Let’s hope the Bucs have options in this play-call

by Gary Shelton on January 7, 2019 · 2 comments

in general

Would you get excited over Jim Harbaugh?/CARMEN MANDATO

Monday, 4 a.m.

And now, a word about the future coach of the Tampa Bay Bucs:


I mean, really. Give me a whisper. Give me a rumor. Give me one of those baseless connect-the-dots stories that the internet seems so wild about. Just give me someone else other than a blah collection of candidates, okay?

Give me the rumors of a trade for Baltimore's John Harbaugh. Tell me that Jim Harbaugh was spotted at the Tampa Airport, and that he's really the best

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Harbaugh available. Tell me that Don Shula is rested and ready to come out of retirement. If Bruce Arian's age doesn't trouble you, about Shula's? He's only 23 years older.

Hey, at this point, why not float a good rumor about Josh McDaniels, who is a disaster waiting to happen, and where else can you find a bigger disaster than here? Tell me that Mike McCarthy really loved it here, back in the days before he was on par with Dirk Koetter. Tell me that Dabo Swinney was coming and bringing his own counselors to fix this awful locker room. If need be, he has our permission to spank.

But Arians? Eric Bienemy? George Edmonds? Kris (not Keith) Richard?

Is that all there is?

And if so, which way is it to the ticket window? Just kidding.

Look, here's the problem. We're fresh out of brand-name coaches. Where have you gone, Vince Lombardi? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

Seriously, in the NFL, there is Bill Belichick, and there is Pete Carroll (both of whom are older than Arians, but not by much). Who else are you just dying to have. Mike Tomlin might be getting sick of Pittsburgh, but would he want to trade in his current headaches (Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown) for new ones (DeSean Jackson and Brent Grimes)? Sean Payton is good, but he's underachieved. Andy Reid isn't going anywhere.

But the reason the Bucs are in this mess is that fewer NFL coaches than ever demand consideration, which means that their coordinators demand less attention. Consider: There for a while, Minnesota's John DeFilippo was high on most of the lists of future NFL coach. Then he got fired. He couldn't even keep the job he had.

And so it goes with the Bucs. Often, they look everywhere for a new hope. They usually don't find it.

Throughout the years, the Bucs have tried by hiring college coaches: John McKay, Ray Perkins, Greg Schiano. They've hired former NFL coaches: Leeman Bennett, Sam Wyche, Jon Gruden, Lovie Smith. They've hired offensive assistants: Richard Williamson, Dirk Keotter. They've hired defensive assistants: Tony Dungy, Raheem Morris.

By and large, they've struck out. The only two coaches on that list with better-than-.500 records are Dungy (54-42 in six seasons) and Gruden.(57-55 in seven years, but he won the Super Bowl, which erases a lot of mistakes). Think about it: If Dungy had never been an NFL coach, how bad would this franchise be?

And so you squint, and you try to find the next head coach.

Arians? Look, it's not just his age that concerns people. It's the age he's going to be while this franchise tries to turn around. What will it take? Three years? In three years, Arians will be close to 70. Still, he's a two-time coach of the year, and as such, he looks to be the front-runner here (he's also close to general manager Jason Licht).

The truth, however, is that none of us know who the front runner is. He's just the guy who is talking, so the internet reports run with it. Hey, most of those guys have barely heard of the rest of the lot, either.

Eric Bienemy? It would be a lot easier to get behind Bienemy and his accomplishments in Kansas City if not for this. He doesn't call the plays. Head coach Andy Reid does. Are you prepared for Bienemy to call his first play in the Bucs' opener next season? I'd talk to him, and I'd see what he knows. But I'm not that wild about him going in.

Kris Richard? Richard has charisma, and he's sure to wow them in an interview. One of those questions, however, will be why the Seahawks fired him last year. One thing that should help is to hear what Dallas defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli thinks of him. Marinelli's opinion is still highly valued around here.

George Edwards?  The attractiveness of Edwards is that he built the Vikings from a lousy defense to a pretty good one. That sounds good, but is he (or Richard) capable of transforming Jameis Winston into a top-flight quarterback? With both men, you'd want to know who the offensive coordinator is up front.

Brian Kelly? Kelly is mentioned because a Chicago radio station mentioned that the Bucs were interested. But at 10 million dollars a year? If the Glazers wanted to spend that kind of money on a coach, wouldn't they have bought in with Jon Gruden? (That would have been a mistake, too). I don't think Kelly has the pop for the Glazers to write that big a check, but I could be wrong.

Right now, you have the makings of a pretty good staff of assistants. But do you have a head coach? Koetter showed us there was a difference between the two, didn't he? But to turn around the Bucs, you're going to need someone who can groom a quarterback, and someone who can build a defense, and someone who can raise the standards of an offensive line, and someone who can make sure the draft works better than it has, and someone who can get out of the NFC South basement. He's going to have to make this franchise forget about yesterday, seize today and plan for tomorrow.

Just that.

I keep thinking about this. There was a time when we all went to bed certain that Steve Mariucci was gong to be the next Bucs' head coach. Instead, the Glazers gave up the farm for the rights to Gruden. It was a heavy price, but it worked for a year.

Could they be planning something similar now?

Goodness, let's hope so. Let's hope that the Bucs have out-thought someone. That they've examined the facts and are thinking outside the box. That they're about to hire a head coach who is a doozy.

Either that, or we'll have this same discussion in three years.

Maybe two.

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