Buccaneers' Mark Dominik may not be to blame

Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

All the pieces appear to be in place.

As a Tampa Bay Buccaneer fan, I share the many frustrations among many Buc fans and there is no real point in rehashing those sentiments.  So I took a day or two or more off my Buc-centric Institution to maybe have a different perspective to this theory of not winning.

First, allow me to state that I love the scientific method.  I like to collect information, log it into my brain or my computer’s hard drive, and then try to find a pattern, if possible.  The pattern I point out is a theory.  Theories are not set rules, otherwise they would say it is a rule.  Theories can also be wrong, but that does not necessarily mean there is not value in a failed theory.  In finding solutions, I would like to change one factor at a time because it makes that much more sense to identify both the positive and negatives of each change.

Parallels are a wonderful tool as it can add more depth to a specific situation.  I follow other sports and I find similarities between many sports, from players to coaching to general managers as well as ownership.  From the four national sports leagues, all of the teams I support were perennial bottom dwellers or seen as a red headed step-child.  As years have passes, one by one each team started winning championships or on their way.

In the MLB, the team formerly known as the Anaheim Angels won a championship in 2002 due to an amalgamation of excellent coaches.  Three of the coaching staff are now the managers of their own teams in the MLB.  Also in 2002, our own Bucs won their championship, but it was costly due to the loss of many, many draft picks.  But that championship team was set up very well for the incoming coach, Gruden.  Then in 2007, the Anaheim Ducks of the NHL won their championship.  Finally, the Clippers might have found the correct combination to hopefully win a championship in the near future.

Eerily, the Bucs and Ducks shared the same formula for winning their championship.  The bulk of the team was set up from a previous coaching and/or general manager: Tony Dungy’s defensive set up for the Bucs and GM Bryan Murray’s drafting and idea of how the organization should be developed.  Both organizations made trades that included draft picks and high salaries.  Once their respective championships were won, the following years have been quite inconsistent.  Compile that with the lack of talented infusion and the result was not very promising.

The Ducks’ GM Murray stepped down because he wanted to become a GM of a Canadian hockey team as well as be closer to home.  GM Burke stepped in and traded away several assets along with giving bloated salaries.  It gave the Ducks a championship, but the following seasons have been inconsistent with a lack of bad drafting.  Burke stepped down halfway through the 2009 season.  At this moment, there was a potential to simply blow up the team and simply re-build from the start.  And yet the new GM decided to re-build on the fly.  He tinkered with current NHL players, but his scouts were able to find so many good talents under his direction that the Ducks’ cupboard is overflowing.  Granted, they’re still prospects, but now they are tradable assets if need be.  Three years under the new GM and the future is looking brighter.  The Ducks are under their second head coach under this GM, and I still think we do not have the correct coach.  Yet the finished second overall in their conference last year.

Mark Dominik, also referred to as Dom to some of us fans, started his GM reign with the Buccaneers in January of 2009.  I think Dom is doing something similar to what the Ducks’ organization is doing, except the Ducks had a collection of superstars already on their roster whereas the Bucs had virtually nothing to begin with when Dom entered his tenure.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers


GM Dominik’s Record


Year


Record


Draft


(Rd, Pos, Player)


Coach


2009


3 – 13

1.  QB Freeman

3.  DT Miller

Morris

2010


10 – 6

1.  DT McCoy

4.  WR Williams

7.  LB Watson

7. DE Lorig (FB)

Morris

2011


4 – 12

1.  DE Clayborn

2.  DE Bowers

3.  LB Foster

Morris

2012


7 – 9

1.  SS Barron

1.  RB Martin

2.  OLB David

Schiano

2013


0 – 4

1. Traded for Revis

2.  CB Banks

3.  QB Glennon

4.  DT Spence

6. RB James

Schiano

Within the past two years, Dom has signed four free agents who are also Pro Bowl players in OG Carl Nicks and WR Vincent Jackson in 2012 off-season as well as safety Dashon Goldson with signing CB Darrelle Revis to a six year extension that happens to be non-guaranteed.  As of last year, DT Gerald McCoy and rookie RB Doug Martin joined the Pro Bowl ranks.  On the roster, LT Donald Penn and OG Davin Joseph have been to the Pro Bowl as well.  They made their debut with the Bucs in 2007 and 2006, respectively.

Also, a little known signing in 2009 off the waiver wire would matriculate to being the Bucs’ best offensive weapon.  That lowly acquisition had the biggest kick to the organization statistically, in the most boring sense.  Yet PK Connor Barth can make 57 yard field goals during an actual game.

Not every move will be a great move nor will every draft.  With the exception of Josh Freeman, everyone in the table listed above is playing for the team this season.  Dom has collected a superfluous amount of uber talent to the organization in such a short span to all aspects on the field.  There are Pro Bowl players on offense and defense via the draft, free agency, and trade.  The Bucs’ have a very accurate place kicker who routinely makes 50 or more yard field goals with ease.

Being a GM is about tinkering, or rather systematically tinkering.  GM Dom has been improving with player personnel, but he is still tinkering with his coaches.  In less than five years, the Bucs are on their second coach in his second season.  With Morris in Dom’s first three years, we all bared witness to a 10 – 6 season only to be followed by a season where the whole team gave up.  The stigma of giving up for most of the 2011 season probably lingered in the back of Dom’s mind as he was selecting his new head coach.

Present coach Greg Schiano was not Dom’s original choice.  Current rookie head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, Chip Kelly, was the original choice after the 2011 debacle.  Chip Kelly had agreed to coach the Buccaneers in the 2012, but reneged.  Finding a head coach that a GM wants takes time as there are probably several interviews to be had as well as doing due diligence ahead of time.  When Chip Kelly reneged on the organization, it probably sent the Bucs’ into a scramble mode.  All the time exhausted on researching and interviewing was wasted.  The renege also affects the time needed in acquiring the rest of the staff under the new head coach.

Enter Greg Schiano.  Schiano has produced many NFL players from a school program not known for football.  What I mean is Rugters would be overlooked for other NCAA football programs by highly recruited prospective collegiate players.  And yet, Rugters continued to produce NFL players.  Schiano pushes his players and maybe one of the reasons why Schiano was picked on such short notice.  The stigma of giving up rearing its teeth here.

In Schiano’s rookie season, he guided the Bucs to own the best rush defense as well as lose a plethora of games with 7 points or less.  Schiano made noise by continuing to attack on defense on a kneel-down at the end of the game.  It may be bush league, but the players are paid to play all 60 minutes; with the stigma of giving up for most of the 2011 season, this may be the direction that Dom would rather have.

Let us return back to tinkering.  The defense was known for lacking in its secondary as it allowed about 24 points per game average in 2012.  We went from Barber-Barron-Talib-Wright in 2012 to Goldson-Barron-Revis-Banks at present.  The defense, as a whole, improved such that it is allowing one touchdown less this present season compared to last season.  Fixing the defense was less complicated than fixing the offense and the results substantiate that.  The 2012 offense was ‘Jekyl and Hyde’ in behavior as it scored over 30 points per game for a six game period as well as be shut down to only 17 points per game for the last six games of the year.  There were too many factors that caused both the great efficiency along with being awfully inept that maybe the organization needed a larger sample: 2013 season.

Unfortunately, the awfully inept offense persisted its decay upon the team in the 2013 season.  More tinkering was needed and it came much sooner than I expected.  QB Josh Freeman was benched and then released.  That is one less factor to be concerned about to which the organization can focus on what else is inefficient.  The current outlook may seem hopeless, but three of the losses came at a total of 6 points.  One of those losses had a missed field goal at the end of the game by the Bucs by a replacement place kicker because Connor Barth has injured himself at a charity basketball game.  And yet, the Bucs are still on the cusp of winning games.

A single game has been played since the quarterback change.  Maybe it is too early to throw the towel into the ring.  Maybe our expectations of Schiano are very high – though, he has met our defensive sights, it is our offense that has sputtered.  Maybe our derision of Dom is unwarranted as we hear the following counter intuitive comment, paraphrasing, "How can this team lose with so much talent?"

Tinkering…  a few more small movements and it is quite possible that a big bang on all facets of the team is awaiting us fans to enjoy.

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