Ask Gary: Who controls the Bucs — Smith or Licht?

by Gary Shelton on December 19, 2015 · 2 comments

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

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Saturday, 6 a.m.

Did the contract under which Coach Lovie Smith was hired give him “control” of whom to draft, buy, sell or trade? Would his contract, at least in so far as decisions regarding player personnel, be equal to the powers granted Coach Chip Kelly?

Thomas Fredrick

Thomas, it's a bit murky. I call it the Raiders' syndrome. Everyone wants to blur the lines of their jobs so no one is to blame. Ask who is in charge, and you don't get a definitive answer.

As I understand it, when Lovie took the job, he had everything. There was no g.m., so he was in total control like Kelly or Sean Payton. He picked the free agents he had studied in his year off.

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But the team had trouble hiring a g.m. who wouldn't have control. As I understand it, Jason Licht now controls the off-season and Lovie has the 53-man roster. That's a good checks-and-balances.

Most of the time, it works. Both men wanted Jameis Winston. Both wanted Ali Marpet. But there will be times when someone wants a linebacker and someone else wants a defensive end or they differ on which running back to take. You know? In that case, I imagine everyone would express their opinion, but it comes down to Licht for the draft and Smith for the roster if there isn't' an agreement.

In the past 35 years or so, I recall watching the Bucs play during prime time (Sunday night, Monday night, Thursday. night) and continually showing their worst side to the nation. Is it just my selective memory, or have the Bucs been horrible during prime time (and, of course, who can forget, as much as we'd like to, the choke job on Monday night when they lost to the Colts after being way ahead)? Are they the "Not Ready for Prime Time Players?"

Barry McDowell​

Over the years, the Bucs have saved some of their worst football for prime time which, I suppose, is one reason they haven't been there more often. In most seasons, Tampa Bay has not been very good or, for that matter, very exciting. It's been that way since their first prime time game (a 23-0 loss to Chicago in 1980).

I suspect that's about to change as the team gets better around Jameis Winston. Heck, the league hasn't had many good teams this year, and as a result, Monday Night Football has had some dreadful matchups.

On the other hand, I'm not sure that they're ready for average time, either, in recent seasons. But Monday Night football and, to a lesser degree, Thursday Night Football is supposed to be a celebration.

The thing is, most years, the Bucs have pretty much revealed who they were in prime time. That loss to the Colts defined that 2003 season. Giving up 56 points to Atlanta last year defined that game.

Here's a question, though: Does the Super Bowl count as prime time? It starts a little earlier, but the Bucs played okay then. Best as I can remember. It's been so long.

I remember the following season. The Bucs dismantled the Philadelphia Eagles, 17-o, on Monday Night Football. I had done a story that week talking to voters about which Bucs might have a shot at the Hall of Fame someday. Well, that win was so convincing that Don Pierson of Chicago walked by me when it was over and said "Put them all in." A couple of weeks later, the Bucs fell apart.

Does Gerald McCoy resent Jameis Winston taking over the team?

Scott Myers

I know there are petty jealousies in sports, but I can't imagine that McCoy does. Before Winston, McCoy was trapped on a dreadful team with no offense. Now, he has a guy who can move the ball. I think any defensive player would like one of those.

They're different personalities. McCoy is more reserved, more quiet but extremely thoughtful. Winston is a carbonated drink. They both have their place on the team.

Do they hang out? McCoy is married with kids (young twins). Winston is single. So I doubt they do a great deal of that. McCoy is older. Now, Winston may get most of the endorsements in the years to come, but that's the difference in a defensive tackle and a quarterback.

I'll be honest. I'm not at their parties, but every word I've heard one say about the other suggests admiration. On the other hand, if someone does have a problem with the quarterback defining the team, well, he'd better get used to it.

One of the first things the NFL Network announcer said before last night's game was "Lovie Smith has done a great job with the Bucs." Is this guy on the same planet as the rest of us? One of the most undisciplined teams in the NFL over the last two years and he's praising Coach Smith? A ridiculous statement.

Howard Powders

Howard, you know this: You have to consider the source. Just because talking heads have the camera doesn't mean they know the team.

Face it: these guys aren't watching Bucs games on Sunday. Why would they? They get their information from an hour-long "production meeting." They always praise the coaches, because they work at the discretion of the league. Heck, I'll bet if you went back, they thought Raheem Morris and Greg Schiano were doing great jobs.

Also, analysts make ridiculous statements all the time. I think it's in their contracts.

You said in a column recently that the Tampa 2 is one of the friendliest for corners who are a step slow. Of course, a step faster is better, but what will the Bucs be looking for in 2nd/3rd round corners? Anything that other teams looking for corners might not be focusing on?

Cecil DeBald

Ideally, the Bucs would be after the same guys. But the Tampa 2 accents smart players who are good tacklers and who play with instinct. It's no secret why Ronde Barber succeeded so well, and he wasn't the fastest corner in the league.

Mind you, I'm talking about forgiving a half step, not six steps as is the case with the current corners.

Are the Bucs going to be able to keep Doug Martin, or will he be a free agency loss?

Cecil DeBald

They will be able to keep him. Whether they want to pay as much as he wants is another question.

Martin will undoubtedly be in the top three or so in rushing. So does he want to get paid like Adrian Peterson? At that price, the Bucs might decide they're better off without him (and they'd have to draft a guy or sign one).

Running back isn't the value it once was. As such, there is a ceiling on how much a guy should earn. That's a rich contract, but it's not a fortune contract. You know?

I think he'll be back. I think he's of more value to the Bucs than he would be to most teams. But who knows what Cleveland or San Diego might pay? If he's reasonable, I think he is re-signed. If he wants a fortune, I think the Bucs can pick up a lead runner in free agency.

Almost halfway through the NHL regular season, any thoughts on the Lightning making the playoffs?

Cecil DeBald

It seems like a coin toss, doesn't it? Before Friday night, I thought that  sooner or later, they would get healthy, and make a run and sneak in. They're just too  talented to think otherwise.

Blowing that 3-0 lead in Washington was disappointing. It was like the Caps gave them a head start, then whizzed past them.

Bottom line: I still think they sneak in. Maybe it's because they're talented. Maybe it's because I don't think some other teams will hold up. And maybe it's because, heck, someone from Tampa Bay has to.

Austin Seferian-Jenkins seems to get more than his share of after-the-play penalties. Is this Lovie Smith's or his coach's fault or the player's fault. What is a coach to do when he has a good player who continuously does stupid things as ASJ seems to do?

Rick Martin

I think it's the fault of both of them. No, Lovie never expected Seferian-Jenkins to throw the ball, or to pose standing on it last year. But he allows it, which is also bad. It's the same with fumbles. There are coaches who challenge them, and there are coaches who choose to live with it.

Look, fines don't affect players anymore. There is too much money. You know what sends the message? Playing time. You have to sit a guy, and tell him why he's sitting, before he straightens up and stops hurting his team.

Seferian-Jenkins doesn't catch passes for enough yards to give them away.

Are the Bucs planning a ceremony to burn those ketchup uniforms? Actually, in some ways they weren’t that bad. I'd like to see those tops with our pewter pants maybe once a year. I'd like to see more of an Orange uniform as an alternate.What are the Bucs doing with throwbacks?

Nick Houllis, Bucstop

They certainly will wear them again; it's how teams sell extra jerseys. I agree with you. The all-red made my eyes hurt.  I thought I was pulling for a thermometer. Or Elmo. Elmo couldn't stop Case Keenum, either.

The throwback uniforms are on hold because of the white helmets. The Bucs didn't want to wear their new helmets with orange jerseys, and the league said they couldn't wear an additional helmet, that the new concussion rulings guarantee that one helmet will be worn per player.

I'm not a fan of the Creamsicle. I saw the team lose too many games wearing them. But a lot of fans like them. I'd keep them around, even if I had to put some orange accents (temporarily?) on them to go with the jerseys. Smart guys can figture it out.

In the end, it's all laundry. I'm for any jersey that accompanies a receiver to the end zone.

I wonder sometimes if the Buccaneers are aware of the constant disappointment their fans feel. It just seems that every time the opportunity is there for the team to play at a high level in games that matter either in front of an enthusiastic home crowd (dominated by Buccaneer fans, not Cowboy, Giant, etc.) or on national TV, they bomb. This constant hurt and disappointment is clearly the reason for sagging attendence other than loyal season ticket holders.

John Garvey

To the Bucs, I think the frustration is  like the planet Neptune. They're aware it's out there, even if they can't see it; smart people tell them aobut it. But no, I don't think they're aware of the depth of the frustration that all these years have created. If you haven't lived here, how could you know?

Of course, they're disappointed, too. It's their livelihood. But fans live this stuff. It affects them all week. Smith has been living in disappointment for two years. Most of Tampa Bay has lived with it a lot longer.

Look, the Bucs' record isn't great no matter when they play.  But isn't it about time that it was? Teams rise and fall in cycles, but darned if it doesn't feel like we missed a turn.

A football team demands so much of a fan. It leads him to expectations, and it delivers him to disappointment. It takes a heavy investment.

There are many opinions on social media about the Sports Illustrated cover with Serena Williams. The moment I saw it my first thought was I'll bet she wanted it that way. The question has been why is she, the sports person of the year on the cover with this particular shot? Serena has been critized constantly about her look and not appearing very feminine.

The women in the swimsuit issue of SI are there simply because of the way they look. Serena is on this particular issue because of how good she is at what she does and just happens to look like the shot would be better for the SI swimsuit issue. She is there because of her accomplishments. The fact that she looked good for it should be secondary. Sort of the accidental SI suimsuit model. She's the first woman in 32 years to get this recognition and good for her for doing it the way she wanted to do it. Isn't that part of what got her there?

Veronica Robinson

Of course it is. But let's be honest. No one made Serena pose. She probably found the image interesting;  I'm sure she had a hand in picking out the photos.

Personally, I think Serena is an attactive woman. Muscles don't scare me (of course, my wife is 5-1). She's had impressive statistics, and she's the person to bet to win any given tournament.

It's always a troubling issue, the way certain athletes are presented in photo shoots. Should they dress conservatively? Should they try to be attractive? A lot of Olympic athletes have posed for calendars, etc., and taken guff for it.

Personally, I thought it was an interesting picture more than a prov0cative one. It showed her power, her strength.

Here's a story for you. In the early 90s, the Times was all about coverage of Nicole Haislett, who would win a gold medal in swimming. Sure enough, one day one of the writers yelled out "the Florida swimming media guide is out, and yep, Nicole's picture is on the cover!''

A woman we had just hired heard him and went to the boss to complain. As it turns out, Nicole was wearing a full warm up suit. There was nothing alluring about it at all, and the woman apologized. But her first reaction was to object to the guys ogling a swimmer.

Sometimes, a picture is just a picture. But I could be wrong. As always.

 I love the passion that Jameis Winston has for playing.  But I feel like there are many Bucs who are content to take the money and go to the clubs.   Compared to the winning clubs of the past, just how passionate is this team? Why do they come out flat in big games and continue to make stupid penalties?
Jim Willson
Jim, I don't think it's passion. I just think the Bucs aren't very good at a couple of very important positions: defensive end and cornerback. I think it's easy to blame outside factors, but which of these players would stick with New England? With St. Louis?
Hey, we knew this. This was a 2-14 team that drafted one guy on defense in the off-season.How good could they be? Yeah, they looked flat agaisnt New Orleans and St. Louis, but a lot of that was that the Saints and Rams immediately went down and scored. On which play are you supposed to whoop it up?
I'm not denying these guys go to clubs. But don't you think Warren Sapp hit a club or two in his day? These are young men with money in their pockets. They aren't spending every night watching the Big Bang Theory.
The truth? When the Bucs are good enough, you won' t worry about the clubs.
According to Phil Esposito, the Lightning are preparing a final (and maybe first) offer for Stamkos.   He feels that the players association is the real problem wanting to set a new record deal.  Espo still thinks that Stamkos wants to be here.   If that is the case, shouldn't he tell the NHLPA to back off?
Jim Willson
I think Stamkos wants both -- the city and the check. Wouldn't you? Sure, he could tell the NHLPA to back off, but when an organization is telling you that you deserve the money and the love and the position, it's hard to turn a deaf ear.
I think part of Stamkos wants to be here. I think part of him toys with the idea of going home to a place where hockey matters more than oxygen. I think he knows he can't lose because the NHLPA is prodding him to get more coin.
Who wins? In a negotiation where no one is talking, who knows? I would call it, say, 54 percent he stays. But I have to admit that's down from 60.
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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Rick Martin December 20, 2015 at 4:50 pm

thanks for this weekly column -entertaining to read your responses as well as area sports fans’ question/concerns…….

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Gary Shelton December 20, 2015 at 9:40 pm

Rick, I’m not just saying this: I’m constantly amazed by the depth of the questions. I’ve had fun doing this. As long as you guys want to keep it up, I’m willing.

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