Doesn’t it always seem that the Buccaneers fall into the same trap year in and year out? How will the Buccaneers fix all the holes in the ship? Will they ever be a contender again? We seem to always be consistent at being inconsistent. These are questions I ask myself all the time, and I figured out why these issues keep happening. A successful franchise in the NFL is measured by three things: consistency at Quarterback and at Head Coach and using players to their strengths.
The Head Coach position is one of the hardest positions to fill next to the Quarterback position. I could go over the entire team history, but I will only cover Dungy era and beyond. When the Glazers took over this team back in 1995, the first Head Coach they hired was Tony Dungy. The defensive-minded Tony Dungy remained with the team for 6 years before being fired for young offensive genius Jon Gruden. (This story sounds familiar, doesn’t it?) Gruden remained as Head Coach for 7 years before being fired.
Jon Gruden and Dungy were the last consistent coaches we had. Since then we have replaced coaches in three years or less. In 2013 when the Bucs fired Greg Schiano the Glazers missed out on hiring a strong leader and head coach named Andy Reid. Reid ended up taking the head coaching job in Kansas City and turned the Chiefs from worst to first in just one season. They are currently one of the best teams in the NFL today. The Bucs decided to go with Lovie Smith instead, who was fired after just two seasons. Koetter is now the current Head Coach of the Buccaneers, and it seems his stint might come to an end after the 2018 season. Koetter will make the 4th Head Coach in Buccaneers coaching history to be fired in 3 years or less.
HEAD COACHING HISTORY
- John McKay, 1976-1984, 9 years
2. Leeman Bennett, 1985-1986, 2 years
3. Ray Perkins, 1987-1990, 4 years
4. Richard Williamson, 1990-1991, 2 years
5. Sam Wyche, 1992-1995, 4 years
6. Tony Dungy, 1996-2001, 6 years (Glazers become new owners)
7. Jon Gruden, 2002-2008, 7 years
8. Raheem Morris, 2009-2011, 3 years
9. Greg Schiano, 2012-2013, 2 years
10. Lovie Smith, 2014-2015, 2 years
11. Dirk Koetter, 2016-Present
We will now discuss the Quarterbacks of the team. We all know the Quarterback is usually the face of the team and takes most of the blame in every game, whether or not he is responsible for the result. Finding a franchise Quarterback is one of the hardest things to do in the NFL. The Buccaneers have a history of letting Super Bowl-winning QBs go to other franchises and have the displeasure watching them hold up the Lombardi Trophy wearing another team’s jersey. Good franchises find ways to help their homegrown players succeed. There is a long list of starting QBs in Bucs history, so I will only post a few most will remember.
*Won Super Bowl with another team
** Hall of Fame
- **Steve Young, 1985-1986, 2 years
- *Trent Dilfer, 1994-1999, 6 years
- Vinny Testaverde, 1987-1992, 6 years
- Brad Johnson, 2001-2004, 3 years
- Josh Freeman, 2009-2013, 5 years
- *Doug Williams, 1978-1982, 5 years
- Jameis Winston, 2015-present
Player development is a key issue here in Tampa. You can’t draft an apple and expect it to be an orange. You have to help that apple be the best apple it can be for your franchise. I want to point out a few examples. We play the Washington Redskins Sunday, and they have two players I can think of who were former Bucs players and are now doing very well.
1.Mason Foster is the Redskins’ starting middle linebacker and currently leads their team in tackles. Foster was drafted from Washington in the third round. Stats from his rookie season in 2011 are:
- 84 combined tackles (58 solo)
- 2 pass deflections
- 2 sacks
- 1 forced fumble
- 1 interception in 16 games
- 15 starts
In 2012 he had:
- 105 combined tackles (82 solo)
- 2 sacks
- 1 pass deflection
- 1 interception
- 16 starts
He finished the 2013 season with:
- 92 combined tackles (63 solo)
- 7 pass deflections
- 2 interceptions
- 2 sacks
- 2 touchdowns in 15 games
- 13 starts
- He ended the 2014 season with:
- 62 combined tackles (40 solo) and two
- 2 pass deflections in ten games
- 10 starts
Foster became an unrestricted free agent in 2015. Did you notice the drop in production from the 2013 season to the 2014 season? This was the year we attempted to make downhill linebacker into a cover 2 linebacker. (See stats here.)
2. DJ Swearinger. On May 12, 2015, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers got Swearinger from waivers. Head coach Lovie Smith made him the backup strong safety to Major Wright. Swearinger debuted with the Bucs against the Tennessee Titans. They lost 14-42, but he made 5 tackles in the game. Against the Houston Texans on September 27, 2015, he had six combined tackles (another Bucs loss, 9-19). Because of an injury, he couldn’t play in weeks 9-10. On November 17, 2015, he was waived. During his stint in Tampa Bay, Swearinger only had 12 combined tackles (seven solo) in seven games and mostly played on special teams. DJ Swearinger is currently tied for 1st place in the NFL with 4 interceptions. (See stats here.)
With the Bucs just passing the midpoint of the season we have to start making the right choices to help this franchise succeed. We have to put these players in a position to win. If making things more black and white leads to success, then that is what needs to happen. We need strong leadership and consistency to be a contender. This team can no longer be satisfied with under-performing. It starts from the top down. If the players see that upper management has a direction for this team, then the players will either follow suit or leave.
Leave a comment and let me know what you think.