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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. Will The Bucs Keep Licht?

Jason Licht probably didn’t know it at the time, but he might have saved his job on April 27 and 28.

Those were the days when Tampa Bay’s general manager wisely chose Alabama tight end O.J. Howard in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft and then selected safety Justin Evans, wide receiver Chris Godwin and linebacker Kendell Beckwith. All four have been pressed into duty during their rookie season, and all have played very well, which should boost Licht’s stock within the walls of One Buccaneer Place.

It’s one thing for an NFL team to have one or two draft picks contribute during their rookie seasons. That’s the norm. It’s another thing to have four rookies do it – and do it well – in a given year.

And let’s face it. A show of strength of the 2017 draft class was needed after the slow disintegration of the 2016 draft class, which featured cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, defensive end Noah Spence and kicker Roberto Aguayo with the team’s first three selections in the initial two rounds.

Hargreaves has just one interception through 27 games and was demoted to nickel cornerback before a hamstring sidelined him the past four games after giving up too much cushion as an outside cornerback. Spence has missed all but three games this season after needing a second shoulder surgery. Aguayo was jettisoned after just one disastrous rookie year in which he was the league’s worst kicker.

Licht has also solved the Bucs’ kicking situation – finally. After going through Connor Barth, Kyle Brindza, Aguayo and Nick Folk, Licht was able to re-sign Patrick Murray, who was released after a successful rookie season in 2014 season due to a torn ACL. Murray has made all of his extra points and connected on 14-of-16 field goals this year (87.5 percent).

The Bucs are a disappointing 4-9 right now, but when Licht drafted Howard, Evans, Godwin and Beckwith he anticipated Howard helping the Bucs make the playoffs with Evans, Godwin and Beckwith developing into future starters down the road. Instead, the solid showing by Tampa Bay’s 2017 rookies might end up allowing Licht to stay on and receive a contract extension as the NFL is a “what have you done for me lately?” league.

No general manager has a perfect record when it comes to personnel acquisitions, but given the team’s drafts, which have generally been poor since the Super Bowl season in 2002, Licht has far more draft hits than at the end of Rich McKay’s tenure in Tampa, as well as the likes of Bruce Allen and Mark Dominik’s drafts. If the Glazers think they can find a better personnel man, then they can risk it and let Licht go.

But then again, they thought that Raheem Morris, Greg Schiano, Lovie Smith and Dirk Koetter were all better head coaches than Jon Gruden.

Now the Glazers are 0-4 in their last four head coaching hires and the Curse of Chucky is alive and well (not just in Tampa, but Oakland, too.).

Yes, the end is near for Dirk Koetter and this coaching staff. Based on what I know, I don’t see any way the Bucs don’t clean house on the coaching side after the end of a disappointing season that was once filled with such promise and high expectations for a playoff berth.

But perhaps the bigger question is will Licht and the Bucs’ front office survive as well?

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

That will ultimately be up to the Glazers and likely the head coach they decide to hire to replace Koetter. Licht was in charge of the last coaching search and with Koetter failing after two seasons, coupled with Licht’s current contract status, the Glazers will take on the task of finding a new head coach independently.

If Koetter’s replacement – and the Glazers are probably going to pursue a big name on the offensive side of the ball because of Jameis Winston – wants to clean house and start over with a new front office too, Licht could be gone. That’s what happened when the Glazers fired both head coach Greg Schiano and Dominik, the former general manager, in 2013, hired Lovie Smith and let him hire his own general manager, which turned out to be Licht.

But if the new coach likes the existing talent on the Bucs roster and doesn’t have his own general manager candidate to bring to Tampa Bay, there’s a decent chance Licht stays on.

There’s a lot to like on offense where Winston has yet to hit his ceiling, center Ali Marpet and right tackle Demar Dotson are stalwarts on the offensive line, while left tackle Donovan Smith is still developing. Help is needed at guard where Evan Smith and Kevin Pamphile are free agents next year and a decision needs to be made about J.R. Sweezy, who has underperformed in his first year returning from back surgery.

The running back stable needs to be completely cleared out except for Peyton Barber, who is an ideal backup running back similar to Earnest Graham from yesteryear. The 2018 NFL Draft is full of capable running backs, and the Bucs can find an instant impact player at that position.

What offensive-minded head coach wouldn’t love to walk into Tampa Bay where the passing game is well-stocked with a young, talented quarterback that needs to be developed in Winston, four starting-caliber wide receivers in Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, Adam Humphries and Godwin, and two young stud tight ends in Cameron Brate and Howard? There are enough offensive weapons to score more than the 20.3 points per game that the Bucs have been averaging this season.

In fact, in three years in Koetter’s offense, the Bucs have averaged just 21.3 yards per game. The fact that scoring is down from 22.1 points per game last year to 20.3 points per game this year given the fact that there are more weapons on offense is a crime.

That’s on Koetter – not Licht.

There are more than enough weapons to score more points than three touchdowns per game.

Bucs K Patrick Murray - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs K Patrick Murray – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Licht’s biggest fault, aside from taking three years to stabilize the kicking situation in Tampa Bay, was not doing enough this year to address the defensive line. It’s hard to argue with the selections of Evans and Beckwith, especially given the injuries at the safety position and linebacker this year, but Licht has selected just two defensive linemen in the last four drafts – Spence in the second round in 2016 and defensive tackle Stevie Tu’ikolovatu in the sixth round this year.

Licht is well aware of that fact and plans on revamping the defensive line with an edge pass rusher or two, and perhaps another defensive tackle this offseason – if he gets a contract extension and remains in Tampa Bay.

The biggest issue with the defense this year is the Bucs’ lack of pass rush. Defensive line coach Jay Hayes has done a poor job this season, but Licht also deserves some heat. He and Koetter gambled on four things while passing over defensive end in the 2017 draft.

First, they anticipated squeezing one more year out of the 31-year old Robert Ayers. Instead, Ayers has been a shell out of his former self this season with just two sacks and one forced fumble. He’ll be released in the offseason regardless of who takes over as head coach or general manager. Ayers’ $5 million base salary in 2018, which is the final year of his contract, is not guaranteed.

Second, they banked on Will Gholston living up to the four-year, $27.5 million contract extension he received in the offseason after two really good seasons of productivity. After recording three sacks and at least 49 tackles in each of the last two seasons, Gholston has underwhelmed in 2017 with only 28 tackles and zero sacks. Hayes has clearly underutilized him this year, and Gholston hasn’t shown much progress in his development.

Third, Licht and Koetter counted on Spence and former defensive end Jacquies Smith to rebound from their respective injuries. Spence’s first shoulder surgery wasn’t done properly and didn’t fix the problem of his recurring shoulder separations, which prompted another one back in October. Smith had setbacks in his recovery from an ACL injury and never regained his form when he returned to practice. Those two ends were counted on to provide speed off the edge. Spence had one sack-fumble in the season opener before going on injured reserve after the third game of the season.

Bucs DT Chris Baker - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs DT Chris Baker – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

And finally, free agent signing Chris Baker has turned out to be what many feared – a lazy, unproductive, overpaid player. Baker couldn’t beat out holdover Clinton McDonald for the starting nose tackle spot and has been a reserve player for most of this season. Baker didn’t bring the pass rush that Licht expected him to, notching just half a sack this season to go along with 28 tackles. Like Ayers, Baker will be gone next year, as his $4.875 million base salary is not guaranteed.

Those four whiffs involving those five players, in addition to poor coaching from Hayes, doomed the pass rush this year. But a quick fix should be in store next season with another round of free agency, a couple of more defensive linemen from the draft and a new position coach. It can’t get much worse in 2018 than this year’s group of defensive linemen, which have a combined paltry total of 15 sacks this season.

Licht has done very well stocking the linebacker position for the future with three starters in Lavonte David, the team’s best player, who was wisely re-signed to a five-year, $50.25 million contract in 2015, Kwon Alexander, a fourth-round pick in ’15 and Alexander. Throw in Adarius Glanton and Davante Bond and the Bucs have the flexibility to run a 3-4 defensive scheme or a 4-3 for the next head coach.

More work will need to be done in the secondary where another stud safety must be paired with Evans, and the cornerback position needs to be rebooted as Brent Grimes will turn 35 next year. He is scheduled to be a free agent, while the jury is still out on whether Hargreaves can develop into a solid starter. A better pass rush and a more aggressive scheme next year could immediately help the secondary.

Couple a defense that is surrendering 24 points per game with an offense that isn’t even scoring an average of three touchdowns per game and that’s the recipe for a losing season. There’s no doubt that Licht partially contributed to Tampa Bay’s 4-9 record.

Yet I wonder if a new coaching staff better utilizes the talent the Bucs already have. Former Bucs head coach Jon Gruden isn’t wrong when he said last week that Tampa Bay is a few plays away from being 8-4.

There is an argument to be made about keeping the personnel staff and front office intact and bringing in a new coach. Look at the two of the biggest turnarounds in the league this year that have new head coaches – Philadelphia and the Los Angeles Rams.

In Philly, fans were ready to run general manager Howie Roseman out of town. He and owner Jeff Lurie brought in Chip Kelly in 2013, and then Roseman lost a power struggle with Kelly, who wanted full control of personnel. Roseman was demoted to being the salary cap manager dealing with contracts for two years before Kelly was fired. Then Roseman regained personnel power, which wasn’t popular with the fan base at all, hired Doug Pederson in 2016, drafted Carson Wentz, and in two short years the Eagles have won the NFC East and are the best team in the NFC. Lurie’s patience with Roseman paid off.

Rams COO Kevin Demoff, HC Sean McVay and GM Les Snead - Photo by: Getty Images
Rams COO Kevin Demoff, HC Sean McVay and GM Les Snead – Photo by: Getty Images

Rams general manager Les Snead was on the hot seat the last couple of years under Jeff Fisher in both St. Louis and in Los Angeles. Despite building a dominant defensive line and drafting an electric running back in Todd Gurley, the Rams constantly underachieved without a quarterback. Snead drafted quarterback Jared Goff first overall in 2016 and it looked like he would be a bust during his rookie season.

The Rams fired Fisher, kept the front office intact with Snead at the helm, and hired Sean McVay as the head coach and play-caller. All of a sudden, Goff has developed at a rapid rate, Gurley is having a tremendous 1,000-yard season, and the careers of Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods are flourishing alongside rookie receiver Cooper Kupp.

What are the common threads of Pederson and McVay? Both are dynamic offensive coaches that know how to develop quarterbacks and can inspire players. Koetter has failed in that area, and it’s even more magnified because he is presiding over a more talented roster than Morris, Schiano or Smith had in Tampa Bay.

If I’m the Glazers, I’m finding Koetter’s replacement and seeing if that person – perhaps it’s Gruden – wants to work with Licht before I make a decision to let him go.

“The most important thing for the organization in this draft is that Les and Sean have a vision of what they want to achieve together and how to go execute it,” said Rams executive vice president of football operations Kevin Demoff prior to the 2017 NFL Draft when discussing keeping Snead on board. “I don’t think any draft or free-agency period is ever make or break. You have to look at a body of work in totality.”

Demoff is right. It’s the body of work that counts, although what you’ve done lately certainly carries some weight. The Bucs’ 2017 draft class looks like a real good one, just like the class of 2015 looked, and that might be enough to keep Licht around to work with a third head coach.

Bucs GM Jason Licht - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs GM Jason Licht with ex-coach Jon Gruden – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

If Gruden ends up being the Glazers’ preferred choice to replace Koetter they know better than to have him pick out his own general manager – see Exhibit A: Bruce Allen. The last thing Gruden needs in personnel is a “yes” man. Instead, he would need a general manager that would be able to correctly identify the kinds of players Gruden likes and convince him to like the right ones. I think Licht has the ability and the personality to do that.

Just remember that the hit rate on first-round draft picks is about 50 percent. The success rate drops by about 10 percent for players drafted in each round after that. Most NFL general managers would be happy if 40 percent of their free agent signings worked out as planned.

I think Licht has more hits than misses on personnel in four years, especially when it comes to his predecessors for this franchise. You may disagree.

Ultimately, whether Licht stays in Tampa Bay is not up to you or me. It’s up to the Glazers and perhaps the next head coach, which might be Gruden.

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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]

49 COMMENTS

  1. Jason Licht should stay, in fact I think Dirk should stay as well. Winston has been a major problem, when Fitzpatrick was QB, the Bucs played better offensively. And the defense has just been ravaged by injuries all season. I don’t like to panic. Did Dirk make mistakes? Of course. But I really don’t like changing the head coach every two years unless it is obvious the head coach has lost his team. I don’t feel that way about Dirk. The games so far in December have been close. Hopefully, Winston is just in a sophomore slump, and the defense can improve next year just with the addition of its existing players coming back.

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    • My problem with koetter is that he is a terrible game time adjuster. Him and Mike Smith both are. Coaching is more important than talent. Can you name me three starters on the patriots defense? And yet they have one of the top ranked defenses in the league again. How many times this year have we been tied or leading in the fourth inlymto givenit away? Teams have already said how predictable our offense is and it’s obvious coaching has passed smith by. I mean is there anyone here who thinks Julio won’t go off for 200 yards again this Monday?

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    • With all the talent the Buc’s have, while losing week after week, it is tempting to place the blame on the coaches. It’s really tough to sort out. I was really a “Dirk” fan when he was hired as HC. Now, I feel like cleaning house, but I’m not sure it would serve a purpose. Dirk is growing just as the players should be. The idea of flitting from one HC to another certainly has no appeal. Hearing all the talk about Gruden is also confusing. Gruden did a great job of coaching a team that was prepared by Dungy. I never liked his philosophy of preferring FA’s over Draft picks. It has been pointed out that Gruden has had nine years of growing time which may be true…and a good thing, but what guarantee have we of that. True, he has a lot of charisma, but I thought Dirk had some of that too. Also, the Defense seems to be erratic and, as much as I like Mike Smith as a person, he probably has to go. I really thought he had the ability….just haven’t seen it. What if we got a real defensive guru (Matt Patricia) who could get the Defense on track and powerful? Could that possibly change the direction of the team? Has Dirk Koetter grown sufficiently to get this ship headed in the right direction? With the Buc’s, even when everything seems perfect….in the end, they don’t work. Time to get rid of whatever the jinx is.

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    • In my humble opinion, the Bucs should sign Bill Polian as head of ALL football operations and let him sort out the coaching staff and front office. I do agree with you on Winston. His on the field turnovers and off the field issues make him both a coach and franchise killer. I think it would be a HUGE mistake to pick another coach based on Winston. Let’s not forget, developing Winston was the reason for picking Koetter which now appears to be a mistake. I think we should hire a defensive genius and draft defensive players. Building a great defense will make us less QB dependent when and if we have to move on from Winston. I like Winston a lot personally but have never bought into the franchise label for him. I think after 42 games and 54 turnovers we have seen who he is, an average NFL QB with the ability to win games provided he has superior talent on the rest of the roster. We have invested a LOT in and around Winston, Evans, DJAX, Howard, Brate, Godwin and little has changed. I am ok with keeping Winston, just NOT building a coaching staff and team around him, he’s not that good. Uh oh, I gave a critical view of the chosen one. Queue the haters and name callers in 3,2,1..

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  2. Another fap piece about Gruden?

    Shocker…

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    • I have to apologize to PR actually, because I’ve been grouping them together. It’s really Scott that’s stroking the Gruden shaft way more than Trevor and Mark. So yeah, sorry PR for blaming you for Scott’s issues.

      I saw no mention of even “classified sources” that says anything about linking Gruden and the Bucs next year or even Koetter’s and Licht’s firing in general. Oddly enough, I found a “I know why Gruden was fired but I’ll tell you later” quote in the piece which is just bizarre. I mean, I would feel that is slightly more relevant and grounded in actual fact than the Gruden propaganda that’s being pushed now, no? Why don’t you put out that story instead of yet another succulent blowjob about how amazing Gruden is?

      At this point, the die is cast. There’s literally 0 indications from even Wikipedia-level sources here one way or another regarding the future of this team. One of three things happen now. Either:

      A) Guys like Scott here are prophets and Gruden comes in and we achieve instant success. Everyone is merry.

      B) Gruden comes in and struggles or just fails to live to expectations, and the Bucs release him from duty after two years of service. The many beat writers and reporters begin discussing how Gruden failed to deliver Super Bowls instantly and start listing the next big-name coaches around the league that can come in and fix the losing culture.

      C) Koetter/Licht or whatever combo is retained and guys like Scott realize that having clear sources not named “their opinion” or “the vibe that they are getting” tends to make their reporting more credible. I mean gosh, even just a “people who I can’t name have said this” would be better than the trash that is being peddled right now.

      As Meatball wrote, “two out of three ain’t bad”. I’m willing to take my chance right now and possibly be proven wrong.

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      • It’s Meatloaf not “Meatball”. Of course there’s Licht as “Meathead”

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    • Agreed! I’m not a fan of brining him back.

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  3. First of all, isn’t it funny how Boog is talking consistency? And used Mike Tomlin as an example. I think some old timer poster said some of, if not, the same things. Secondly, please stop saying “The Glazers” when you talk past success for this team. That was all Uncle Malcolm and we all know it. You make it sound like Twiddle Dee, Dumb, and Dumber had something to do with that. Other than propping the old man up and keeping him healthy as best they could, they did nothing! They are more linked to the past 10 shitty years and 4 bad hires. Call the spade a spade!

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    • The Glazer babies fired Gruden and Bruce Allen for going 9-7.

      The Bucs have gone 9-7 or better twice in the 10 seasons since.

      While I don’t have a ton of sympathy for Mark Dominik, it was quite clear that for most of his tenure the franchise was restricting the pocketbook as the Bucs along with the Chiefs were two of the cheapest franchises in pro football after 2005.

      Remember when Michael Koenen was the big free agent signing for the 2011 offseason? A freaking punter was the only “big money” contract the Glazer babies allowed Dominik to sign that offseason. The poor guy actually had to stick up for them, meanwhile Jason Licht has a worse record without any of the spending restrictions that Dominik appeared to face with his own hand-picked head coach. But hey Glazers, extend that guy! He found a kicker!

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  4. I’m not over the top for Gruden returning.

    If we do get a new regime , I’d prefer current coaches from the NFL. OL and DL need to be fixed regardless of who is coaching.

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  5. Very good Fab 5, Scott.

    As for Licht, I think that, as you suggest, his being extended or not will depend mostly upon whether the new head coach we hire wants him to stay or to leave. I completely agree that Licht will not be tasked with hiring Koetter’s replacement – the Glazers are going to do that after Licht convinced them to hire Koetter instead.

    As for deserving to stay or go, with Licht he’s right on the edge. His drafts have actually been pretty good, in comparison with other GMs in the league. However he’s been pathetic on free agents, both signing them and retaining them (i.e., retaining the wrong ones). About his only real success in free agents is Brent Grimes, and his was such a short term deal at his age, the overall impact hasn’t been very significant.

    Will Jon Gruden get the invite to come in and coach again? I sure hope so. I think his hiring is a no-brainer for the Glazers, the opportunity to correct for the biggest debacle they committed in firing him in the first place.

    So will Gruden want Licht to stay or go? I dunno. If he has a better candidate in mind, maybe someone he’s already discussed the job with, then Licht is a goner. But who knows? I think at most Licht gets a short term contract extension – 1 or 2 years.

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  6. I agree with most of what is discussed in the article. I judge players by if your team cut the player how long would they be out of work, in other words are other teams interested in their talent. The four players would be signed quickly if released, they are valuable. But I think you missed a large Licht miss. Sims, as a season ticket holder I get tired of seeing him come into a game and dancing until he gets tackled. Our whole section at RayJay moans when he comes in the game. I also believe if the Buc’s cut Sims he would be unemployed I don’t believe anyone would have any interest. I do think Licht should stay though because over all he has done an acceptable job not outstanding but acceptable. I do think we need to find a offensive guru as well as a QB whisperer. Winston is a raw talent but needs a lot of work. We need to find the man who can mold this talent.

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    • not sure Winston is able to be developed much beyond where he is. When he was drafted the scouts and PR said, he is “pro ready” and is a “winner”. I don’t buy into the excuse that he is ONLY 23. He has 54 TO in 42 games and his winning % is now ~40% which is actually in Fitz territory. Additionally he comes with some off the field issues. I say we move and sign either Keenum, Cousins or Alex Smith when KC let’s him go.

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  7. I’m in Meathead’s corner. He is not the problem. Where he has missed is with the FAs. The Bucs should clean house with the overpaid FAs and continue to build though the draft. They’ve got good young talent… Focus on the lines; offensive and defensive. How about a breakdown of all of the Bucs GMs and their draft hits & misses? I have a feeling that Meathead would end up on the top of that pile. As Booger pointed out, besides firing yet another coach after two years; would Gruden then come in and install his dink & dunk west coast offense? Isn’t this offense predicated on an accurate passer? I think Jameis is the future of this franchise, but does that offense fit his style of play? Can he adapt? Can Gruden adapt? To me, we have the answer at GM and QB right now, as well as a lot of young talent. Can Gruden work with those pieces? I’m not ready to see the whole house imploded again, if the answer is no.

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    • In most organizations, if a particular employee or executive only performed half of his job about half right, and totally failed on the other half of his job, he would not have a job.

      That’s the situation with Licht. He’s only OK at best on the draft, and he’s been absolutely horrible at free agents.

      And then there was his “bonus job” – that of hand picking the next head coach? How’s that working out for him?

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      • So, compare him to previous GMs? He still comes out on top. As Scott said, 1st round is about 50%, 2nd – 40%, 3rd – 30%… This averages out to less that a 50% hit rate for an entire draft. Who is this magic person that you want that you’d be willing to throw away the best GM that the Bucs have ever had???

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        • As I wrote below, Licht only gets a passing grade on the draft, but that is only part of his job, a minority of it, actually. Licht clearly gets a rousing “fail” on his free agent deals, and gets a rousing fail on his head coaching hires (along with the assistant coaching hires too).

          As Meatball wrote, “two out of three ain’t bad”.

          One out of three clearly is bad.

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          • LOL – correction, “Meatloaf”, not “Meatball”.

            Along,with “Meathead”, that’s too many meats to keep straight.

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        • That is because the vast majority of GM’s aren’t very good picking talent at least not in real world conditions. They still don’t lean on analytics as much as the should. Plus they typically work around team needs and what available. So right from the start the deck is stacked against them if you’re just looking at recruiting draft talent.

          Having said that once your percentage goes below 50% you are literally no more useful in that regard than a coin toss. In general the vast majority of “experts” in any field only achieve about 50% success with predicted outcomes. The very best only achieve about 60%. Analytic programs can achieve well into the 70% range and depending on what it is much higher.

          With regards to Licht, he lost a lot of stock with me over Aguayo. This pick was just a stupid pick right out the gate. The fact that he became starter that first year at all was a poor decision. The fact that he would remain on the team was just beating a dead horse. Free agents picks haven’t been that great either. He’s done a terrible job with the coaching staff and a good managing salaries. Overall I think he hurts the team more than helps with regards to winning.

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        • Did you just accuse Jason Licht of being “the best GM that the Bucs have ever had???”

          So first I assume that you’ve been a fan of this team for 2 years of less. Second I take it you’re saying that a GM of a team that has never made the playoffs, and only once won more games than it lost in 4 years, including one year where it was the worst team in football is better than a GM who, went to the playoffs five times (97, 99, 2000, 2001, 2002) won a super bowl (2002), drafted 2 HOFers (Sapp, Brooks with two borderline in Ronde Barber and Warrick Dunn) acquired another borderline HOFer in Simeon Rice in free agency.

          Jason Licht is better than that guy? Based on what?!

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      • Naples- by your standard- we should cut Winston. He is winning less than half of his starts, 40% and has 54 TO in 42 games.

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        • Bucnut2 – the standards for individual players are different than the standards for GMs. Vastly different responsibility. Wins and losses are not an individual player stat, though they are often ascribed to quarterbacks. Wins and losses are definitely credited to head coaches over a one to two or three year period. For GMs, whose work usually doesn’t produce results except over the medium to long term, Ws and Ls are still a bottom line, but over a longer timeframe.

          That’s why I’ve always maintained that in most cases one cannot judge a GM in just one or a couple of seasons. It takes at least four seasons to judge a GM. We already have essentially a final result for four seasons, or at least we’re within two weeks of a final result.

          As for Jameis Winston, my personal opinion is that he is not a bust, as you typically write that he is. Instead, Winston is underperforming for a no. 1 overall draft pick, and is playing at a mediocre level at the end of his third season. Practically everyone recognizes that he did not progress in this his third year as most expected, but in fact has regressed. Jameis can potentially turn it around, with good coaching and the correct attitude. He will get at least one more season to show that he can, and possibly two more seasons if the team exercises his fifth year contract option. If he hasn’t gotten back on the road to improvement by then, he’ll move on.

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  8. Just hire Gruden. It will fill the stands. He has charisma, and just having him in the building brings national attention to the team. He is a better motivator than Koetter. Better play caller. And a better disciplinarian. Jameis needs someone to yell at him. Koettter kinda whines at him. Gruden will cuss him out on the sideline and any other player who makes a bone headed mistake.

    I just think Jameis needs somenoe coaching him that has a personality bigger than his. Gruden is that guy.

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    • Agreed and that’s honestly the biggest reason I would love Jon. Jameis needs an in your face coach. He thrived with that under Jimbo in college. He plays better, heck he’s even asked Koetter to get in his face more

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      • Gruden will lose his voice screaming at Winston with all of his TOs’.

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      • I agree that Jon Gruden would be a great head coach to work with Jameis Winston. I am not sure that Gruden as head coach will be enough, because a head coach has to accommodate a much wider bandwidth than may be available. If Gruden does take over as head coach, obviously his quarterback coach, who may do double duty as non-playcalling offensive coordinator, will get the bulk of the personal coaching time with Jameis. In fact some believe that Koetter was doing much better as Jameis’s offensive coach before he took over as head coach.

        Gruden, if he really is contemplating a move back to coaching the Bucs, is giving a great deal of thought to his assistant coaching staff selections.

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  9. I completely agree the Licht should stay. Yea hes missed on some things but so does every GM. Overall hes done a nice job of bringing in talent. He hit a home run in last years draft. 4 very good players in one draft is hard to do. The biggest problem is clearly coaching and that has nothing to do with Licht. Bring back Gruden!!!

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    • Every single year the draft class looks better than it will down the road. Inherently people prop up the production of rookies and assume they will all get better or maintain when they often do not.

      While the draft class looks nice today, no one was accusing the 2016 draft class of being an epic failure. One year later what do you make of Hargreaves, Spence, Aguayo and Ryan Smith? Would you agree you were higher on those players during last season than you are today? Welcome to the fact that NFL drafts rarely age well.

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  10. Godwin, Evans, Beckwith, and of course O.J. were good picks. But when you already have Mike Evans, who I see as a possession receiver, not a game changer, why draft Godwin? O.J. to good to pass up, but Brate is already on the roster. McDougal isn’t as good as Evans will become, but has been more then serviceable for the Seahawks. Wouldn’t it have helped us more drafting Hunt, Kamara, the center from Ohio St? It seems to me we doubled up with players who have similar skills. Licht gambled with the D line, and lost big time. I look at our rival Saints team, and think they did a much better job in drafting, with Rankins, Lattimore, Kamara. Evans, and Brate will be looking to get paid. How do we develop Godwin, and Howard if they are going to be our highly paid feature offensive weapons? Maybe another coach can get them all involved, but Koetter sure hasn’t been able to. So I think Licht hasn’t done a good job at all building this roster which I’ve always believed should be built from the front back. As for Gruden, I’m all in.

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    • The players Licht drafted in 2017 appear to be good for their positions. Unfortunately none of them impact the game the same way a pass rusher or pass protector does.

      Imagine building an NFL roster in an leaguewide draft and saying “I’m going use my first round pick to pick the best tight end in the NFL, then I’m going for the best safety in the NFL and use my third round pick on the best strongside linebacker in a 4-3.” “Wait why isn’t my team winning any games??”

      Positions matter, there’s a reason why good pass rushers and left tackles rarely make free agency and when they do they get huge contracts.

      As much as Scott wants to blame Dirk Koetter and Mike Smith about the failures of the team, it’s hard to win games when you can’t rush or protect your QB. It’s slightly more important than having a good rookie sam linebacker or second tight end. Slightly.

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      • It’s pretty simple, you take the best player available on your board when your pick comes up. The reason why Licht’s last draft class was such a “smashing success” is because he didn’t reach for anything and doesn’t care if Mike Evans is on the team so therefore we can’t draft Chris Godwin.

        What if Evans got hurt for instance? Everyone scratched their head at the Beckwith pick but Licht suddenly looks like a genius when injuries inevitably happen. Get the best players, and then work a scheme around them. Right now, it looks like the Bucs would actually be served by swapping to a 3-4 base scheme because our best players happen to be linebackers and Spence looks more like a 3-4 OLB as it is.

        Reaching for need is what gets you killed. Let the pieces come to you. Took the Jaguars 5 drafts worth of studs from move from pretenders to contenders. Only question here is if the Bucs are willing to put in the time needed to actually develop sustainable success.

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        • That’s wonderful that Licht has appeared to do well in the 2017 NFL draft with some solid secondary pieces . However in 4 years as the chief architect of the roster, you need to find pass rushers and pass protectors in of those years/drafts. Jason Licht has failed to do that. Spending one second round pick one Noah Spence and one second round pick on Donovan Smith did not solve the problem. Signing Robert Ayers, Chris Baker or JR Sweezy did not solve the problem.

          You can’t neglect the line and fail to sign anyone of consequence in four years and go on your merry way taking 4-3 strongside linebackers and justifying your job based on that. You can’t lose twice as many games as you win and say “But hey, I was the guy who took Justin Evans!” as your claim to fame. Only on Pewter Report would that work.

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  11. Hire Gruden, Try trade Winston to Clevland for the first pick, most likely they will laugh, trade whatever else needed to get 1st pick Draft Sam Arnold from USC with the first pick and team will soar.

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    • I mean damn, if you’re going to be that rash at least get the right QB in Josh Allen. Just in case you were thinking otherwise, there’s basically no way Cleveland is moving out of the #1 pick. The analytics actually pan out on that pick’s importance.

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  12. I say let’s try something different. Let’s keep Koetter and all the coaching staff including Smith. Lets keep Licht and his staff. Let’s forget this pipe dream called Gruden. Finally let’s go out next season and get some need draft picks and the best Free agents we can. Sometimes you have to feel the pain and learn from your mistakes. This team has been through a crap storm this season. A few breaks and we could be up there with the division leaders. It’s human nature to point a finger and blame someone. So unless you thrive on chaos and disappointment, give these guys a few years to build a winner.
    P.S. I don’t subscribe to the Warren Sapp School of football. Good Player, lousy advise.

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  13. Might as well rename the site to GrudenReport.com.

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  14. The only article with greater spin than the Fab 1 ‘Save My Friend Jason Licht!’ in the Scott Reynolds era is the Roberto Aguayo ‘Mortar Kick’ articles. How did that work out?

    First, to the point that ownership should look at the play of the rookies and voluntarily pay Licht for 4 more years to improve on his sub 35 winning percentage, please look at the rookie years of: Michael Clayton, Cadillac Williams, Doug Martin, Tanard Jackson. You could add in 16 game rookie starters Donovan Smith, Vernon Hargreaves or Arron Sears, and for fun lets include 9 game rookie starting TE Austin Sefarian-Jenkins or the positives of a rookie Josh Freeman.

    If you look at the above Buccaneers first years, then look at their careers you would see something that shouldn’t be surprising, rookies often look far better for their first year then the remainder of their careers will prove out. Some random NFL bust examples would include Trent Richardson rushing for 950 yards at 11 TD’s as a rookie or Ryan Leaf winning his first two NFL starts. To extend a GM because 4 his rookies are looking good, in absence of a horrifically poor record is to ignore a fairly significant trend, that you can’t bank on those players keeping up with that trajectory for the remainder of their careers.

    To the point that Licht “stabilize(d) the kicking situation in Tampa Bay” would be to completely ignore that Licht destabilized the kicking situation by cutting Patrick Murray in the first place. Licht then traded for Brindza, traded up for Aguayo and gave a fat contract to Folk all ending in significantly worse outcomes and costing the team games.

    If someone comes into my living room and sets fire to the carpet, then comes back three years later and replaces the carpet with the one I originally had, should I be thankful for them for replacing the carpet or be pissed that they ruined the carpet in the first place? Jason ruined the carpet and Scott has the audacity to credit him with replacing it three years later. Good job Jason!

    I’ll finish with this: Let’s pretend it’s Dec 31 2013, Mark Dominik has just been fired and the Glazers are looking for the next GM. Imagine I tell Scott that over the course of the next 4 seasons the next GM will:

    Miss the Playoffs all 4 years
    Be in the basement of the NFC South 3 out of 4 years
    Win less than 35% of the games the Bucs play
    Spend the first overall pick earned by constructing a roster that goes 2-14 on a QB that is facing a potential NFL suspension because of his second sexual assault allegation in 4 years.
    Release the best pass protector (Donald Penn) and kicker (Patrick Murray) on the roster only to spend draft picks on inferior players that result in worse play at both positions and cost the team games.
    Trade up in the second round on a kicker who was the worst statistical kicker in the NFL for his rookie year before being completely out of football by the end of the his second. A pick dubbed by another NFL GM at the time as the “dumbest pick in the history of the draft” as reported by PFT.
    Botch a restricted free agent tender on a DE who he had to trade a 5th round draft pick for. The DE never earned a sack for the team and cost the team millions and the draft pick they gave up to acquire him before being released.
    Finish with the best pass rusher (Gerald McCoy) and best LB (Lavonte David) he started with.
    Finish with a team that is dead last in the league in sacks.
    Finished with a team looking for it’s third head coach in three years after the head coach he recommended to ownership and team regressed.

    Then imagine after all of the above happen, I tell Scott that after those four years “You will advocate loudly that the GM above should be extended along with a new head coach”

    What would Scott tell me? Apparently he would say that it all makes sense because the GM found a new kicker, the same one that he cut when he arrived.

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    • Or, devasher, to put it a little more succinctly, those who want to extend Licht have now acknowledged that Licht has successfully redefined deviancy (as in losing) downward to the point where his bottom line results look like success to us perennial losers – i.e., Bucs fans.

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      • Apparently there are at least 4 fans that believe results don’t matter.

        Funny world we live in nowadays.

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        • Yup … for every business decision, there is always a bottom line. If winning more games than you lose in the NFL after four seasons of whacking away at it is NOT the bottom line in this business, then what the hell IS the bottom line for a GM?

          I write this as someone whom up until a few months ago thought that the jury was still out on Licht, and depending upon how this season went, by its end we’d finally know his real value to the Buccaneers.

          Well, now we know.

          I also argued three years ago, then two years ago, then one year ago with Bucs fans anxious to fire Licht that it always takes at least FOUR seasons to truly judge a NFL general manager. You can’t judge an individual draft until at least three seasons later, and one bad draft should not a firing cause. It takes about one to two years to judge free agent signings. and again, one bad free agent class should not a firing cause.

          But put together four years of drafts and free agent classes, and in this case, one coaching staff wholesale changeout, and yes, Virginia .. there really IS a bottom line to judge.

          And now we’ve seen it.

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  15. I don’t often agree with Booger, but he is right about the coaching searches. I also agree that it was Malcolm who made two brilliant coaching hires. Probably has something to do with being the one who actually made the decisions which resulted in the fortune. I am back and forth about Licht, but the real question is not just how he has performed but can you hire somebody who can do a better job?

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    • One day this fanbase will realize that successful coaches, like successful teams, are built from home-grown stock. You can’t just pick some guy off the street and expect him to be successful in any sustainable measure without investment.

      At some point you need to actually commit to someone and so far I haven’t seen a reason to say that Koetter can’t improve and isn’t worth working with. It’s not like he’s completely closed to change as was indicated last year.

      He hasn’t lost this team like Morris or Schiano had and we’re not suffering constant blowouts like we did with Smith. He’s new to the head coaching gig. Give him time to figure it out like how guys like Belichick did and for some reason PR assumed with McDaniels and maybe you’ll see that we got our guy. Won’t know until we see though.

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      • Wouldn’t Gruden be considered home grown stock?

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        • If you consider trading for a head coach from another team home-grown, then yes.

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  16. I’m having problems in justifying keeping Koetter, Smith. I believe they’re the reason why we’re 4-9. They didn’t do enough adapting, adjusting, improvising; now it’s too late because we aren’t going to the Super Bowl, much less the Playoffs. They should be replaced. I have to admit I’ve softened some to Gruden. Can he also turn around not just the offense, but the defense too? Licht I’m leaning in keeping How much influence did Koetter, Smith, Owners, Consultants have pertaining to Drafting, Free Agency, Contract Negotiations. If they weren’t involved much then Licht should go and we find someone else better qualified. I’m at the point in time I was rooting for Denver to win as that made 5 wins for them and eliminated one of the 4 win teams which better our chances as to order of draft.

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  17. We would’ve had a better roster the last four years if we picked P.R.’s best bets, McShays, Kiper, or a blind man throwing darts at the draft board instead of Lichts picks! When Licht is fired, it’ll be said by all the talking heads, the G.M. who moved up into the second round for a kicker. Might as well put it on his tomb stone.

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  18. I really wanted nothing to do with Gruden again but all the points you brought up Scott has changed my opinion. Gruden has been learning and growing for nine straight years. I do believe he will be a much better head coach and play caller because he has been non stop learning to be a better head coach. I still think Koetter should get another year to turn things around but if he’s gone he’s gone. I wouldnt argue about that. But I would be excited if Jon Gruden was announced as the New Bucs Head Coach. I NEVER thought I would say that. Licht needs to stay!!! Period!!! Mike Smith needs to go no matter what happens. We diffidently need a more aggressive DC. IMHO… GO BUCS!!!

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  19. Invert, always invert.

    Put the Gruden debate aside. Are we willin to have Winston coached only by Dirk before makin the decision to sign him to a $100 million deal in two years? That is how you bury a franchise.

    Now let’s rejoin the debate – compare Gruden’s strengths and weaknesses to those of others willing to incur reputational damage by comin here and risking getting the One Buc Two-year Step pulled on them.

    The decisions should make themselves

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