The question of who the Bucs will hire as their head coach is marred by uncertainty right now, and it's only made worse by the fact that prospective head coaches could decline for other, more attractive jobs. With the Miami Dolphins, the St. Louis Rams, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Jacksonville Jaguars looking for head coaches there's plenty of competition. The Indianapolis Colts (and Andrew Luck) could join the competition once they've decided on a General Manager, too.
So where does the Bucs' coaching job rank? SB Nation asked that very question, and I felt it ranked pretty highly:
There's a theory that you need two things to build a successful football team: a franchise quarterback, and players to knock down the opponent's quarterback. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have both. While Josh Freeman has had a rough year, his terrific 2010 season can't be overlooked. He's clearly the best quarterback on a team looking for a new head coach. As for pass-rushers, the Bucs have invested four first- and second-round picks in their defensive line over the past two years. The Bucs have talent at the right positions, they have the cap space to add as many players in free agency as any team in the league and they have the fifth overall pick in the draft. How can you beat that job?
Of course, others disagree. ESPN's Mel Kiper has the Bucs ranked fourth (Insider content):
Pros: There's no question that Josh Freeman has a ton of talent, but his regression in 2011 was pretty startling. That said, you have a good quarterback, a good running back in LaGarrette Blount and a pair of talented receivers in Arrelious Benn and Mike Williams. The offensive line is spotty, but in places, such as Pro Bowl guard Davin Joseph, there's ability. On defense, the secondary is a real problem, but there is real potential up front if guys can stay healthy. In Gerald McCoy and Adrian Clayborn, you have the beginnings of a solid front four. From a personnel standpoint, the Bucs are better off than teams higher than them on this list.
Cons: Will Freeman bounce back? I actually think he will because his completion percentage and general accuracy may have gotten even better in 2011, but he got unlucky on some INTs and simply took too many chances, which is the cause of the huge spike in INTs from six in 2010 to 22 in 2011. However, in the NFC South, Tampa's quarterback may be less of a concern than the one's you're facing. Consider jumping to a team where you're guaranteed to face Matt Ryan, Drew Brees and Cam Newton each twice a year. Further, you inherit a defensive unit that was among the worst in the NFL in a number of areas. Tampa has some pieces, but the many question marks and the rival competition knock it down a peg.
Tom Jones of the Tampa Bay Times also thought the Bucs' job should be ranked fourth:
The attractiveness of this job depends on two things: Do you believe Josh Freeman is a franchise quarterback? And do you believe the Glazers when they say they're going to spend money? Freeman still has plenty of believers among NFL analyst types, which is good because the Bucs are not going to start from scratch with another QB. The new coach is going to be married to Freeman for the foreseeable future. There are some other parts in place (a potentially good defensive line, for instance), but the roster has more questions than answers. Hey, if the franchise was in good shape, there wouldn't be an opening. Ultimately, it comes down to whether you trust the Glazers and GM Mark Dominik to give you the support you need by doing their jobs well.
Bottom line: Hard to have faith in the Glazers and Dominik based on recent history.
So where do you think the Bucs' coaching job ranks?