Funny enough, Head Coach Jon Gruden was asked today whether or not he felt he was on the "Hot Seat" this season ...
Contrasting the situation now with that in 2002 when he arrived in Tampa, Gruden said, "There was no pressure when I got here. (Now) there's pressure on all of us." - Bucs Beat
No pressure when you got to Tampa in '02? Yeah, o-k-a-y
Back to your regularly scheduled program:
The Tampa Bay Bucs are coming off a season in which everyone involved would love nothing better than to completely forget what took place. Coming off a season in '05 (NFC South Champs) that made the 2006 Season seem increasingly bright .... One spleen later, the '06 campaign ended in a 4-12 Finish. Buc fans, we're coming up on our 5th Season removed from our Superbowl Championship. Can you handle another lackluster performance? How do we right this ship? Who has to go? Gruden? Allen? The Fans?
Gruden took over our Head Coaching position back in 2002. Everybody knows Gruden helped bring the Lombardi Trophy to Tampa Bay, the first in our Franchises History. Since that historic season, Gruden has taken us on a BUMPY journey, that as of late, has us sitting BELOW mediocrity.
Granted he's had some hellacious injuries to deal with (Quarterback, Running back, Offensive Line, Defensive Line, etc), he's also had to Coach talent that isn't exactly NFL Caliber (Wide Receiving Corps ::Minus Galloway, McCardell, and Jurevicius:::, QB/RB :::Damn near our entire Offensive Unit:::). Head Coach Jon Gruden hasn't exactly helped himself out either.
Last Season was completely avoidable by NOT STARTING a ROOKIE QB. There's only one person who benefitted from last season and that was QB Bruce Gradkowski (okay and all of his opponents). Gruden has also failed to adapt his offense to the skill set that he has on the field. How many times did we see Simms under center, call hike, only then to either be sacked or have his pass batted back into the turf?It happened A LOT. Implementing the Shotgun formation would have alleviated that, especially since your QB (Simms) was accustomed to the Shotgun formation in College. Throwing the Pigskin 50+ times with a Rookie Quarterback, come on now, that's not smart football.
I honestly feel Gruden's done fairly well with the talent he's been handed. A Super Bowl Championship and Two Division Titles aren't something Tampa fans have seen a whole lot of. We've also sat through THREE MEDIOCRE years under our Head Coach: '03 7-9, '04 5-11, '06 4-12 ...... And he continues to march Pittman out there as a Kickoff Return man (we wonder why we're near dead last in return yardage in the league), Ike Hilliard/David Boston = Give it up already.
Is this Head Coach Jon Gruden's fault?
I have to admit, I feel dirty calling General Manager Bruce Allen out:
#1: He has to follow the GREATEST talent evaluator this fan base has ever seen in former GM Rich McKay.
#2: He's only been on the job since '04 and our Salary Cap hasn't exactly handed him the breathing room one needs to substantially upgrade the team.
#3: He is a genuinely nice guy.
With all that said .... Have you seen our Wide Receiving Corps? No? That's funny, the teams Official Roster lists several WR positions being filled, but those can't be NFL Caliber athletes on the Payroll. Gruden wanted Allen (his GM in Oakland) to follow him to Tampa and the Glazers complied. Bruce Allen has complied by letting Pro Bowlers John Lynch, Dexter Jackson, and Warren Sapp go. His excuse was that debilitating injuries made the cuts necessary. Funny huh? John Lynch has continued to be a Pro Bowl Caliber Safety in Denver and Warren Sapp recorded 10 SACKS with the RAIDERS of all teams last season. Allen also let McCardell go as well. Keenan has to be one of if not THE most unappreciated Wide Receivers in all of the NFL. The guy caught EVERYTHING with little regard to his body and risk to injury. GM Bruce Allen hasn't proved to be the best talent evaluator either in his short stint with the Bucs. Free Agents brought in consistently flop (Boston, Bolden, Garner, etc) and his Drafts haven't netted much despite several below .500 seasons in which to profit from. Granted he didn't have many picks early on due to the Gruden trade .... excuses excuses. Is it time for Bruce Allen to go?
Me rail on our fan base? That;d be like stabbing myself in the back. I do however have to question our fan base ...... This fan base is probably the furthest thing from complacent, spoiled, or unappreciative. As a matter of fact, I'd venture to say we're one of the strongest/resilient fan bases in the sports world (next to mets fans). Our franchise holds an NFL Record for consecutive losses in a row with 26. We've cheered on our Bucs with some of the most inept offenses Football Gods could ever hold to a fan base. Since 1996, we've had the joy of knowing what it feels like to follow a contender year after year and we thirst for it to continue. That same year we got rid of the most HIDEOUS JERSEYS in the league, Icicle Orange = Vomit Inducing. In 1998, we opened the doors to our beautiful, Raymond James Stadium and left the Old Sombrero in the dust. I think with our new found success/stadium/jerseys came a new set of expectations/standards/desires from our fan base.
Anybody that sat through the Trent Dilfer days and calls themselves Buc fans to this day is automatically inducted into the higher echelon of fan dome. The folks over at Pacman Jonesin' clearly don't get what it means to be a REAL fan. They've declared our Fan Base one of the Ten Worst Fan Bases in the NFL. They'd rather point to "Box Office" numbers (what is this a Movie Production Company or an NFL Franchise?), rather than attend the games themselves. I was in Raymond James where it was filled to capacity for a battle with the hapless Detroit Lions. Raymond James is THE ONE Stadium I've been to in my life in which the fans sitting behind you we're actually behind you and not telling you to sit down, quiet down, or berate you with curse words. How anybody can question a fan base that has a waiting list of 73,000 strong individuals waiting to get their grubbers on season tickets is beyond me. I encourage you fellas to attend a ball game at Raymond James Stadium, its amazing. Give it a try. The SOUTH is FOOTBALL!!!!!
What do you think fellow Buc Fans? Is this the Make or Break season for Head Coach Jon Gruden? Does he deserve more time? Is the writing on the wall? Are you sick of him? Should General Manager Bruce Allen go with him? Are you sick of the Charlie Garner esque Free-Agent signings? Does our Fan Base need to look in the mirror? Lower Expectations? The inept Offense is definitely wearing on this Buc Fan, as is the lack luster product on the field. We didn't come all this way to become another embarrassment of a NFL Franchise. What's your verdict? Hot Seat? Who's on it?