Ask Gary: Could Dungy help Bucs’ front office?

by Gary Shelton on December 16, 2017 · 6 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs, Tampa Bay Lightning, Tampa Bay Rays

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When Jeffrey Vinik purchased the Lighting one of the first things he did was meet with Scotty Bowman to get advice as to who he should hire to build the team which, at the time, was in total disarray. The hiring of Steve Yzerman was crucial to the success of the Lightning. If the Glazers decide to clean house, would Tony Dungy be that guy who could provide the same type of insight as to the right person to bring in to rebuild the Bucs?
 
Larry Beller

Larry, I think it's a a great idea whether the Bucs make wholesale changes or stand pat. The Bucs could use a front office head, much like Jacksonville has with Tom Coughlin or the Cowboys had with Bill Parcells. He

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would be an idea guy, a guy to help with free agent and draft grades.

Tony is one of the calmest, smartest men I've ever worked with. More than any coach the Bucs have ever had, he built something that lasted for a decade.You'd still have a coach and a g.m., but it's not like there are too many smart guys in the room for the Bucs.

The Glazers aren't lifers at this football thing. I think they could use someone they trust to run things. To decide when it's time to pull the plug on a coach or general manager, to say, no, trading up for a placekicker in the second round is a silly idea. And who would you trust more than Tony?

I don't know if you could pry Tony away from TV, or from his charity work. But I think Tony would be good at it, and it'd get his competitive juices flowing again.

How does Tommy Nobis, one of the greatest players of his time, pass away and not be in the Hall of Fame?
Bubber Birdsong
Bubber, you're right in my power alley on this question. When I was a kid, I idolized Nobis. He was the first player who drew me to the Atlanta Falcons' franchise. Nobis was the first great player on a bad franchise, and it seemed as if he made every tackle for a few years.
Why isn't he in the Hall? Probably because the Falcons weren't very good when he played, and America seemed to be in love with Dick Butkus (from a bigger market) as a middle linebacker on a losing team. For those of us (you and I) who grew up in Georgia, it was obvious what a great player Nobis was.
For the rest of the country, I fear that time has eaten players such as Nobis. The Falcons weren't very good, and there weren't weekly highlight shows. I think he's more of a victim of his time than of his play.
In those days, I followed the Falcons on the radio. They weren't on TV every week, probably because they were so bad, and my family (my father and me) could only get AFL games.
I still remember Nobis hurting his knee in 1969. It was an awful time for me. I remember giving up Sunday afternoons to listen to the Falcons on an old transister radio, just to hear Nobis make tackles.
Look, you don't have to go to Super Bowls to be  a great player, and you don't have to be a quarterback with straight teeth.
With his death, Nobis' candidacy has reached the talking stage again. In 2011, Bleacher Report wrote about the linebackers who deserved to be in the Hall; Nobis was No. 2 on their list.
He's No. 1 on mine.
Why would Jon Gruden, a man richer than rich, ever return to become an NFL coach, for any team, again?
Scott Myers
There is a reason that Bill Cowher has never returned to the sideline. Or Jimmy Johnson. Or Tony Dungy.
Frankly, the TV analyst's life is easier than a coach's. The pay is good, and the celebrity is huge, and no one talks bad about you on Monday morning. It's fun to second-guess. It's easy. And no one keeps score. No matter how Gruden does Monday night, no one is going to call for his head on Tuesday. No one is going to ask him  mean questions as to why it it's going badly.
Ah, but to some coaches, it isn't the same thing. Coaches are competitive creatures, and some of them can't stay away from a sideline. Bill Parcells was that way. He was making a fine living as an analyst, but he wanted to coach. Some guys are just driven to coach; it's in their DNA. They aren't comfortable unless they have a team.
I don't blame Gruden for picking carefully. He can always return to broadcasting, but he won't always be able to get that coveted Monday Night football gig.
On TV, he's grown into the quarterback whisperer. That's a lot easier than trying to squeeze a win out of Bruce Gradkowski. He can joke about player acquisitions. That's simpler than trying to find a player out of a Bruce Allen draft.
If it's me, I'd rather be an analyst. Those guys have a lot longer careers than coaches.
One of the most telling parts of this year’s “Hard Knocks” to me was that moment when Jon Gruden stuck his head in the QB room and said that whatever they need, he’s just down the road. The reaction from Koetter and the others was telling. Lots of underlying substance. In a way, to Koetter, Gruden was “the competition”.
 
This week, I would think the strut around One Buc Place reverses things. If we can compare them for a moment, because I think they're both sharp offensive minds and sharp guys, I'd ask this: Do you think it is management skills that Koetter has been slow to develop? Maybe he needs to get  better at delegating?
 
Carlos Ubinas
 
Carlos, I couldn't argue that Koetter doesn't need to get better management skills. On the other hand, I'm not sure that Gruden is a A-student in such things, either. Remember, he drove off Rich McKay and others because he was hard to work with, and he, too, had a four-win season.
One of the things we all overlook is that Gruden had to try to maintain a franchise's success without the draft picks the team gave up to get him. That's hard. It's also hard when your stars start to age and you have to replace them.
If you have to evaluate the two men, I think Gruden was a better gameday coach. But fans remember him as an even better coach than he was because of that charmed Super Bowl season. Remember, he never won another playoff game afterward. Three of his last six years, he finished with losing records.
Still, he was indeed the coach of the team that won the Super Bowl. But he inherited a lot of talent. Koetter inherited a team that had won eight games in two years. It's not quite the same thing.
All in all, I'd say that Gruden is the better coach. But perhaps not by as much as you'd think.
I love how an NFL sports writer publishes a story about Coach Koetter and Jameis Winston being at odds with one another, "or worse" Yet the local sports writers like yourself who live here and work here with daily access to the Bucs have not come forward with any such news.  From what you know or hear, are the head coach and the franchise QB having off-the-field problems? It's plain to see the on-field problems. 
Bruce Brownlee
Bruce, I don't think anyone around here had heard a whisper. I know I hadn't. Maybe that says something bad about me, and maybe it says something about someone with an axe to grind going to the NFL.com.
Common sense tells us that on a team that is 4-9, everyone isn't happy all the time. Nor should they be. The coach is the boss. Did you ever get annoyed with your boss? I know I did with mine.
But this story smelled like a plant to me. When that happens, you have to try to figure out who could profit the most by the news that a quarterback is upset at his coach. It could have been a coaching rival who wanted Koetter fired, it could have been a front office worker who wanted to blame Koetter, or it could have been the agent of the quarterback who thinks his client isn't getting enough love. I don't blame the writer for printing it, and I don't doubt that Ian has a source who told him exactly what he printed.
I was there when Winston repeatedly denied that he had a problem with Koetter. He didn't sidestep it by saying "no one's happy at 4-9" or "I was upset when I was sitting out." He said it was not true. Period. He was very believable.
Look, Winston hasn't had a good year. And it's Koetter's job to let him know his shortcomings. If Winston wants to get his nose out of joint becuase of that, well, that's on him. We certainly don't want Koetter to pretend he doesn't notice the turnovers, do we?
As I wrote, both Koetter and Winston have bigger problems than the other one. This team may end up 4-12, and the Glazers may have some hard evaluations to come. Whether those two smile at each often enough isn't going to change that.
It's looking like the Bucs could wind up 4-12, perhaps 5-11 if we steal one against a tough division rival. Who knows what the Glazers will do but I know what their history tells me. So how about Gary Shelton? If you owned the Bucs on Jan. 1st (the day after our final game) do you A) fire Koetter and his staff, B) keep Koetter but demand he make top level changes to his staff including play calling, C) fire GM Licht and Koetter & staff (aka clean house), or D) No major changes for one more season.
 
Bruce Brownlee
 
I had the exact conversation at my work desk in the press box on Sunday. Granted, what I would do, and what the Glazers do, may be miles different. If Koetter loses out, I'd be surprised if the Glazers bring him back.
But I would. Reluctantly.
I go back to this:  If the Bucs ever do hire the right guy, I think it's going to take him more than two years to turn his team around. Think of it like this: Bill Belichick won 20 games in his first three seasons. He won five games his first season in New England. Sometimes, it takes time.
So if I owned the team, I'd do the typical conversations-with-agents to see who was available. And if it was just coordinators, I think I'd stand pat for another year. I'd invest in a defensive end, maybe two, and a defensive back. Maybe an offensive lineman.
Hey, it hasn't been that long since the Bucs won two games, remember?
The Rays -- even when not playing -- can be so frustrating. I keep reading rumors about the Rays actively trade baiting Archer, Longoria, and/or Colome. Between these three or others, who do you think is most likely moved this off-season?
Bruce Brownlee
 
Well, Colome seems halfway out of the door, so I'd say him. If yoiu had asked me a month ago, I'd probably say Archer, because I think he would bring the biggest return.
I've heard all of the speculation about Longoria, of course, and I wonder this: Who is going to sell a ticket? Kiermaier? Souza?
I know, I know. Eventually, the Rays will have to play without Longo. He's 32 and he's going to make a lot of money. But you'd better be careful when you're trading away the face of the franchise.
At this point, what would the Rays get for Longo? Basically, they would trade him just for the right not to pay him. I don't think that's going to open the gates to the playoffs.
Archer, for all the talk about his stuff, isn't in the same area code as a draw. Neither is Colome. I think the franchise can trundle along without either of them.
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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Bruce Brownlee December 16, 2017 at 9:35 pm

Your reference to all the former (winning) coaches that are now happily spending their season in TV studios, broadcast booths, etc, is something all the pro-Gruden folks should keep in mind. It’s amazing how much they get paid (I’m obviously in the wrong line of work) so who could blame them for staying out of coaching? I know the Bucs have contacted most of them at one time or another about coming here (Cowher, Jimmie Johnson, etc). The only way I see this trend changing is if TV ratings continue to flounder…….but I don’t see a major shift anytime soon,

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Gary Shelton December 16, 2017 at 9:41 pm

Don’t forget, though, Bruce, ESPN has had massive cutbacks. Perhaps Gruden is making sure his contract is safe.

I do know this. As a group, coaches are the hardest working humans around. They really do go from early in the morning til late at night, and their safety is dependent upon 50 other men. I’d rather be a TV star.

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Larry Beller December 16, 2017 at 8:29 pm

Yes it would be but I fear it’s too much to ask. In the real world I would take a consulting gig from Tony. If only the Bucs would reach out.

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Gary Shelton December 16, 2017 at 9:42 pm

I don’t see why they wouldn’t. Tony’s a graceful guy, and he hasn’t held a grudge over the years. What’s the harm in a conversation?

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Larry Beller December 16, 2017 at 6:24 am

If Dungy would consider working for the Bucs in an executive capacity that would be a best case scenario but I doubt if it would ever happen. He’s got it too good in his NBC job and being considered a guru of troubled players plus all the other things he does. What I would like to see is the Glaziers use him in a sort of consulting capacity like Vinik did with Scotty Bowman. Sit down with the man and get some ideas as to who are the best people around who could run the team as GM / coach. We have seen how bad the Glaziers are at hiring so having the wisdom of a Tony Dungy could only help their hiring process.

I also think bringing in Gruden is a bad idea. Not because he wouldn’t be a good coach which I think he is, but rather because he would want to have his own GM who he could control or flat out have authority to make decisions on drafting and signing free agents. The Bucs tried that with Lovie and it was a big mistake. I’d hate to see them go down that road again. But knowing how the Glaziers operate that is a distinct possibility. I don’t know if Gruden is really interested in coaching again but if he is he would most certainly insist on having power to make personnel decisions. If that happens history will repeat and the Bucs will continue to flounder.

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Gary Shelton December 16, 2017 at 2:30 pm

One of the best sayings I’ve ever heard is “half of wisdom is knowing where to find it.” Dungy could be an asset. I’d certainly meet. I think an executive role would be the best.

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