FAB 4. Did Gruden Win Super Bowl XXXVII With Dungy’s Team?

With the induction of former Tampa Bay head coach Jon Gruden into the Bucs Ring of Honor at halftime of Monday night’s game against Atlanta some fans are angry that Gruden is entering the Bucs Ring of Honor ahead of Tony Dungy. The vast majority of those particular fans likely believe that Gruden won the Super Bowl with Dungy’s team.

Which is nonsense.

There is only one Super Bowl winning head coach in Tampa Bay history and that’s Gruden.

You’ve heard the arguments before.

Dungy couldn’t win it with his own team when he was the head coach.

If you believe the Bucs were Dungy’s team, then Gruden beat his team, the Raiders, as Tampa Bay’s head coach in Super Bowl XXXVII.

Former Bucs head coaches Jon Gruden and Tony Dungy - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Former Bucs head coaches Jon Gruden and Tony Dungy – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

After two consecutive wild card playoff losses in Philadelphia, Dungy was fired after the 2001 season and the Bucs traded $8 million and two first-round draft picks and two second-round draft picks to Oakland for Gruden, who won Super Bowl XXXVII in Tampa Bay. The folks who claim that Gruden won with Dungy’s team point to the Bucs’ star-studded defense, which featured Pro Bowlers in defensive tackle Warren Sapp, linebacker Derrick Brooks, cornerback Ronde Barber, defensive end Simeon Rice and safety John Lynch, in addition to the entire defensive coaching staff.

I asked former Bucs defensive tackle Anthony “Booger” McFarland for his opinion on who gets credit for winning Super Bowl XXXVII.

“I’ll use a construction analogy,” McFarland said. “There’s a house being built and it’s three-quarters of the way done and somebody comes in and buys it and says that they want to change this and this and this. Over the next three months they add their pieces to it and then the house is finished. The house was designed by the original builder, and somebody bought it halfway through and made some adjustments and now it’s their house.

“You have to give Gruden credit because of the work he put in, but if you look at the design of the house, you have to give Dungy credit because he designed the house, built the foundation and developed the culture. Gruden came in and changed some of the finishes, changed the paint and added some new fixtures and did the landscape. Who are we going to give the credit to? Most people are going to give credit to the person who finished the job, and rightfully so. But you would be remiss if you didn’t pay attention to the person who originally built the house and designed it. I think there is credit enough to go around. Obviously, Gruden has the ring, so you have to pay homage to him.”

To his credit, Gruden acknowledged Dungy – unprompted – on the stage immediately after winning the Super Bowl.

“I knew it was going to be a very sensitive situation and Tony Dungy did a great job and I reaped the benefits of a lot of his hard work, but by God, this is Tampa Bay’s night and we’re world champions and I’m going to enjoy it!” Gruden said.

I asked former Bucs Hall of Fame defensive tackle Warren Sapp if it was fair to say that Gruden at least won the Super Bowl with Dungy’s “Super Bowl-ready” defense.

Hall of Fame Bucs DT Warren Sapp - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Hall of Fame Bucs DT Warren Sapp – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

“I was on that defense and I led that defense,” Sapp said. “I wouldn’t say we were a Super Bowl-caliber defense at that point. We were a damn good defense, but we didn’t have that finishing touch and Jon gave us that finishing touch. I’m telling you the first day we did 9-on-7 and he ran the damn bootleg with Brad Johnson. Brad Johnson was running down the damn field like an ugly damn duck with that pigeon-toe run he has. All of a sudden he is high-stepping like Deion Sanders and I turned to Jon and said, ‘If you’re scared, say you’re scared.’ He said, ‘They’ve been running boot (leg) on your ass for the last five years!’ He challenged us and made us correct all of our little flaws. When you rank that [2002] defense against any other defense in history I dare you to come up with any analytic that says that they are better than us.

“I’ll say it to people one more time. There was a mix on the table. Jon came in the kitchen and put some spice in that mix, turned the oven on a temperature that he wanted to put it on, put it inside the oven and he baked that cake. Everybody has ingredients in the kitchen when they get to a football team. Everybody has ingredients, but what do you do with those damn ingredients? That’s what I say. There were some damn good ingredients in there – you’re talking about two first ballot Hall of Famers on defense, and another one that they won’t put in on the back end (John Lynch) and another one they’re going to ignore on the back end (Ronde Barber) and another one on the front end (Simeon Rice) that they should put in because he was nothing but a killer. You’re quarterback wasn’t safe when he was around. Jon’s the one who really challenged us, and we won it.”

Even though Gruden presided over the Super Bowl XXXVII winner, Johnson knows about the argument of him winning with Dungy’s players and doesn’t buy it.

“I don’t know if Jon got enough credit for the guys he’s brought in to win that Super Bowl,” Johnson said. “He brought in about 25 guys or so of his guys. He challenged the defense. He challenged the offense. He made every day demanding as far as offense vs. defense – training camps, mini-camps – everything was competitive. You’re not always going to win every game, but you had to give yourself a chance to win. And that’s what he did.”

The reality is that 28 players that played for the Buccaneers in 2002 never played a down for Dungy.

New Buccaneers In 2002
WR Reggie Barlow
FB Darian Barnes
TE Marco Battaglia
LS Ryan Benjamin
OT Lomas Brown
DT DeVone Claybrooks
TE Casey Crawford
TE Ken Dilger
TE Rickey Dudley
LB Jack Golden
OT Cornell Green
DT Buck Gurley
G Russ Hochstein
G Kerry Jenkins
QB Rob Johnson
WR Joe Jurevicius
WR Charles Lee
WR Keenan McCardell
LB Ryan Nece
LT Roman Oben
SS Jermaine Phillips
RB Michael Pittman
DE Corey Smith
LS Mike Solwold
DE Greg Spires
RB Travis Stephens
P Tom Tupa
CB Tim Wansley

I believe Dungy deserves a lot of credit for assembling half of that Super Bowl roster, but so do former personnel men Rich McKay, Jerry Angelo and Tim Ruskell, in addition to former head coach Sam Wyche, who had a hand in drafting Sapp, linebacker Derrick Brooks in 1995 and safety John Lynch in 1993.

But Gruden deserves the most credit because he actually got the team over the finish line, and that’s why he’s getting in the Bucs Ring of Honor ahead of Dungy, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Dungy will get in, too, and don’t feel sorry for him. He’s already been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which is a bigger honor.

Jon Gruden and Bucs owner Malcolm Glazer
Jon Gruden and Malcolm Glazer – Photo by: Getty Images

Instead, just cherish the fact that Gruden beat three of his former teams – San Francisco, Philadelphia and Oakland en route to winning Tampa Bay its first and only Super Bowl.

“I kind of knew the Raiders were a heck of team,” Gruden said. “We were pretty good. We made the playoffs and had the bye week. I was really happy when we beat the 49ers and I saw the Raiders advance. I’ll never forget when the Raiders beat the Titans. It was chilling. It was a weird feeling. That was a big day at the office for sure.”

Gruden loved the fact that he beat the team that traded him to Tampa Bay for the world championship.

“Yeah, bring it on,” Gruden said. “If we’re going to put all the chips on the table let’s put every chip we’ve got, right? Let’s not screw around. If you have to beat somebody you might as well beat the old team.”

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Scott Reynolds is in his 25th 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 sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: sr@pewterreport.com
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arizonajoe

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… Read more »

chefboho

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… Read more »

Joyce Baughman

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.… Read more »

Bucnut2

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… Read more »

DonkeyHunter

Another fap piece about Gruden?

Shocker…

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JustaBuc

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… Read more »

scubog

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

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Bucnut2

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

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cheveliar

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… Read more »

devasher

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… Read more »

FranknBeans

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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Naplesfan

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… Read more »

Bob Will

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… Read more »

Bucnut2

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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e

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… Read more »

Naplesfan

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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e

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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Naplesfan

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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Naplesfan

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

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

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Jlog

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.… Read more »

devasher

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… Read more »

Bucnut2

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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Naplesfan

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… Read more »

Destino102

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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cgmaster27

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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Bucnut2

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

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Naplesfan

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… Read more »

Ja'crispy

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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devasher

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. Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb… Read more »

surferdudes

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… Read more »

devasher

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… Read more »

JustaBuc

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… Read more »

devasher

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… Read more »

Mike.Seven

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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JustaBuc

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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martinii

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… Read more »

buccaneerNW

Might as well rename the site to GrudenReport.com.

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devasher

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… Read more »

Naplesfan

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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devasher

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

Funny world we live in nowadays.

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Naplesfan

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… Read more »

a-bomb

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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JustaBuc

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… Read more »

EastEndBoy

Wouldn’t Gruden be considered home grown stock?

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JustaBuc

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

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Horse

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… Read more »

surferdudes

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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WinstonMVP

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… Read more »

matador

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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