“I’m Going To Be The Same Prick They Know Me To Be”

August 15th, 2016


Joe was among the masses eager for offensive line coach George Warhop to be shipped to Siberia after the 2014 season. The Custodian of Canton, JoeBucsFan.com columnist eye-RAH! Kaufman, talked to Warhop and others at One Buc Palace about Warhop’s rise from fan punching bag to revered figure.


Standing with George Warhop one sultry morning after practice at One Buc Place, I pointed to a group of Tampa Bay fans waiting patiently behind the ropes for autographs.

“See these people over there, George,” I said, gesturing to the crowd. “A lot of them wanted to run your butt out of town a year ago.”

Warhop and I shared a laugh, until we both realized how true that assertion was after Tampa Bay’s disastrous 2014 season.

By the end of his initial year as offensive line coach of the Bucs, Warhop’s future under Lovie Smith appeared uncertain. Tampa Bay went 2-14, undermined by an offense that averaged a mere 292 yards per game and a line that allowed 52 sacks.

The Bucs couldn’t run a lick that year and Warhop couldn’t hide. His veteran unit was routinely manhandled.

Doug Martin and Charles Sims were often nailed behind the line of scrimmage and quarterbacks Josh McCown and Mike Glennon were buried alive.

How grim was it? Former starting left tackle Anthony Collins, only 30, can’t land another job in the NFL … even as a backup.

“It was a bad deal in 2014,” Warhop said, shaking his head at the miserable memory. “You get a new staff for a lot of reasons and that first year was lousy because there was a lot of stuff going on.”


In retrospect. the Jeff Tedford fiasco doomed those Bucs from the start. Tedford never called a play as offensive coordinator and instead of replacing him with an experienced hand, the Bucs foolishly elevated Marcus Arroyo to a role he wasn’t ready for.

“There were a lot of things we had to deal with that year,” Evan Smith said. “We did a lot better as a group last season. Coach Warhop doesn’t change. Our attitude has changed — and the offense has changed.”

Last year under Dirk Koetter, Tampa Bay’s offense set franchise records, averaging 376 yards while rookie Jameis Winston was dropped only 27 times.

The Bucs improved almost a full yard per snap, averaging 5.9 yards compared to only 5.0 yards under Arroyo.

And as Koetter will be the first to tell you, none of that happens if Warhop’s crew doesn’t author a startling comeback story.

Martin and Sims combined for 1,931 yards on the ground, helping Winston turn in a stellar rookie season. The line overcame the lengthy absence of right tackle Demar Dotson as the longest-tenured Buc recovered from a knee injury suffered in the preseason opener.

Joe Hawley proved a reliable replacement for Smith at center, Warhop coaxed one final solid season out of left guard Logan Mankins, and Tampa Bay started second-round draft picks Donovan Smith and Ali Marpet up front.

“Most offensive line coaches that I’ve worked with would be scared to death to put one rookie out there,” said Bucs GM Jason Licht. “To put two rookies out there has always been taboo. Then we set a franchise record for yards and give up only 27 sacks … that’s an incredible job.”

Warhop says he never lost confidence in himself, and that’s understandable. He relied on his experience over more than three decades in the coaching business that includes a stop at Boston College — where he and Koetter crossed paths.

Koetter made some significant changes in his coaching staff since taking over for Smith seven months ago, but he retained Warhop.

“I only know one way to do it,” Warhop said. “If it doesn’t work, I’m going to get fired. Our guys up front did a nice job last year. Could they have done a better job? Yes. I’m the same every year. I’m going to be the same prick they know me to be.”

Focused On Strengths

Expectations are now higher for Tampa Bay’s offensive line, and that’s alright with the men in the trenches.

“Coach Warhop is very demanding and tough,” Smith said. “He wants you to strive for perfection.”

In one of Vince Lombardi’s most famous sound bites, he implored his Packers: “If we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.”

While no one is confusing Warhop with Green Bay’s legendary leader, he has won Licht over completely.

“He is very hard on the guys in the room, and they like it,” Licht said. “George never, ever gives up on anyone. He sees something in every player. It goes back to the old adage — don’t tell me what a guy can’t do, tell me what he can do.”

12 Responses to ““I’m Going To Be The Same Prick They Know Me To Be””

  1. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Great read Ira…..like the detail….It bodes well for those who preach having some patience with players and coaches…..all can have a bad year…..but some are good enough to rebound.

  2. Nole on Sat.-Bucc on Sun. Says:

    I second what Tampabay said.

  3. SB with Jameis Says:

    I enjoy your articles Ira. To be quite honest I haven’t read your stuff for years since I moved out of Florida. Glad you are here at JBF now.

  4. Stanglassman Says:

    I didn’t expect many comments on this article not many around here like to admit when they’ve been wrong.

  5. Buccfan37 Says:

    It shows how a team can turn the bad into the good with the right players and coaching. Coach Warhop gains some respect from fickle fans a bonus.

  6. BuccaneEric75 Says:

    Even the best coaches look bad with bad players.

  7. DavidBigBucsFan99 Says:

    No doubt. Very good read on Warhop. Hopefully Jameis is dropped less than 20 times and Dougie Sims And James lay 3000 yds on the ground .

  8. Dustin Gordon Says:

    good stuff!

  9. Pickgrin Says:

    Nicely written Ira. Man you are really classing the joint up around here with these longer and more detail oriented offerings. No offense at all Joe – you guys do a fantastic job and are more prolific than ANYbody regarding Bucs info. But its a nice balance with Ira here now. His experience as a writer is more than obvious.

    Like SB, I hadn’t been exposed to Ira’s work all that much in the past few years because I rarely bothered reading the newspaper in the last 10 years. And I live right here in Pinellas Co. and got the St Pete times for years and would always pick up the Trib on Sundays and Mondays during football season as well.

    I was obviously far from alone in gradually losing interest in the newspaper format. Sites like JBF and PR now provide so much better, deeper and more immediate Buccaneer info than a newspaper ever could – and the addition of audio and video to the mix is the deal-maker in terms of fan interest and audience share moving forward.

    Hats off to the Joe’s for recognizing the shift and the market need for what they provide. And for working their butts off 24/7-365 over the last 8 years to turn this here opinionated lil web site into arguably the best and most legitimate source of Buccaneer news to be found anywhere. It is certainly the most prolific and no one could argue that fact.

    I was honestly hoping all along after the demise of the Trib that Ira would hook on here with the Joes. Never really said anything publicly but I thought it made sense. Ira needed a job covering the Buccaneers in order to maintain his HOF presenter status. He has “unfinished business” regarding Lynch and Barber as everyone knows. Kaufman’s presence here on JBF is a real boost in legitimacy for this website as well. Not only because he’s a good writer – but he’s been around this market for so long and has so many contacts and sources within and around the Buccaneer organization.

    I didn’t really intend for this to turn into a high-fiveing, ass-slapping novella – but I do think that kudos and congratulations are due all around for this merger of Bucs reporting talent you guys got going on up in here.

    And regarding Warhop – I will admit that I was ready to see him fired after the 2014 season. There was no evidence whatsoever at the time to suggest he could pull a rabbit out of a hat the way he did in molding the 2015 unit into a damn decent OLine. It just goes to show you how badly the lack of a competent OC can hurt every aspect of the offense – and also how having a GM that can spot talent is a huge part of the “cure” that a bad team needs.

  10. Nole on Sat.-Bucc on Sun. Says:

    Great write up by you Pick.

  11. Old Time Buc Says:

    This site is the most informative on the Bucs there is and Ira was a classy addition. Didn’t always agree with his articles but at least he told it straight as he could.

  12. blind melon Says:

    I was one in 2014 on the get the Hop outta town. Glad that things worked out, but want to see this oline better than it was last year.