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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. The Bucs Are Cursed!

Tampa Bay is 3-5 at the midway point in the 2018 season, a disappointing yet familiar place for the franchise to be. Over the last decade, the Bucs have had a losing record halfway through the season only once, and that came in 2010 when the team built a 10-6 record using smoke and mirrors.

1-7 in 2009 = 3-13
5-3 in 2010 = 10-6
4-4 in 2011 = 4-12
4-4 in 2012 = 7-9
0-8 in 2013 = 4-12
1-7 in 2014 = 2-14
3-5 in 2015 = 6-10
3-5 in 2016 = 9-7
2-6 in 2017 = 5-11
3-5 in 2018 = ?

A 3-5 start, which the Bucs have had in three of the last four years, has typically meant a losing record with the 2016 season being the exception. Tampa Bay won five straight games that year thanks to the defense recording a bunch of takeaways and playing great on third down. Yet at 9-7, the Bucs fell one game short of the playoffs that year.

A quick look at the schedule shows winnable games against San Francisco (2-7) and the New York Giants (1-7) and even against a beat-up team like Washington (5-3) on Sunday and two teams that may be in the downward spiral in Baltimore (4-5) and Dallas (3-5). Playing the way they are right now, hoping to score a win against Atlanta (4-4), Carolina (6-2) or New Orleans (7-1) seems nearly impossible if the Bucs keep losing the turnover margin.

Tampa Bay would need at least an 8-8 record to put the pause on regime change, and that means a 5-3 finish, which seems daunting right now. Should the Bucs have a losing record and clean house, do you trust the Glazers to hire the right general manager and head coach after hiring Mark Dominik, Raheem Morris, Greg Schiano, Lovie Smith before Jason Licht and Dirk Koetter?

Perhaps more importantly, do the Glazers even trust themselves?

No one saw Smith’s 2-14 record coming during his first season as head coach, especially after Schiano was fired for going 4-12 the previous year. That wasn’t supposed to happen.

Smith was an experienced head coach who had been to the Super Bowl before and had ties to Tampa Bay. He was replacing Schiano, who was in over his head coming from the college ranks – and yet Smith was worse.

The Bucs don’t need a new head or a general manager.

They need a witch doctor. They need a voodoo priestess. They need a Catholic priest ready to perform an exorcism.

This franchise is cursed!

Somebody, somewhere really angered the football gods.

We’re not talking about just one simple hex here. This is a full-on curse of epic proportions with many layers affecting different aspects of the franchise.

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

Somehow, some way, the Bucs had a good decade of football between Tony Dungy and Jon Gruden where the team posted five years of winning 10 games or more, making the playoffs six times, winning three division titles and one Super Bowl.

Since then it’s been a decade of pure suffering for Bucs fans and everybody at One Buccaneer Place.

Let’s take a closer at some of the curses that are currently in effect.

The Doug Williams Curse
In the Buccaneers’ 43 years of existence, the team has drafted five quarterbacks in the first round – the first of which was Doug Williams in 1978. After helping lead the Bucs to a 10-6 record, an NFC Central title and a playoff win to get to the NFC Championship Game in 1979 and playoff berths in 1981 and ‘82, Williams left the Bucs for the USFL over a contract dispute in 1983.

Williams was making $120,000 a year, which was the lowest salary for a starter in the league, and less than the salary of 12 backup QBs. After the ‘82 season, Williams requested a contract that would pay him $600,000 per year. Former Bucs owner Hugh Culverhouse stuck to his initial offer of $400,000 and Tampa Bay wouldn’t make the playoffs again until 1997 under Dungy and new owner Malcolm Glazer, who purchased the team in 1995.

Many thought the curse was broken when the Bucs made the playoffs in 1997, and certainly was gone by 2002 when Tampa Bay won its Super Bowl. But Williams was a quarterback drafted by this franchise and the real effects of the curse have been revealed in the present day, as none of the quarterbacks the Bucs have drafted in the first round, including Vinny Testaverde (1987), Trent Dilfer (1994), Josh Freeman (2009) and Jameis Winston (2015), would sign a second contract with the team. Dilfer, Freeman and Winston all got close before having a calamitous final season with the Bucs either due to injury (Dilfer) or performance (Freeman and Winston).

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

In fact, the Williams curse also extends to all quarterbacks that have been drafted by Tampa Bay, as no quarterback selected by the Bucs in any round has signed a second contract with the team. Will this curse continue in 2019? The fate and future of Winston will ultimately be determined over the last eight weeks of the season. The Bucs have picked up Winston’s $20.92 million fifth-year option, but it is only guaranteed for injury, and they could move on from him in the 2019 offseason if they want.

The Matt Bryant Curse
Former Bucs kicker Matt Bryant suffered a tragic loss when his son Tryson died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome in 2008, which was his final year in Tampa Bay. Bryant suffered a leg injury in training camp, and instead of standing by him or putting him on injured reserve, former general manager Mark Dominik cut him in training camp in favor of Mike Nugent, a high-priced kicker signed in the offseason. Bryant was an 83.1 percent kicker in Tampa Bay and had made 84 percent of his kicks in three out of his four seasons with the Bucs with his biggest kick coming in 2006 when he kicked a franchise-record 62-yard field goal to beat the Eagles.

Nugent flamed out quickly, making just 2-of-6 field goals as Bryant caught on with Atlanta later that season when he was healthy and hasn’t looked back – making 88 percent of his field goals with the Falcons over the last 10 years. Since Bryant left Tampa Bay, the Bucs have struggled to find a competent kicker, rolling through the likes of Shane Andrus, Connor Barth, Lawrence Tynes, Rian Lindell, Patrick Murray, Kyle Brindza, Roberto Aguayo, Nick Folk and now Chandler Catanzaro. That’s nine kickers in 10 years.

Just when the Bucs thought they found a long-term replacement in Barth, who kicked for them from 2009-12, the Bryant curse really went into effect. Barth made 83.3 percent of his field goals, which is nearly the exact same field goal percentage Bryant had achieved before being released, and then tore his Achilles tendon playing in a charity basketball game just before training camp in 2013.

The Bryant curse got so bad that Tynes, who was signed to replace Barth in 2013, never kicked for the Bucs as he contracted a MRSA infection in August that ended his career, forcing the team to pay him what is believed to be as much as a million dollars in a settlement that was finally reached last year. The Bucs also spent a second-round pick on Aguayo, a risky move that didn’t pan out as he was the league’s worst-rated kicker as a rookie in 2016.

Since cutting Aguayo in training camp last year, Tampa Bay is on its third kicker, as Folk didn’t last six games, and Murray, his replacement, wasn’t re-signed because he didn’t have a strong enough leg. Now the Bucs cross their fingers and pray every time Catanzaro lines up to make an extra point, and had to watch the 43-year old Bryant drill a 58-yard field goal a few weeks ago to seal the Falcons’ 34-29 win in Atlanta.

The Jon Gruden Curse
Follow the logic on this one. Malcolm Glazer was tired of the Bucs’ offensive mediocrity under Dungy and had the guts to fire the team’s all-time winningest coach and the architect of the Tampa 2 defense and make the blockbuster trade for Gruden, who won the Super Bowl in his first season in Tampa Bay in 2002. When the Bucs owner suffered a series of strokes the ownership switched to his sons, Bryan, Joel and Ed.

Former Bucs head coach Jon Gruden - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Former Bucs head coach Jon Gruden – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

In 2008, the Glazer boys fired Gruden after back-to-back 9-7 seasons, three NFC South titles and a Super Bowl victory. You could argue that the franchise was going nowhere under Gruden, as mediocrity set, bad draft picks kept piling up and the Bucs roster was getting older and older with each free agent acquisition. But firing Gruden didn’t really solve anything and sent this franchise into the downward spiral it’s in now a decade later.

The Gruden curse is so bad and so powerful that it not only infected the Buccaneers, who have yet to make the playoffs since his departure, but is also infecting the Oakland Raiders since Gruden’s return to coaching this year. In 2002, Gruden was credited for helping build both Super Bowl teams – Tampa Bay and Oakland. Now he deserves the credit for destroying both, with the Bucs getting a slow death over the last decade since his departure, and the Raiders getting a swift, painful one in his first season back in Oakland.

Thanks, Chucky.

The Monte Kiffin Curse
The glory days in Tampa Bay have all centered around great defense from the days of Hall of Famer Lee Roy Selmon and the 1979 No. 1 ranked defense in the NFL to Kiffin’s defense from 1996-2008, which featured Hall of Famers in Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks and possible future Hall of Famers in John Lynch, Ronde Barber and Simeon Rice. When Dungy arrived in 1996, he made Kiffin his defensive coordinator and the Bucs defense was so good that the Glazers kept him and the defensive staff intact when they fired Dungy and made the trade for Gruden.

From 1996-2008, the Bucs were known for great defense for 13 years under Kiffin. It’s hard to believe in the present day with the mess that Tampa Bay’s defense is in that Kiffin’s Tampa 2 defense only ranked outside the top 10 twice. The first came in 1996, the first year under Dungy and Kiffin, and the second came in 2006 when injuries ravaged the Buccaneers across the board.

Bucs Defensive Rankings 1996-2018
2018 – 29th – 414.2
2017 – 32nd – 378.1
2016 – 23rd – 367.9
2015 – 10th – 340.4
2014 – 25th – 368.9
2013 – 17th – 348
2012 – 29th – 379.9
2011 – 30th – 394.4
2010 – 17th – 332.7
2009 – 27th – 365.6
2008 – 9th – 306.1
2007 – 2nd – 278.4
2006 – 17th –329.4
2005 – 1st – 277.8
2004 – 5th – 284.5
2003 – 5th – 279.1
2002 – 1st – 252.8
2001 – 6th – 290.8
2000 – 9th – 300
1999 – 3rd – 267.5
1998 – 2nd – 271.6
1997 – 3rd – 289.3
1996 – 11th – 300.9
(Years in italics were when Kiffin coordinated the defense)

Before the Bucs ranked 17th in total defense in the injury-marred 2006 season, Kiffin’s unit was ranked first in 2005 and second in 2007. Since Kiffin’s departure in 2008, Tampa Bay’s defense has ranked 25th or worst in the NFL seven times in the last 10 years.

Seven.

Mike Tomlin, Monte Kiffin and John Lynch – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Mike Tomlin, Monte Kiffin and John Lynch – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Much like the Bucs’ 10-6 record in 2010, the defense’s Top 10 finish in 2015 was inconsequential because Lovie Smith had lost the team. After a 45-17 win at Philadelphia to get to 5-5, the Bucs lost five of their last six games, including four straight to end the season as Smith’s message was tuned out by the team.

While Smith did achieve a top 10 defense in 2015, his outdated Tampa 2 scheme allowed quarterbacks to complete 70 percent of their passes because they couldn’t stop the slant pass – ever.

The Bucs and their fans have always dreamed about having a fun, high-scoring offense like Green Bay’s under Brett Favre in the late 1990s, St. Louis’ under Kurt Warner in the early 2000s or New England’s under Tom Brady in the recent decade. Who knew it would come at the price of having one of the worst defenses in the league?

Considering that the Bucs hired three straight defensive-minded in coaches in Morris, Schiano and Smith, it doesn’t make it easier to believe that Tampa Bay’s fortunes will simply turnaround by replacing Koetter with another defensive-minded head coach.

The Simeon Rice Curse
Speaking of defense, you’re probably well aware of this curse, as it’s been well documented that the Bucs have not had a double-digit sacker since 2005, which was Rice’s last season in Tampa Bay. After a season in which Rice produced 14 sacks, he injured his shoulder late in the year and was unceremoniously released as he failed the Bucs’ physical on the eve of training camp in 2006.

The football gods made the Bucs feel their wrath immediately, as Tampa Bay would go on to have an injury-riddled 2006 season, finishing 4-12, which was the worst season Gruden endured as the Bucs head coach. After having a double-digit sacker for seven seasons from 1999-2005, Tampa Bay has yet to find a player that can reach double-digit sacks since Rice, who had 69.5 in his time in red and pewter.

Michael Bennett, an undrafted free agent defensive end in 2009, came close with nine sacks in 2012. Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy got as close as possible with 9.5 sacks in 2013, followed by two more seasons of 8.5 sacks in the following years.

Bucs DE Jason Pierre-Paul - Photo by: Mary Holt/PR
Bucs DE Jason Pierre-Paul – Photo by: Mary Holt/PR

Newly acquired defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul has a team-high eight sacks with eight games to go. He’s in tremendous position to finally break this curse, needing just two more sacks, and should do it unless he gets injury.

If Pierre-Paul can get double-digit sacks, maybe that can start a chain reaction that will help Tampa Bay lift the other curses it’s been subjected to over the last decade and beyond.

Ultimately, it’s up to the players, isn’t it? It’s up to Winston to stop throwing interceptions. It’s up to Catanzaro to make his kicks. It’s up to the defensive players to cover better, tackle better and create more takeaways. It’s up to JPP to keep sacking the quarterback.

If they can’t come through down the stretch, find an altar, grab a knife and a lamb or a chicken, and bring some holy water.

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Scott Reynolds is in his 24th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his son's Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]

60 COMMENTS

  1. When watching bucs games ,its no doubt most of us feel cursed at times. When it comes to this regime, I dont think 8-8 is good enough. 9-7 to me or you clean house. To be honest I dont even want licht near this draft class after last years draft. And dont tell me rookies need time. I’m watching rookies all over the league play well and our first round pick cant even run into a tackle at this point. Hell I read am interesting article about the running back closed form 2017 and the is about 10 guys playing extremely well right now and we choose snoop dog mcplaybook, who cant even make an active roster. Its clear licht cant evaluate running backs.
    As for coaching changes I’d love to see john Harbaugh here is he gets fired. And for the love of God change this defense to a 3-4. What we’ve been doing isnt working.
    As for the draft, there isnt a qb worth taking so no sense even looking and wasting a pick. Two years will have a gem of a qb class with fromm, Lawrence, and tua coming out. But it would be very Bucs to take a qb the year before a good class like that.
    Much like licht completely ignoring defensive line 3 years ago with one of the best d line classes in a long time.
    8-8 blow it up and dump your high priced non contributors, looking at you McCoy, gholston, curry, and Grimes.
    But alas it’s a buc life and were all just gluttens for punishment. To be honest,with this defense I’d be shocked if we win 8 games. Heck Washington is missing half their team and they’ll probably still hang 40 on us. Sorry for the dreary message as I try to be a positive bucs fan, but we’ve seen this before new day , same shitty bucs

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    • I don’t fully disagree with what you said here. But, I do have a question. Who would we line up in a 3-4? I don’t believe we have the personnel for that as a base package. 5-2-4 is something, I believe, would work much better with the current roster. From RE-to-LE: Spence/Nassib-Gholston/Curry-Vea/Allen/Gholston-McCoy/Allen/Vea-JPP/Nassib/Spence. LBs David and Alexander(when healthy), both playing spy/shadow Taylor and Beckwith(when healthy) can both play this role as as spell players. There is plenty of depth and the right kind of talent on the squad to employ such a scheme and have a healthy rotation. It, in theory, should provide stout against the run and aggressive enough against an air attack to cause timing issues for opposing passers. But I would definitely like to hear more about what we would use in a 3-4 with our current roster.

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  2. Yes, they probably are; however, before we contact any priest for ritual exorcism, maybe the Bucs may want to consider Feng Shui. I’m no Feng Shui expert, but I’m a believer and practitioner. Currently, the whole Bucs organization is experiencing very BAD “CHI” (Harmony).

    Maybe they can hire a Feng Shui expert and look at how One Buc is set up, the buildings surrounding One Buc, the interior, etc.

    Just a suggestion but what do they have to lose. (No Pun intended)

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  3. I don’t understand all the Alexander love. he was terrible both as a leader and as a middle linebacker. He is probably the worst starting coverage linebacker in the NFL. The defense was terrible with him it hasn’t changed without him.

    the problem is Adarius should never be in and that’s on licht. He is truly horrible. That doesn’t make kwon better it just means Licht failed to find an effective backup.

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  4. Good read. It’s been I real circus last 10 years for sure! You asked do we trust Glazers to make the decision for coach, or GM? Do they trust themselves? I would say answer is a big fat no. Lol. I’d like to see Licht and Koetter get another year and not blow the team up and risk offense not being good again.

    I know Licht has struggled in areas and I’m on fence with keeping him.

    On the dense with Winston I have said my posistion enough but without a run game and worst d in league they set him up to fail and don’t feel we have been able to really evaluate him. He has a lot of talent he needs a better supporting cast around him. It’s a tough call though you go get better team around him and he still throws picks and has bad mechanics…would suck. I saw him play very well end last year and great in pre season. It is possible but will it happen. Unlike many who have crystal balls and say they are certain it’s no I think it’s more likely he can. If we cut him I expect him on a well coached team with defense and a run game and doing well for a decade to continue the curse and torture Bucs fans. Lol.

    We need more playmakers for sure no surprise there. CB and safeties all are crap for most part.

    I agree Bucs are struggling against the run because of the LB and secondary. Yes they don’t attack middle of line with McCoy and Allen, and even Vea being too big to push around. However I don’t agree with Bob that harps it’s JPP fault. (And he certainly is not overpaid!) You need a double digit sacker or other DE that can generate pass rush and WE DONT HAVE THEM! Can you imagine if JPP wasn’t there! We would be carved up even worse. In this pass happy nfl you have pass rush specialists as DE. They gernerall aren’t great against run. You can put a Gholston type DE in there and fix that run and then they will sit back and carve you up like they have last few years from lack of pass rush. No Bob the line and DE and specifically JPP is not the big problem here it’s is the whole defense behind them being completely lost and unable to support stopping the run. Even Levonte appears lost as pointed out in the video and that’s exactly what I’ve seen and painted out this year. NO PLAYMAKERS AND A DEFENSE THAT IS LOST AND OUT OF POSISTION AND BITES ON EVERY PLAY ACTION, END A ROUND, ETC!!!!!!!

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    • The thing about this offense my friend is that with these skill position players, you could run any offense and be successful. I think its speaks more to our wide receiver and the talent that koetters system

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    • Totally agree. Jason Licht and the Glazers seem to have lucked out and finally got the offense figured out. With a competent QB the team scores enough points to win. The problem has been the Licht/Koetter brain trust has not been able to figure out how to make a defense work. If you fire everyone and bring someone else in now, you do risk losing the offense you have.

      The only question I have is how to fix the defense – they don’t seem to have any clue right now on how to do it. Except 2010 when it was good, it has been horrible since they lost Monte Kiffin – that is nothing new and actually quite old now with mulitple defensive coordinators.

      2018 – 29th – 414.2
      2017 – 32nd – 378.1
      2016 – 23rd – 367.9
      2015 – 10th – 340.4
      2014 – 25th – 368.9
      2013 – 17th – 348
      2012 – 29th – 379.9
      2011 – 30th – 394.4
      2010 – 17th – 332.7
      2009 – 27th – 365.6

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  5. Fab 1: There is no curse. The transition from the Bucs playing at a respectable level to playing like crap happened after the Glazer sons took over. You want to help? Put their feet to fire with antagonizing and embarrassing articles that bring light to how their father built their wealth by making well informed, intelligent decisions. Write articles about how their pride and ego in insisting on running the team is all that is keeping the Bucs from winning. Keep the heat on by demanding they hire a firm to research and hire a President of Football Operations to hire the next GM and HC. You keep that up and the fans and other local media will join in and embarrass the owners into making a change. Of course the Glazers will never want to have anything to do with you and PR after that. So the choice is yours. It’s not a curse, it’s the Glazer offspring. Give the Bucs a chance to win the Super Bowl in a few years by doing what is best for the Bucs or continue to do what is best for PR. I happen to think what is best for the Bucs is ultimately what is best for PR and making money, but it’s not my company.

    Fab 2: I couldn’t agree with you more. This is the best thing I’ve seen you write in recent memory. The detail about what the players have done in college and how it has translated to the NFL couldn’t be better. It’s how scouting works. It’s why I have no faith that Davis and Stewart will ever become great CB’s. They don’t pick the ball off, they bat down passes. I hate that. They are prime examples of Mike Smith type CB’s. A total overhaul of this defense besides Pierre-Paul is required. That was actually a good use of a 3rd round pick.

    Fab 3: …and then we come to Fab 3 where you recommend a QB with a 61.9% completion percentage and an average TD to INT ratio in a division with Drew Brees completing what, around 76% of his passes? The great point made in Fab 2 is that these guys rarely become someone else in college. If this class of QB’s suck that are coming out next year (personally I don’t like any of them) just take the best player available (as Fab 2 stays, a PRODUCTIVE player) and draft our new starting QB in 2020.

    Fab 4: Yeah, about L. David. It’s plays like that one that make me say I think both L. David and K. Alexander are overrated. Those plays have been happening for years, even with Kwon in the lineup. Like I said in my Fab 2 comment, get rid of everyone on defense except Pierre-Paul. Maybe Beckwith can make a difference once he’s 100% healthy so maybe him too.

    Fab 5: I’ve been bringing it up since the day they announced it, these uniforms suck and I’ll never, ever buy one. We had the best uniforms in the NFL, Super Bowl winning uniforms and the Glazer offspring change them. Uniform changes should inspire the players to play better, otherwise what’s the point? Hopefully the new team President will change that.

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    • Here, here!

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    • I agree with most of your points, Pink. The Glazers are the one constant since the Superbowl and they should be held to account. I also agree on the unis.

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    • As much as I dislike the moves Jason Licht makes I can not believe he is a stupid as it would take to make some of these moves he makes
      I have to believe he is being pressured by the morons in the Glazer family.
      Decisions that make no football since are constantly being made.
      Remember the Glazer morons are spoon fed kids that have never had to win at anything.
      They never lived in the world you and I live in, you can not predict anything about the way they run this team.
      I would say as bad as she was Mary Culverhouse new more about football than these 3 Glazer stooges combine will ever know.
      The father had all the brains, and watching the way Bucs have been ran I doubt jason is making these choices on his own.
      Jason has been around football a long time, would probably do much better job if left alone.
      Most likely it will take owner change to ever see improvement in Tampa.

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    • I simply could not agree more with every comment you made Pink.

      Fab 1. The media really needs to grab the power they have to influence the Glazers because if there’s one thing those twerps care about, it’s their public perception. The first few coaches that didn’t work, you could say it’s the coaches. Raheem was a good awful decision but I honestly really liked the Schiano hiring. I’ve always felt he was “right coach/wrong time” for this team because he brought some talent in and played them pretty well, the problem was he pissed everyone off with his tyrannical rule. But God wouldn’t it be great to have a hard ass like that watching over THIS team?

      Fab 2 and 3. I also thought it was strange that immediately after Fab 2, Scott heaps praise on a kid whose numbers are underwhelming at best. Simply do not understand what the thinking is there. The only nugget in there that I thought was interesting is the guy coached both Manning’s, but his new projects numbers don’t reflect well on good coaching.

      Fab 4. I accept the jury could be out on Kwon, but my one disagreement with you is Lavonte being overrated. When used properly he is a game wrecking fucking monster. Problem is he was only ysed correctly his second year (under Schiano, no less) and then a handful of games since. When this team game plans Lavonte into the game he steps it up and we’ve seen it. Blitz him. Blitz him. Blitz him. It just works. When they want him running sideline to sideline sure he has the speed for it but teams just take him out of the play and turn him into a non factor.

      Fab 5. Totally agree and the only jersey I’ll ever buy is the red 2000’s. We look super stupid and the numbers can be hard to read in a pinch when you’re trying to see exactly who it is making a play. Never understood it.

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    • I’m impressed you can still make it through an entire Fab 5 Pink. I start at Fab one, hear Scott do his best Jason Licht defense/deflection (which he does almost every week without fail) then stop reading and check the comments.

      You’re 100% right. It’s not a curse, only an idiot believes in curses. Sorry, are the Red Sox or Cubs still “cursed”? I guess when you get competent ownership and management curses have a tendency to magically lift. You see, I said, magically, so it’s clear it’s magic and not actual competent ownership.

      Scott’s Fab 5 was once the best thing about Pewter Report. Now he’s writing about how it’s not the incompetence in ownership or the general manager but it’s a mix of these “curses” he wants us to believe. Oh how the mighty have fallen.

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  6. We have turned into the Cleveland Buccaneers, a joke of a franchise.

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  7. The Bucs are not cursed we just have subpar coaching and a general manager that can’t properly identify talent. If the Bucs go 3-5 during the second half of the season Licht will have the exact same record as Mark Dominick through 4 years. People say that the talent level is night and day from when he got the team but the reality is the results tell a completely different story. The next Bucs GM needs to be a guy that sees the value in taking risks on players like a La’el Collins late in drafts instead of drafting guys like Joey Iosefu and Vitale who don’t even make the rosters. The next GM needs to realize the importance of the trenches so that he uses draft picks on guys like Gabe Jackson instead of Charles Sims in the draft. The next GM needs to realize that if I inherit a team with the best CB in football(Revis) that its probably best to develop a scheme around what our best players do well and not move them out the way to get lesser talent that are supposed scheme fits. The next guy should realize that looking through other teams backups on the DL is not the way to add impact to our DL. It would be different if it stopped at Michael Johnson year 1 but here we are at year 4 and he was still selling the same load of BS this summer that Mitch Unrein and Beau Allen would have some great impact that no one sees. Vinny Curry has been decent but again not a needle mover and the only one with real visible success was the only guy with the track record that strongly suggested that would be the case, JPP. He talked about building a tough passionate football team while begging a 35 year old CB to take his loafers off one more season to play. This team is rotten at the top and its obvious to anyone that objectively looks at this team. Licht may be a nice guy but the curse lies in the GM office not everywhere else. Dirk of course needs to be gone but it wont mean a thing if we keep the same GM who routinely drafts undersized and inferior athletes at CB, loves the wrong safeties, can’t identify an impact DL to save his life and just keeps drafting WRs when all else fails lol. Clea house and get a set of eyes that knows talent and what schemes work in todays NFL and we will be fine.

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    • Exactly right Stlbucsfan. Licht took his risks on Jameis Winston, Charles Sims, Roberto Aguayo, Austin Safarian Jenkins and failed miserably. The reason his teams don’t win games is because he was incredibly bad at picking players both in the draft and in free agency. He’s on head coach number 2 (Lovie, Koetter) and defensive coordinator number 4 (Leslie Frazier, Lovie, Mike Smith, Mark Duffner).

      Somehow despite being on the fourth DC in 5 years the defense still sucks and is last in the NFL. Any chance it’s not coaching? Maybe it’s the players?

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  8. Good read Scott. Several thought provoking comments and yes I agree there have been many games where I concluded the Buc’s were cursed. I certainly don’t have the football knowledge to assess why the team at times acts as if it is trying to lose the game vrs. win. There was a time when I thought it was my fault. I asserted to any and every divine entity that would listen that “If the Buc’s win the Super Bowl I will never bitch about them again.” In hindsight that did not turn out well over the past decade.
    On a more serious note If you think back about the great team we had when we won the SB. Adequate Offense, well traveled QB (Brad Johnson), GREAT DEFENSE! What has changed more? The players or the game. I Think it is the game. John Lynch, Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks et.al could not play under todays rules. They were all Head Hunters who prided themselves on physicaly destroying their opponents. Today they would not be Pro Bowlers because they would have spent most of the season on the bench under suspension. Offenses via the passing game rule the day. Average scores per game are growing geometrically. Finally no one can deny the axiom “On any given Sunday.” is alive and applicable .

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  9. No curses, the explanation is correlation with causation.

    1976 to 1994 – team owned and mismanaged by the tightwad Hugh Culverhouse (last year by his heirs)
    Terrible owner, terrible manager, terrible results

    1995 to 2007 – team owned and well managed by Malcolm Glazer, a canny manager and owner, produced the only era in team history when the team could actually be expected to be successful year after year. Way too short an era, but the good owner caused the good results

    2008 to the sucky present – team owned and managed by the Baby Glazers after old man Glazer suffered a stroke and was incapacitated, apples who fell far from the tree and who are terrible owners, terrible managers, and have produced terrible results.

    If this isn’t the most obvious root cause, I don’t know what is. Of course multiple PhD dissertations could be written on the subject of how the bad owners owned and managed terribly, and how the one good owner owned and managed superbly. Money ball and mulitple regression analysis, whatever. It still comes down to good judgment vs. bad judgment.

    The only way to fix this is either for the Baby Glazers to sell the team to a competent owner, or for the Baby Glazers to remove themselves from the decision making process altogether by hiring a quality PFO .. of course, the trick there is that hiring a quality PFO requires a quality decision by the Glazers, which seems a couple of rungs above their paygrade. So probably the only real solution is for the Glazers to sell and hope that the new owner is much more like their late father.

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    • Agreed. To your last point though if the Glazers hire a firm to hire the PFO, you remove the opportunity for the Glazer offspring to screw it up. They can find the firm based their past history of hiring results. The Glazers can also find a good board of directors that have had success hiring good CEO’s to find the PFO. I know the Glazers have the contacts among the richest people in this country to pull off such a search, but their ego and pride is getting in the way.

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      • In short, my expectation is that the Glazers may not be able to identify good football minds, but they can ask their contacts who knows a firm or a board of directors that has had success finding great business operation minds? A great business operation mind with a passion and deep understanding of football can come from a variety of backgrounds. A good business operation mind can transfer across business and find success. That’s why Steve Jobs was able to recruit the CEO from Pepsi to come work at Apple and help lead them to the next level of success. Sugar water doesn’t have much to do with user interface technology but a good business operation person can pull that off.

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        • You are right in that there probably are some good people out there somewhere in NFL land who could be hired if the Glazers were willing to put their egos aside and let the pros take over. I just don’t know that they can put their egos aside like that.

          I would think that there are successful owners out there who could mentor the Glazer boys, maybe some one outside of the NFC South. Guys like Robert Kraft, or Pat Bowlen, or Dan Rooney.

          But our luck the Glazers would ask Jerry Jones for help! And then get it! 🙁

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  10. I respectfully disagree! Maybe I am old school but you need 11 disciplined players on defense and the turnovers will start to flow in.

    I think in the current NFL era having an elite talent on defense is overrated because of how pass happy the league has become.

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    • I actually think the Glazers would not be better off by firing Koetter at the end of the season. Fire the GM, DC and defensive coaching staff, and special teams coaches, but give Koetter his due with the offense by keeping him. Conversely, if they insist on firing both Koetter and Licht, keep the OC and promote to HC or insist that the new HC and GM keep the current OC. That will hopefully remove the Bucs’ curses.

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    • Defenses are always measured relative to their peers. With the rules as they are now, defenses are greatly hindered.

      But it still makes a helluva difference if you are the 1st ranked defense, or the 32nd ranked defense. And you don’t have to have the no. 1 ranked defense if you have the no. 1 ranked offense … but adding first and last together still equals mediocre, or worse. A top 5 offence combined with a middle 5 defense equals playoffs.

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  11. I have sometimes question Scott Reynolds insight on an occasional basis, but not his logic.
    Maybe I should have precluded he was suffering from early stages of dementia last year when he started lobbying for Jon Gruden to be rehired as head coach.
    Seriously, if anyone with half a brain had examined Gruden’s overall record here, they never would have even considered the idea.
    But now we have the ultimate in teenage hysteria from Reynolds.
    A curse or many curses.
    Definition: a solemn utterance intended to invoke a supernatural power to inflict harm or punishment on someone or something.

    Really. I would think as a Christian man that Reynolds proports to be, he wouldn’t advance such hysterical thinking, even if it was tongue and cheek and from this article it doesn’t appear to be.

    I won’t go into all the reasons to dispel these silly and childish notions because I refuse to give them merit.

    Ultimately the real tangible reasons the Bucs are performing badly right now is due to poor talent and the fact Licht, who has built this team, has not selected the right players in the draft or free agency.

    It isn’t from coaching.

    I heard JP Peterson yesterday cite coaching as the reason Evans didn’t go out of bounds after his catch in the Atlanta game.

    Really, the Bucs practice two and four minute offenses constantly in the preseason and you have to coach a four year veteran to go out of bound with less the 40 seconds remaining on the clock. The utterance was just plain stupid but morons listen and repeat it.

    Now we have Reynolds bringing up the same old tired “curse” cliche that many unoriginal sportswriters like to conjur up to try and stir up readership.

    Scott, not that it probably means much, but my opinion of your judgements have really dropped after reading this nonsence. Reynolds had now dropped to the level of Tom Jones and Martin Fennelly.

    Now I completely understand why you support the current cheating, lying, thiefing traitor in the White House. It now makes so much more sense.

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  12. Defense needs playmakers.

    Hmm… You know who is a playmaker on defense. Derwin James.

    You know who’s not? Overweight bust Vita Vea

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    • I saw Vea hustling last game..just to miss a tackle lmao

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  13. It sure feels like a curse…and almost as if The Bucs and Gruden made a deal with the devil for the SB Title…as Gruden had the Raider playbook and everything fell into place. It’s been a dumpster fire since…with so few things to cheer about but plenty of cleats to the groin along the way. The uniforms are pretty crummy…winning week 17 last year to lose out on Bradley Chubb and instead keeping Licht’s Out around to absolutely butcher the draft…the top premium picks in particular. I feel for Scott and the talented band of writers who have to continue to buff this 12 year old ( and counting ) turd of a team.

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  14. Everyone misses on draft picks but Licht has a woeful record in Round 2 which is not good.
    Let’s face it, our LB’s aren’t as good as Pewter Report touts them to be.
    Lavontae David had one good year under Schiano and that was it.
    Alexander makes a lot of tackles but doesn’t make very many big plays. From what I have seen, neither is really that outstanding in dropping back into zone coverage.
    Finally, both of them got into Warren Sapp this week arguing about how to play defense on an end around. Both insisted they should they try to tackle the ball carrier from the outside rather than setting the edge and forcing the ball carrier to the inside.

    Both insisted that is what the defensive scheme called for them to do.

    Even that is true, which I can’t really believe, is there any wonder why the Panthers gashed us for so many yards from the outside.
    Even Ronde Barber noted during the game that none of the Bucs were setting the edge on both of those plays.
    It would be interesting if one of the Pewter Report scribes would pose that question to either Duffer or Koetter.
    I know Scott Reynolds doesnt have the time because he is to busy sticking needles into the knees and shoulders of his Alex Smith doll.

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  15. Sorry, I meant to say both players insisted they should try to tackle the ball carrier from the inside rather than set the edge.

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  16. No curse! No Voodoo dolls! The Bucs are what their record says they are – a bad football team! This is no mistake. They are the product of:
    *Unproductive Drafts
    *Lack of Player Development
    *Failed Free Agency
    *Ineffective Coaching
    *Resistance to Change

    The Bucs drafts over the years have been unproductive. We drafted Gerald McCoy and Mike Evans that have met or exceeded expectations from draft position. Who else have the Bucs drafted in the first or second round? The measurement here is Pro Bowl /All Pro level of play. Most first/second round picks have not produced desired results consistent with draft position.

    The Bucs have not developed players consistent with their draft status. OG Ali Marpet was well on his way to pro bowl status at right guard according to PFF until the Bucs decided he was a center, now a left guard. Top OG Andrew Norwell formerly with the Panthers, now with the Jaguars was undrafted but developed. The current starting left tackle with the Panthers, Chris Clark, was also undrafted and signed by the Bucs in 2008. I could go on. Fundamentals, fundamentals – can the Bucs tackle? We have the highest number of missed tackles in the NFL.

    Failed free agency. I’ll be brief – Anthony Collins, Michael Johnson, and Chris Baker. OG Logan Mankins was a great acquisition, but not enough to hang our hats on and JPP is too new to tell. For the money spent and the benefits acquired, free agency has by and large been a bust.

    Ineffective Coaching is perhaps the biggest reason. We have a problem with playcalling (recently delegated to the OC), time management, scheme alignment, second half adjustments and red zone efficiency. We can’t seem to get a place kicker that can see straight. These things have cost the Bucs games.

    Resistance to change is obvious. How long did we run Doug Martin up the middle as the first play from scrimmage? How long did we play off coverage in the secondary before finally having to make a coaching change to adjust? How long must we insist on throwing the long ball when it was clearly not working and driving up INTs? The Bucs have become predictable and OCs/DCs can easily game plan for us. Change is inevitable in the NFL and the Buc have been late to the party. We play the Panthers again and the Steelers laid out a road map last night for the Bucs to defeat them. Let’s see if there are lessons learned.

    This is not an exhaustive list but it is meant to say that there are reasons why we appear to be cursed. I did not name names, but those names are implied. Fix those reasons and we may be competitive again. Go Bucs!

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    • If Mac is putting on the life preserver, I’d say this ship is going down!

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    • Nice piece Mac.

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    • Bravo Mac, well said. Glad to see some concise criticism from someone whose opinion I have respected for years. I’ll admit I have reduced most of my post to antidotal rambling consistent with my ever shrinking inability to care. I’ve grown tired of wasting the few brain cells I have left on this reoccurring nightmare in Tampa.

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  17. Sorry, I meant to say both players said the scheme calls for them to tackle the ball carrier from the inside rather than set the edge.

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  18. So, what about spending a few bucks to bring in Tony Dungy as President of Operations for the Bucs?

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    • I hate to say this because I love the guy and he deserved to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, but based on the many, many times I have heard Tony Dungy speak (and I also have his book) I think he is very wise but not all that smart. Being wise is making good decisions based on the information you have and being smart is how quickly and accurately you can anticipate and assimilate new information and do something productive with it. For that position I want someone who is both wise and brilliant. I want him (or her) to be innovative and project what will win in the NFL not just next year, but 5 and 10 years down the road.

      Dungy is not good at predicting what is going to happen in an NBC game even right before it’s played and all factors are known and he is not good at seeing how a team is going to react to certain personnel changes and injuries from what I have seen. When he talks about what is going to happen in general NFL news when a starting QB goes down or when a new rule is implemented, things generally don’t go the way he says they will. So I don’t think he’ll be good at looking ahead at the NFL landscape 5 and 10 years down the road and selecting a GM and HC that will win in that environment. I just don’t think he’s smart enough to do it.

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      • Seems to be smart enough to be sitting on a few million $$$ with a Super Bowl ring and a gold HOF jacket….

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        • Warren Sapp has the same things.

          Again I think Dungy is wise but not smart enough for the job. I don’t want the Bucs to become the Lakers with Magic in charge.

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          • A PFO is better if he is wise than if he is smart.

            Being wise is being able to judge people and whether a GM candidate is smart enough, and wise enough, to judge talent and figure out what kind of talent is necessary to compete in today’s NFL, and maybe think out ahead a couple of years as well.

            I think that is something that Tony can easily pull off. Ditto with being a sounding board for the GM, and for the head coach (after all, he was extremely successful at that job, even if he no longer want’s to enter the grind of head coaching again).

            So actually, I think you make a good case for Tony as PFO … not as GM, or as HC, but as PFO.

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      • Pink, I can’t account for who the wisest guy in the room is, but I’m sure that Einstein would f*$* up this team if he was our GM. Tony was the first person; along with Rich McKay, to find players that became the foundation for a long term winning team. Was it luck? I don’t know. He has a history with the franchise, and the ring to prove his worth. And, more importantly, I think he has the respect around the league to entice veteran coaches to want to come here and build something. I would bring Tony in, assuming that he’d agree to even do it, and let him make the desicions on Licht, Koetter, Jameis, etc.

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        • Focusing in on a candidate before the process has even begun is how you hire the wrong candidate. That’s why we are in this mess now because that’s what we did with Dominik, Morris and Koetter. Let a firm or or board of directors do their job and review the pros and cons of 75 candidates, not us fans zeroing in on one who has previous ties with the team. If Dungy is truly the best man for the job the cream will rise to the top and he’ll get the job anyway. That’s why we ended up with the Rooney Rule. Too many owners focusing in on who they want to hire before they have examined the full pool of candidates. Many weren’t even considering the black candidates. My point is going with who you are familiar with does not normally yield the best results and I want the best result which is a Super Bowl. Compare Dungy to 74 other candidates and may the best person emerge.

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          • Naplesfan, if you’re going to pay someone that much money and give them that much power why not pick someone that is wise AND really smart? There are 7 billion of us on this planet to choose from. Why settle for wise and not brilliant when you can both?

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      • I’ve always believed my being a “smart ass” and not just wise or well…….smart, is my most valued trait. Quick wit versus a library of knowledge stored somewhere in my brain that, as I age, gets further and further lost in my memory banks.

        Dungy’s strength was surrounding himself with quality coaches, except maybe Mike Shula and his ability to influence his players. His downfall was his stubbornness. At this point he’s a familiar respected face who, at least initially, would cause the fans to think stability and direction was in our future.

        There may well be others who would be much better at predicting trends, evaluating staff and building a talented roster in a short time. Most of us just don’t know who that ideal candidate might be. Any thoughts my friend? Is Ron Wolfe (here in 1976) still alive?

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        • Nope, I have no recommendations. My last recommendation was Schiano and the Bucs actually hired him a week or two later. That turned out so poorly that I fired myself from recommending people to lead this team.

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  19. I think this article misses the point entirely.

    Everything starts at the top – with ownership. The best NFL franchises have the best owners. The Rooney family in Pittsburg, Robert Kraft in New England – how about Jeff Vinik with the Lightning. It starts at the top.

    Culverhouse was horrible. Malcom Glazer righted the Pewter Pirate Ship and we won a Super Bowl. He was a good owner. But as he aged and passed the team on to his sons, we’ve run aground. This generation of Glazers is just not as good as either their father or the elite owners in the NFL.

    That said, that’s who we’ve got and its not going to change. So – they need to clean house – start with Jason Licht who only seems to able to evaluate WR and TE talent, and keep going until you get to the core group of players that want to play for Tampa and have the talent and work ethic to compete in the NFL.

    Still a fan, but hard to see how we are not last in our division. Again.

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    • As someone who has a family company that is being turned over to the 4th generation (in a hyper competitive market), it’s INCREDIBLY hard to pass businesses down successfully. In our family it started from nothing (actually a baby carriage rental company) with the 1st generation, was bankrupted by the 2nd, completely turned around by the 3rd, and is being built more strongly by the 4th.

      If you’re particularly wealthy you too easily end up with incompetent schmucks who are used to wealth and power and not having to do anything to get it.

      Or you end up with kids who don’t have the talent for it. Which is fine, unless you shoehorn them into the business.

      Or you end up with kids who have no interest in your line of work. Which is totally fine.

      Rarely you end up with kids who are both talented and interested in your business.

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      • Couldn’t agree more. And not trying to condesend to Brian, Joel Glazer, et al, but subsequent generations don’t always have the same drive, have not been honed by the prospect of losing everything and most importantly, haven’t developed the ability to identify talent. Malcom Glazer did that particularly well.

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  20. There is no curse. We lack players with talent. For every hit Jason L. has, we have multiple misses in either draft or FA. We like to say well we missed on that 2nd round pick, but we got a UDFA that produced when in fact them producing is more a product of us missing on so many talented prospects between rounds 1-4 in the draft.

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  21. I don’t miss Alexander. The Bucs D has been no worse than with him in it.

    I’d gut the entire D, coaches & players. There may be 3-4 keepers on that side of the ball, and that’s it. You could pick random D players from the draft or FA and not be any worse than the s#!tpile these guys show every week.

    I have never loved and hated the same team at the same time so much in my life.

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  22. We aren’t cursed Scott and you’re just creating fake news or is it just filler because you have nothing else to write about?

    This team is in serious trouble especially the Operational aspects of the Buccaneers. They don’t deserve the millions they are getting from the NFL. They aren’t prepared to adjust to the downward trend of a market drying up in the Tampa Bay area. How stupid not to reduce ticket prices especially for fans under 18 years of age to grow them into future Buccaneers ticket holders?

    Glazer’s, how can you run a Pro Football Enterprise like you run other businesses? It’s just not like other businesses, even though you may think so.

    This is just sad another GM has to be replaced because he has failed in his poor draft selections in rounds 1 & 2; I mean failed miserably!

    Not sure OC and staff should be let go. DC and staff have to go, along with the majority of defensive players.

    As to Winston; what do you think is going to happen any differently that we haven’t already seen? Don’t play Winston, put him In Active on game day; we need the 21 million elsewhere to pay for players who are going to make a real difference.

    Once again, lets move on and build a team that the Tampa Bay area can be proud of to call them our team!

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  23. Good article Scott, but I kept waiting for you to mention the main Playmaker we had in the five win end of 2016 was starting Tandy at Safety, so the Bucs gave Smitty a big raise to keep him and then just put Tandy back on the bench; then Licht let Tandy walk! How stupid! Equally stupid was not leaving Tandy at CB which is what he played well at WVa when we drafted him. He is the same height as our best CB of all time, much faster, tough, and equally a great playmaker. We could really have used him this year at CB and we wouldn’t be talking about our bad turnover problem now!

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  24. So read today that mesean can return punts any time he wants per koetter. You see him out there returning punts? This is a microcosm of this ineptleadership. And then koetter makes him captain! How many ways can coach stoke this dude ego. He asked for a trade, doesnt want to return punts now either. The dude has been a cancer on every team hes been on. And koetter doesnt have the balls to tell his ass to get out there and return punts anyways! Weak coach equals a weak team. Time to move on.

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  25. The problem is that some of our movers actually made sense at the time. If memory serves, Scott, I think you supported the Gruden move, Saving that he had lost the locker room and was a bit inconsistent or the players did not what he was saying at times. Forgive me if I am wrong.

    And call me crazy, but I remember that Doug William’s situation and remember reading that Tampa offered him $600,000. You do not report things that you don’t know, so were those old reports in accurate?

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    • If I remember correctly Williams was offered some cash and the rest of it was some Culverhouse real estate he was developing? Anybody else remember it?

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      • It was $400,000 (Dougie wanted $600,000) and as you remembered, interest in some real estate deal that ultimately proved to be a failure.

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  26. I think it’s the “Curse of the Scubog Player Jersey”. At the end of last season I decided to buy a # 3 jersey since it looked like Jameis was turning the corner those last few games. As John Bellucci would say, “But noooooooooooooo”. I’m afraid my purchase has doomed the team. Only 8 more games to see if that seldom worn jersey will go in the closet with my Rhett, Barron (2 of those) Williams (both Caddy and Mike), Martin, Revis, Johnson, Eckwood, Testaverde, Jones, Dilfer and probably some others I’ve forgotten or dropped off at Goodwill. Hope my Howard one is safe.

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  27. If you believe in crowd sourcing, the clear conclusions from the posts above are:

    1. Our GM has a terrible track record and needs to be replaced.

    2. Unless the baby Glazers defer to someone with genuine football insight when choosing his replacement, the outcome may not be any better.

    Probably forgetting a few but thanks to stlbucsfan, Naples and (as always) Mac for particularly well written posts (IMHO). It’s honestly the quality of the posts, not the articles, that keeps bringing me to the site.

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    • Couldn’t agree more. I enjoy the articles, for the most part. But, it is definitely the comments that bring me back. Whether they are insightful, funny or just outright moronic

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  28. This is real simple. Hire a good GM, and let him hire the coach. This hasn’t really happened since Rich McKay hired Tony Dungy. Glazer hired Gruden, Gruden hired Allen. The Glazers installed Morris and Dominik at the same time. Bill Belichick really hired Greg Schiano as he made a personal recommendation to the Glazers. Lovie Smith hired Jason Licht, and they simply promoted Dirk Koetter because of the Winston thing. Make Monken the new Kiffin, he’s the guy who stays on, but other than that, do something you haven’t done since the days of McKay and Dungy.

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