Much was expected of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as they headed down the final stretch of the season in the month of December. Leading the NFC South with a 9-3 record the team all but laid down and succumbed to the unthinkable losing their final four games, failing to make the playoffs. If that wasn’t enough Gruden’s demeanor if nothing else was that of a man who felt he wasn’t at fault. If there’s anything that perhaps personifies what this team has been about. It has been the inconsistency of the team under Gruden’s tenure since their Superbowl win . There has been just as many peaks and troughs with the team as there has been in the stock market. And if anything for the Glazer family that’s certainly not what they’d envisaged from the coach when they lured him away from the Oakland Raiders for a slew of draft picks and $8m in compensation that benefited the Raiders. A king’s ransom was paid and though it has paid dividends. After time the allure of the transaction definitely lost its luster.
Mark Dominik(left) the Buccaneers’ new general manager is seen here alongside Bucs’ ownership executive vice presidents Edward and Bryan Glazer (center) new coach Raheem Morris (second from the right) and far right Joel Glazer. picture appears courtesy of getty images/ Paul Mason …………………..
For vice-president Joel Glazer and his father Malcolm the abruptness of this all came about with a seismic quake that took the NFL completely by surprise. So Gruden now becomes one of four coaches that’ve won the Superbowl and have either retired or been fired this season. He joins Mike Shanahan , Tony Dungy and Mike Holmgren who all have one thing in common. They’ve seen the highs and lows that the game brings. And Dungy if one remembers was the person replaced by Gruden. Somewhat ironic one might think that Dungy leaves the Indianapolis Colts under his own steam whilst Gruden is shown the door.
Though there’d been speculation as to who’d take over from Gruden. The likely candidate has come from within, in-house. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers made it official in the naming of defensive coordinator Raheem Morris to the take over from Jon Gruden. And the vacancy of the general manager’s position would also be filled from in-house by Mark Dominik. Morris at 32 years of age is highly thought of within the Bucs’ organization and learnt his craft under the watchful eye of Monte Kiffin. Kiffin departed to join his son Laine in a similar position with the University of Tennessee. One can assume that either there was a tumult erupting within the organization. Or in fact that changes had to be made from within because of the failures within the franchise not just on the field but managerially also.
Raheem Morris having been introduced as the Buccaneers’ new head coach takes questions from the convened press. picture appears courtesy of ap/photo/ Matthew Gould …………………
Recruitment wise the team has had some hits and misses but there’ve been more misses than hits. And it did not augur well when there was a great deal of discontent between the coach and his Pro-Bowl quarterback Jeff Garcia. The ongoing saga and the denials by Gruden as to whether or not the franchise was in pursuit of Brett Favre only added to much of the confusion. And if there’s been one thing indicative of the franchise it has been the failure to develop a quarterback for the future. Year in year out it has either been a recycling project by the coach. Or he’s looked from within to see what’s available. And one states that the cupboard was bare. It wasn’t an understatement ! Not only was it bare but talent wise it lacked credibility. The names of Luke McCown, and Brian Griese aren’t exactly what one consider to be world beaters let alone put fear into the hearts of opposing teams. But that’s what Gruden felt would save the day for the franchise. It has been ever dependent over the years on its defense to keep it in games. But on the offensive side of the ball where Gruden was viewed as somewhat of a genius. Rarely had we seen anything that placate the situation in terms of the ineptitude shown at times.
The complete lack of a running game though it can be said that injuries to Carnell Williams and Earnest Graham played its part. We also saw very little from the likes of Michael Clayton of whom it can be said if he wasn’t catching the ball. He could be relied upon for a timely block. But the body of his work has been negligible since his entry into the NFL. What has been even more glaring has been the team’s failure to convert on third downs. Statistically the team was in the lower half of the league. And its most potent offensive weapon for much of the season has been the play of wide receiver Antonio Bryant and kicker Matt Bryant. And though some will throw in the name of Clifton Smith. If we’re to believe that Gruden is such a genius then why is it that he wasn’t able to work with the tools in his tool bag ? After all isn’t a master craftsman able to work with whatever he has at hand ? This may well be one the reasons why the Joel Glazer sought the path he did in making the decision to relinquish Gruden of his position as the coach. As to Bruce Allen once the decision was made to let the coach go. It seemed only plausible that the ownership would seek to send the general manager packing as well.
As to what the future will hold for Gruden it is open to conjecture and speculation. He will in all probability get another coaching position within the NFL. But we’ll just have to wait and see where his ultimate destination may be. Fans of the franchise may well see this as a sad loss for the organization as voiced by the Glazer family. But Gruden’s time at the helm was enough for all of us to see that the franchise was heading nowhere. The inconsistency was one thing but Gruden himself in no way sought to alleviate the problem and take accountability for his faults and that of his coaching staff. Rather he’d prefer to lay the blame elsewhere.