In the season of hunting G.M.s, Licht should be safe

by Gary Shelton on July 19, 2017 · 0 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs


Licht is still building a playoff team.

Wednesday, 4 a.m.

The picks have been drafted, and wasn't it amazing that every athlete fell just perfectly to the team? The free agents are on board. Most of the new contracts have been sorted.

Yeah, it's a dangerous time of year for an NFL general manager, isn't it? And the owners aren't shooting blanks.

It's quiet out there for the men who build teams. Here, on the brink of training camp, there is plenty of time for an NFL owner to get antsy. There is all sorts of opportunity for a head coach to decide he's

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weary of sharing this particular load. There is always a temptation to trying out a new structure.

John Dorsey of Kansas City – fired.

Dave Gettleman of Carolina – fired.

Doug Whaley of Buffalo – fired.

Scott McCloughan of Washington – fired.

It's all enough to make a general manager hide underneath his desk until the whistles start blowing, isn't it? Even the successful ones. Maybe owners just don't have enough to do in the off-season. They like playing Whack-a-mole with their general mangers during the off-season.

Consider this: Dorsey had been with the Chiefs four seasons, and he had made the playoffs three times. Gettleman had been with the Panthers for four years, and he had made the playoffs three times (plus a Super Bowl appearance). Even McCloughan had one playoff appearance in his two seasons with Washington.

Gee ... can't anybody keep a job around here?

It just goes to show you that successful teams, in their own way, are as unhappy as unsuccessful ones. Hey, there was a reason that George Young and Bill Parcells couldn't co-exist with the Giants, or Bobby Beathard and Joe Gibbs with the Redskins, or Jerry Jones and Jimmy Johnson with the Cowboys, or Jon Gruden and Rich McKay with the Bucs. Egos get involved when a team wins; people want credit,and they want the ability to continue in the direction they think fits best.Nothing is ever quite as successful as a winning duo.

So what are we to make of the latest two firings?

Gettleman, it has been suggested, lacked a personal touch, and he played hardball with the favorites of the owner. Dorsey didn't like to let others know what he was thinking. And so both of them lost.

Is there a lesson for, say, Jason Licht in all of this. Sure there is. He needs to be in constant communication with coach Dirk Koetter. He needs to bounce his ideas off of the Glazers. And, as always, he needs his high-priced investments to pay off.

The big thing Licht has going for himself is this: His program is on the way up. Things have gotten steadily better for years, and the Bucs are an emerging team. Most g.m.s are fired only when things are really, really bad or really, really good. Or hey seem to have plateaued, like Dorsey. Or they've fallen and no one knows if they can get up, like Gettleman.

Licht? His team has gotten better over time. No one should blow anyone up as things stand.

Still, it bears repeating. In this spring's general manager ratings, ranked Licht as the 27th-best general manager in the league. They had Dorsey 11th and Gettleman 10th. Rotoworld has Licht ranked higher, 17th, but it had Gettleman seventh and Dorsey eighth.

What usually catches up to coaches and general managers? Well, losing, of course. And wasting money is never a good idea. Lousy choices hurt, too. And a lack of communication.

It has never been completely clear just how much Licht had to do with his first Bucs' free-agent class, the one where the franchise wadded up thousand-dollar bills and threw them into the street. Michael Johnson, Anthony Collins and Josh McCown were different degrees of lousy expenditures, and I'm convinced that had a lot to do with the canning of former coach Lovie Smith.

Licht was invovled with the drafting of Jameis Winston, Mike Evans and Kwon Alexander. On the other hand, critics have been reluctant to let go of his over-drafting of kicker Roberto Aguayo.

This off-season was a crucial one for Licht. He needs to have hit a home run in DeSean Jackson.

Fortunately for Licht, the Glazers have been patient when it has come to their general managers. McKay served the Bucs from 1994-2003. Then Bruce Allen was here until 2008. After that came Mark Dominik until 2013. During the same period, there have been seven head coaches.

The impression here is that Licht will have his chance to show that his blueprint can be a successful one. If this offense is top-10 caliber, and the defense can play as it did in the second half of last season, then the Bucs should be a playoff contender.

If it can do that, Licht will be here for a while.

Even in the minefield that is being an NFL general manager, he should be safe. As long as the Bucs are good, he's good.

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