Buccaneers: How safe is Jason Licht?
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers appear to be in the midst of another losing season, and heads will most certainly roll as a result. Can general manager Jason Licht survive the coming purge?
The shocking demise of the 2017 Buccaneers has made many question the job security of head coach Dirk Koetter, and defensive coordinator Mike Smith. Neither are safe by any means if this season continues to get worse (especially if any of these Jon Gruden rumors have legs), but could general manager Jason Licht be in just as much trouble as both of them? I believe that might be the case.
Licht was first hired in 2014 after the Glazers disposed of then-GM Mark Dominik and coach Greg Schiano. Since then the Buccaneers have a record of 19-36, and are now staring down the barrel of their third losing season in the last four. Known for his bold approach to team-building, Licht has been aggressive in both free agency and the draft, to very mixed results. This makes him an extremely difficult person to evaluate.
Despite their poor record, the Buccaneers have an established core of elite players on both offense and defense, many of whom were acquired by Licht. Jameis Winston, Mike Evans, Ali Marpet, Cameron Brate, O.J. Howard, and Kwon Alexander are all foundation pieces for the Buccaneers organization that Jason Licht can claim credit for. He’s also managed to get contract extensions in place for both Gerald McCoy and Lavonte David, two more cornerstone players. The fact that Jason Licht led the charge for drafting Jameis Winston plays heavily in his favor as well. The problem for Licht is that despite all of this top-shelf talent and franchise quarterback, his teams still stink.
More from The Pewter Plank
- Devin White posts cryptic message to Lavonte David on Twitter
- ESPN predicts surprising outcome to Devin White trade saga
- Updated Buccaneers depth chart after signing two players from rookie minicamp
- Todd Bowles sends clear message about Baker Mayfield’s role with Bucs
- The Athletic is wrong about Bucs one ‘must-watch’ game in 2023
Much of the blame for these under-preforming Bucs lays with the coaching staff, but at least an equal amount has to go to Jason Licht for failing to fill the gaps in between his elite players. Gerald McCoy is among the best defensive linemen in the league, but he’s gotten minimal help on the edge. Brent Grimes has been terrific as a Buc, but he hasn’t had any support at safety or opposite corner. Until the addition of DeSean Jackson, Mike Evans had received very little help from fellow receivers. Licht’s failure to build up cornerback, safety, and defensive end has cost the Bucs dearly.
It’s been said that most general managers usually have a life-span of two head coaches; if the first guy doesn’t work out, he gets a shot at hiring one more before feeling any type of heat on his seat. If the Buccaneers continue to swirl down the drain and Koetter is indeed let go, that would be the second coach let go since 2014, and I don’t see much chance that Jason Licht survives it. Letting go of Koetter would indicate that the Glazer brothers are ready for a hard reboot on the franchise, and a completely new identity from the front office down to the coaching staff.
If Koetter is retained, I expect Licht to be given another season as well. The two are tied together for better or worse, and both desperately need the Bucs to turn things around this season in order to feel completely safe for 2018. With that said, I could definitely see the Glazers mandating a clean sweep of assistant coaches on both sides of the ball (though finding assistants for perceived lame duck coaches is never an easy task).
Next: Buccaneers vs Saints: Five Game Changing Players
Much like his quarterback, Licht’s highs are spectacular (the 2015 draft is one of the best you’ll ever see from a general manager), but his lows are devastating (Roberto Aguayo). If Licht is given another chance in 2018, you can expect him to be more aggressive than ever in the off-season. As things stand now, I’d say Licht will more than likely return for 2018, in the name of continuity for the franchise and quarterback Jameis Winston. However, the Glazers have proven to be bold in the past, so nothing should surprise us if this season doesn’t improve.