Last year, former Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter said that “everyone on the field should be fired” heading into a Week 5 bye.
Not much has changed a year later, except the fact that the Bucs are actually putting heads on the chopping block.
Granted, it’s only been two players - and both were backups/reserves - but the cuts have led to speculation as to who the Bucs may release if they consider more moves. Names like Bradley Pinion and Breshad Perriman have found themselves to be topics of conversation, among others.
Something tells me you don’t want to worry about job security during your week off, but this is probably common for most 2-4 teams.
It’s been an interesting turn of events over the last 2-3 weeks. First, the Bucs pulled off a major upset in Los Angeles and looked like they were starting to bloom under Bruce Arians. It only took a week for that to change, however, as Arians was calling players “soft” after an ass-whipping in New Orleans. Tampa Bay then pulled off its worst performance of the season in London, a 37-26 loss to the division rival Panthers.
The Bucs are back in familiar territory, which is a sub-.500 record and questions surrounding the roster. But for Arians, this isn’t too familiar. He’s used to winning and he’s used to winning a lot.
This roster has a myriad of issues. Poor offensive line play, a severe lack of depth, and inconsistent quarterback play are just the ones at the top. There’s only so much a coaching staff can do with the players they have on paper. There’s only so much that can change in one season.
But this staff obviously had a hand in shoring up this roster, so you have to ask: how much is this staff to blame for the current spot the Bucs are in?
The Bucs neglected the offensive line in both free agency and the draft, knowing they had a shaky starting five - outside of Ali Marpet - and little to no depth. Arians said after the draft that the secondary was “fixed”, which is certainly not the case. They decided to keep a fourth tight end in Tanner Hudson - who is only a receiving tight end - even though they don’t utilize tight ends in the passing game, instead of an extra offensive lineman. Perennial practice squader Bobo Wilson was kept on the 53. T.J. Logan is somehow still on this roster.
Arians and co. are responsible for all of these decisions. All of these decisions were made after months of evaluations, except for Logan, who is just a guy that Arians has a feel for - which may be the worst reason to keep someone on a NFL roster, but I digress.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t an indictment, by any means. It’s simply an observation. You can evaluate and judge a player’s abilities on tape all day, but it’s a different story once the pads are on in person. It also makes a tremendous difference to see how players react in real game situations, as opposed to watching in hindsight on tape.
It’s clear that this staff wanted to tailor the roster toward their “win-now” mindset, but it’s clearer that this roster needs more help than they imagined.
Tampa Bay needs a lot of help and it needs it fast. The best way to achieve this is through the draft. But that means bringing in youth. That means rebuilding.
Does Arians want to rebuild?
Would he want to rebuild?
It’s a fair question considering the fact that he wants to “win now”. That usually doesn’t happen when you bring in an influx of young players, but that may be the Bucs’ best scenario for getting back to the top. The free agency thing seldomly works, and it’s by far the easiest way to put your team in a financial hole. Look no further than this year’s free agency for an example.
Thus far, Arians has been very committed - stubborn, almost - when it comes to running this ship, which is fine when you have a coach with his pedigree. But the results aren’t showing on the field right now. Would he be willing to change some of his MO in order to help get this team on track?
He came to Tampa Bay because he thought he would have a capable starter in Jameis Winston. He’s said that drafting offensive linemen means that “you’re drafting for the next regime”. It’s pretty clear that he wants to avoid roster holes in those regards, but he may not have that luxury after this season.
Only Arians knows the real answer to that question and his actions will certainly reflect how he feels about the situation. Only time will tell how he plans on fixing this franchise.
Hopefully that time is sooner rather than later.