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SR’s Fab 5 is a collection of inside scoop, analysis and insight from yours truly, 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. What Are The Glazers Thinking?

Oh, to be inside the mind of the Glazers right now as their Buccaneers team – a media darling in the offseason and the spotlight of HBO’s Hard Knocks series in training camp now – sits at an unexpected 2-4 – far away from the playoffs, even in the mediocre NFC.

What must be going through their minds – and when I say “their” I mean the minds of co-chairmen Bryan, Joel and Ed – in the midst of this three-game losing streak? Aside from surprise and disappointment, I have to believe there are a gambit of thoughts and emotions.

First let’s look at some facts. Then let’s guess as to what they’re thinking.

The last time Tampa Bay began the season 2-4 was in 2015 as the team went 4-6 down the stretch to finish 6-10. The Bucs rallied to get to 6-6 at one point before losing their last four games of the year. Head coach Lovie Smith was fired at season’s end and replaced by Dirk Koetter.

Tampa Bay has never started a season 2-4 and made it to the playoffs – or even had a winning record. Aside from the strike-shortened 1982 season, a 2-4 start has now occurred six times in franchise history.

Final Bucs’ Record After 2-4 Starts
2017 – TBD
2015 – 6-10
2006 – 4-12
1994 – 6-10
1988 – 5-11

The Bucs began the 1980 season 2-3-1 and then were 2-4-1 en route to a 5-10-1 finish.

When I said that there was a big difference between 3-3 and 2-4 on last week’s Pewter Nation Podcast and in my Bucs at Bills preview, I meant it. Tampa Bay has started off 2-3 in several years, but won the sixth game and went on to have successful seasons before.

Bucs’ Records When Improving From 2-3 To 3-3
2016 – 9-7
2012 – 7-9
1998 – 8-8
2001 – 9-7
1999 – 11-5

You can see how history shows that winning that sixth game to improve to 3-3 makes a big difference in how well the team can finish. In five instances, Tampa Bay has produced three winning seasons and two playoff berths despite starting off 2-3 and then winning its sixth game.

So Koetter and his Bucs have a herculean feat in front of them, to go 8-2 – or perhaps 7-3 – down the stretch to defy history and make the playoffs.

So what is going through the Glazers’ minds right now?

Bucs co-chairmen Bryan and Joel Glazer – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Keep in mind a few things. The Glazers have never fired a head coach during the season, and the only coordinator that was let go – aside from Jeff Tedford, who had medical issues in 2014 – was defensive coordinator Jim Bates in 2009. However, they have fired Raheem Morris after three years, and Greg Schiano and Smith just two years in to a five-year contract.

The Glazers stopped paying Schiano last year and are no longer on the hook for Smith after this season because the fifth year of that contract was an option year for the club. Contract details have not been released on Koetter’s five-year deal, but it may have a fifth-year option in it as well, especially since he had never been an NFL head coach before.

The Glazers will evaluate the performances of the Bucs coaches and general manager Jason Licht, who is in a contract year, over the entire season and likely reach their conclusions on the future of Tampa Bay’s front office and coaching staff in January. But that doesn’t stop them from thinking about things right now.

The Glazers didn’t think about having Smith replace Schiano in January after the 2013 season. Those thoughts were formed in December of 2012 – and perhaps earlier.

Do the Glazers look at the 2-4 Bucs and see Koetter’s offense improving along with an improving young quarterback and see the importance of continuity? Or are they once again getting impatient because it looks like it will now be 10 years – a whole decade – since Tampa Bay has been to the playoffs?

Do the Glazers view this this year as 1998, an unexpected dip back after a winning season in 1997 before a big step ahead in 1999? Or do they view last year’s 9-7 team like they did the 10-6 Bucs team in 2010 that was really fool’s gold in hindsight?

Are the Glazers seeing a lopsided football team that has been fortified on offense with players like Jameis Winston, Mike Evans, Cameron Brate, DeSean Jackson and O.J. Howard, but still needs another good defense-heavy draft or two to improve the pass rush and the cornerback position?

Are they thinking that Koetter might need to turn the play-calling duties over to someone like Todd Monken in 2018 so he can better concentrate on game management if he’s still around, or do they want Koetter to keep calling plays and get better with experience?

Former Bucs head coach Jon Gruden and co-chariman Joel Glazer - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Former Bucs head coach Jon Gruden and co-chariman Joel Glazer – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Might the Glazers be thinking about replacing Koetter with Jon Gruden, the Bucs’ all-time winningest coach, if Gruden is interested? Outside of helping season ticket sales, would that be an upgrade or would that be a mistake like Billy Martin’s second stint with the New York Yankees or Art Shell’s ill-fated comeback with the Oakland Raiders in 2006?

Gruden is likely the only person the Glazers would even consider replacing Koetter with, right?

Do the Glazers demand Koetter get rid of good friend and defensive coordinator Mike Smith if the defense doesn’t improve over the next 10 weeks in order for him to remain the head coach in 2018? Does Koetter even need to be given an ultimatum regarding Smith, though?

Given how hard it is to find pass rushing defensive linemen suitable for a 4-3 scheme, should the Bucs explore a move to a 3-4 defensive scheme and hire a coordinator with that kind of background?

Does Licht get a contract extension after the end of this season? Does he deserve one? Does the drafting of Winston, Evans, Kwon Alexander and O.J. Howard outweigh the selections of Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Roberto Aguayo, Vernon Hargreaves and Noah Spence or simply balance it out?

Where did the start of the Bucs’ season go wrong and how can that be avoided next year? Did Hard Knocks have a negative affect on the training camp? Was training camp too soft in terms of not having tackling or live contact periods? Is there enough of a business-like attitude at One Buccaneer Place?

Is Tampa Bay’s kicking carousel finally over? Is Patrick Murray the guy? How many games have bad kicking cost the Bucs over the last four years? Does the roster need some tweaking or a continued overhaul?

What happens if Tampa Bay beats Carolina and improves to 3-4? Do the Glazers become more patient? What happens if the Bucs lose at home to the Panthers this week and slip to 2-5? Do the Glazers get antsy for change?

What do the Glazers think when they see second-year head coaches like Philadelphia’s Doug Pederson at 6-1 and Jacksonville’s Doug Marrone and Tennessee’s Mike Mularkey both at 4-2?

What do they think when they see rookie head coaches like L.A. Rams’ Sean McVay at 5-2 and Buffalo’s Sean McDermott at 4-2?

If there are any changes to be made – with Koetter or Smith or Licht – those thoughts start forming in the minds of the Glazers in November, which is right around the corner.

Bucs co-chairman Joel Glazer and GM Jason Licht - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs co-chairman Joel Glazer and GM Jason Licht – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Nobody knows what the secretive Glazers are thinking. Even Koetter and Licht, who have regular dialogue with ownership, don’t know what is going through their minds.

Tony Dungy was surprised when he was fired after going 9-7 and making the playoffs three straight seasons in 2001. Gruden and former Bucs general manager Bruce Allen were blindsided by being fired three weeks after finishing the season 9-7 in 2008.

Former general manager Mark Dominik and Schiano thought they had one more year to fix the Bucs after the 2013 season, but both were fired immediately in January 2014.

We likely won’t know until January what changes the Glazers are plotting – if any – but their minds will undoubtedly be racing until then.

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  1. If Coach Smith does not make significant changes in his scheme, in spite of the terrible performance of his defense, then he will be fired. He may not even make it through week 17. And if Coach Koetter is resistant to leaning on Smith to make a change, and/or if he is reistant to letting Smith go if he does not adjust, and if the end result is 6 or fewer wins this season after everybody expected double digit wins and continued improvement from last seasonn, then the Glazers will fire Koetter.

    If the Glazers fire Koetter, they will likely not extend Licht’s contract. They will end up offering the new head coach control over the roster. particularly if they were to hire Gruden. I believe if they hire Gruden they’ll fire Licht too.

    I am not necessarily advocating any of the above … but this is what the Glazers do. They will keep doing it until they can produce a consistent winner in Tampa. It’s business.

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    • By the way, the Tampa Bay Times just put up an interview this morning with Warren Sapp. He rips the present coaches for not dealing with Gerald McCoy the way that Rod Marinelli worked with him. And says explicitly that Smith is using McCoy all wrong.

      Read it – very damning stuff.

      If this is really what’s going on, and he won’t budge, then Smith needs to go, now.

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  2. Scott, it’s not McCoy’s job to tell his coaches how to best utilize their players talents. That’s what coaches get paid for! If anyone needs to bang some heads for answers it’s Licht. Is Licht deaf, blind, and dumb? Surely he sees what you, and I do. If you know McCoy isn’t happy along with other players, shouldn’t he know it? This is a complete, and utter failure on his part, along with the whole coaching staff. What will the Glazers do? I’ll tell you. They’ll give this crew all the rope they need to hang themselves. Gruden is the wild card, or as he would put it the joker in any changes the Glazers might make. By that I mean if Gruden wants back in it’s a done deal. Firing another staff after two years would make the Glazers look impulsive, and incompetent, but if you fire Koetter for Gruden, who could fault them. Scott you spent some time with Gruden this summer. Did you ever ask him what he’s learned from his time away from the sidelines? What would he do different this time around? I read where he said the Tampa 2 is dead in todays NFL, what would he run? How has his offensive philosophy changed? Would he want complete control over everything, or would he trust whatever G.M. is put in place? I think these are the questions the Glazers are asking themselves, because I think it would be Gruden or bust for them. One other thought. The timing of Grudens induction into the ring, along with the kiss, and make up with the Glazers, tells me they were putting an ace up their sleeve in case this season went where it’s going. Your thoughts.

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    • Surfer,

      The man call himself a “meathead”. Nobody ever questioned his honesty!

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    • Actually, it IS McCoy’s job to provide honest feedback to his coaches. He is no kid – he is a 30 year old man and a professional and very good at what he does – 5 time Pro Bowler, 3 Time First Team All Pro, anchor of our D-line and leader of the defense, and has been for years.

      If such a member of the team cannot engage in honest discussion and feedback with his coaches, then we a problem – with the coaches. And we know we have a problem with one of the worst defenses in the league this season.

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      • Please provide reference to the “3 Time First Team All Pro.” Which system are you referencing? The Associate Press selection is the only one that matters for HoF consideration, however I realize that there are others out there. Gerald has just 1 First Team All Pro award from the Associated Press writers.

        I have seen many people writing that McCoy has more sacks than any other DT in the league since he was drafted, which is also not true. Suh has 5 more sacks than McCoy over the EXACT same period.

        Gerald McCoy is more popular than good. Absolutely he is talented. But, he has mastered the art of public perception, while doing little for the art of winning when it counts. He is laser focused on getting the glory play, the sack while neglecting the lunchbox plays like tackling anyone not called QB.

        Since coming into the league, Ndamukong Suh has 94 more total tackles than Gerald McCoy. I know tackles are not sexy, but every tackle is a DEFENSIVE STOP. THAT’S 94 MORE DEFENSIVE STOPS. How many times have the Bucs failed to stop a drive that would have won the game with one more stop? Last week comes to mind. In fact, every loss for the Bucs this year except perhaps arguably the Cardinals game could have been won with one more stop. Gerald McCoy is at the middle of the league, tied for 42nd in 2016 for DL tackles, 14 of those were interior lineman. Suh was 7th and his team made the playoffs. Damon Harrison was 1st and his team made the playoffs. Gerald has never made many tackles comparatively, and he has never been to the playoffs. Is there a connection? Defensive stops matter.

        McCoy knows that sacks will get his face in front of the cameras, where he loves to be; nothing make him happier. Sacks get TV time, and help to win the Popularity Contest called Pro Bowls. Gerald knows what makes him happy and tackling a RB is not on the menu it seems.

        Many people question what it is about some fans’ opinion about McCoy; why some fans complain about him. Well, Gerald McCoy is uber talented with one of the best “get-offs” in the league, but he comes off as a Drama Queen, more concerned about people’s perception of him than whether or not his team wins. If you want Gerald McCoy to get angry, say he is not good enough. When have you EVER seen McCoy angry about losing? I cannot recall a single time, yet every year, twice already this year he gets upset because fans say bad things about him. Don’t mess with his popularity is his focus, and winning has nothing to do with it.

        If anyone has ever had a beautiful girlfriend, but she is a diva or drama queen, they can relate. Sometimes no matter how beautiful she is, the drama BS becomes too much. The thing about drama queens is they are never as good as they think that they are, and that fact is compounded by the fact that they will never see it. To them, they are perfect and everyone should see that.

        When Gerald McCoy starts taking over games, making critical stops in the final minuets to win, then he can talk. Until then, he needs to STFU, and earn the right to be the highest paid player on the team, because recently, he has not earned it. JMHO

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        • Long winded way to declare you are a McCoy hater. That’s all we needed to know.

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    • You may also be interested to know where others would rank our GM. See #27.

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  3. I’m not sure you’re using the term “gambit” correctly Scott…

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    • Also, the headlines read as if you know what the Glazers are thinking – but Fab 1 is just speculation…

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      • Didn’t you learn in pre-school or kindergarten what a question mark is, and what it means?

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  4. If we draft any DE under a legit 6’3″, it is a big mistake.
    The next 2 games will say it all. Go Bucs! Up to you to show us you can win!

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    • Horse,

      Excuse me for looking at a mock draft so early and as you know everything can and probably will change. This is WalterFootball. I think you will like the pick but like me, hate where we are picking. See Round 1, pick #6. Yikes!

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      • Not going to make you feel much better at #8, but looks like its DE….

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      • Macabee; Thank you. I hope we are wrong and the season ends up being better than the way it looks right now. Like some fans, I’m getting too old to be waiting every year for next year to be the year.

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    • Where’s the Beef? Agreed need bigger DE.

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  5. The problem for the Bucs is that Jason Licht has put the team into a position that it has to pick a defensive end in the first round because the Bucs have the worst defensive ends in the NFL.
    I like Jason and I think he has done a lot more good than bad but the Bucs had a glaring need last offseason at defensive end and they did nothing, the Bucs had a glaring need at corner and did nothing. The Bucs also had a glaring need at running back and almost did nothing.

    It is not prudent to put the team in a position where there is such an overwhelming need that the Bucs may be forced to spend two of their first three picks at one position yet still have glaring weaknesses at two other positions(corner and running back).

    If the Bucs have a receiver, tight end, QB, Offensive lineman or line backer at the top of their board when one of their first four round picks come up next year they are going to have to pass on the player because they are in such a dire need at defensive end and corner.

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  6. Never said Licht was dishonest. I think he honestly doesn’t know what he’s doing. Yes McCoy should be giving his coaches feed back, but that’s a lot different then telling them how they should coach, Christ that’s what they get paid for, putting their players in position to be most successful. Isn’t that what Smitty himself said? He said he welcomed feed back from his players, and would run a scheme that fits the talents of his players. That seems like B.S. now, if that’s the line the Glazers bought, they must be feeling buyers remorse.

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  7. A lot of people have short memories. Less than a year ago, most Bucs fans were panicked that we were going to lose Mike Smith to a head coaching position. Now everyone wants his head. This is a fickle game. We’ve lost three games by 5 or fewer points and we had a chance to win all three, even the Arizona game that we once trailed 31-0. Even without a good running game, this offense is on pace to finish in the top 5, perhaps number 1. Koetter is one of the best offensive minds in the league. I’d be disappointed if they fired him unless the Buccaneers lose 10 or more games. New Orleans is built a lot like the Buccaneers except for having a more experienced quarterback. This year they put more emphasis into the defense and they’re hanging in there with a good chance to win the division. We need to hire a new defensive coordinator and use Free Agency and the draft to get some pass rushers, improve the secondary, and find a running back.

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    • It doesn’t really matter what we fans want. It totally matters what the Glazers want. This Fab 5 is about trying to discern what the Glazers might be thinking, and takes into account their history of how and when they make decisions to fire and hire. These are not patient people.

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  8. great info on the upcoming prospects Scott. Are there any elite/proven free agents on the radar next year? I would hope the scouting dept has several guys targeted.

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    • Eric a great place to view 2018 free agents is

      They also give detailed contract analysis of every player in the league and how it impacts the teams salary cap.

      Teams in great cap position next year:
      LA Rams, Colts, NY Jets, Redskins, Browns, 49ers, Lions, Bucs and Vikings

      Teams in awful cap position next year:
      Jags, Cowboys, Dolphins, Raiders, Ravens, Panthers, Eagles, Chiefs and Steelers

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  9. If we are talking draft I would definitely work on the trenches my draft would start with chubb in the 1st then if Maurice Hurst is there at the end of round 1 or top of round 2 I do what i do whatever to draft him cuz he wud b the replacement for McCoy. If hurst is not available there a big corner from aubirn who is big and looks the part of a shutdown cb.Then I look to get a more athletic left tackle or a true center i love ali but he is a guard . Secondary i look at free agency we need bigger cbs trumaine Johnson would b my pick up definitely. And mayb a veteran left tackle. I really feel like we will pick up more wins I really believe we are a 10 win team don’t ask me why I just believe in this team I feel they need a confidence builder and the next two games against familiar foes can b a good thing and help the mental side of the game. Remember we got going against Carolina last year. Go Bucs

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  10. I know that Malcolm passed away in 2014. Had he already passed the torch to his kids? I was just wondering how many of these changes were his and how many were the son’s.

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  11. And, with all of this damning Bucs reporting; they are actually only two games from .500 with all of their division games left. This season is still salvageable. Koetter, get this team back to the schemes from the end of the season start lighting some fires under some a#$es! C’mon, man!

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  12. It’s been well documented lately how the scheme and alignments we are operating under on defense are “inept” and “idiotic”. Makes it hard to evaluate the current talent of players and would stymie any talent we brought in. 1st round draft picks aren’t super human. They still need to be put in positions to succeed or else they become a scapegoat. Even our best, most dominant defender, McCoy can’t succeed in what seems to be a sabotage of a defensive scheme. Vernon Hargraves has been the best DB of the preseason the last 2 years. A place where super secret squirrel schemes aren’t over thought and raw talent can shine. I’d like to see how he’d look with competent coaching in scheme that’s not built to fail and hang young players and seasoned veterans out to dry.

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  13. I remember the days when being 2-4 would have been cause for celebration. I remember the days wishing we just weren’t the worst team. I remember the days when I was happy to score a few points. I remember the days when I got excited that the QB completed 50% of his passes. I remember the days when Punter Dave Green was game MVP. I remember the days there were games we almost won. I remember the days when seeing another orange clad fan was akin to seeing a unicorn. I remember the days when it was inevitable that the Bucs would be on the clock for the first pick the day the season started.

    Those were the days my friend, I thought they’d never end. Those were the days my friend, Oh no, not again.

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  14. Great article Scott, Don’t that last year the Bucs were struggling defensively then halfway through the DC Mike Smith simplified the defense after which they started winning

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  15. Great article Scott, Don’t that last year the Bucs were struggling defensively then halfway through the season, DC Mike Smith simplified the defense after which they started winning

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  16. Great article Scott, If you remember that last year the Bucs were struggling defensively then halfway through the DC Mike Smith simplified the defense after which they started winning

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  17. No need to worry about Hard Knocks next year, Scott. Teams with new head coaches aren’t required to participate 😂

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