2011 is uncertain for most of the Bucs' coaching staff.

2011 Looms Ominously For Many at One Buc Place

Per a report at Pewter Report, many of the assistant coaches and front office personnel for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are unsure of their futures in the event of a lockout. For those that aren’t aware or are trying to ignore it, if things don’t go the Bucs way in New Orleans, Green Bay and Washington, there is a very real possibility it could be the last Bucs game for a long time.

Tampa Bay’s owners, the Glazer family, have an option for the 2011 season in the contracts for general manager Mark Dominik and head coach Raheem Morris. The majority of the assistant coaches do not have contracts for next season and are scheduled to become coaching free agents at the conclusion of the Bucs’ 2010 season. That group includes: offensive coordinator Greg Olson, offensive line coach Pete Mangurian, running backs coach Steve Logan, tight ends coach Alfredo Roberts, defensive line coach Todd Wash, linebackers coach Joe Baker, and special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia.

This really speaks volumes of the ownership style of the Glazers and the entire football operation in general. Mark Dominik and Raheem Morris are both fantastic, and I am glad they will be retained. But I heard a great point the other day, look at an organization like the Steelers who have had steady and consistent leadership from the Rooneys. They have a consistent organizational structure and operate in a way that allows for new coaches to come in and be successful, did you notice how seamless the transition from Cowher to Tomlin was? There has been player turnover, and ebbs and flows, but in place in Pittsburgh is an organizational philosophy from top to bottom and the continuity of that allows for them to continually be successful.

A lot of that comes from having steady leadership from the top, and that’s not to bash the Glazers but more than a few people have accused them of being… less than stellar owners. Having half of your staff and front office personnel looking over their shoulder wondering whether they are employed here next season is not a great way to improve morale or performance. I doubt that a lot of the better run franchises around the league are having this issue.

Some in the front office and on the coaching staff are worried about the focus of some of the assistants who do not have jobs for next season. Many of the assistants are openly questioning if they should be looking for a job coaching at the college level. Bucs assistants Mangurian, Olson, Logan, Wash, Roberts, and Baker all have experience coaching at the college level.

This last part is absolutely fantastic news… Nothing like a potential non-football distraction as your team fights for the playoffs. I’d like to think the best of everyone on the staff and assume it wasn’t an issue, but the fact it could potentially arise as a result of what appears to be some rather thrifty, just-in-case accounting, is a problem though. There’s a lot of things I won’t fault the owners for, like not buying up all the tickets as a giant good-will gesture towards Tampa, facing your team with potential distractions isn’t something I’ll overlook.

If you own an NFL team I understand it’s about making money but there’s a right way to do that, through investing in leadership and scouting and building from the ground up. This whole leaving-half-the-coaching-staff-in-the-dark business doesn’t exactly play into that concept.

Part of why Raheem Morris was hired was his price-tag.

It’s a real shame too, because Raheem Morris and Mark Dominik are building a team the right way on the field. It just doesn’t look like the ownership is on board. And let’s be honest, Dominik and Morris weren’t necessarily picked on their merit. You can believe that they were, and I’m sure their merit did help. But a big part of it also was because they came on the cheap. The Glazers were still going to have to pay Jon Gruden and they didn’t want to spend top dollar on a proven commodity. They were cutting corners, saving a few bucks, just like now.

Last time it worked for them. It paid off because Morris and Dominik seem like a couple gems and they may very well have a winning formula already coming together. But this move, the leaving the coaches out to dry in case there’s a lockout and you get stuck with their salaries (it’s the players they’re locking out after all, not the coaching staffs or front offices), this will blow up in the Glazers’ faces no matter what.

If there’s no agreement in place and a lockout ensues, expect 2012 to look a lot different. Almost everyone except Raheem Morris will have potentially moved on to the college ranks or perhaps even to other teams that offer more job security. The entire staff is free agents so that would mean a big portion of Mark Dominik’s job would be to find new coaches and scouts when he should be out scouting for the draft and evaluating players. It would set the entire organization back a step while other organizations potentially have the year to evaluate young players and position themselves for 2012.

Even if there is a collective bargaining agreement by the deadline, at least a few of the Bucs coaches will have been picked off by college programs or other teams. You can’t leave that kind of uncertainty in a man’s life. It’s possible even Raheem Morris could leave, he hasn’t gotten a contract extension, his entire staff is vulnerable and the Glazers haven’t exactly engendered a lot of good will towards the organization by putting everyone in this position in the first place.

So even if, by some miracle, there is a new CBA hammered out in the 11th hour, expect at least a few key coaches to have moved on. And with those coaches goes the continuity of the past couple of seasons. For instance, all the progress Josh Freeman, Mike Williams, LeGarrette Blount and the rest of this offense have made in this system could be potentially thrown out if Greg Olson leaves and the Bucs have to install a new offense.

From scouting, to coaching to player progression this could set the entire organization back at every level. I doubt you’ll see this happen with the Patriots and Bob Kraft, Arthur Blank has built his organization the right way twice, I doubt he’s leaving his assistants and scouts out to dry. The Rooneys in Pittsburgh, the Mara’s in New York, there are owners all over the country who are going to secure their teams because they understand potentially having a poor product on the field in 2012 in front of an already alienated fan-base isn’t just bad for winning, it’s bad business. This is going to blow up in the Glazers’ faces.

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