The Fish That Wiggled Off The Hook

October 2nd, 2014
What might have been.

What might have been. Former Bucs rockstar general manager Mark Dominik tells more of the real story of the Bucs and Chip Kelly.

Yes, we are just past the quarter-mile marker in the mile run that is the NFL regular season, Lovie Smith’s first with Tampa Bay. But we really don’t know what to expect.

It’s like daydreaming about what would have happened if Chip Kelly, not Greg Schiano, agreed to be Bucs head coach back in 2012. Kelly, then the University of Oregon head coach, has been nothing short of sensational at every stop in his football life, including leading the Philadelphia Eagles to the playoffs last year.

Yet two years ago, he had a handshake agreement with Team Glazer to take over for jettisoned Raheem Morris. At the last moment, Kelly got cold feet.

In a recent podcast with Peter Schrager of Fox Sports, former Bucs rock star general manager Mark Dominik explained how Kelly was literally a handful of hours from being introduced as the new Bucs coach. The transaction was a done deal.

Peter Schrager: You guys made a major play for Chip Kelly. The word out on the street was he was going to come to Tampa then he backs out at the last second. Can you go into the recruiting process of courting Chip Kelly before you hired Greg Schiano?

Mark Dominik: Yeah, you know, it is interesting how things play out. You kind of look at different things back in your career at pivotal moments of where I have been so far. We were far down the road with Chip Kelly. We met him multiple times outside of the Tampa area. I spent a lot of time on the phone with his agent. And quite frankly, we had everything done. It was put to bed. Ready to go. Contract numbers were agreed upon. The contract was being written up. But Chip had a change of heart at that point. I think he was very concerned not just with leaving Oregon but who he was leaving in charge of Oregon. Just making sure he left that place as good as he found it and I don’t think he felt that way. I don’t think he had that feel when he was leaving. Sadly, he called me at 11:30 p.m. …

Schrager: What is that phone call like? Even just hearing this I cringe because who knows what the NFL would be like if Tampa had Chip Kelly right now?

Dominik: (Laughs) It is a tough call to get. You get the call and he says, “I just can’t do it.” And I told him, “Why don’t you just sleep on it? Take a little bit more time. We’re not in a rush. It doesn’t have to be tomorrow and it doesn’t have to be the next day.” I think the Senior Bowl [practices were] coming that Monday so it was coming quick. So you wanted to get your coach in place because you were facing some real hard deadlines in terms of putting a staff together. It was difficult but you just have to respect it. It is a person’s opinion. It was hard.

Now a smart aleck would suggest that Kelly’s cold feet came about when he realized his quarterback would have been Josh Freeman. Joe doubts any of us will ever know.

Joe can only guess if not dream what might have happened, but for a few hours of downtime for Kelly to get antsy.
chip kelly

52 Responses to “The Fish That Wiggled Off The Hook”

  1. rhenry Says:


  2. Stanglassman Says:

    You just found out the truth from the guy himself and you still want to believe something because it has a cute cartoon. You really think Chip Kelly didn’t look into who the QB was until after he agreed to his contract. Really?!

  3. Rob Says:

    hilarious. What franchise can say they’ve been left at the alter 3 times by premier coaches.

  4. Unislookgoodunislookugly Says:

    Hogwash!! If Kelly comes here not only is Josh still our QB but he’s a better QB. So suggesting he didn’t come here because of Josh is just a slap in the face to guy that doesn’t deserve it. Joe I get the impression you are really just trying to piss off the Big Dog. What I find amazing is no one has brought up one of the most ugly series’ in the game last week when Glennon and the offense marched backwards resulting in a 3rd and 35. On that series we had a holding call, back to back delay of games, then an audible to a run play that loses yardage. Now when Freeman had a similar drive his last year the town was ready to storm One Buc and ride Freeman out of town. Now because the Steelers handed the Bucs the game and Glennon finally completes a ball in the red zone after 5 attempts this town is over reactive Glennon lovers.
    Bottom line if Kelly is here we don’t see Schiano ruin careers by beating his players down mentally and Freeman is the franchise QB that everyone thought he was going to be. And Glennon is probably 3rd string on the Browns.
    It’s going to be fun watching how fast the goobers jump off the Glennon bandwagon during the bye week.

  5. nate_tweetz Says:

    That gif is hilarious but probably so true. Looking back, it was probably the best decision Chip Kelly ever made. Having to deal with all of Josh Freeman’s issues may have done even Chip Kelly in.

  6. Ray Rice Says:

    F(B)uck Chip Kelly. Hes not here so why you worried about him Joe?

  7. Architek Says:

    I can see that.

  8. phreakybucfan Says:

    We’ve only heard what dominick thinks was Kelly’s reason for backing out at the last minute. I would really love to directly from chip kelly why he had a change of heart. With that said, it’s past time to move on. Let’s focus our support on today’s bucs.

  9. Says:

    Lets give credit where its due…that was an awesome Gif!
    But more than 3 times left at the alter. I prefer to think of only the TUNA chances as ‘at the alter’. remember you could change that GIF to Jimmy Johnson and trent differ and it would be accurate, although Dilfer got his moment Week 4 of 1997 to tell Johnson he messed up! (not that he did, he never would have turned this around like Dungy did IMO).

    By the way, 20th anniversary today of the Bucs 1st Punt return for TD by vernon t turner. Video is on Bucstop when anyone gets a chance.

  10. nate_tweetz Says:

    Unis… You need to get off of whatever you are smoking. So you’re saying Greg Schiano’s tough style was what did Josh Freeman in? C’mon man! Dude had been a whack job for years, can’t even secure a backup QB role on ANY team a year later while the greatness that is Austin Davis, Fitzpatrick, Whitehurst, Anderson, Stanton, and Cousins have all come in the first 3 weeks of the season as backups and played for their teams. But Freeman can’t sniff a job??? And that’s Schiano’s fault? Absurd! Freeman was gift wrapped a starting job in Minnesota and sh!t the bed there too. Also wasn’t good enough to even see preseason with the Giants and they carried 4 QB’s into camp! LOL. your outlook on “what would have been” with a Chip Kelly/Freeman duo is laughable.

  11. Stanglassman Says:

    What issues Nate? Freeman had no issues until he was shopped all summer by Shiano on his contract year after leading the offense to 10th in the NFL and throwing for over 4K.

  12. BucBob1 Says:

    Maybe he didn’t like Dominick.

  13. Stanglassman Says:

    Unis is correct you are the one buying into the BS the is being peddled.

  14. Stanglassman Says:

    No one is disputing the Freeman wasn’t immature the way he handled it or that Schiano didn’t screw the Kid up for good.

  15. lightningbuc Says:

    Kelly was probably afraid he’d be upstaged by a “rock star”.

  16. HawaiianBuc Says:

    Unfortunately, I often think about what could have been had we got Kelly. Of course with our luck, he probably would have had some sort of health procedure done and missed the entire season anyway.

  17. DE Bucs Says:

    That GIF may be the highlight of everything.

  18. Seth B Says:

    Gif is $$$$$

  19. Soggy Says:

    @Unislookgoodunislookugly, Had to start the bashing of glennon with this story? Man we are lucky to have him right now, Think about it, It is not his fault he is doing his job, no 0-16 this year that was looking like a real posability, and we are still in the hunt. Oh freeman is a used up turd, He was good and he alone ruined his chance to be a great QB, Drugs and the wild night life will do that even to the best of us..

  20. HawaiianBuc Says:

    The GIF really is funny. Sometimes you have to appreciate good humor, whether or not it is accurate.

  21. Phillip Says:

    He wanted one last shot at winning the NCAA championship… He knew the NCAA sanctions were coming after him but knew he also had one more year and I am pretty positive agreed to come back if he could name Mark Helfrich his successor… He could tell recruits hey this is going to be your new head coach come next season… You didn’t see a drop in commits at all from Oregon after he left for the Eagles job… When he was about to leave for Tampa recruits were ready to jump ship left and right because it was so sudden..

    I doubt he looked at Freeman and was like F that I’m not taking the Tampa job.. He was only a year removed from being the 2010 QB that got everyone saying he’s a top 10 QB in the NFL… The Eagles QB position wasn’t better than ours then… Saying hey Mike Vick who can never stay healthy for a full season and Nick Foles are an improvement over what I could have had in Tampa.. Nah I doubt it…

    The only other logical thing was he wanted to draft his own QB to fit his scheme and the Glazers or Dom wouldn’t okay it… But even then it doesn’t make much sense because the Eagles drafted Matt Barkley last year and he DEFINITELY doesn’t fit the normal Chip Kelly QB.

  22. Phillip Says:

    Still wish we would have landed him… How nice would it be to have a humming offense most of the time? Oh the possibilities 🙂

    But there was no guarantee we would have drafted LVD so I’ll take the losing and crap coaches just to have him!

  23. nate_tweetz Says:

    Stanglassman… Players get shopped around all the time and it doesn’t ruin them for life. Freeman was too weak to handle that I guess. He was handed the Minnesota job and still couldn’t show up on time to practice and meetings. I guess he was late cause Schiano slit his tires right? SMDH. I’ve never seen so many excuses made for a guy before. Why don’t you go find Freeman out and maybe he can be your QB on an intramural flag football team or something?

  24. Chef Paul Says:

    Like Phil Simms said last night on Inside the NFL, if the QB’s psyche is ruined that easily, then I don’t want that QB on my team.

  25. BigMacAttack Says:

    @Hawaiian, lmao!
    So true

  26. Wombat Says:

    I call BS!! If you QB is so fragile, that being called out by a coach ruins his career… well I am sorry. Freeman would have been crying like a baby if Gruden got hold of him.
    Let’s don’t forget he was drafted high after a recommendation to the GM by his old Defense Coordinator from Kansas State. Not saying Raheem sucks at drafting QB’s, but the fact is, Freeman had all the talent in the world. A life of prescription drugs or whatever changed the way he reacted on the field. He was always lost out there and confused. Not what you want in your QB. Freeman is done, move on, nothing to see here…..

  27. Joseph Mamma Says:

    Freeman has proved this past offseason that, and last year at Minnesota that he just doesn’t put the game first. IMO it doesn’t have too much to do with Schiano. Especially after he was released here. Hey he’s a free man, he can prioritize his life however he wants. But being a QB requires drive.

  28. mpmalloy Says:

    Gruden probably told him what it was like to work for the owners
    who consistently run the franchise on the cheap and really don’t
    care about American football.

    Before the shills get all indignant and try to earn their checks
    look at history: Gruden was a genius. Who did he have? No one.
    He literally made an above average team out of a rag-tag crew
    of has-beens, rejects and nobodies. The owners naively overlooked
    that it was Gruden that kept the team competative and thought they
    could fire him (at this time Gruden was the last big-ticket item on
    the team). Yeah! We can replace high-priced Gruden with bargain
    Morris and the players will play harder for Morris. How’d that work
    out for you? ….and here we are in 2014. The media is scared to
    death to criticize the owners so I’ll do it for them.

  29. Love and Warrick Dunn Says:

    If Chip didn’t like Freeman, he would have dumped, same way he dumped Desean Jackson.

    There’s a reason Freeman is not in the league and Austin Davis is starting in STL. Freeman struggled plenty before Schiano even arrived, let’s not revise history. Schiano main faults were actual gameday coaching, it was putrid. He has to live with that shoddy part of his resume. But, Freeman ruined Freeman.

  30. John Valenti Says:

    I dont know why fans beat on Freeman so hard. He was one of.the better, if not the best, Bucs QB. He put up solid numbers with a no name O (Mike Williams was his number one) and then when he was given weapons he improved his numbers to 4500 yards and another solid td/int ratio. He led 12 4th qtr comebacks in his time. Schiano DEFINITELY helped ruin Free’s career. Free had a revolving door of coaches, coordinators, lineman, QB coaches and receivers. LETS SEE how long till we see 4500 yds, 26 tds with just 10 ints at the QB position again.

  31. Tom Edrington Says:


    It would be great to know the thinking that went into the underachieving Mark Barron as opposed to the awesomeness that is Luke Kuechly.

  32. Dr T Says:

    Working for the Glasers except for Tony Dungy has been a coach killer!

  33. Brent Says:

    Mpmalloy – How’d Gruden fair once Kiffen checked out? Kiffen, Brooks and Barber kept us competitive, not Gruden and his always extremely mediocre offenses

  34. Maze Says:

    Pure awesomeness. Man do I despise that freeman. Is he in rehab?

  35. OAR Says:

    3 games do not make a season(unfortunately, they killed one). Except for those final three games, when the defense was shell shocked by Kiffens “I’m leaving” speech and quit on both he and Gruden, we will never know how Gruden would have done without Kiffen. Although, I suspect our defense would have been horrible under Raheem. He was going to be the DC before they made the mistake of firing Gruden and hiring him as his replacement as head coach.

  36. christopher Says:

    1)Didn’t Dominick throw Helfrich under the bus a bit here, & basically inadvertently said Kelly didn’t think Helfrich was ready to run Oregon?
    2)In every way, it appeared that Josh Freeman was going to be the QB for a long time in Tampa, as opposed to Philly, where Vick was on the way out & Foles was a nobody (so Kelly could pick his guy). In a public statement though, you really think Dominick is going to throw FREEMAN under the bus here?

  37. Bucamania Says:

    Lol so Chip wasn’t comfortable with who would coach Oregon after he left.

    Riiiight. I’m sure that was it.

    I don’t know what the real reason was but Dom failed to close him and it ultimately cost him his job.

  38. Dusthty Rhothdes Says:

    Whoever said, youd rather have lavonte david than chip kelly because you wouldnt know what would pan out? CMON MAN how many games has david won? Kelly would have these guys competing with a chance for the superbowl

  39. David Says:

    Ok..I’m disappointed that Freeman let his time in Tampa end like it did. He could have been more of a teammate and a leader. But there is no denying that he had the most talent at qb for us since Doug Williams possibly. And i think alot of u share my disappointment. But I hope he can get his s(p)it together. I met guy before and we talked for a good half hour and he seemed like a good dude. Let’s not forget he had a different coordinator every year alalmost. People said some of this same stuff about Alex Smith. With maturity and some stability he’s turned out ok.

  40. Maze Says:

    Freeman will NEVER play again. Thank God

  41. Tye Says:

    That Gif is the best thing that came out of that situation!.{HILARIOUS!}

    And so easy to believe because so many of us saw JF was not the guy… Argue till your blue in the face but 3 teams gave him a chance, 3 teams cut him and no team has shown any belief in him to be their backup, 2nd or 3rd string….

    As for the HC, the Bucs haven’t had one anywhere close to the caliber of Gruden…. Mr. Malcolm did well going after him…. Unfortunately, his son are not so good at picking HC!

  42. sho-nuff Says:


    How many times do the Glazers need to get jilted at the alter before we realize that it’s them. They had to over pay for Gruden…Overrated dungy was not their first pick and they had to give his challenged offensive mind full authority that gave us coordinators like Clyde Christenson(btw he won in indy because they told him he had no control of the offense)…and now we get the worst piece of his tree Lovie Smith.

    Look everybody has been in a situation or had a vibe from a leader that just felt weak..and that’s what we have in Tampa bay. The Glazers had to over pay for father Dungey and now they did the same with Mr. Passive aggressive…

    Sorry Bucs fans you’re stuck with “weak sauce” forever as is ManU and is why they go limp when it matters most as well…

    As for Freeman…connect the dots and recognize the elephant in the room…what did he get popped for? Adderall…notice how his game tanked after he couldn’t take it anymore…”erratic behavior”…”deer in the headlights”…I have ZERO proof other than the fact that he got popped for it and coincidentally his game and life went down hill from there….

    All of these things are red flags for people that don’t need YOU…Chip Kelly did not need the Bucs and it’s why he bailed

  43. pick6 Says:

    freeman might have been a pretty effective NFL starter for a while under Kelly, but i’m not sure that would have been a good thing for the bucs. at the end of the day he was never going to be a heady enough QB for the big moments and would have been a bottleneck to success. moreover, whatever wild ride josh is on in his private life began before schiano got here and i doubt it is over. so, we are without that baggage and can begin our search for a real franchise QB beginning with MG8’s audition.

    with us playing the saints sunday, i want to bring up the name Aaron Brooks. he’s the frustrating talent that everybody thought could be a more well-rounded mike vick type. after some mediocre years with little improvement and frequent regression, they said good bye to coach & QB and the next guy who came in (you might have heard of him) exceeded everyone’s expectations and became the man.

  44. Kalind Says:

    Ha hahahah!!! Omg that was awesome

  45. Buc1987 Says:

    I was looking at Freeman’s twitter page the other day. Wow how depressing.

  46. Schlomie Bupkes-MohelSteinSchlep Says:

    [Begging to be banned, huh? – Joe]

  47. JSmalls Says:

    Seen that GIF on Pewter Report for years… Just saying.

  48. MGMob Exterminator Says:

    Lets be glad about where we are now and stop hating on Freeman please. At the end of the day he was the most talented QB we had in Tampa after Steve Young. And he wasn’t as bad as some people make him to be. Even 2012 which is considered a bust like season by some, his stats would have put him within top 20 QBs of NFL. He was no franchise QB material and I am glad we moved on from him, but people act like he was one of the biggest busts in Bucs history.

  49. MGMob Exterminator Says:

    Also I believe Kelly would have reverted Freeman back to the 2010 form where he was freelancing more with feet and was looking downfield while doing so. I don’t think we would go beyond 8-8 record without special athletes like LeSean McCoy and Sproles on the team.

  50. BucXO Says:

    I’m Glad Kelly is not here. I have 0(that’s zero) respect for anyone who gives you their word and then goes back on it.

    Freeman—It’s all Schiano’s fault. BULL SCHIT ! The only reasons I’ve heard or read are Late, absent, confused, bad play(putting it mildly), pouting and going back to big dog with his complaints and did I say complete melt down on national TV?

    GIF = GOLD Ginny

  51. feelthepewterpower Says:

    Freeman wasn’t a headcase in 2012…not until Schiano man arrived.

  52. feelthepewterpower Says:

    I don’t think we would go beyond 8-8 record without special athletes like LeSean McCoy and Sproles on the team.


    Huh? We went 10-6….should of been 11-5 in 2010 with marginal offensive talent. Sproles wasn’t on the Eagles last year, and McCoy has done jack thus far without an offensive line in place vs. tougher d’s.