I can only scream at Bowles and the Buccaneers RBs for so long.
There has been a lot of finger pointing going on in this fanbase about who is responsible for the travesty witnessed on Thursday night. The correct answer of course being yes. There is a lot of blame to be going around. While some of it may be a bit over the top for me (we’re not benching Baker yet, so calm down Gator fans), in general it is justified.
Buccaneers Blame Game
When your team consistently plays badly, it is right to demand some change. However, one man that I feel has escaped a lot of blame is Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht. While I would argue he doesn’t deserve most of the blame, he still has a hand in crafting a team and has made decisions to hinder it. This is not a fire Licht post btw, but I feel that he should be held accountable for his mistakes.
We need to address many of his glaring blind spots regarding the draft. There are quite a number of positions he doesn’t seem able to land, which he has failed at consistently. It is normally overshadowed by the position groups he has hit homeruns on (specifically the secondary and o-line). But he cannot draft RBs, he cannot draft edge rushers, he somehow can’t draft a kicker, and worst of all, he can’t seem to draft a QB. And it is the first and last one that I really want to touch upon.
For as great of WRs he has managed to find in several rounds of the draft (Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Scotty Miller for a hot second, Trey Palmer TBD), he cannot draft an RB to save his life. Charles Simms (3rd Round), lasted three years and didn’t get 1000 yards in his career nor did he get more than 1 td in a season. Joey Iosefa (7th round), didn’t even make the team. Jeremy Nichols (5th round), also cut before playing a snap and spent his career as a backup to Derrick Henry. Ronald Jones II (2nd Round), probably the best of the bunch; solid, but nothing earth-shattering. Ke-Shawn Vaughn (3rd Round), get him off the fucking field. Raymond Calais (7th round), again, never played a down.
I understand some of these guys were late round flyers, but to consistently whiff on RB is not good. And Rachaad White might be an ok pick compared to all of these… if he were to be moved to receiver. He has not played well as a backfield option.
But arguably the bigger blunder of his tenure is the complete inability to find a QB. It is hard to blame him for missing on Jameis Winston. He looked like one of the best QB prospects in a long while. Really choosing any QB in that 2015 draft was a mistake. You know who honestly is the best QB in this draft? Taylor Heinicke. I’ll let everyone sit on that for a second. But I think a really bad miss was the Buccaneers drafting Kyle Trask. I truly think Davis Mills would’ve done better and would be starting had he been the one behind Brady. Or, he could’ve taken Javonte Williams, Asante Samuel, Landon Dickerson, Pat Freiermuth, etc. Granted, some of these guys would not have been on the radar, especially o-line since the line was already amazing, but these are all current starters. Trask as not proven to be anything but a seat warmer.
And yet, even this is not the biggest blunder Licht has made as a GM. That would be allowing Todd Bowles to be the Buccaneers head coach of this team. Now, I will be completely honest and say that I did not hate the hire. I figured that with time, he would’ve learned to be a good HC. Nope! He plays like he is scared someone will beat him up during the game. He makes absolutely baffling decisions regarding playclock, plays conservative when he shouldn’t, and somehow plays too aggressive when he should be more conservative. It is truly strange. I don’t think it was wrong of Licht to let Bowles stay after hiring Dave Canales, but hiring in the first place seems to have been a massive mistake. It really seems like he just took his buddy Bruce Arians at his word that Bowles was a worthy successor.
At the end of the day, Licht is still a very good, near-elite GM. He managed to craft a SB contender, not many teams can claim to have been able to do that. However, to ignore his flaws as a GM would be extremely foolish. I hope that he eventually proves me wrong and drafts players at these positions that I pointed out as being weaknesses and hires a good coach after what feels like the inevitability of firing Bowles. Licht has done a lot of good for the Bucs, let’s hope he can do some more.
Make sure you check out Devin’s blog at cannoncrunch.wordpress.com.