The 'Fire Morris' campaign has started already, a mere half season into his rookie campaign. Coaches don't even get full seasons anymore, much less 3 or 5 year plans. Yet that is the only way a truely dominant team like the Colts, Patriots, and Steelers can be built; not overnight, not with free agents, but with smart, good drafting.
We know Bruce Allen was not one with a keen eye on talent. Yes he gets his information from scouts, but the final choice is his. Rich McKay had a better eye, but couldn't manage the cap like Allen could. Mark Dominik was around under both of them, and only time will tell if he has the knack for picking the winners, but so far last years picks are not doing too bad. Again, it takes years to evaluate a draft.
I have pointed out examples of other teams and how we are judging Morris & Dominik to harshly, So now Im going to try to hit home by, well, hitting home! Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Unlike previous regimes, this one has the benefit of successful past to look back on and emulate. The Bucs started to put some talent on the field as early as 1993 when Hardy Nickerson was brought in via free agency and made an immediate impact. It wasnt translated so much into wins, but in an attitude on the defense, and an accountability on the field. But the Bucs sucess of the late 90s leading up to the SuperBowl was started with the drafting in 1995 and 1996. For the most part, these two drafts formed the nucleus of the Bucs defense for a record run. So when you look at the 2009 Bucs, and you see the lack of talent, and you wonder where it is going to come from, do not start looking at potential free agents and 30+ million in cap space. Look instead at the draft picks the Bucs are piling up, which is the right way to do it.
Lets look at how a Superbowl team was built. We will concentrate on defense, as we know, that was the heart and soul of Raymond James tenants. But even on offense, Mike Alsott was a 2nd round draft pick out of Purdue.
The heartbeat of the Tampa Two was the defensive line. In the middle 3 men held down the two spots for the entire duration of our time frame, which will be from the turn-around (1996) to the SuperBowl (2002). Warren Sapp was without a doubt the furnace for this steam engine. He was drafted in the 1st round of 1995 out of Miami. Brad Culpepper was his first nose tackle, he was brought in as a free agent in 1994 from Minnesota. When 'Pep was released after 1999, Anthony Booger McFarland took his spot; who was a 1st round pick out of LSU in 99 draft. SO Booger was put into the starting rotation in his second year.
On the ends, we have a few different guys, men like Chidi Ahanato who was a 6th round pick in 1993, who gave way to Greg Spires who was a Free Agent out of Cleveland. On the other side, Regan Upshaw was another 1st round pick; 1996 when the Bucs had two choices in the first round. The other was Marcus Jones who also started on the defensive line. Totaled up, thats 7 men, 5 of which were drafted; almost all in the 1st round- high quality picks.
As we said, Hardy Nickerson was the first impact player for the Bucs term in this debate, and he was a free agent out of Pittsburgh. To make things easier, we will just move over to the other side where Derrick Brooks joined him; 1st round draft pick in 1995.
The third guy has changed alot during the years, we can start with Lonnie Marts who was brought in as a free agent. Then we have Jeff Gooch who was also a free agent; the method that dominates the income of this position. Shelton Quarles was a free agent from the Canadian Football League, and finally Alshermond Singleton was a 4th round draft pick.
After Hardy left at the end of the 1999 season, Jamie Duncan took over his spot who was a 3rd round draft pick out of Vandy. Nate Webster was also a 3rd round pick in 2000, and then Shelton Quarles took over and we've said he was a CFL Free Agent. Totaled up, that's 8 players and half were drafted while the other half were Free Agents. Of the Best, Nickerson and Quarles were FAs, and Brooks was drafted.
On the Corners, Donnie Abraham was an instant success coming in from the 3rd round in 1996. He was eventually replaced by Brian Kelly who was a 2nd round draft pick in 1998. On the other side, Lets just go with Ronde Barber who took over in 1998 from Anthony Parker who was a free agent. That 2nd round pick is STILL on the field.
Safety John Lynch didnt really start until 1996 on a regular basis, and he was a 3rd round draft pick. The other safety posistion has changed members during this period; Charles Mincy was a free agent in 1996, Damien Robinson was brought in 1997. Dexter Jackson was drafted in the 4th round and became the Superbowl MVP! So for the secondary we have 8 players, 5 of which were drafted. The main ones, Kelly, Barber, Lynch were all drafted.
So when to total it all up, that is 14 guys drafted, 9 guys brought in as free agents out of the main stars of the Monte Kiffin period of the Tampa Two which ends with the Superbowl victory. Two of the main stars were drafted in the 1st round, where you would expect to find them, but look how many are 3rd or 4th round picks. Even 2nds, which we have two of next year, are very important.
Fast forward to 2009, and you can see which of the 11 guys who start today are going to still be here in 2011, and which ones will lose their jobs to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd round picks over the next few years. Then Mr. Dominik and Mr. Morris can pick their free agents we are hammering for them to get, when they know what need we have for them.
If this blueprint looks familiar, it is. Its our own from the 1990s, and it looks pretty similar to that of the Colts, Steelers, Chargers, and Patriots. Lets hope our guys have time to finish building this house.