Ask Gary: What do to with the Bucs’ leadership?

by Gary Shelton on December 30, 2017 · 0 comments

in general

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If you were suddenly hired by the Glazers to be Director of Football Operations for the Bucs and charged with quickly turning the franchise around, what would you do with the embattled leadership of Licht-Koetter-Smith?

Larry Beller

(This was asked, and answered, before preliminary reports said that the Bucs have told Dirk Koetter he’ll be back next year. No one official is on the record yet, so I will go ahead and post it. There is no word yet whether the job was offered to anyone else first.)

It doesn't seem, to me, to be an easy answer. I don't like blowing up a coach and looking for the fifth coach in a decade. But I'm not convinced that Koetter is the right guy, either. And if that's the case, there is no reason to delay the inevitable.

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I think what I would do is make the due diligence calls as far as Gruden (or any other coach deemed a home run, such as Jim Harbaugh). See what price he’s asking. See what his powers he wants.

If it doesn’t. work out, I'd wait a year. I don't see perfect coordinators this time around. Recycled coaches are ho-hum solutions most of the time.  I'd have to be convinced that I got a better cut of coach if I were to replace Koetter. I know he's lost 18 games in two years, which is too many, but he didn't exactly inherit the 2002 Bucs.

Licht is a challenge for me. He drafted Winston and Evans and Kwon Alexander and O.J. Howard. But he drafted Roberto Aguayo, too. Bad picks stay with you; they aren't forgiven because a franchise moves on. I'm not convinced of Licht's power in free agency, either. Chris Baker looks like a drastic mistake; the team would have been much better off investing in Calais Campbell. If I were going to be able to get Gruden, I might wait and see how well the two worked together. Or, I might bring in Derrick Brooks and start from scratch. If Koetter is back, I suspect Licht will be, too.

Smith, to me, works for Koetter. Last year, it seemed he was doing it with mirrors. This year, all the mirrors are broken. This franchise hasn't spent nearly enough resources on pass rushers and corners. I could argue the team needs three defensive ends. That's how bad it is.

So I'm prepared to stay with Smith for another year if he has more pieces to play with. But in the NFL, the world doesn't spin because of assistants.

There is no choice to satisfy everyone. Yeah, I’d ride again.

The Vegas Knights, the brand new NHL expansion team currently has a record of 25-9-2, second best in the league right behind the Lightning (27-7-2). Is this the best start ever for a brand new NHL expansion team.

Scott Myers

It is. As you know, the existing teams in a league usually stack the deck against expansion teams. Remember the '76 Bucs? They had a choice of spackle and duct tape, and they had only a day to be able to tell the difference. Players were broken down and lost, and most of them had proven long ago that they didn't belong in the NFL.

The Knights have been an efficient organization from the start. And they've been competitive. Did you see the Lightning's game there? It was as noisy as any venue you'll see. The skating Siegfried and Roys are off to a great start.

Another team that people talk about was the original St. Louis Blues, which went 27-31 in its first season. But the NHL expanded by six teams that year and threw them all together. That meant that on a lot of nights, the Blues were playing newcomers, too. The Golden Knights don't have that advantage.

I remember when the Miami Heat expanded. On the first day, player Scott Hastings was looking at all the players, trying to figure out who the best athlete was. Suddenly, horrified, he gasped and thought "My God, I think it's me!"

To compare, the Bucs were 0-14 (.000) in their first year. The Lightning were .315. The Rays were .389. Rocky roads are almost always ensured.

That's why Vegas has hit the jackpot, so to speak, in hockey. Why, it's magic!

Who do you consider to be the GOAT in each professional sport? Who do you consider to be the greatest coach/manager in each sport?

Jim Willson

Interesting question, Jim, because sports is always a moving target. And you get into a lot of personal preferences. One man might argue, say, Lawrence Taylor over Barry Sanders over Joe Montana over Jerry Rice. But here would be my choices. The first name is my vote for the best. The second is my personal favorite. Disagree if you wish (as you will):

Sport                          Preference                             Personal favorite

Football                     Tom Brady                               Johnny Unitas

Baseball                     Willie Mays                              Ted Williams

Basketball                  Michael Jordan                      Wilt Chamberlain

Hockey                        Wayne Gretzky                      Gretzky

Olympics                     Michael Phelps                      Al Joyner

Golf                               Jack Nicklaus                          Nicklaus

Tennis                           Roger Federer                      Andre Agassi

Women's Tennis        Serena Williams                     Mary Carillo

Soccer                           Pele                                         Pele

College basketball       UCLA                                      Florida (05-07)

College football            Miami                                     FSU

NFL coach                     Belichick                               Shula

MLB manager               LaRussa                               Maddon

NBA coach                     Auerbach                             Donovan

College basketball         Krzyzewski                          John Chaney

College football              Saban                                 Bowden

Football g.m.                   Belichick                           McKay

Baseball g.m.                Epstein                              Friedman

Hockey. g.m.                   Bowman                         Yzerman


Comparing losing seasons since 2000:

During the Gruden years it was disappointing, as they usually came off a winning season, and knowing Gruden could be successful in the playoffs, there was hope. In the Raheem/Schiano/Lovie era it was mostly low expectations and pain. Now, this year feels different. There’s talent at QB, and the team doesn’t look obviously inferior in many games against good opponents. I can see the argument for Koetter to come back. If he survives, I think he needs to get better at the basics. Good special teams, limiting turnovers, ensuring the defensive talent matches the scheme, and assistants who are particularly adept at teaching it. No matter who's coaching in 2018, I think the D-line coach will be the first one to be thanked for his services.

Carlos Ubinas

I agree with the absence of hope. Even a year ago, we could envision a brighter day. But with the regression in parts of Jameis Winston's game, that's hard to see this time around. I don't know many of us who think it'll be better next year, or the year after.

The d-line has been overlooked as badly as any position on the team. The Bucs spent a second-round pick on undersized Noah Spence, but that hasn't paid off. I don't understand why they wouldn't have brought in more real players (no, Robert Ayers doesn't count) to compete. Heck, you can play four of them, and in this day and age, a good pass rush forgives a lot of sins.

It's funny. Once, we were all upset that Gruden didn't do better in the playoffs. After the Super Bowl, he had two appearances, and both were one-and-dones. We'd die for that these days, at least for a little while.

To me, that would be Gruden's first task: He would have to restore hope. He would have to make winning feel possible again. That goes for anyone wearing a whistle. This franchise has been too bad for too long.

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