FAB 2. What If Gruden Returned To The Bucs?

I knew the answer before I even asked the question.

Covering every single day of Warren Sapp’s Hall of Fame career in Tampa Bay from 1995-2003 had well prepared for the words that would come out of Sapp’s mouth during our call on Wednesday.

My question? What if Jon Gruden were to return to coaching the Buccaneers next year?

“If ifs and buts were candies and nuts, every day would be Christmas,” Sapp said.

I used the dreaded “if” word, so I had to rephrase it for Sapp.

Should Gruden want to return to coaching, and should the Glazers decide to hire him back to replace Dirk Koetter, what would you think of that?

“You’d have to ask him,” Sapp said. “That would be his call. But I know everybody, including me would love it. Hell yeah! I know who the man is and I know what the man brings. He loves the game. Gruden’s an animal.

“After what I’ve watched this year with us being 4-9? Gerald [McCoy] is hurt? The quarterback is hurt? Come on man. It’s been a horrible year in Tampa – a horrible year. Man, somebody just scored 30 against us again! Damn! I’ve never seen so many damn 30-point games in my life since I was a kid watching Bucs games.”

Legendary Bucs DT Warren Sapp & Jon Gruden - Photo by: Getty Images
Legendary Bucs DT Warren Sapp & Jon Gruden – Photo by: Getty Images

So Sapp would be in favor of Gruden returning, but has the game passed Gruden by after being in the broadcast booth for the last nine years?

“The game hasn’t passed him by, there’s no way,” Sapp said. “I’ve sat in that damn lab (Gruden’s Fired Football Coaches Association) with him this year. Trust me. He hasn’t lost the love of it, the flavor for it or the drive. I guarantee you this – wherever he went he would be successful. He hasn’t lost it. The game hasn’t passed him. No way.

“The man came from that Andy Reid West Coast Offense tree. The man can coach. Do not get it twisted and act like Jon Gruden has fallen off just because he’s been in a booth. You go in that cave (FFCA office) with him and feel that fire and that intensity and see how he prepares. There is nothing like him. As much as I like Dungy, Dungy never had a fire and a fever like that. Dungy had a fire and a fever for ball security and things like that. Jon wears his fire on his sleeve.”

Gruden returns to Raymond James Stadium on Monday to call the Bucs vs. Falcons game for ESPN and to be inducted into the Bucs Ring of Honor at halftime. Will he return in a few weeks as Koetter’s replacement if the Glazers want to make a regime change and the coach they fired after the 2008 season? Gruden, who sources tell PewterReport.com “wants to come back to coach next year,” has talked down the “Grumors,” always stating that he’s flattered by the interest, but just “trying to hang on to the job I have” at ESPN.

Gruden waxed poetic about his time at One Buccaneer Place on August 2 during his press conference for his Bucs Ring of Honor induction.

“For seven years it was full metal jacket when I was coaching,” Gruden said. “It wasn’t like I was here on weekends. I spent my life here for seven years. There were some great times and there were some tough times, but there were a lot of memories that will never go away. Then I see a lot of you guys (in the media) still grinding and I feel like I’m still coaching. I feel like I could run out there with a script. Then I saw Jameis Winston and I was like, ‘Damn! I wish I had that guy! He’s a good player.’”

Bucs QB Jameis Winston - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

This franchise has the 2015 first overall draft pick and over $25 million invested in Winston, who is entering his fourth year in the NFL in ‘18. The Glazers will need to determine whether to extend his contract or pick up his fifth-year option for the ‘19 season. Winston’s development seems to have plateaued this season, although an early season shoulder injury hasn’t helped.

I’ve maintained that Winston needs a new voice in his ear on the field and a new quarterback guru in the classroom. There’s no one better than getting the most out of a quarterback than Gruden. There may be no one better to help Winston, a player that Gruden has gushed over all year.

“Oh my God – those two together?” Sapp said. “You’re talking about a combination that is made in heaven. I have seen this kid and what he wants to do. He wants to chase history. He has no question in his mind what he wants to do. He wants to chase history. He just needs somebody to give him a car to drive. There’s no better guy I know than Jonny. Come on, man! Bruce Gradkowski, Rob Johnson, Shaun King, and Luke McCown? My dog gets blood out of ducks.”

Sapp is one of Gruden’s biggest supporters and even though he was a defensive tackle, he would spend some time in the quarterbacks meetings to gain some insight – and some laughs.

“I love that man,” Sapp said. “He’s everything you want in a head coach. I don’t know anybody that gets it done like he does. I’m a little biased. I will admit that. I won a championship with the man. They spotted $8 million dollars and four draft picks for him. I wanted to know who he was. So I sat with him every morning from 7:00 – 8:00 a.m. before we went to the quarterbacks meeting – I say ‘we’ because I was there, too.

“Have you ever seen an uncut, unfiltered Gruden quarterbacks meeting? I have! It was uncut, raw, unfiltered. It was like my dessert at 8:00 a.m. in the morning. He ripped everybody – Brad Johnson got it, too. Holy Toledo! I’d get it too if I said something! I just sat there and shut up. I know how to be a good witness. Oh my God, Scott! If I could have recorded some of those meetings … it would have been unreal. That’s why I knew we were going to win a championship. I knew he was going to hold them all accountable for every snap. And that’s what he does. He holds you accountable.”

I spoke with Johnson, the Bucs’ Super Bowl-winning quarterback, about Gruden’s ability to get the best out of his quarterbacks.

Former Bucs head coach Jon Grude and QB Brad Johnson - Photo by: Getty Images
Former Bucs head coach Jon Grude and QB Brad Johnson – Photo by: Getty Images

“I was with him nine hours a day,” Johnson said. “That was one thing I missed with other coaches – the ability to talk about plays. Not everywhere you do you have the head coach and play-caller there like that. As a head coach you can’t be everybody’s best buddy. I do think this time away has helped him. He’s still going to burn both ends of the candle now. He’s going to get after it, but I think this time away has given him a different perspective about people’s lives outside of football. If he were going to come back he’s going to get after it, just like he does his TV show and just like he does on Monday Night Football. You’re going to get his 100 percent no matter what.

“When Jon first got the job the first call I made was to Rich Gannon. We were together in Minnesota for a year, so we had a relationship. What Rich told me was, ‘Brad, you’ll never be more prepared for a game than you are with Gruden. You’re going to spend so much time with him and he’s going to wire you and program you and you’re going to be on the same page. You’re going to agree and disagree, but when it comes game time you are only going to run the plays that you like and you agree on together.’ I was at places when I left Tampa where I had to make an appointment with the play-caller. I had to call his secretary to make an appointment. I missed that closeness working with Jon. Some guys can install it. Some guys can draw it up on paper. Some guys can call it like they have a play on speed dial. But you want to be on the same page, and with Jon you were always that way. He was open and pretty easy to talk to in terms of the plays that you wanted to run and were comfortable with. Sometimes you had to fight for it and prove it, and if you wanted it bad enough he was willing to listen and agree with you on a play. That doesn’t happen everywhere.”

From my SR’s Fab 5 interview with him back in July to what he said in his press conference and to reporters on August 2 about Tampa Bay’s young quarterback, Gruden has not minced words about his desire to work with Winston. In fact, it may be what pulls him back to the sidelines from the ESPN broadcast booth.

ESPN's Jon Gruden and QB Jameis Winston - Photo courtesy of ESPN
ESPN’s Jon Gruden and QB Jameis Winston – Photo courtesy of ESPN

“I get access to all the film and I make training reels,” Gruden said on August 2. “I have young quarterbacks that come in from around the country to watch the position and see what’s happening around the league. When you study Winston you don’t realize how athletic he is and how much offense he creates – what a gunslinger he is and how exciting of a player he is. And the command he has, he’s a showman and I love that about him. He can get up there and recognize the defense and communicate what he wants done. He has the talent to execute any play you call. It’s that combination that really excites me. They have an arsenal of skill around him, so it’s going to be a real fun year for Tampa.”

Well, it should have been a fun year in Tampa Bay. Gruden is right that there is an arsenal of intriguing weapons in the passing game that some say have been underutilized or misused. Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, Cameron Brate, O.J. Howard, Chris Godwin and Adam Humphries are every bit as talented as Keenan McCardell, Keyshawn Johnson, Joe Jurevicius, Ken Dilger, Rickey Dudley and Reggie Barlow. In fact, the current crop of Bucs receivers and tight ends is faster and more athletic.

“I like the pieces that the Bucs have that would give Jon a chance to win again,” Sapp said. “There’s nothing wrong with that. There’s nothing wrong with that football team. Well, the quarterback is hurt, but there is nothing that he couldn’t fix.

“That man can coach. There are enough athletes to work with. There’s also a Gerald McCoy in Tampa. He’s got five Pro Bowls. I had seven. I don’t see much difference in that.”

Could Gruden come back to his old job and coach again in Tampa Bay where the Bucs have been 49-92 (34.75) since he was fired in 2008 after back-to-back 9-7 seasons?

“All of us can come home – even Jon,” Sapp said. “The Glazers make a nice nest for us, trust me. Tampa has always been home for all of us, and the fans and you all (in the media) make us feel welcome to come home, too.”

Bucs’ Records Since 2008
2009: 3-13 under Raheem Morris
2010: 10-6 under Raheem Morris
2011: 4-12 under Raheem Morris
2012: 7-9 under Greg Schiano
2013: 4-12 under Greg Schiano
2014: 2-14 under Lovie Smith
2015: 6-10 under Lovie Smith
2016: 9-7 under Dirk Koetter
2017: 4-9 under Dirk Koetter

After two back-to-back home run hires in Dungy (1996-2001) and Gruden (2002-08) the Glazers likely felt like they had the Midas touch and believed that Morris was the next, young Mike Tomlin. They were wrong, and have struck out on their last four hires, including Koetter, whose 4-9 record is not at all what they had envisioned for a season full of high expectations.

I asked former Bucs defensive tackle and current ESPN college football analyst Anthony “Booger” McFarland if he was surprised that the Bucs are tanking this year and that yet another coaching change may be coming in 2018.

“Not really and here’s why – there has been no stability,” McFarland said. “Everybody is looking for a quick fix and it doesn’t happen that way. You have to develop a culture and that culture has to breed the right players and the right players will win for you. Does it surprise me? No, because there has been a lot of turnover – from Raheem to Schiano to Lovie to Dirk. There’s just no consistency. When you hire people – how should I put this – that kind of fit the flavor of the month and what’s hot now, then you’re always going to get up and down things. Defense was hot and Raheem knew defense, so let’s get ‘Youngry.’ Let’s try to go back and rekindle the magic, so let’s get Lovie. Or let’s get Schiano for discipline. You’re always hiring the flavor of the month instead of hiring a guy that you know is the right guy where you say, ‘We’re going to live and die with him.’

Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin - Photo by: Getty Images
Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin – Photo by: Getty Images

“I’ll give you the prime example because they are a model organization – the Pittsburgh Steelers. Mike Tomlin has had some good seasons and some bad seasons, but in the end, he’s the coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers. There hasn’t been any talk about anything else. The consistency is there and now you know how to build your team. You develop a foundation. Once you build the foundation it’s there. Yeah, you may remodel the house, add a new room, but the foundation is still there. Every couple of years the Buccaneers jackhammer the foundation up and start over. It doesn’t surprise me. You have to have the stability, but first you have to find the right guy. If you continue to hire and fire that means you’re doing a bad job of choosing.”

McFarland is right to a degree, but hanging on to the wrong guy year after year after year is going down the road to nowhere and the Glazers know it. Look at Jacksonville where the Jaguars gave Gus Bradley four draft classes and four rounds of free agency over four years to get the team to the playoffs. Bradley was fired after 14 games last year and the interim coach, Doug Marrone, was given the full-time position this year and has the Jaguars leading the AFC South with a 9-4 record.

Remember that the Glazers caught lightning in a bottle – twice.

The Bucs went 10-6 and to the postseason and won a playoff game in Dungy’s second season. Then after firing Dungy in 2001, they traded for Gruden and he went 12-4 and won the franchise its first and only Super Bowl in his first season in Tampa Bay.

That’s what they are used to and they aren’t going to settle for losing, even if it means a few years of instability. Yet nobody thought the instability would last nearly a decade.

“They hired the right guy in Tony Dungy and he got you to the precipice and then you hired a guy to fix the one thing that Dungy could never fix, which was the offense and the team went over the top,” McFarland said. “That’s kind of an anomaly. That doesn’t always happen. That would be like firing Mike Tomlin right now and the next guy immediately takes them to the Super Bowl. The team is mostly there, and the next guy gets credit. Just like Jon Gruden gets credit for fixing the offense. But you have to give Tony a lot of credit, too. That team was right there on that precipice already.

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

“I think it’s a unique situation. At the end, they have to do a lot of soul searching at One Buc Place. They have to figure out if Dirk Koetter is the right guy – not just for offense, but if he’s a team builder. Is he a guy that can manage a team? Dirk is a great offensive coordinator. Is he a great head coach? That has yet to be proven.”

The last nine years without a playoff berth have been humbling for the Glazers, who made amends with Gruden years ago, admitting that they made a mistake in firing him. When the Bucs stumbled to a disappointing 2-3 start following a 38-33 loss at Arizona and saw the upcoming losses on the horizon due to poor defense and game management, along with Winston’s shoulder injury, the Glazers were likely freaking out, and wondering “How could this be happening?” as the team’s record fell to 2-6.

It would not surprise me one bit if the Glazers have reached out to Gruden to gauge his interest in returning to be the Bucs head coach next year, which is why I wrote the SR’s Fab 5 column on November 17. It would also not surprise me one bit if Gruden has seriously been contemplating putting on a Bucs visor again and decided he’ll do it.

We’ll know the official answer in a few weeks.

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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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