Gruden’s 2009 Sales Pitch To The Glazers

December 29th, 2008
"Don't worry Jeff. I'm telling the Glazers I want you back. Anything else will make me look to flaky, like I'm not confident in what we've done on offense these past two years."

"Don't worry Jeff. I'm telling the Glazers I want you back. Anything else will make me look flaky, like I'm not confident in what we've done on offense these past two years."

Jon Gruden wants to return as Bucs coach more than you’d like see to a Bucs pass rush and Carmella Garcia  naked at your front door demanding a sponge bath.

And know this about Chucky, he is a slick, skillful salesperson, a spin king who will masterfully accentuate the greatness of his work, gloss over the struggles, humbly blame himself and many factors beyond his control, and focus the Glazer family on why he can lead the Bucs to the division title in 2009.

Here’s how Chucky will lay out his spin for the Glazers, in hopes of one more dance in 2009:

1) Major Injuries/issues in the running game. Chucky will lean hard on this one.

“You got run the football consistently, man. That’s December football, where we struggled. Our Pro Bowl fullback B.J. Askew went down for weeks to start the season, then we lost Storer and had to sign Jameel Cook off the street and ask our No. 1 tailback Earnest Graham to fill in. Then we lose Graham, and Warrick Dunn never really recovered from his midseason back/neck injury, and Cadillac Williams needed a month to get ready after his miracle comeback. You saw how strong he was getting against the Raiders heading to the playoffs, but got hurt after his second touchdown run. Plus, we had to cut Michael Bennett after that whole IHOP incident that we kept pretty quiet.” 

2) Major injuries/quarterback. Chucky will point to his division rivals and others in the NFC. He LOVES to take a look around the league to garner sympathy.

“Hey, you look Atlanta and Carolina, they both were blessed with health at quarterback all season long. Same goes for Philly and New York and Arizona. That’s five of six playoff teams, man. That’s how you build offensive consistency in this league. It’s no secret. Minnesota made changes at QB looking for a spark, but they’ve got Superman running the ball, which makes a big difference. We lost Garcia for five games, and he didn’t have his best stuff for the last two.”

3) Monte Kiffin blew it. Yes, Chucky will sell out Kiffin big time. Monte is a prime and easy target after the run defense completely collapsed and the pass rush stayed invisible during the final four games. And, of course, Chucky will point to a sound offensive performance in December, when Garcia was healthy.

“Hey, I’m the head coach. So I accept responsibility for this team running out of gas. But I have to throw some of that on Monte. His guys, for whatever reason, quit tackling and battling hard in December. Maybe Monte got a little soft on them in December. I don’t know, man. I wish I did. I maybe should have supervised Monte a bit more. But I had no reason not to trust him. They had their share of injuries, too. But I tell you, Raheem Morris, I hired that kid years ago, and he’s a real NFL star who is ready to shine. I like the way we work together.”

4) Remember 2007 and 2005. Chucky will focus the Glazers on his lightning-quick turnaround of the team from the Gradkowski-Simms debacle of 2006, to the division title in 2007. And he won’t let them forget about how a healthy running back (Cadillac Williams) put the team back in the playoffs in 2005. He’ll talk about why it will happen again in 2009, and it will be easier.

“For 2009, Bill Muir and I already groomed and built the league’s youngest and most promising offensive line. It’s the envy of the NFL, really. When we can put some healthy running backs behind them, like Earnest Graham and whatever stud we can get from free agency or the draft, we’re looking at another 1,000-yard rusher like Caddy in 2005. And we all know how a running game makes our quarterbacks and receivers shine.”

5) Here’s where Gruden goes to bat hard for Jeff Garcia. Yes, Jeff Garcia. Chucky needs to convince the Glazers that Garcia is a perfect fit in Tampa, and the two of them have had a spiritual and football breakthrough, as evidenced by the team’s offensive improvement in December. Chucky just can’t risk demanding a new quarterback. Chucky knows that would make him look too flaky and incompetent. …And in the same breath, Gruden will remind the Glazers how incredible rookie fourth-string QB Josh Johnson progressed this season. Remember, Gruden just last week, told the Oakland media how Johnson is a star in the making and how he just needs a little more time in Chucky’s laboratory to develop.

“We’re set at quarterback, as far as I’m concerned. Jeff Garcia is a winner, a Pro Bowler, and he’s got more left in the tank than a lot of guys five or six years younger than him. He’s found success in this system. And I see him in another Pro Bowl in 2009, when we put some more weapons around him. Hey, man, in a division with Drew Brees, Jake Delhomme and Matt Ryan, you need an all-star like Garcia to keep pace.”

6) Antonio Bryant. Gruden will take credit for securing the Glazers a true No. 1 receiver at a bargain price. The trumpets will sound loudly on this one, so the Glazers feel the potential pain of losing their bargain-hunter-in-chief.

“I’m very proud of Antonio and his evolution into a premier receiver in the NFL. I give him all the credit, but at the same time, I saw in him what many others didn’t. His second year in this offense is going to excite our fans.

7) Clifton Smith. The rookie, Pro Bowl return man will serve as another prime example for Gruden to talk about his player development ability and how he can find great value on the street when it comes to grabbing hidden gems. 

“I’m so pround of Clifton. We worked hard with him to get over his fumbling problems, showed him a lot of faith where other coaches might have sat him down. Smith turns around and makes us look pretty smart. He’s a star in the league now. And we expect him to contribute big things in the backfield for us next year as a situational back.”

8) Show extreme confidence in the Bucs offense. This is where Gruden talks about adding major pieces to the puzzle on defense, thereby taking more shots at Kiffin and praising new defensive coordinator Raheem Morris – his hire – at the same time. Gruden will tell the Glazers that the defensive line is the team’s weakness, maybe even urging them to sign Carolina free agent Julius Peppers to change the balance of power in the NFC South, and to go after a young run-stuffing monster for the D-Line. Gruden will stress that an improved D-line will change the entire team. Again, this all takes the focus off the Gruden’s offense, which he knows can’t handle the scrutiny.

9) More piling on Monte Kiffin. Key for Gruden is the last two games against the Chargers and Raiders. No doubt he’ll remind the Glazers how the offense led the team to fourth-quarter leads in both games. Chucky could be nominated for an Academy Award for expressing just how close this 2008 team was to a great season.

10) Lastly, Chucky’s 2007 contract extension likely came with Chucky expressing his plan for the Bucs future. Now what did he say back then? That answer likely will be key for the Glazers decision on whether Chucky returns in 2009, Year 2 of his current contract. After last season, more than likely, Chucky told the Glazers he was positioning the Bucs to improve at all positions for the future, while still competing for the title in 2008. To Justify his ’08 performance, Chucky can point to Bryant, Smith (versus Dexter Jackson), Garcia, Johnson and the offensive line development, including drafting of Jeramy Zuttah. On defense, he’ll look at Jermaine Phillips’ evolution, and growth by Sabby Piscitelli and Aqib Talib, along with alleged progression by Gaines Adams, and most important, the grooming of soon-to-be defensive coordinator Raheem Morris, for which Gruden will take plenty of credit.

Joe wonders whether this is all enough for Chucky to convince the Glazers not to overhaul the team with a new head coach. Right now, Joe thinks Gruden returns for 2009. But that could change in a heartbeat if the Glazers think they have a good shot at Bill Cowher or their first and truest love, Bill Parcells, the guy who jilted them twice.

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