A lot has been made recently about a reunion between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Jon Gruden – and that’s insane.
Look, we all have a special place in our hearts for Chucky. He brought the lone Super Bowl title to the Buccaneers back in the glory days of Bucs football. Now, with the Bucs reeling at 2-5 in a season that had playoff expectations, people are beginning to call for Dirk Koetter’s head and fans are beginning to plead for the return of Jon Gruden.
I’m going to say this as nicely as possible – if you are one of those people, knock it off. Now.
This lust for yet another coach to be fired and an attempt to return the Bucs to the old days has to end at some point. Gruden, despite winning the Super Bowl, did not have a very stellar career in Tampa. He finished 57-55 in his seven seasons. Without that twelve win Super Bowl season, he’s a sub-.500 coach. He won the division two more times, failing to get another postseason win. He had three losing seasons and topped ten wins only one more time.
These are the cold, hard facts.
Let’s not forget the botched drafts. Did all of you forget who passed on Aaron Rodgers? How many times have we seen a quarterback for the Bucs ruin a day and you would say it on Twitter, Facebook, or to your buddies in the room, “Man, we could’ve had Rodgers.”
Yeah, we could have. Chucky passed on him.
How fast did Gruden run Cadillac into the ground? How many times did he leave us in declining veteran quarterback purgatory rather than develop a future franchise guy? Brad Johnson, trading for Jake Plummer who then retired, so he went and got Jeff Garcia.
Let’s just look at first round picks under Gruden since so many are quick to slam Jason Licht and Dirk Koetter for their picks;
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Those were first round picks for Jon Gruden’s teams.
And don’t try to feed me any of the GM made the picks garbage. He and Bruce Allen were tied at the hip and Gruden was every bit a part of those decisions as Allen was. If Gruden gets another head coaching job, you think he isn’t going to want full roster control as part of the deal? Gruden will be a one man show.
Yet, here we are. Talking about people wanting to run Koetter out of town the same way they did Gruden. And apparently, it’s not just the fans. Michael Lombardi had this to say on the “GM Street Podcast”
"“I think we can officially put Dirk Koetter on the hot seat. I think Dirk Koetter has all this talent, they spent all this money, and I think Dirk Koetter is gonna be on the hot seat. I think, could he make it through the end of the year – perhaps. But I think you’re gonna start hearing – a lot of people in the NFL are telling me is the name that they’re hearing is Gruden to go back to that Bucs job. He’s made up with the Glazers, the Glazers could easily bring him back because they need somebody to help their franchise out. Because, right now, they have all this offensive talent and they can’t score any points. That’s gonna be the rumor. That’s one of those jobs where – nobody outside the NFL is talking about it – everybody I’m talking to in the NFL is talking about the Bucs job and they think it’s gonna end up being overwith for Dirk Koetter if he doesn’t get this thing turned around fairly quickly. And it doesn’t look like it’s gonna get turned around fairly quickly at all.”"
Dirk Koetter has his shortcomings – as any head coach does. That doesn’t mean the Bucs should fire yet another coach after only two seasons, especially when this one brought the team their first winning record since 2010. This is a full panic move by the fans who are disappointed – as they should be – but it’s not the right decision for the franchise moving forward.
When have the Bucs made a rash coaching decision – starting with the firing of Gruden one year into his extension for Raheem Morris – and it made the team better? Was Raheem an improvement? Was Schiano better than Morris? Do we need to re-live the disaster that was Lovie Smith? Until last season, every coaching change moved the team further in the wrong direction.
Yes, we know Gruden lives in Tampa. We know he’s about to be inducted into the Ring Of Honor. We know he made nice with the owners. We know he was on Hard Knocks and was gushing over Jameis Winston and told Koetter that he’s right down the street if he ever needs anything. We get it. He wants to coach again.
I’m sick of being patient. I’m sick of preaching patience. However, in this case, we need to be. Another coaching and GM change brings with it another full overhaul, another season of rebuilding and philosophy changes, and another season further from progression.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Dirk Koetter and Jason Licht aren’t the team I believe they are and this team will continue to just spin its wheels. But I’m 100% confident in saying Jon Gruden returning isn’t the answer either. I love Chucky as much as the next guy, but that doesn’t mean I want to re-live the roller coaster that was his tenure.
You can hear Lombardi’s comments below at around the 15:30 mark