Back in December, I wrote an opinion piece about what I thought the Buccaneers needed to do to win back fans. It was at the height of the losing streak. My frustration, along with almost every other fan I know, was at an all time high. In the article, I listed five things that I thought the Bucs needed to do to get fans back on board and excited for next season. I'm pleased to say that Mark Dominik and company have addressed all five of the points I listed on their road back to relevancy.
For this article I thought I would revisit those five points, and discuss how they've made this fan very happy this offseason. As the title says, let's give credit where credit is due. I can't honestly think of a single thing that would have made me happier going to into this offseason from a management perspective.
1. Fire the coaching staff.
Boy, did they do some firing or what? The swift and vicious decapitation of the coaching staff was what many of us were waiting for after Week 17. Not only did Morris and Olson walk the plank, but practically anyone in the building that was responsible for coaching anything, joined them. It was a brash move, and I loved it.
While the subsequent search for a new coach took a little longer than I liked, I'm happy with the Schiano decision thus far, which I will touch more on in the fifth point.
2. Admit the lack of free agent acquisitions was wrong.
From the original article:
Many people feel that the Bucs are being cheap and scraping the bottom of the barrel in the talent department. Two or three quality free agent acquisitions will silence those critics immediately and generate some excitement (albeit short lived) going into next season. If the "plan" goes on as is, I don't see many people tuning back in next season. There's just too much frustration in the area. A clear and precise effort to shift public perception of the team's direction needs to be made.
Dominik answered my prayers on this one. The signing of Vincent Jackson, Carl Nicks, and Eric Wright was a breath of fresh air after the previous two seasons. From the get-go Dominik assured fans that the Bucs would be players in free agency this year. They went out and landed their guys almost immediately after free agency started, and they weren't scared to open the check book and outbid their competitors for the talent they wanted here in Tampa. Exactly what I wanted to happen, when I wanted it to happen.
I would also like to add that while the original article didn't touch on draft needs, that I think the Buccaneers did a phenomenal job in the draft this year. Three quality starters coming in the first two rounds was more than I expected, and even if they all bust, I can't fault their logic on drafting a single one of them at this point. Dominik's maneuvering on draft day was genius as well. Turning the slide back for Mark Barron into an additional first and second round pick for Doug Martin and Lavonte David. Also, having interviewed Najee Goode and Keith Tandy, I'm convinced that while they may not be impact players, they will both be solid contributors. Solid contributors in the fifth and sixth rounds are what makes good teams turn into great teams. Well done.
Check out points three through five after the jump:
3. Reach out to the community.
From the original article:
I wish the Glazers would acknowledge that this area is in economic meltdown and lower ticket prices across the board.
They pretty much did just that. 80% of general admission seats are being discounted for 2012. From the article on Buccaneers.com:
"Listening to our fans, the overwhelming recommendation they made is more value and more options between the most affordable seats and the most exclusive," said Buccaneers Co-Chairman Ed Glazer. "For 2012, we specifically sought to make lower-level seats more accessible to a greater number of people, while also giving more fans than ever the chance to become season pass members through a completely overhauled pricing system intended to offer something for everyone."
In addition to the lower ticket prices, the in stadium discounts and off season perks for season ticket holders have also been upped considerably. Well done Glazers, well done.
4. Offense sells tickets, but defense wins championships.
From the original article:
Putting an exciting product on the field would seriously reinvigorate the fan base in my opinion. Defense does indeed win championships and defensive talent should be accrued via the draft AND free agency in the offseason, but one dynamic playmaker and an exciting new offensive system with the pieces the Bucs already have in place would get a lot of people excited and watching again.
While new coach Greg Schiano has said the Bucs will be run heavy team and control the football, we still have to be excited about the offensive moves during the offseason. A pro bowl guard in Carl Nicks, a legitimate deep threat in Vincent Jackson, and a first round running back taken in the draft make Leecaz a very happy Bucs fan. Not to mention I love the hire of Mike Sullivan, who can be credited with coaching up Eli Manning from interception machine to a top five quarterback. I also like the work that Sullivan did with the Giants' receivers before he was promoted to quarterbacks coach. I also like the fact that Sullivan is a former Army Ranger and will likely bring a lot of discipline with him to an offense that looked lost many times last season. To sum it up, I like the guy.
5. Revamp team image.
The Buccaneers have done a phenomenal job of revamping their image this offseason. The hiring of Greg Schiano went a long way towards turning that around in and of itself. He is a no-nonsense type of guy, and went about making his presence felt immediately within the building. Tanard Jackson was released. Kellen Winslow was shipped out, and Aqib Talib was given a fresh start, but everyone knows that he is one speeding ticket away from Tradesville. People feel better about the team after just a few short month's of Schiano's reign.
Eric Wright's recent DUI arrest shouldn't be a chink in the armor of Schiano quite yet either. Until the facts come out and we see the punishment and repercussions first hand we should give the new coach the benefit of the doubt.
Schiano's penchant for drafting team captains and team-first players may not pay dividends on the field, but it certainly pays dividends in getting trustworthy guys in that locker room and rebuilding Tampa's trust in the moral and ethical quality of their players that they haven't seen since the days of Tony Dungy.
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All in all, this Bucs' fan cannot think of a single thing that the organization could have done to improve upon their offseason (Well, maybe not replacing Kellen Winslow with the geriatric Dallas Clark, but I'm trying to keep a positive attitude about that one).
Offseason grade: A+