SR’s Fab 5 is exclusively sponsored by Edmonson Electric • AC • Security –
the official smart home and security company of PewterReport.com.
For the past 40 years, Edmonson Electric • AC • Security has proudly served central Florida with electric services and now proud to add state-of-the-art “Smart Home” technology, security systems and air conditioning to its roster. Whether it’s surveillance cameras, home theaters, or smart lighting, Edmonson Electric • AC • Security is automating your dream home.
Visit EdmonsonElectric.com to find out more about controlling, monitoring and securing your home or call 813.910.3403 for additional information.
Control. Monitor. Secure.
FAB 1. Licht’s Bucs Heading To Playoffs
Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht knows he has his detractors. He can’t run from or argue the fact that Tampa Bay has a 34-62 record with him at the helm of the franchise over the past six years.
Heck, Bruce Allen – a far worse general manager than Licht – had a record of 38-42 and presided over three winning seasons in Tampa Bay out of his five years with the Bucs from 2004-08, including a pair of NFC South division championships in 2005 and ’07. Of course Allen had one head coach during his tenure – Jon Gruden, the winningest coach in Bucs history – in addition to some real star power on the team in legends Derrick Brooks and Ronde Barber.
Licht’s record when it comes to the NFL Draft hasn’t been perfect, either. No NFL general manager’s is.
There were some high-profile swings and misses in a pair of second-round picks in tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, edge rusher Noah Spence and kicker Roberto Aguayo, who was Licht’s worst pick in Tampa Bay. Licht’s entire 2016 draft class has been wiped out in five years, save for fourth-round pick Ryan Smith, who plays mostly on special teams.
There have been some free agent blunders, too.
Licht signed defensive end Michael Johnson and quarterback Josh McCown at the behest of the man that hired him, former head coach Lovie Smith, but Licht owns the fact that signing left tackle Anthony Collins, was his bad idea. All three high-profile free agents contributed to a 2-14 season in 2014 and were promptly cut the next year.
Licht also signed lazy defensive tackle Chris Baker, who was a locker room cancer, and added DeSean Jackson, who became disgruntled in Tampa Bay despite signing a three-year, $33.5 million contract in 2017. His signing of defensive end Vinny Curry the next year didn’t pan out.
Even Licht’s handpicked head coach, Dirk Koetter, who replaced Smith, didn’t work out either, finishing with a pair of disappointing 5-11 seasons after a 9-7 record in his first year.
Yet Licht doesn’t give up. That’s not in his DNA.
His father, the late Ron Licht – the hardest-working man Licht has known – wouldn’t approve of that.
Make a mistake? Hanging on to it only makes it work.
Get rid of the mistake and then try again.
Licht’s dad used to say that he didn’t trust anyone who wasn’t willing to get dirt under his fingernails.
Do the dirty work, keep working and get the job done.
His dad was a worker and not a quitter. Licht is very much the same way.
It’s rare that a modern day NFL general manager can survive missing on a head coaching hire, or missing on drafting a quarterback in the first round, especially with the first overall pick.
Licht has actually survived both in back-to-back seasons, and there is a good reason why he’s still at the helm of the Bucs franchise heading into his seventh season.
Licht has built a playoff-caliber roster in Tampa Bay.
It took some time – longer than he, the Glazers and the team’s fans around the world – wanted, but the 2020 Buccaneers are playoff-ready. Perhaps even Super Bowl-ready with the acquisition of Tom Brady, the greatest quarterback of all-time, in addition to being a six-time champion, this offseason.
Even at 42, Brady is viewed as an upgrade over Jameis Winston, whose league-high 30 interceptions last year not only caused the Bucs to turn away from him, but also have him unsigned by any other NFL team over two weeks into free agency. The fact that Licht was able to lure Bruce Arians out of retirement last year played a huge role in landing Brady, as did the offensive arsenal that Licht has assembled in Tampa Bay.
Licht’s first-ever draft pick, Mike Evans, is a three-time Pro Bowler and the most prolific receiver in Tampa Bay history. Licht also drafted three other Pro Bowlers over the years in wide receiver Chris Godwin, Winston, former middle linebacker Kwon Alexander. Licht also bolstered the offensive weaponry with an undrafted free agent find in tight end Cameron Brate, tight end O.J. Howard, a former first-round pick, and running back Ronald Jones II, a second-round pick.
That arsenal helped attract Brady to Tampa Bay this offseason.
Licht’s offensive line is a work in progress with a pair of second-round picks in left tackle Donovan Smith and left guard Ali Marpet, and a third-rounder in right guard Alex Cappa. Three years ago, Licht also signed center Ryan Jensen, who was Tampa Bay’s highest-graded offensive lineman last year, according to Pro Football Focus. He’s expected to spend a premium pick to address the right tackle position in the upcoming draft.
On the defensive side of the ball, which has been an issues for over a decade in Tampa Bay, Licht has assembled the league’s top rushing defense, led by Pro Bowl linebacker Lavonte David and a pair of recent first-round picks in nose tackle Vita Vea and inside linebacker Devin White – both have Pro Bowl potential. Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh has proven to be an upgrade in run defense over six-time Pro Bowler Gerald McCoy.
Tampa Bay’s stellar run defense on early downs set up sacks aplenty on third down last year, as the Bucs’ 47 sacks were the second-most in franchise history behind the 55 the Bucs recorded in 2000. Pro Bowl outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett, Licht’s top free agent acquisition of all time and the league’s best free agent signing last year, led the NFL with 19.5 sacks, which broke Warren Sapp’s franchise record of 16.5 set in 2000.
Licht really began improving the pass rush in 2018 when he traded a third-round draft pick for Jason Pierre-Paul, who recorded 12.5 sacks in his first year in Tampa Bay and another 8.5 last year after missing the first six games of the year with a neck injury from an offseason car crash. He’s also drafted a trio of young, talented cornerbacks in Carlton Davis, Sean Murphy-Bunting and Jamel Dean over the past two years to help shut down the pass.
Not only has Licht been able to acquire a lot of talent over the past couple of years, but he and his right-hand man, Mike Greenberg, the team’s director of football administration, have been able to keep it. Evans, Brate and Marpet were re-signed in 2018 and Pierre-Paul, Barrett and Suh were re-signed this offseason.
Yet the two most important moves Licht has made since becoming Tampa Bay’s general manager in 2014 are hiring Arians and signing Brady.
Leadership starts at the top, and the three most important positions any NFL team can have are the general manager, the head coach and the quarterback.
Those positions seem to be in a really good place right now with Licht, Arians and Brady in 2020 – a much better place than the Bucs have experienced over the last decade. And with the draft coming up later this month, Tampa Bay’s roster will acquire even more talent.
The arrow is definitely pointing up for this Buccaneers franchise.
And the arrow is pointing up because of Licht and his front office, which includes some aces in Greenberg, director of player personnel John Spytek and director of college scouting Mike Biehl, as well as a talented coaching staff and roster he has assembled.
Ron Licht would be very proud.
After the expected outcome of the 2020 season, which is a return to the playoffs for the Bucs, the guess here is that Jason Licht will have far fewer detractors in Tampa Bay.