Ask Gary: Might Bucs turn to a new Licht?

by Gary Shelton on October 28, 2017 · 8 comments

in general

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If the Bucs don’t turn things around this year do you think Jason Licht will get his contract renewed when it expires after the season?

Larry Beller

I think it matters how the season plays out. Do the Bucs look young and improving? Are their losses close games even if they don't make the playoffs? Do their young players continue to impress?

The bottom line, of course, is winning. But there are other nuances for a team that could influence ownership to stay the course rather than start over.

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We know this about the Glazers. They tend to trust their general managers to a fault. (Mark Dominik?). For an ownership group, that's often who you trust to inform you on the blueprint of the league. But that can change if there are too many wasted contracts, or too many blown draft picks.

This also matters, Larry. What I would call a slight disappointment, you might call a major disappointment (or vice versa).

We would probably agree that the selections of Mike Evans, Jameis Winston, Kwon Alexander and Kendall Beckwith were major wins. I don't think the team regrets drafting Ali Marpet or -- to a lesser degree -- Donovan Smith.

Was the trade for Roberto Aguayo a disaster? Absolutely. Noah Spence has convinced his coaches he's tough, but his health hasn't held up. And somewhere along the line, the team should have picked up a pass-rusher. Vernon Hargreaves hasn't been an answer.The need is too great to do with guys named Ned.

I do think this is true. When Licht took over the roster from Lovie Smith, this team had a lot of holes. And even the normal amount of misses wasn't acceptable. (There are always going to be some. No one bats 1.000 in the draft.)

Could Licht be in trouble? Sure he could. At this point of the season, no one thought the Glazers would fire Bruce Allen or Jon Gruden. At this point of the season, Dominik seemed safe.

But even if I kept Licht, I would talk to him about the blueprint of the team. I would wonder what his ideas about the pass rush, pass coverage and the running game were. If I didn't like the answers I got, I might make a change. But my gut feeling is that, unless there is a collapse, both Licht and Dirk Koetter are safe for another playoff miss. Next year, that would not be the case.

Remember, Larry, most of us keep our own score and give our own grades. I might give a guy an extra year. But it's all opinion.

Your thoughts?

Would Chris Bosio have been fired if Jim Hickey was not available?

Scott Myers

Possibly, but I'd guess not. Even Joe Maddon said that part of the Cubs' reasoning was "availability." By nature, Maddon gets comfortable with his coaches; he doesn't change them rashly in most years.

A pitching coach wears on a lot of managers after a while, and there may have been some situations where Maddon (or Theo Epstein) wasn't on board. But Maddon and Hickey always worked well together. And going to the Cubs has to have the same lure (read: money) that it did for Maddon.

Of course, the Cubs have blown up their staff after their shortcoming in this year's playoffs. If Dave Martinez gets the National's job, five coaches will be new on Maddon's staff for next season.

If you'll recall, there were the same sort of questions about whether the Cubs would have fired Rick Renteria if Maddon hadn't come available. If Hickey had signed a 2-3 year contract with another team (say, the Giants), then the two might never have worked together again.

My question is this: Do the Rays look at this situation and say "Well, we're certainly smarter than those guys. They hired Hickey!" It's another reason to doubt the wisdom of this franchise.

I'm pondering the future of GM Jason Licht in the event the Bucs season continues its downward trend. He has plucked free agents such as Baker, Ayers, Ward, and McClain while doing well with Grimes and, maybe, DeSean Jackson. Although there have been some decent draft picks, he has also whiffed on Hargreaves, D. Smith (speaking of whiffs), and a kicker who may come back to haunt them this weekend.
Do you think he may be on thin ice?
 
Barry McDowell​
One of the toughest things about covering the Bucs is how secretive they are. We have no idea what the owners may be thinking, or what they may be thinking in December. Like I said earlier, I think it matters how the season plays out.
The last two times the Bucs have changed general managers came when both the coach and him were axed at the same time. Mark Dominik went when Greg Schiano was fired, and Bruce Allen lost his job when Jon Gruden was fired. I think that may have something to do with it. If the Glazers feel they have to start over, I think Licht and Dirk Koetter could be a package deal.
That said, I don't think it's time to start over, do you? Granted, the Bucs need help on the field; I'm the first to say that. They still haven't plugged all of the holes from the Lovie Smith regime. I think as long as Jameis Winston shows signs of improvements, it would benefit the Bucs to stay the course. I don't think you can constantly change the coaches and improve.
To me, there are two ways to grade a general manger: 1) Are the players he selected solid. Do they plug the needed hole? Winston does, and Evans, and Kwon. But Aguayo was a wasted pick. Hargreaves wasn't great. And this bothers me: There are very few steals (fifth, sixth and seventh rounds) where you feel that the Bucs simply outsmarted someone.
Personally, I'd give Licht about a C or a C-plus so far. Winston has been a positive. Mike Evans has been a positive. The linebackers have worked out. The offensive line? That's where the grades from outside differ most with the grades from inside.
The best teams have a plan for every position. If I owned the Bucs -- and I offered $13.73 cents once -- then I'd want to talk to Licht about his blueprint. How does this team address its pass rush? How does it see the running back situation?
Hey, I'm with you. I expected the Bucs to be better this year. And you don't just swallow your disappointment. But for now, I'd stay the course for at least one more year. Of course, that's just me.
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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Larry Beller October 28, 2017 at 3:16 pm

Can’t say that I’ve been impressed with the man’s work to this point. Trading up to get a kicker at #2 when there are so many holes to fill and then not addressing the glaring weaknesses adequately in the last draft. Those are mistakes I can’t overlook. I agree with most of your comments but given his mediocre performance I don’t see why he should be kept on unless the Bucs have a big turnaround with the remaining games this year and show that they really are a team on the rise. Keep the coach but we need a GM with more vision and ability to find those late round diamonds in the rough that can make an average draft great. He’s not the worst the Bucs have ever had but they could do so be doing so much better in my opinion.

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Gary Shelton October 28, 2017 at 7:00 pm

You could be right. But no one hits 100 percent in the draft, not even New England. I do wish they had done more to address a pass rush (Calais Campbell?) and a running game.

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Bill MYERS October 28, 2017 at 9:05 am

I agree! Give it one more year before the shake up! The next draft should be critical for Licht and company! Running back, pass rush and an reliable kicking game all need to be addressed.

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Gary Shelton October 28, 2017 at 9:21 am

Maybe a cornerback.

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Rick Martin October 28, 2017 at 12:46 pm

Team’s DL is the biggest weakness isn’t it?

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Gary Shelton October 28, 2017 at 3:07 pm

Unless it’s the pass rush, or the secondary, or the tackling. Let’s debate!

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Bill Myers October 29, 2017 at 7:58 pm

Maybe a we can get a sleeper QB like Brady or Rodgers to push Winston a bit!

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Gary Shelton October 29, 2017 at 10:10 pm

Can they not be asleep? Too much napping going on.

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