For his great work on "View from the Owners Seat", BucsFanDave will receive his authentic NON-throwback, original unworn Bucco Bruce hat via Mail in time for the Green Bay game!
Well, I have one true gift and that is my abilty to spot trends, fads, popular shows/songs well before they are popular and call them. For example, I was the first person wearing a Hawaiin shirt in the mid to late '90's. The first time I heard "Tubthumper" by Chumbawamba I knew it would be played on local radio until the point of inducing vomit. And finally, at the age of 5, I called the whole "football will be really popular" phenomenan. Obviously, I know what I'm doing here folks. (Con't after the jump)
In all seriousness, I have watched football my entire life. I have only played organized football for one intramural game in college (I played right guard and pulled a Trueblood). So, here is what that does not qualify me to do: (1) I can not watch high school or college players and project them to the next level (apparently Mel Kiper Jr. can't do that effectively either considering Jamarcus Russell was at the top of his draft board) (2) I can not make in-game adjustments. I've never watched a Buccaneers game and thought to myself, "they need to pull their offside guard to seal cut back lanes since the other team is running a stunt. (3) I can not develop a playbook or offense or call plays (of course, I could obviously still get hired by Raheem as offensive coordinator). Am I leaving anything out?
However, having watched football all of my life I do know a few things, as do the rest of the loyal readers of Buc 'Em. You do not have to have professional experience to see some obvious problems. I may not know how to build a dishwasher, but I know if it cleans the dishes. Thus, while I can't detail the many intricacies of a zone blocking scheme, I do realize that seven rushes for 4 yards means you didn't execute your philosophy correctly.
My point of all of this is the examine the thoughts of the owners in the past several years and see if they are truly to blame for our problems. Let us begin with the purchase of Manchester United. Obviously, we've read that the Glazers took on a massive amount of debt to fund the purchase, and that the soccer team runs an operating loss due to the debt service. Thus, many assume that the Glazers have been pillaging the money from their profitable Buccaneers club to fill for that loss. That may be possible, but I do not believe that is the problem the Buccaneers face. I think that the Glazers understand the football landscape much better than we give them credit for, and are trying to save the franchise, while at the same time keeping their soccer investment. I have three main points of defense:
1st: The Glazers understand that investing in this club produces revenue. Upon purchasing the club they improved everything from marketing to uniforms, brought in great coaches, committed to good general managers, and showed a willingness to make trades or moves to get them over the hump. It took a lot of courage to fire Tony Dungy, a coach who could build great teams, but vastly underachieved in the playoffs. Yes, he won a Super Bowl, but in all of his years of coaching, more often than not, fans were disappointed with the playoff results of very strong teams. I understand that point is debatable, but no one can debate the bounty paid for Gruden. At the end of the Gruden tenure, I believe more than anything, he sealed his own fate by starting a rusty Brian Griese on the road against Atlanta, and tried to say he made the right call when his offense put up 10 points against the 23rd ranked defense in the league. I think at that point the Glazers knew they had plateued with a coach that routinely refused to draft a quarterback and develop him. Again, I've never coached, but even I know that Brian Griese will never get you where you want to go. So the decision to fire Gruden and hire Raheem falls to point 2:
2nd: The Glazers understand the disastrous labor situation on the horizon. No matter how much you pay your coach, they have to have players playing to win. When owners opted out of the collecitve bargaining agreement, allowed an uncapped year next year, and already have dug in for a potential lockout in 2011, the Glazers understood the darkening clouds. Independently, I can imagine that the Glazers realize spending on players and resources produces a direct increase in merchandising, corporate sponsorships, and ticket sales/stadium revenue. Tampa has enough money that they will support a winning team and support them passionately. I still wear my 2002 NFC Champions T-shirt and watch by Bucs Super Bowl DVD regularly. So, the Glazers have entered into a two year hibernation cycle to try and eliminate as many fixed expenses as possible. We will not see the Glazers get involved in heavy bidding for free agents. You may be thinking "they still have to pay Allen and Gruden for three years". Yes, they do, but not if those two land new jobs. Do you really believe that after this year, Gruden will remain unemployed. They fired him late so that he would not coach this year, but would be available for next year. I think his salary will come off the books courtesy of Dan Snyder, Jerry Jones, or Penn State or Florida State, just in time for everyone to forget the end of his tenure. At any rate, the Glazers are in the owners meetings and they understand the fight that is coming. Rich people, both owners and players, have lost a grasp of how lucky they are to have what they have, not all, but quite a few, and will try to get as much for themselves as they can, rather than reach a mutually beneficial agreement.
3rd: Do football people actually know what they are doing? I understand the anger over $30 million of salary cap space. However, would that actually translate to improved play? This team started leaking oil last year in both the Kansas City and Detroit games. Was the Albert Haynesworthsigning a good deal for the Redskins? It did not markedly improve their team. When we made a bold move to get Kenyatta Walker in the draft, how did that work out? To this day, I'm yet to unveil my homemade "Congratulations on making your first Pro Bowl, Kenyatta" T-shirt. This year we spent $2.5M on a bonus for Luke McCown, and then the "football experts" said he needed competition at that spot. Why did we give a bonus to a guy who needed competition? How many free agents did Gruden bring in circa 2004 only to see "dynamic" Charlie Garner carted off after 3 games. If all of these coaches are such geniuses, why does luck play such a huge roll in success. Bill Belicheck didn't start Tom Brady in the first game of the 2001 season. He started Drew Bledsoe, and the Patriots would have sucked if he hadn't been hurt. We all watched Mr August get relegated to the practice squad, then bust out with 10 rushing touchdowns and huge contributions to a playoff squad in 2005. Is Ben Rothlisberger the master of clutch because ever since Troy Polamalu got hurt, he sure doesn't look as clutch. I think at the end of the day, based on the upcoming labor situation, the Glazers said forget this free spending, let's roll the dice with the draft and some cheap staff until we have some semblance of stability going forward. Then we'll find the next generation's Hardy Nickerson to restart a new dynasty.
We just have to be patient. After all, it is still football.