise QB. Hence him passing on Aaron Rodgers. However I blame his final season 4 game losing streak on Monte. He opened his mouth the game before that collapse and told the team he was going to college to work with his son. Terrible timing on his part. It was a damn bold move to… Read more »

Jack

The five and seven step drops, which are frequently used in Kotter’s playbook, benefit greatly from a running game. Not having Sweezy really hurt in that department. Pamphile will be better at right guard, Marpet should do incredibly well at center, and Donovan Smith will improve simply by having a more competent linemate next to him. If the running game is going, the play action pass and deeper routes will be there for the Bucs, which will be a beautiful thing to behold. Kotter LOVES play action, and it works when the running game is on. Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb… Read more »

Glen Davies

With all the statistics available these daze, where did the Bucs end up running on 1st down?? Seemed to me we didn’t use much play-action on 1st down ’til the season’s end.

Would love to see the stats on this.

Love your column, Scott

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cgmaster27

Glen, I’d love to see that stat too. It seemed like we ran the ball on 1st down 80% of the time. And never did play action on first down either. Jack , indeed the offensive line will play a big part in this. And play action is where Jameis thrives as well. I think our line vastly improves this year, with Ali at center being the lynch-pin of the whole thing. We definitely need some semblance of a running game more consistently this year. AT times it was non existent last year. Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit Rating00 No… Read more »

RB4TampaBay

I also want to compliment you Scott on another great Fab 5, they are always most interesting and I think that reading them makes us all more informed fans. Thanks again. I must agree with both of the previous posters, their comments hit the spot with me too. I really enjoyed the interview with Dad Winston, he is about as down to earth as it gets, it was nice to read his comments as both from a Dad, but also from being a coach, he is truly special. In my mock draft (about the 50th one ;-)) the only pick… Read more »

Mr. Incredible

Not sure i’m a huge fan of the helicopter parenting of a starting NFL QB. Maybe seen and not heard should be his strategy. Questions the coach is not a great move.

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chetthevette

Hey Scott, missed the Fab 5 last week. Good to see it this week. Interesting stuff and a good read. Hard drive failure is a real b***h when it happens. I’m not sure if JW’s daddy is qualified to give the BUCSD coaching staff advise. Then again I’m sure he is very proud of his boy. Good for him, showing an interest in his sons success. Also I’m sure he has watched way more of JW’s games than even the coaching staff. Maybe DK will read this and say, why don’t we throw more back shoulder passes to Evans. Now… Read more »

e

Agreed, about the Koetter apology, Scott. I guess he’s getting it from all sides, including Ant? I think Godwin is going to be one of those Cameron Brate players that will ascend the depth chart and would not be surprised if he was #2 in stats for all pass catchers on the team this year. I’ve got a good feeling about him. Clever of Licht & crew, with the additional bene from Fitzpatrick, regarding his knowledge of the AFC East.

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Dy-nasty D

IMO, Koetter’s apology keeps the young Bucs humble. Taunting an NFC champ when you haven’t even made the playoffs yet is getting ahead of themselves.

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fredster

Loved Gruden. Him and the old man both belong in for sure. As far as Koetter, It really didn’t bother me. I took his comments more as keeping us real and humble. We were 9-7 and they were in the suoerbowl. I didn’t take it as groveling to his old team at all. He basically said shut up until we actually do something. 9-7 and almost making playoffs is nothing to get cocky about. I also hope they aren’t reading all the press about how playoffs are a given. With that schedule and few injuries I could see 9-7 again… Read more »

revfish

I’d like to disagree with you Scott. Jon Gruden did win the Super Bowl, and you correctly point out that he did by helping to energize the defense and working the offense in a way the Dungy could not do, as great as he was. Gruden took us there, but it is also safe to safe he had a solid foundation set for him before he arrived. Gruden was not able to maintain a consistency of success as the years went on. There’s no reason at all that we shouldn’t have gone to the divisional playoff round a least in… Read more »

Horse

Fab 1, I thought John Lynch should have been included too.
Fab 2, I thought it was a class act Koetter did and he has my respect for it.
Fab3, Loved it.
Fab 4 & 5, good.

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RootsCrew

Lynch went into the Ring of Honor last season on the TNF game vs the Falcons.

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jme0151

I agree Horse. Koetter’s reaction was a class act all the way. You don’t become tough running your mouth. It’s your play on the field that will dictate that.

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BucFan circa76

John Lynch getting his just due was all I remember from that dreadful Thursday night game last season against those Dirty Birds (Falcons)

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drdneast

The NFL isn’t YMCA soccer where you don’t keep score and everyone gets a trophy. You also don’t get any kudo’ot even finishing second.. If Dungy wants to go into a Ring of Honor, let the Colts put him in theirs. He’s already in the Hall of Fame for winning only one Super Bowl while other head coaches with two wins wait in the wings. As for Koetter, I agree with you D Dynomite. The Bucs need to stay humble and they need someone to keep them in check. There is no need to poke the Bear when it is… Read more »

scubog

In my view Dungy was better able to change the culture because of the players left to him by Sam Wyche. Without Lynch, Nickerson, Sapp and Brooks, Dungy would certainly have had a more difficult task. Dungy couldn’t even get past the Eagles or the Rams with “Dungy’s team”. Gruden didn’t win the Super Bowl with “Dungy’s team”. Gruden won it with Wyche’s team and the injection of a little juice on offense in the form of the free agent additions. I am grateful for what Tony Dungy accomplished here and admire him as a person, but Gruden deserves to… Read more »

chetthevette

It’s sad they did not give Sam more time.

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magoobee

I think an apology is required. But it is Koetter to the entire Buc organization and especially the social media person who found the picture.

If Koetter wants to be a pussy coach like Lovie was (remember he lost the team by deeming the Special Teams Captain for profanity when he was psyching up his teammates) then the Bucs players will wonder if Koetter has their backs.

All I can say to Koetter is “Grow a set of balls”.

BTW, bravo for PR calling Koetter out.

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76Buc

I don’t give a [email protected]#R about apologies, but I don’t think we should provide bulletin board material for the NFC champions who we have to play twice a year. I do not understand any of Fab 2. Back in the days of yore a fidgeting spinner had nothing to do with football. I have no idea what that means today. I have a vague notion of twitter is, but no idea of trolling other than an ugly monster who wants to collect for a toll bridge. The whole Fab 2 was a waste for me. As for coach Gruden and… Read more »

dbucfan

Enjoyed the portion about Winston’s Dad. Well done

And the shots to and fro with the Falcons… winning sort of validates such practices.

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GIJoeWasThere

Red and pewter aren’t throwbacks. They look just like what the Buccaneers wear now. Bucs should paint the shells white and go with Bucco Bruce.

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