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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. Licht, Koetter Can Survive If Winston’s A Bust

Jameis Winston was benched this week in favor of Ryan Fitzpatrick after throwing four interceptions, including a pick-six, in a meltdown performance that harkened back to the days of former Tampa Bay quarterbacks named Dilfer or Freeman. As a result, Winston may or may not get another chance to throw another pass as a Buccaneer – this year or ever.

If Winston fails in Tampa Bay he takes head coach Dirk Koetter and general manager Jason Licht down with him, right?

That’s what NFL conventional wisdom suggests.

That’s the automatic narrative in the minds of most old-time NFL reporters, and thus that way of thinking enters the minds of their readers.

Why? Because that’s the way it’s always been.

Name a failed first-round quarterback and I’ll show you a regime change that usually happens as a result.

The Jaguars drafted quarterback Blaine Gabbert in the first round in 2011 and head coach Jack Del Rio didn’t even last the entire season, getting fired on November 29 that year. General manager Gene Smith was fired after the 2012 season. Cleveland has done it twice within the last decade. The Browns fired general manager Tom Heckert and head coach Pat Shurmur for drafting Brandon Weeden in the first round in 2012, and then fired G.M. Ray Farmer and head coach Mike Pettine for drafting Johnny Manziel in the first round in 2014.

The failed development of Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay’s first-round pick in 2009, led to the firings of Raheem Morris in 2011 and Greg Schiano in 2013, as well as general manager Mark Dominik’s ouster following the 2013 season. There have been scores of others.

But does it have to be that way?

No.

That’s an old way of thinking.

Since the rookie salary cap came into existence in 2010, first-round quarterbacks no longer strangle a team’s salary cap for the better part of decade. In 2010, quarterback Sam Bradford, who was the first overall pick by the St. Louis Rams, signed a six-year deal worth $78 million.

The next year when the rookie salary cap was put in place, Cam Newton was selected first overall by Carolina and signed a four-year deal worth $22 million. The same held true the next year when Andrew Luck went first overall to Indianapolis and signed a similar four-year, $22 million contract.

Three years later, the Bucs drafted Winston first overall and he’s made just over $23 million during the past four years. That seems like a lot of money, but wide receiver DeSean Jackson has nearly made that much in the past two seasons in Tampa Bay.

Bucs QB Jameis Winston & GM Jason Licht – Photo courtesy of the Buccaneers
Bucs QB Jameis Winston & GM Jason Licht – Photo courtesy of the Buccaneers

Winston’s big money comes next year when he is due $20.92 million with his fifth-year option. Because it’s a club option and only guaranteed if Winston were to get hurt and unable to play in 2019, the Bucs can rescind that offer if they choose and let Winston become a free agent. Or they could trade Winston to a team that has over $20.92 million in salary cap room in the offseason.

I don’t think Tampa Bay is ready to give up on Winston yet, though.

No, first-round failures at the quarterback position don’t have to be an albatross around the neck of general managers. Not anymore.

There have been some general managers that have survived failed first-round quarterbacks. Rick Spielman survived drafting Christian Ponder 12th overall in the 2011 draft in Minnesota and Teddy Bridgewater in 2014, and Ozzie Newsome, who is widely regarded as one of the league’s best draft masters, selected Kyle Boller 19th overall in his second draft in 2003 and survived to draft Joe Flacco in 2008 and Lamar Jackson last season.

Licht should be the next G.M. to survive a first-round failure – even if Winston has thrown his last pass in Tampa Bay.

Why?

Because Licht and Koetter have built one of the best offenses in the league – putting up more total yards and passing yards than the Los Angeles Rams, Kansas City and Pittsburgh, and nearly as many points, too.

Fresh off a team-record 576 yards against Cincinnati, the Bucs are averaging 467.6 yards per game. The next closest team is the Rams, which are averaging 442.6 yards per game. Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick combined to throw for 470 yards last week as Tampa Bay is now averaging 376.3 passing yards per game. The next team is Pittsburgh, which is averaging 318.1 yards per game.

Bucs QB Ryan Fitzpatrick and head coach Dirk Koetter - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs QB Ryan Fitzpatrick and head coach Dirk Koetter – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

The Bucs offense is averaging 28.7 points per game, which ranks seventh in the league. The Chiefs lead the way with 36.2 points per game and are one of three teams averaging over 30 points per game, followed by the Saints (33.4) and the Rams (33).

Licht and Koetter have built the right kind of modern NFL offense that can compete with the likes of Drew Brees’ Saints, Cam Newton’s Panthers and Matt Ryan’s Falcons in the NFC Shootout Division – I mean the NFC South.

Stack any skill position group in the NFL against the likes of Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, O.J. Howard, Cam Brate, Chris Godwin and Adam Humphries and tell me they’re better. There is no team that has six better receiving weapons than Tampa Bay’s unit top-to-bottom.

Licht assembled that group with first-rounders in Evans and Howard, a prized free agent in Jackson, a mid-round gem in Godwin and two undrafted free agents in Brate and Humphries. And he locked up Evans and Brate to long-term deals this offseason.

Tag Licht with possibly missing on Winston. That looks fair right now, but Marcus Mariota doesn’t look any better with three touchdowns and five interceptions for 3-4 Tennessee – and no other QB from the 2015 draft class is a starting-caliber guy.

Say that Licht does indeed whiff on Winston. Yet he doesn’t he get credit for finding Evans, Howard and Godwin in the draft, and for signing Brate and Humphries after the draft? Of course he does.

Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter and OC Todd Monken - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter and OC Todd Monken – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

With offensive coordinator Todd Monken at the helm of Koetter’s playbook, the Bucs offense is a machine capable of being run by anyone that doesn’t turn the ball over with great regularity. For all of Winston’s talent and physical capability, a 35-year old journeyman had three consecutive 400-yard passing games to start the season, which set an NFL record. The Bucs were four points away from a 3-0 start as a result.

Fitzpatrick has only played in less than four complete games this year and has 13 touchdowns and five interceptions compared to Winston’s six touchdowns and 10 interceptions, which are the most in the NFL, over a similar span of playing time. Koetter’s decision to bench Winston was a no-brainer, and the right call.

Fitzpatrick has just as many touchdown passes as Newton and Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers this year and more than Baltimore’s Joe Flacco (12) and Oakland’s Derek Carr (10) – in half the starts.

This Buccaneers offensive machine is so potent that I suggest that third-string quarterback Ryan Griffin, who has yet to throw a pass in any NFL regular season game, could take the helm of the Bucs offensive machine and possibly throw for 300 yards in a game.

“It is a machine,” Humphries said about the Bucs offense. “Everyone can make plays. Everyone is a guy that can make 10 catches a game. Thinking back to a few years ago when we only did have three guys who were getting targets, and now it’s just like we don’t have enough passes to go around. It’s crazy and that’s fun to play for and it’s exciting every week to go in not knowing who’s going to be one to make the next big play or have that next big catch.

“Obviously we do take a lot of pride in having the best offense in the league. It’s awesome to have an explosive offense like that. We just have a bunch of guys in the room that are talented and can make plays.”

Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter and GM Jason Licht - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter and GM Jason Licht – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

There is a pathway out of this for Licht and Koetter so that they remain in Tampa Bay in 2019 and beyond. Fitzpatrick must lead the Bucs to a 6-3 finish down the stretch that would give Tampa Bay a 9-7 record. I think Licht and Koetter could even survive a 5-4 finish with a strong December that led to an 8-8 record given the amount of close losses this team has endured.

Outside of a blowout by the Bears in Week 4, the Bucs have lost to the Steelers by three points, the Falcons by five points and the Bengals by three points on a last-second field goal. Tampa Bay’s offense averaged 30 points per game in those three losses.

Building Tampa Bay’s potent offensive machine has come at a cost as the team’s defense has struggled. At first glance, Licht hasn’t drafted well on the defensive side of the ball outside of Pro Bowl middle linebacker Kwon Alexander, who was lost for the season due to a torn ACL against Cleveland. After all but ignoring the offense in his first two drafts, Licht selected cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III and defensive end Noah Spence with the first two picks in 2016. Neither one may ultimately pan out, but Hargreaves was showing real progress this offseason and in the preseason before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury in Week 1.

The jury is still out on free safety Justin Evans, the second-round pick in 2017, and this year’s class, which includes first-round pick defensive tackle Vita Vea, second-round cornerbacks M.J. Stewart and Carlton Davis and strong safety Jordan Whitehead. We truly won’t know if these players are hits or misses for a couple of years until they have time to develop.

Bucs GM Jason Licht and DT Beau Allen - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs GM Jason Licht and DT Beau Allen – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Licht has had to turn to free agency and the trade market to help construct the defense with his biggest moves being signing nose tackle Beau Allen, defensive end Vinny Curry and trading a third-round pick for defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, which was a steal, in the offseason. Licht also found a nice waiver wire pick-up in Carl Nassib, who had two big sacks in the win over Cleveland.

Koetter has some culpability in the team’s defensive woes too, after he kept defensive coordinator Mike Smith after a disastrous season a year ago. Koetter stopped hanging on to that mistake by firing Smith after a 34-29 loss to Atlanta – although it should have happened during the bye week. Linebackers coach Mark Duffner replaced Smith, and there has been some improvement, but it will take a few more personnel changes on defense next year to really turn this unit around.

I know the Glazers are sick and tired of waiting for a winning season, and so are Bucs fans. At 3-4 with Fitzpatrick at the helm, there’s still a chance that happens this season.

If that doesn’t occur, hitting the reset button on this regime seems like the obvious move, but that could be a big mistake. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

It took Newsome giving up on Boller, who never delivered a playoff season in Baltimore, before the Ravens became a consistent winner Joe Flacco, who was selected in the first round of the 2008 NFL Draft. Five straight playoff years ensued, including a Super Bowl title in 2012.

Another head coach and general manager could come in and dismantle the greatest offense the Bucs have ever had – one that is young and will help the Bucs compete for the playoffs for years to come – just to bring in their own players and do things their own way.

Don’t believe me? Look at the demolition job Jon Gruden is doing in Oakland, shipping out former first-round picks Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper. Quarterback Derek Carr, another first-round pick, could be next.

Bucs DE Jason Pierre-Paul and GM Jason Licht / Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs DE Jason Pierre-Paul and GM Jason Licht / Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

New Giants general manager David Gettleman came in and traded away the best player on the team in Pierre-Paul, who is one of the league’s best pass rushers and still in his prime, much to Licht’s benefit. Stuff like this happens – needlessly in most cases.

Are you ready to see Godwin or Brate shipped out of Tampa Bay by a new regime that wants to put its own stamp on the team? I’m not.

Do the Glazers even trust themselves to make the right move and bring in a new regime? After all, the Glazer boys fired Jon Gruden and hired Raheem Morris, Greg Schiano and Lovie Smith before Koetter. Not exactly a sterling track record, and it was their late father, Malcom, that had the wisdom to make the trade for Gruden in 2002 – not his sons.

The Buccaneers are bigger than one player – even their former first-round quarterback.

As we’re finding out, Koetter’s offense is also bigger than Winston. It’s a machine that needs an accurate triggerman – one that won’t turn the ball over with great regularity. Fitzpatrick appears to be that guy.

If I’m Licht and Koetter, I’m planning on starting Fitzpatrick next year if he continues to play well down the stretch, and then decide what to do with Winston in the offseason – unless he comes in and plays better, turnover-free football at some point later this year.

Brad Johnson won a Super Bowl in Tampa Bay at age 34. Fitzpatrick will be 36 next year and is only a year older than Aaron Rodgers. Rich Gannon was the league’s MVP in 2002 at age 37 and lost the Super Bowl to Johnson and the Bucs that same year.

Peyton Manning had a season for the ages with 5,477 yards and 55 touchdowns in Denver at age 37 before losing to Seattle in the Super Bowl. Two years later at age 39 he won a Super Bowl in Denver before retiring.

Drew Brees is playing well at age 39, setting NFL records and has 6-1 New Orleans in contention for a playoff run this year. The same could be said of 41-year old Tom Brady and 6-2 New England.

Bucs QB Ryan Fitzpatrick - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs QB Ryan Fitzpatrick – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Fitzpatrick isn’t the caliber of quarterback that Brady, Manning or Brees are – although he did outduel Brees in New Orleans in Week 1. He’s more like Gannon, another journeyman that found success much later in his career.

“Fitz plays like he’s in high school,” said Bucs fullback Alan Cross. “With the Saints, when he threw those deep balls and he was doing his thing he was like a kid again. That’s why we all play the game. That’s why we play the game right there. When we were kids playing in the front yard, you just do it because of that. When he does that it just makes everybody smile and just relax and have fun. He doesn’t play like he’s 35.”

Who’s to say that Fitz can’t be the Bucs’ starter for a year or two and serve as a bridge while Tampa Bay continues to develop Winston – or looks to acquire a younger quarterback in the draft or via a trade?

A general manager’s role is not to hit on every draft pick or free agent. That simply doesn’t happen. It’s to build a team.

Licht has already found two starting quarterbacks for the Buccaneers. Aside from drafting Winston, he signed Fitzpatrick last year and then re-signed him this year.

“Why don’t people switch most quarterbacks? Because they don’t like their backup,” Koetter said. “They don’t think their backup can do the job. The whole way this whole season has played out has led to this. If Jameis isn’t missing those first three games and Fitz doesn’t come in and light it up for two-and-a-half of those games, if you don’t know what you have at your No. 2 quarterback – and look around the league – some teams don’t even like their first quarterback let alone their second quarterback.”

Bucs coach Dirk Koetter and QB Jameis Winston – Photo by Mark LoMoglio/PR
Bucs coach Dirk Koetter and QB Jameis Winston – Photo by Mark LoMoglio/PR

“A lot of teams don’t switch because they have an untested backup or they’re afraid to put their backup in there and we don’t have either of those. Right now, we just have to stop turning the ball over and so we’re going to go with Fitz. I still have plenty of confidence in Jameis moving forward.”

So far, Fitzpatrick is 4-3 in his seven games as a starter. Winston is 4-12 in his last 16 starts.

Let’s see how this season plays out. Thanks to the offensive machine they’ve built, the fate of Licht and Koetter no longer rest has to ride on the right arm of Winston.

Instead, they hope to escape the chopping block with the help of FitzMagic – and the offensive machine that has been built in Tampa Bay that pretty much any quarterback could operate given the array of weapons to throw to.

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Scott Reynolds is in his 23rd 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 enjoys 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]

72 COMMENTS

  1. It’s not fair to lump Bridgewater in with Ponder. By most or all objective evidence, Bridgewater was on his way to being (at worst) an average-to-above-average starter when he suffered a devastating injury that was nobody’s fault. And by the time he was healthy enough to play again, Case Keenum had created a situation where uncertainty at QB was not something the Vikings could afford after having a career year and taking Minnesota to within one game of the Super Bowl. If Minnesota had been middle of the road last year, they might very well have rolled with Bridgewater and Keenum at QB this year and seen what happened.

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  2. What about promoting Monken to Head Coach? I get that the same strategy didn’t really work out with Koetter, but Todd Monken seems to be the main person responsible for any success this year in Tampa. Get a Defensive Coordinator who runs a concept relevant to this decade and this might be a decent team.

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    • I like Monken right where he is now.

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      • Well, we’re going to lose him once everyone gets fired in the offseason. I guess that’s what I was getting at.

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        • Caption for above photo

          Licht”Picked my company car, an AMC Gremlin. It was no good so I had to trade it in for a Chevette. That was no good so I had to thumb a ride to the dry cleaners to pick up my suit after beating them Browns.

          Koetter” Pick…. Trade….Whaaaat?

          Licht” Yeah them Browns sure are a mess.

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  3. Great Fab 5 Scott.

    While I think the psychology and sheer number of coaches/mentors/family/lawyers in Winston’s ear is interesting, I personally believe it has little to do with his execution. He has continued to make the same mistakes with his reads. He has continued to make the same mistakes with ball security. Every time he scrambles and dives for the end zone or a first down, he loses the ball. Every time.

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  4. This is a win now league and a fantasy fan base. I really do like this article and agree with most of it, but can the fans wait for this to come to fruition? Will Winston be ok on the bench for a year? And get paid $21 million??? I really thought Winston was ready to take the reigns but after last week and watching turnover replays, disgusting. So happy to have this offense and hope Fitz can produce a play off birth …GM Licht definitely try to get something for McCoy! OFF TOPIC does anyone see what Gruden is doing? Bombing 2018 to get Bosa and also will be Bombing 2019 to get TUA …they will lose every single game here and moving forward to get Tagovailoa!

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  5. As a diehard Bucs fan all I what is for the team to win. I’m tired of the losing and coaching changes. If Fitz can lean this team to playoffs great. Then explore trading Winston in the off-season and build a long term plan for the QB position. But if we fall out of playoff contention Winston must start and get thrown back into the fire. We have to know 100% that it can’t work even if that means him playing next year with a new coach. I know it’s not a popular idea but what choice do we have? Blow the whole thing up again and start over? That plan doesn’t seem to work that often.

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    • Exactly why Jameis needed to go back in after the bye no matter what happened, and exactly why he needs to go back in whenever Fitz falters. Fitz has no shot of being the future of this team; Jameis still does even if that shot is getting longer by the week.

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    • You are ignoring the fact that if Winston is put back in and gets injured (and therefore untradeable) the Bucs are on the hook for his entire 2019 salary at almost $21M. Winston getting injured is more likely than not – remember he missed several games last year for that reason. With him dropping back and passing 50+ times a game, it is in fact highly likely he’ll take lots more sacks and get injured, and then the Bucs are screwed.

      The only smart thing to do is inactivate Winston, not let him play or practice, and try to trade him before the league year starts in March. There will probably be few or no takers at his $21M salary, though, given his weaknesses as a player … the most likely result is the Bucs will get no takers and have to cut him.

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      • You’re right that the Bucs would get no takers and be forced to cut him. Which is exactly why inactivating him is utterly moronic – by doing that, you’re telegraphing that you’re giving up on him, which equals giving up any hope on having constancy at the QB position for the next few years. (Fitz is too old and too inconsistent to be relied on for anything beyond this season, period.)

        The REAL smart thing to do would have been NOT to exercise his option back in April in the first place when the threat of a suspension for the Uber incident was hanging over his head. As far as I’m concerned, once they decided to do that, they burned that $20 million, and trying to wiggle out of getting it back will be more trouble than it’s worth.

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        • Blake Bortles got extended because of injury in his 4th year. Jags were on the hook for his 5th year salary becasue he couldn’t pass the end of season physical. To offset the huge 5th year cap number, they signed him to a 2 year extension to lessen the per year hit. Thats how they got stuck with Bortles.

          RGIII got a concussion in his 4th year. Draft classmate Kirk Cousins came in and lit it up. RGIII was inactivate the rest of his 4th year so the Redskins wouldnt be stuck picking up his expensive 5th year option. RGIII is a bust.

          Jameis Winston is a BUST.

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    • Mizz Lady…The Bucs are not going to the playoffs this year. They will be lucky to win 8 total games. Their remaining games:
      at Carolina(5-2), Washington(5-2), at NY GIants(1-7), San Fran(2-7), Carolina(5-2), Saints(6-1), at Baltimore(4-4), at Dallas(3-4), Atlanta(3-4).

      They have to win at least 10 if not 11 games to go to the playoffs based on wild card teams ahead of them. That means they can only lose 2 more games this year to get to 10 wins(which, again, will likely not be enough to get in). Tom Brady would have a hard time quarterbacking this Bucs squad to 7 wins out of 9 contests.

      Jameis is done in Tampa. Koetter may or may not be depending on how the team responds.

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  6. Very good Article Scott.
    Winston isn’t going to change his bad mental habits; maybe he might improve a little with another team. Griffin needs to be the back up and Winston goes on the Inactive game list. There’s 21 million that can be used else where.
    Winston has put us in this position and we have to move on. We’re lucky to win 3 more games at best. We don’t have to blow up the team because of one person.

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  7. this might not be a popular theory and it is certainly not an excuse, but any new father knows how much a baby can mess with your sleep and your routine in the first 6 months to 1 year. having had 3 kids in 4 years i can attest to sometimes barely knowing where i was as the household muddled through sleepless nights, illnesses, and random digestive issues. Yeah he’s wealthy enough to push it off to a nanny but many parents who can afford to be absent from the little things opt not to. Jameis is in week 4 of balancing a football season with a little one, as he was not able to be around the football team for about 4 weeks after training camp.

    again, it’s not an excuse any bucs fan cares about, but it is a more temporary condition than just sucking hopelessly and could explain an otherwise inexplicable Sunday

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    • When I think of a Buc father with a lot going on, Joe Jurevicious is the first name that comes to mind. Look at what he endured and look at how he responded. Good chance Tampa doesn’t win a SB without him.

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      • Lot fewer demands on your third receiver than your prospective franchise QB. Not exactly an equal comparison.

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  8. Koetter is in more danger than licht is, at least that’s how I feel. I still believe that if licht felt like his job was on the line, he would have pulled the trigger on the Landon Collins trade, but he backed off holding on to those picks…did the glazers stop him from doing so? I doubt that..I can see a coaching change at least with Winston having another shot under a new coach..I’m ok with it if we do so but I can’t say I’m not worried during the draft with some of the questionable picks he makes.

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    • Much more likely that, being as Licht was on probation this season, after the baby Glazers refused to give him a long term contract extension, Licht was forbidden by the Glazers from any trades involving future draft picks.

      Certainly if I were the Glazers and hadn’t already canned his ass after his despicable previous season and four full years of grotesque failure as a GM, I would never let him trade jack shit. Why let a loser on his way out the door mortgage the future of the franchise and simultaneously deny draft picks to the guy who will replace him in about two months?

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      • when will the pain go away Naples!

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        • Good question.

          The baby Glazers have proven repeatedly that the apple fell very far from the tree. Their ability to judge football talent, including GMs and coaches, is nil.

          The best suggestion I’ve heard is to (again, the weakness here is that it requires personnel judgment by the baby Glazers) is to hire a President of Football Operations of unquestioned knowledged and judgment, then let him hire a GM and coaches and provide the kind of football smarts guidance that the Glazers clearly lack.

          The best candidate suggested to date is Tony Dungy. He would never leave the broadcast booth to become a coach again, or even a GM, but I think he could be enticed with an offer to be the Bucs PFO, with total control over everything. Similar to when John Elway was hired as PFO by the Bronco’s owners, the Bowlen family. It’s worked out pretty well for Denver, even if they’ve had some issues in the last two years.

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          • I don’t think he wants all that pressure.

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          • Geeezaaas Criminy Naplefan…Tony Dungy isn’t coming back to ANY TEAM in ANY CAPACITY. He has a cush job and as much access as he wants to all the teams. No stress. No pressure. No staff. Just him and Rodney breaking down the days games for an hour before SNF plus a little bit of halftime work.

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    • I agree with BucRy Licht will probably get one more year unless we hire a high profile coach that wants more team control. But Koetters only chance now is the playoffs with Fitz. The Glazers have stood by Winston for 4 years I just don’t see them dumping him until they know he won’t make them look like fools by having immediate success elsewhere.

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  9. This should read: “I want Licht to survive even if Winston is a bust.” because as any reader of Pewter Report knows, Scott Reynolds is a devout follow of the church of Jason Licht. Whether it’s 5 years of missed playoffs, 25-46 record, a top overall draft pick bust, an embarrassing trade up for an awful kicker, 2016 or 2018 draft failures, a history of bad kickers, inept line/defensive backs or misses in free agency Scott wants you to know one thing: “Keep my friend Jason” and Scott is going to write about it until someone in ownership has the guts to fire him.

    There is literally nothing Jason is going to do, no objective record or transactional failure that will get Scott to think another way. And that’s sad.

    You want to talk about a great offense Scott? Sure, let’s talk about picking up yards through the air because your defense can’t hold anyone. Let’s talk about the fact that the person who is driving the success in the offense is a 35 year old journeyman QB with a penchant for throwing INTs almost at the same rate Winston is. You want to keep the GM who’s built the franchise on a 35 year old QB and 29 year old pass rusher after 5 years “building” this team while missing the playoffs every year? That sounds like a success to you? Of course it does Scott, because Jason is your friend, he’s your source and you could care less about what actually happens to the team in the process. Go 2-14 earn the top pick then miss on said pick, miss on the ENTIRE 2016 Draft have the 2018 NFL draft leave very bad impression and regularly miss in free agency, sure why not? Sign me up for some more of that.

    You don’t care about the team Scott, you care about your friendship with the GM. Just admit it.

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    • You think the guy who has been covering the bucs for over 20 years doesn’t care about the team? Do you honestly believe what you wrote?

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      • The team has missed the playoffs for 13 straight years, the second longest streak in the 32 team NFL to the Browns and Scott is only critical of the coaches. Every year. Show me the take down of Bruce Allen, Mark Dominik or the Glazers when they are in charge? Show me. I’ll show you take down of Greg Schiano, Lovie Smith, Dirk Koetter all by year two. It’s year 5 of the Licht experiment. How’s it working out for everyone?

        You realize Pewter Report is NOT a media source like the Tampa Tribune or St Pete Times. The Buccaneers organization can easily block Pewter Report’s ability to cover and access the team and the subscriber base here can just as easily move to another source. Scott needs access to cover the way they have for 20 years and if you can’t tell he commonly treats the GM and management with kid gloves.

        Does Scott care about the team’d W-L more than he cares about his own business which covers it? The lack of any accountability to the GM or ownership who have built said team and hired said coaches say otherwise.

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  10. Scott is right on. A regime change (GM and Head Coach) usually brings unwanted changes such as discarding Gerald McCoy, Lavante David, Cam Brate, DeSean Jackson, Ryan Jensen, JPP and others who are on the hook for big money that the team feels can be replaced by draft picks or lower priced/less talented players. I fault Licht’s poor drafts for Bucs’s inability to move forward. He gets a D for his overall effort, including passing on Minkah Fitzgerald and Derwin James, both of whom lead their teams in INT’s. I was not that impressed with Vea unless the thinking was to discard McCoy. Licht has a nice resume but his failures stand out. Imagine how much better Bucs would be with a productive running back and better talented secondary, areas where Licht has not delivered.

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  11. Nice trick ya did there, Scott.

    As if all first round picks are created equally, and bring equal consequences to their teams.

    Everybody knows that getting the no. 1 overall pick in any draft is likely a once in a lifetime opportunity that will either make or break the GM. Not true with any other pick in the first round, especially outside of the top five picks.

    It is a once in a lifetime pick, because if that same GM ever drafts no. 1 overall again, he is provably a huge failure as a GM. Indeed, more often than not the GM who picks no. 1 overall is the replacement for the GM who put their team in the no. 1 position in the draft.

    Licht already got his mulligan by being both the failed GM who produced a no. 1 overall pick, and then being the GM picked wrong on the no. 1 overall pick in the draft.

    Licht stepped up to the plate, and in his career defining move, he picked wrong. Game over.

    That’s not even considering the fact that his drafts have gotten progressively worse and worse each year, and in the overall course of his five years at the helm of the Bucs franchise, he is responsible for destroying the Bucs legacy of great defenses. Producing the worst defense in the league two years in a row – his last two years with the Bucs.

    Nope – Licht is history, unless the Glazer boys are even bigger chuckleheads than they’ve proved to be so far.

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    • PS – Gabbert was the no. 10 overall pick, and Weedon was the no. 22 overall pick. In no way, shape, or form was either pick equivalent to the no. 1 overall pick.

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      • I think you missed his point. The reason a team fired the GM in the past was because of financial reasons. This Bucs team is loaded with talent and a top flight offense in an offensively driven league. Winston failing doesn’t set the team back in terms of salary cap and spent money. They aren’t getting rid of players to accomodate a rookie QB and his enormous salary any more. Look at Minnesota, they failed twice on their 1st round QB and the GM survived Bridgewater but not Ponder because they didn’t have to mortgage the franchises future to draft him.

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        • Survived Bridgewater? The 32nd pick in the 2014 NFL Draft? Well hell BucWild: Austin Sefarian Jenkins was the 38th pick in that same draft under Licht. Noah Spence was the 39th pick in the 2016 NFL Draft and Ronald Jones was the 38th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Jason Licht appears by some folk to be surviving similar slotted busts just fine.

          That Teddy Bridgewater would even come up in conversation compared to the NUMBER ONE OVERALL PICK in 2015 is a joke. The value of the two selections is miles apart. The fact that Licht earned the pick by going 2-14 the year before while giving out big money to Michael Johnson, Anthony Collins and Josh McCown seems to have been long forgotten.

          I believe Licht later said on Hard Knocks that he cried after drafting Winston. Man, who couldn’t trust the judgment of such a stellar GM after that? I wonder if he cried after trading up and drafting Aguayo too.

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          • Devasher-The article is about GM’s surviving 1st round “franchise” QB misses. Its based on the crippling effect a miss would have before the rookie salary cap was put in place. Read much do ya?

            A question though…which general manager in the NFL has hit on all free agents and draft picks? You seem to have all the answers about how bad a job Jason Licht has done, but who would do better?

            Winston was arguably the best QB of his class. Tampa needed a QB and was in position to take the best one in the class. QB’s are the most important position on the football field. The kid had won a national championship. He had won a Heisman. The turnovers were going to be the challenge but they had to love that he wasn’t Glennon, who was checking everything down or throwing it away. He was confident and most importantly, he was a winner. They made the right choice then. No one else would have done it differently.

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    • You know what’s crazy? Scott pointing out that Ryan Fitzpatrick is only one year older than Aaron Rodgers.

      Rodgers was drafted in April 2005 almost 14 years ago:

      The Buccaneers made the playoffs exactly ONE time since he was drafted.
      The Packers have made the playoffs NINE times since Rodgers was drafted.
      The Buccaneers have played one playoff game during that time.
      The Packers have played in 18 playoff games in that time.
      The Buccaneers lost their only game and are 0-1 in the playoffs (Jan 7 2006 loss to the Redskins).
      The Packers are 10-8 in the Playoffs under Rodgers including their SB win Feb 2011 over the Steelers.

      So yeah guys, I’m so glad we are looking at the potential of having a QB who is only ONE year older than Aaron Rodgers lead the team for the forseeable future. The amount of mental gymnastics Scott has to go through to spin his way for his friend Jason is both fascinating and laughable.

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      • I wonder, does Aaron Rodgers has anything in the Hall of Fame? I know Fitz does for being the first QB in NFL history to start a season by passing for 400 yards in each of his first 3 games. There’s tread on the tires and talent/leadership/savvy with Fitz behind center. Is he Aaron Rodgers? No one is saying he is. But he’s leaps and bounds better than the “W” eater.

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        • Was that a joke? Like seriously? Aaron Rodgers bust will be in the Hall of Fame exactly five years after he retires and Fitz will only get to go if someone gets him a ticket.

          If you’re trying to have some sustained success with a journeyman QB who is 1 year older than a 14 year vet who could’ve retired 3 years ago and still gone into the HOF you’re doing it wrong. Having the worst defense in the league doesn’t help matters any.

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          • Devasher, BucWilde was not asking if AR will end up in the HOF – of course he will – he was asking if there are any Aaron Rodgers artifacts in the HOF, such as a jersey or football used to break an NFL record, as was the case with Fitz earlier this season when he broke the record for most consecutive 400 yard passing games.

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          • The answer is yes, there is an Aaron Rodgers jersey from week 14 of the 2014 season for being the fastest QB to pass for 25k in NFL history. https://www.profootballhof.com/news/rodgers-700-25-000-club-jersey/

            Of course Cadillac Williams cleats are also in the HOF after his blistering start in 2005. Did that validate the decision to draft him over Rodgers that year? I think not.

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          • Devasher: Listen Troll, no one is calling Fitzpatrick Aaron Rodgers. He’s saying it’s possible to still perform at a high level at that age. Dim wit.

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          • Bucwild you asked if Aaron Rodgers had anything in the HOF like Ryan Fitzpatrick did. In addition to the hilarity that you would attempt to make an Aaron Rodgers/Ryan Fitzpatrick HOF item comparison, I did the 5 seconds of research to determine that yes Aaron Rodgers does in fact have something in the HOF. But I’m a dimwit. Good call.

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    • You say he picked wrong way number one but the bucs HAD to take a qb with that pick and Mariota is just as bad as Jameis this year. So it was a 50 50 shot and both guys haven’t really panned out.
      I do agree with your assessment that Lichts drafts have gotten worse. This years his worst since hes been here I my opinion. Although I will say it’s too early to tell on that. I just think he out thinks himself so much. Drafting guys thay play at one position, only to play on our squad at another.
      Lucky seems to be much better at getting thay undrafted talent that works. His second round picks have pretty much all be horrible since hes been here, outside of this years guys as it’s too early to tell again.

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      • Nobody required that the GM select a quarterback at all in 2015. Sure, we were focused on a quarterback but both the Bucs and the Titans passed on some great talents such as Vic Beasely, Todd Gurley, and Amari Cooper.

        All drafts are crap shoots, of course.

        But the specific areas of Winston’s failures – both on field and offfield – were extremely well known by everybody, including Licht. He ignored all the red flags, and decided that Winston’s enthusiasm trumped every single other thing. That’s what he said at the time, and that’s what he said on Hard Knocks. He talked Lovey Smith into going for Winston, against Lovey’s inclinations, and he completely ignored and overruled Koetter who clearly did not want Winston at all.

        At the end of the day, there are NO excuses for making a bad pick at no. 1 overall. You get one shot at that pick, and you cannot blow it.

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        • Well in terms of a number one overall pick that year, yes we had to take a qb. We had glennon as our qb, how could we not draft a qb? As for Gurley. For one, you dont take a rb at number 1. For 2 ,he was coming off of acl surgery, so he wasnt even an after thought at the time for number one. It was either Jameis, or Mariota and no other choice would have done it for bucs fans.

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          • Exactly right cgmaster27.

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          • Or, rather than drafting a player with assault and turnover issues, we could have moved down and collected an abundance of much needed draft capital. Chip Kelly was desperate about nabbing his boy MM.

            https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/buccaneers/2015/05/09/eagles-chip-kelly-trade-draft-marcus-mariota-jameis-winston/27052859/

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      • How do we know they are poor picks? I admit they weren’t my favorites, but I learned after saying McCoy was a bust after 2 years, and had to hear about it from Scubog for years, that I’d wait for three years before saying it was a bad pick.

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    • Licht had no winning choice to make in the 2015 draft. Winston and Mariota are busts as #1 picks. There were no stars worthy of the first round pick in 2015. Most are good pros but not stars worthy of the first pick. The only players who have turned into stars have been Gurley, Gordon and Peters. Licht would have been instantly crucified for using #1 on either running back and Peters did not reach his second contract with the team that drafted him.

      Who could Licht have picked at #1 that would have worked out?

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      • I have one great answer: Vic Beasely, who’s been giving us fits ever since he was drafted by the Falcons. In a position that we’ve been horrendously bad at ever since Simeon Rice retired (but looking better at the moment with JPP).

        And yes, we did not need to stay at no. 1 either, could easily have traded down for more picks, and still gotten Beasely. Or Todd Gurley. Or Melvin Gordon. Or even traded for a future year no. 1 pick, and gotten Jared Goff or Carson Wentz, if he understood that both of those guys were better than Winston.

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        • Good point. Trading out would have been a good move. I seem to remember the Eagles offering a huge package but cannot remember details except that Corey Peters was involved. Under those circumstances adding Beasley would have made our d-line formidable.

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          • If we add Gurley or Gordon to our current set of receivers…..

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          • Hah and the Eagles would be dealing with the Winston issues 🙂

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          • Perfect

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          • Duh I meant Fletcher Cox not Peter’s

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        • Good points about trading out, but kicht would be been crucified for taking nearly after our luck with Clemson DE. And he was awful his first year until they moved him to lb. You think the bucs wouldve done that? I dont

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  12. I fully support this article and in my best SR impersonation I’m going to pat myself on the back and say you heard it here first. I pretty much wrote the first Fab in the comments of the cover 3 earlier in the week.

    “bEubanks11
    Oct 31, 18 at 1:07 am
    I don’t believe the Glaziers think that Koetter or Licht are the problem and frankly I don’t either. With a historically bad defensive scheme our offensive with a journeyman QB and a turnover machine leading the way have kept us competitive in every game so far this year. We have a gem on offense and finally cut ties with what was keeping our defense from clicking. This offensive scheme is top 5 in the league. It hums with whoever at QB (as long as you don’t hand the ball to the other team on record pace), RB, offensive line…”

    It’s true. The scheme and the receivers are the heroes. This offensive scheme of Koetters is his “get out of jail free” card which doesn’t expire until other defenses figure out how to stop it. The scheme is the rare talent that’s more important than any draft pic could be. We have the best offense in the league with a journeyman QB and lost soul right now. Let that sink in. It’s rare and we have it.

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  13. Some are willing to be patient with Winston as he grows. What about our coach and GM who were hired as NFL rookies at their positions and are finding their way as well. Koetter has learned and Licht have learned from obvious mistakes they’ve made. Im sticking with them like first overall pics because I truly believe they have raw but rare talent and have the drive to be the best. It’s making the same mistakes over and over that get you benched. Those guys are moving forward. Let’s ride this thing if for no other reason than continuity. We’re an average defense away from being perennial superbowl contenders. We’re closer than we are far from it.

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  14. Come on SR, I completely disagree with your take on Fab 1. KOETTERS offense is leading the league in total offense. I can’t give Licht any credit for OJ Howard, he fell right into his lap, any GM would have made that pick. Same with Mike Evans.

    But that’s not the point, Koetters main job is the offense, which is thriving. Licht has been tasked of fixing a defense that has been putrid for the past 3 years. What has he done, yes Kwon was a great steal, but where are his other playmakers on defense besides JPP. He picked MJ Stewart in the second round when we could of had Marcus Peters for that pick. Think about that one for a little.

    I give Koetter credit for having the best offense in the league but Lichts job is building a full TEAM. Which I don’t see at this point. His draft this year is not looking good at all.

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  15. Out OL is weak and requires several high picks to fix
    Our DL is a patchwork with many FA misses over the last 5 yrs, as GMC and JPP age our will need a total rebuild
    Our entire defensive backfield is a mess
    Our QB is a bust so far but we’re hoping against hope he pulls it together in year 5
    Our RB situation lacks quality and depth
    We over-drafted and over spent the WR and TE positions at the expense of everything else
    We used a 2 on a kicker despite these many needs

    Whether or not Winston works our five years and lots of turmoil later, Licht has proven himself unqualified to be GM and must go.

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  16. Winston needs to hear a different voice in his ear. If the Bucs wants to improve Winston as a QB, they must hire a new QB coach. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result. Winston has too much talent not to bring in a talented QB coach. Jared Golf didn’t become who he is now until they changed coaches. Can anyone name one QB Mike Bajakian, Todd Monken or Dirk Koetter developed? If I am the Bucs I let Fitz finish the year as the starting QB and hire a proven QB coach. Playing Winston anytime the rest of the season with the same voices in his ear would be insanity. We do not need to have another Steve Young on our hands. Scott please read and investigate to see if that’s at least a thought.
    Go Bucs.

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  17. Insightful article and enjoyed reading all the comments as well!

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  18. I can’t believe you’re all still not happy with the number 1 offense. No part of the offense is a problem as a whole they are the best. And neither is the talent on defense that Licht has provided. I said before the season started that this team will go as far as Mike Smith’s defense. That was and remains my only concern. The defensive scheme. Find one that is decent and we’ll be good for a very long time. We’re right on the edge. Small adjustments and watch the machine churn out the wins.

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  19. The Glazers make me nervous. They also fired Tony Dungy.
    I think that if Fitz goes down we should put the youngster in-not Winston.
    I think we’re one defensive draft away from an NFC championship.

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  20. Can Licht survive a first round bust? Maybe, but can he survive all the second round busts? Many he moved up in the draft for. Can he survive all the free agent busts? For every JPP, there’s at least a Sweezy, and a Baker. Scott how can you point to Licht drafting Evans as a find? He was the 6th pick in the draft. What if Licht would’ve picked Donald instead? Would we have been worse off? How about Godwin, great find. We could’ve had Hunt, think we could run the ball now? So what Licht has done going on five years is 25-46, soon to be 47. To me as a fan, that’s not good enough.

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    • You’re right surferdudes, but unfortunately Scott isn’t interested in a good faith argument about Licht’s successes and failures. The failures are significant, the record is poor and the foundation of the franchise is rockier now than since the day Licht earned us a 1st overall pick by overseeing the worst roster in football in 2014.

      Scott wants to point to a couple of wide receivers and a tight end for 5 years of drafts and warn people we can’t do better? I’m amazed that people are buying it. Scott isn’t doing this out of good faith, he has long ago decided that he benefits in access if Jason stays where he is and the fact that another GM could come in and build a playoff team is secondary to it.

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  21. Buc fan here since inception. I sat in the old Sombrero with my dad who drank beer and cursed the Bucs. we never won then. Kinda like now! We’ve progressed greatly under one coach in Tampa. And that was..Tony Dungy. Before him, we were the laughin stock and steppin stone of the NFL. Yes, chucky won the Superbowl with..Tony’s players and foundation. He sanked right after that. Now enter the years of the Buc revolving coaching doors. Enough to make one take daily doses of dramamine! I say Show Licht and Koetter the door after this losing season. And yes, its gonna be one..A big one! Hire Tony Dungy as head of Buc Football Operations and lets start this ball rollin in the right direction. Thats it IF..we truly want to become winners again. Funny how we won a championship with an Outstanding defense and an Average offense. We were..approaching the great offense status, and still cannot win consistently. Yet we have no dense. Kinda makes one wonder huh? I don’t think Koetter is taking us anywhere but mediocrity or slightly above average..at best. Time for him..to join his road-dog, Pressbox Smitty at the St Pete Fishing hole for ex-Buc coaches!!

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  22. FAB 1 is why we are the Bucs…how many devastating mistakes does Licht have to make before there is consensus to kick him out? It’s not just the whiff after whiff in the draft (drafting is hard and there will be more busts than success), it’s

    A) the absence of a decision process – if you know our team is going to have a zero tolerance policy for DUI, why spend a 2nd rounder on ASJ?
    B) the bizarre selection of players with high picks that don’t fit our schemes – MJ Stewart is the latest.
    C) the lack of any thinking late in the draft – why pick a backup FB with no sp team’s experience, or a WR with poor hands every year
    D) what ever the trading up and selection of a kicker was ????
    E) the passing over players of obvious need like Gabe Jackson for bit players like Simms…and the knock on effect of that forcing panic trades.
    F) the strange stubbornness to never trade up in round 1, but trade up in round 2 as a religion.

    But it goes way beyond the draft. We have cut loose two of the top 5 safeties in the league this year…both were ours!

    We cut loose Penn, who continued to play at a pro bowl level for years, which forced us to reach for D Smith (one of the worst ranked OTs in the league every year).

    Does any GM have a worse record with FAs? His successes are Brate, DJax and maybe Jensen (maybe), Nassib (maybe, maybe, we hope), Grimes (maybe)? Failures go on and on: Johnson, Collins, Verner, Unrein, Curry, Conte, Sweezy, Baker, Ward, JJ Wilcox, kicker after kicker, etc.

    Speaking of – why did we cut Connor Barth? He was performing as a top quartile kicker…oh right, so that we could make that great draft pick.

    Come on – I know it’s not easy to be a GM but at least make a plausible strategy (maybe copy a successful approach to football) and follow it.

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  23. Twspin I’ve said that on this forum weeks ago. Glad you’re on board. I also say hire Derrick brooks to be the GM and in 5 years when dungy retires again brooks can run it. Licht is a total joke. He’s done more damage here than any other GM and I’ve seen them all. If the glazers want people to buy tickets koetter and licht will be gone. This weekend we get destroyed by Carolina. Think raiders last night but a lot worse

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    • Great ideas guys! Hey, while we’re at it lets get Bill Cowher to be the head coach! Also, lets trade for Gurley, Mack, the Dallas offensive line, Derwin James, Patrick Peterson, Aaron Donald and of course Tom Brady! Then Tampa fans will know how much winning means to you! Oh yeah, don’t forget Stephen Gostkowski and Adam Viniateri!

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  24. Buc76, you really must have a couple of empty Gordon Gin bottle next to your lounge chair or you are definitely Mark Dominick hiding behind that name.
    Dominick was no doubt the worst GM this team ever had and Bruce Allen wasn’t to far behind.
    Dominick’s drafting was so bad he can;t even get a job in an NFL front office.
    Allen went back to Washington and in the spirit of American business, continued his imcompetent drafting thier so he was promoted to Presidency of the organization where he couldn’t mess anything up.
    The only player left out of all of Dominick’s drafts is Gerald McCoy and he is more of an
    All Pro to the local media than anywhere else.
    The Super Bowl Bucs were built on four draft picks, Warren Sapp. Derrick Brooks, John Lynch and Ronde Barber.
    I give Licht a C as far as drafting which is much better than the F almost every fan other than you gives Dominick and Allen.
    Of course I really shouldn;t blame Allen that much since he was Jon Gruden’s lap dog and did everything he told him to.

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    • Worst GM in my mind-Ken Herrock or Phil Krueger.

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  25. Pewterreport is losing credibility posting sh!t like this. So we’re going to preach and clamor for 4 years that if they can’t develop their #1 overall quarterback then they should be canned but now if Winston’s a bust they can keep their jobs because they gain yards? Jesus… btw, Winston isn’t a bust. You people are guzzling kool-aid at this point. This offense is one-dimensional fool’s gold regardless of QB play. You don’t build a team completely backwards ignoring the trenches and running attack for years and rely on “explosives” and 7-step deep bombs to ride into the playoffs when you’re a team in the NFC South. Horrific defense. Special teams points consistently left on the field. Can’t run the ball and maintain a lead to save your life. This is not a prolific offense by any stretch of a sound imagination.

    Look at the rest of this schedule. Ryan Fitzpatrick is not going to drag this team into the playoffs. His last two starts would be universally considered disasters if we didn’t make a comeback against Pittsburgh. You know why? Because NFL teams will figure you out, especially so in a playoff hunt as the competition heats up. Get him off his spot early and often and he comes back to Earth, then we turn in to the exact same offense we are with Winston; piling up gigantic yardage as we fight tooth and nail back into the game. This is not me hating on our Buccaneers, this is the hard truth. There’s a difference between being cautiously optimistic and being delusional.

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  26. They can survive but only if they can muster a 7-9 Season or better. If Fitz becomes the 2nd coming of George Blanda or Tom Brady, they might salvage this season, and who knows maybe milk another season or two out of him. But, Fitz is a back-up for a reason. He has flirted with this before. if Winston is a bust, then the QB Carousel continues, and I can’t choose between which is worse, that or the Coaching Carousel. I am sick of seeing new regimes come in and have one good year and then poop out. With all the talent on this team, it really is mind-boggling why we cannot put it together.

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