The Tampa Bay Buccaneers think they've found the magic bullet: they just need to draft players who love football. At least, that's what Pewter Report's Scott Reynolds thinks is going to make a big difference this year. They want winners. People who love football. People who live and breathe and do nothing but think of the game.
What we're hearing with regards to the Bucs' overall approach when it comes to the draft is that Tampa Bay general manager Jason Licht and his scouting staff are honing in on players that have a tremendous love for the game of football and a burning desire to win. Licht and director of college scouting Mike Biehl believe that personal interviews are just as important as watching film on draft prospects. It's one thing to be athletic and be productive in college. But if the passion for the game of football and the work ethic isn't there, players can eventually coast, collect a check in the NFL, not reach their full potential and become complacent with losing.
That type of complacent attitude is a big reason why changes were made this offseason - including the former head coach and some of his assistant coaches - and it's a reason why some of the team's free agents haven't been re-signed and why some players won't be back in 2016. Licht is not going to settle for losing and the Glazers back him 100 percent.
It's great rhetoric. It's also something that gets said every single year. I've yet to hear of a team that wants to draft players who are just okay with playing football, who don't really care about winning, who just want a paycheck. Everyone wants people completely dedicated to their craft.
In fact, this has been a selling point for every regime the Bucs have had over the past decade. Here's Greg Schiano about the kinds of players he wants to find, via coachingsearch.com:
Hopefully, in our evaluation process, we identify guys that love football, guys that want to do things the way we want to do them. You get ahead of it that way."
Here's Raheem Morris talking about why he felt confident his team would do well in 2011, half a year before he got fired, via sportsradiointerviews.com:
We've got a lot of young men that love football. Our receivers and our quarterback, I'm sure they're somewhere throwing right now because that's what they do.
Here's the Tampa Bay Times on what Mark Dominik changed about the scouting process in 2010.
They have added categories to their evaluations. Is the player a team captain? Does he really love football?
Here's former Bucs general manager Bruce Allen on what he looks for in players in Washington, via CSN Mid-Atlantic.
"What we're looking for is people who love football and want to play football and want to win."
Oh, and here's Jon Gruden's memoir:
The Bucs have always looked for players who love football, or at least they've always said they do. In fact, that's something nearly every incoming general manager says at a new job. It sounds great, and everyone knows that it's hard to succeed in the NFL for players who don't put in the effort. So obviously, scouting effort is what you need to do.
Except effort is only part of the equation. You can find hard-working, scrappy players who love football all over high school football. Most of them won't ever come anywhere near the NFL. There's simply no reason to believe that this is a magic bullet, nor is there any reason to believe that any team is particularly good at identifying players like that. After all, this is the same staff that signed Michael Johnson and Anthony Collins in their first year in charge.
Of course finding players who will put in the effort is important. It's just delusional to think that that is what's going to set your team apart. That that is what was missing in the past. Because let's face it: every team at every point in time looks for those players.