More and more, Licht is a good idea

by Gary Shelton on March 15, 2022

in general

Licht has earned fans' respect./CARMEN MANDATO

Tuesday, 4 a.m.

Time was, you couldn't figure out why they hadn't changed the lock to his office.

When Dirk Koetter left the employ of the Tampa Bay Bucs -- and it wasn't his choice -- it was hard to figure out why Jason Licht wasn't shipped along with him. Nothing personal, but Licht was struggling. For a general manager, being stuck between a losing record and a failed coach is a bad place to be.

He had drafted Vernon Hargreaves and Noah Spence and Roberto Aguayo. He had been in on the free agent signings of Anthony Collins and Michael Johnson and Josh McCown.

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For crying out loud, this guy was Mark Dominik all over again. Except Dominik won 28 games in his first five seasons. Licht won 27. Neither won a playoff game.

Amazing, isn't it, how much smarter Licht looks in today's view?

These days, Licht is the franchises guiding light. He’s smart, he’s calm and he has an eye for talent.

His has been a turnaround of the worst-to-first variety. He has found the right coach in Bruce Arians and the right quarterback in Tom Brady, and suddenly, the team has won a Super Bowl (after 18 seasons without one) and a division championship (after 14 years without one). He has drafted Tristan Wirfs and Devin White and Antonio Winfield, Vita Vea and Carlton Davis and Chris Godwin. His win total is now up to 58 (63 coumting post-season), and he eminates a feeling of trust in this franchise.

Yeah, Licht has had an impressive 48 hours. He played the Tom Brady retirement just right, and it lasted only a high school grading period. He coaxed Ryan Jensen and Carlton Davis into returning. Coupled with Chris Godwin's tagging, that meant the three top free agents on the roster are returning.

Oh, Licht has help -- all general managers do. And he's had the financial backing that other Bucs' coaches haven't had. But if you're going to count his misses, you also have to count his hits.

Oh, the salary cap will keep it from being perfect. It's been announced that Alex Cappa will bolt to the Bengals, and Ali Marpet retired early. Jordan Whitehead, Rob Gronkowski and Leonard Fournette remain unsigned.

But the Bucs haven't always had someone in the general manager's chair to inspire the belief that he'll end up with a good roster.

The lesson here is that it takes a team to win, even in the front office. It takes owners who don't count nickels. It takes a coach to stick to his guns. It takes a quarterback not to derail the whole thing. (Greg Schiano was failed largely by Josh Freeman, Koetter by Jameis Winston).

And so you look at the roster and you wonder who is going to run the ball. Can the team find a dependable third receiver? Besides last year's injuries, why should you believe in this year's secondary? Can the pass rush be fixed?

These days, Licht is in charge of the answers.

These days, that isn't such a bad idea.

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