Ask Gary: Are Glazers seeking a new coach?

by Gary Shelton on December 23, 2017 · 3 comments

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

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Do you think the Glaziers are already working behind the scenes to hire a big name coach like Gruden, even before the season ends? It’s not like they haven’t done that sort of thing in the past.

Larry Beller

Larry, behind the scenes, I would imagine the Bucs' ownership has at least kicked the tires on a few coaches.

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They've done it since they tried to replace Tony Dungy with Bill Parcells. They're fully aware of how the game is played.

An owner calls an agent and plays a "what if" game? What if the job was open? What parameters would the new guy want? Who would be his coordinators? How long would his contract have to be? That sort of thing. It doesn't necessarily mean they'll make a change, but if they're interested in a Gruden or a Harbaugh, they want to be in position to grab him.

In my mind, the Bucs' owners have entered December thinking about trading in coaches often. Jon looked like a coach running in place. Had to go. Raheem Morris could have saved his job, but he lost his last 10 by whopping margins. Had to go.  Schiano seemed out of his element. Had to go. Lovie wasted money. Had to go.

I think they'd like to keep Koetter. He's a ball coach. But losing creates a vacuum in ticket sales. It wouldn't surprise me if they made a play for a big name, and failing that, stayed with Koetter. But what do I know?

As best as I can piece it together,  the Bucs have paid out $36 million in severance pay to head coaches via its early release program over the past 9 years.
name contract years contract amount last year coached     years left   severance pay
jon gruden 2008-2011 $20,000,000 2008 3 $15,000,000
raheem morris 2011-2012 $4,000,000 2011 1 $2,000,000
greg schiano 2012-2016 $15,000,000 2013 3 $9,000,000
lovie smith 2014-2017 $20,000,000 2015 2 $10,000,000
dirk koetter 2016-2020 ???? ????
TOTAL $36,000,000
Can you please give me guidance on how I can get a five-year guaranteed contract to coach the Bucs?  I can take it from there by screwing up the first pre-season game so badly that I will be immediately terminated.
 
Scott Myers
I'll help if you give me the job of defensive coordinator. Or extra point-coach. Whatever.
Certainly, it's a worthy occupation if you don't mind the company (Morris, Schiano, Smith) you have to keep. I just have one question: What happens if you win? Are you prepared for an extension?
I have a crazy theory that the rash of Bucs injuries may be due to their not having a bye week in mid-season to recuperate. In this vein, many NFL players bemoan the Thursday night games for the same reason. Do you think the NFL (or the owners) are studying this issue--or are the Thursday night games just too lucrative to abandon?
 
Barry McDowell
Barry, I don't think it's crazy at all. The modern day NFL player is, often, a finely tuned instrument that gets hurt by overactivity. The players of the league are convinced that Thursday night football is evil and leads to the attrition.
As far as going through most of the season without a bye week, well, it certainly doesn't help.
A friend of mine was talking at the Bucs game and pointed out that bad teams often get hurt. Maybe that's becauase they're absorbing so much punishment, or playing too many (defensive) plays. Good teams seem to have athletes pushing through the pain for the greater goal.
One of my theories has long been that since the NFL cut down on its physical practices, the players aren't in shape to absorb as much pain. Then again, think of how hard it's been on the fans.
I really don't like that the Glazers have been firing coaches after just 2 years.  That being said, I don't like that Jameis Winston seems to have hit a plateau.  There are many young QBs that are looking better after just 2 seasons.  So should the Bucs pull the trigger and fire Koetter (looking like the Browns again), or give Dirk more time to mold Jameis?
 
Jim Willson
That's the big question, isn't it? Koetter was hired, primarily, to guide Winston. Winston's regression, then, has to hurt Koetter's chances of being retained.
I keep saying this, though. If the Bucs ever do hire the right guy, it's going to take more than two years to fix things. This team won two games not that long ago. There are holes. The Bucs, in the draft, tried hard on the offensive side, but not hard enough on the defensive side.
Me? Unless Gruden is serious about coming back, I stay with Koetter one more year. And this time, I really spend on a defensive end in free agency.
My “eye test” tells me the Bucs offense is capable. With Jameis Winston at QB, they go up and down the field consistently enough, then fail at the discipline stuff (fumble, holding, “clumsy” ref (?!)).
 
The big failure to me has been the defense.
The good defensive stats put up in the second half of the 2016 season were a mirage. And coming in 2017, Noah Spence, for example, was a prospect, not a proven commodity. So who in the building instilled confidence that they were “good to go” on defense?
 
I consider Jason Licht a step up from Bruce Allen and Mark Dominik. And Mike Smith also at least as talented as the previous defensive coordinators. Then there are the Glazers not setting up the managing structure for the franchise’s success. They won't fire themselves, so, I think the burden (and a very shaky job security) unfortunately falls in either Smith or Light.
 
Carlos Ubinas
In the NFL, some players are gold and some are fool's gold. The Bucs wanted badly to believe they had turned a corner on defense last year against the Chiefs and Seahawks (both of whom had problems). They hadn't. When Spence was hurt, it took away the biggest pass rush threat the team had. There wasn't anyone close.
What your comment points out is all the holes the Bucs, as an organization, have. I've suggested a Tom Coughlin-type leader in the front office. That could help.
The thing is, based on this year, you could make a move to replace Koetter, Licht or Smith. And a lot of players. The grand plan isn't working. As I said, I'd hang onto Koetter for one more year, but I think I'm in the minority.
The other night, a friend of mine turned to me at the Bucs game and asked this: "Does this franchise win another Super Bowl in our lifetime?" I'm not sure they win one in my 15-year-old daughter's lifetime.
I agree with your points. The offense is ahead of the defense, even thought it needs another lineman and another running back. But the defense needs two ends and two corners. Now.
Other than that, we're watching Lightning games far too early next year, too.
How long until the Rays officially ask to buy their way out of the lease at the Trop?  Their actions tell me that they are done with Tampa Bay and will save money to put toward a buyout.
 
Jim Willson
I think it'll be sooner than their fans realize. Maybe two years, maybe three. I think they have to let this proposed move to Tampa play out until neither sides of the bay have the money.
I'm not sure I agree that their recent actions have much to do with relocation, however. Moving Longoria was, at the core, a cost-saving measure, and you can argue that's to save local costs as much as widespread ones. I really liked Evan Longoria, but I'm not sure that a team with the Rays' budget can afford to pay an aging third baseman 20 million dollars a year. That doesn't mean it's easy to swallow; it's just it wouldn't be any easier in Montreal.
I know this: If the Rays elect to move, the guys who traded Longoria will have little to say about it. They're employees, too.
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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Gary Shelton December 23, 2017 at 10:16 pm

So many of us

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Larry Beller December 23, 2017 at 7:45 am

It’s interesting that most of the talk by fans on the sports talk shows and on this website, is about our 2 failing sports teams. The blundering Bucs may challenge for the worst team in the league before they win another Super Bowl. And the Rays as you point out Gary, are headed out the door. Meanwhile we currently have the top hockey team in the NHL with a great owner, a top flight GM and exciting players who get much less attention. It seems to me that more people in this area need to realize that we have one of the best run organizations in all of sports here in our own back yard, and it’s the Tampa Bay Lightning. Hockey has done well here at the gate and in the standings but it still takes a backseat to football and baseball in the minds of the majority of sports fans. I’m all for changing that and make this area a true hockey town. Let’s embrace excellence in the Lightning, and put the failing franchises in our area on the back burner.

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Gary Shelton December 23, 2017 at 11:58 am

Won’t happen in Florida, a football state, in December. Tragedy is as debatable as triumph. But the Bolts are fun, and they’ll get more popular as the season goes along.

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