Talking 2017 Bucs With Tony Dungy

January 13th, 2017


Tampa Bay’s only Hall of Fame voter pens columns for Mondays, Wednesdays and Friday, and churns out his popular podcasts Tuesdays and Thursdays. Enjoy as Ira shares some of his chat today with Tony Dungy.


I had the pleasure of Tony Dungy’s company at breakfast Friday morning for an in-depth discussion about John Lynch’s demanding role in that iconic Buc defense.

More on that subject in later columns, but I also had the opportunity to get a Hall of Fame coach’s thoughts on the current state of the Buccaneers and Jameis Winston’s leadership skills.

What was the biggest surprise of our meeting? A sportswriter picked up the check.

Dungy, who still lives in Tampa, now serves as an NFL analyst for NBC, working with Rodney Harrison and Mike Tirico to break down games. He pays particularly close attention to the Bucs, who just posted their first winning season since 2010.

“I thought the Bucs did exactly what the plan called for when they got Jameis,” Dungy said. “They said they were going to build the offense around him and then build the defense. I thought the defense came around very well this year.

“To me, the Bucs are right there. They beat Kansas City at Arrowhead and they beat Seattle, so they know they can compete at the highest level — and that’s the first step. It would have been great to have beaten Dallas or New Orleans in December, but they are right on the doorstep.”

Buc fans are eagerly anticipating free agency and the draft, hopeful to fill holes on a club that vaulted from the NFC South basement to second place.

“It’s going to take a little maturing, which will come, and a couple of more game-changing players,” Dungy said. “One guy on each side of the ball who can turn a game around. I think the players will embrace the raised expectations. They will be fired up in the offseason with the realization that from Game 1, we can’t let a game get away.”

Wallets Ready

We’ve seen a rise in Buc fever around town, but ticket sales at Raymond James Stadium remain a tough sell.

“I think the fans are a year away,” Dungy said. “They seen we’ve got something good going here, but prove it to me. They’ve been disappointed for so long, but if the Bucs get off to a good start, you’ll see fan interest really take off.”

Winston turned 23 last week and his stature as the face of this franchise is not open for debate.

“Jameis is a natural,” said Dungy. “From Day 1, his teammates have embraced his leadership. Everybody respects how much work he puts in, how much he loves the game. I can tell from talking to Gerald McCoy and some of the other defensive guys how much they respect Jameis.”

Adjusting Focus

Dungy applauded the move of granting defensive coordinator Mike Smith an extension.

“They’ve got some good young building blocks on defense,” he said. “Now they need to get to the point where they know each other so well, they can spend all their focus on the other team. What they did this year was phenomenal. The next step is to grow into a cohesive unit.

“Mike Smith is very sound. His defenses have always been steady. If they stay the course with this system, they will get better and better.”

Now comes the challenge of taking the next step, progressing from a 9-7 club to a perennial playoff participant.

“All of a sudden, the Bucs will be getting national TV games,” Dungy said, “You’re not sneaking up on anybody and your schedule gets a little tougher. People aren’t circling you as a victory anymore. It’s harder than you think. The 2017 Bucs are going to have to raise their level … we’ll see if they’re up to it.”

27 Responses to “Talking 2017 Bucs With Tony Dungy”

  1. Lord Cornelius Says:

    I duno about schedule being tougher.

    Opponents we faced in 2016 had a record of 139-117 in 2015 – and was rated the 5th toughest schedule in the league

    The opponents we’re facing in 2017 had a record of 125-130-1 in 2016 – and ranks about average.

  2. tdtb2015 Says:

    Is up to Jameis. The great thing is he has the necessary focus and determination to achieve the task. Now he knows the difference between college and the NFL. I am convince his hunger for a Super Bowl win increases with every game.

    We are witnessing the building of probably the best Buccaneer team in the history of the franchise.

    WOW what an off season.

    Go Bucs!!!

  3. Pickgrin Says:

    Whatever Tony. You were very vocal that the Bucs should draft Mariota and not Winston. Maybe if you had done some real research into the type of person Winston is and looked at the facts around the one major allegation against him that was totally FALSE – you would not have tried so hard to keep him from being a Buccaneer. Its hard to forget that fact and its pretty easy for you to praise Winston now that he’s thrown for over 8000 yards in 2 seasons…

  4. PSK Buc Fan Says:

    Wow! So the guy that tried to get the Bucs to not pick No. 3 has actually come around.

  5. Buc Fan in NC Says:

    Koetter preferred Mariota btw.

  6. Buccfan37 Says:

    Dungy irks me too. The Bucs are getting better all the time. The anticipation for a building offseason into next season is hotly awaited.

  7. Fred E. Buc Says:

    This is pro sports journalism ladies and gents. This is the top of the heap. This is the best it gets. I don’t know Ira from Adam (or Eve), short of seeing him file past me getting on a plane coming back from Detroit, Houston, or whereever after spending the last night or early morning on his due outs after usual Bucs losses in recent years. I’m just a fan that gets around. And I’ll say that Ira is no comparison to the main, no ONLY, periodical calling itself by the Bay Area region. You know, the sub-standard one. The newspaper of lost opportunity. Ira for Joe is how you cover the Bucs. I’m shocked after 41 years of Bucs fandom from me alone the local media shills can’t figure out this is how you do it. I can’t believe they can’t lose talking about their Pittsburgh and Chicago teams. Somehow, I think this breakfast talk Ira had with Dungy has a lot to do with how Ira will simply professionally capture, in slam-dunk fashion why John Lynch, a mean hard-hitting rule pushing Safety and all (in modern da PC NFL)…MUST be in the HoF this year. John earned it. Ira will push it over the top. Who else around here has that ability, loyalty, and gravitas. God knows, I hate media, but I like me some Ira and JoeBucsFan…better yet in the offseason.

  8. Pickgrin Says:

    Buc Fan in NC Says:
    January 13th, 2017 at 5:47 pm
    Koetter preferred Mariota btw.

    prove it. you can’t because its not true.

  9. Architek Says:

    Jameis and Kwon will need to lead us into next season full steam ahead.

  10. Fred E. Buc Says:

    Koetter is the first HC since Gruden that I think the Glazers are truly excited about. Yeah, Raheem turning in 10-6 in 2010 was “winning” but I think that was pain pill relief, not solving a problem. Let’s talk about those ticket sales. The Bucs have no deposits, and I will tell you they will refund your mone over a hardship in many cases. But let’s be real. With so much competing for the average Joe’s buck (no pun intended) in paradise here, and most profits in the NFL coming from adverstising/marketing (networks), Bucs fans need to demand ticket prices come back down. The Bucs raised prices, and my $10K price suffers for six tix, but they need to pull in a couple of playoff berths and finish that stadium mod first. Tell your Bucs member rep. The Bucs by cost of living and shear good marketing, should boast the cheapest tix in the NFL, and sell out every game.

  11. Tackleblockwin Says:

    Just still so happy we have Mike Smith locked up. So huge Tampa…its Huuuuuge. In so many ways it’s just Huuuuge!

  12. Blake_bucsfan Says:

    @Pickgrin, he’s already admitted that he was wrong and embraced Jameis both as a really good, potentially great Qb. And noted that he admired Jaboo’s leadership and growth as a young man.

  13. Blake_bucsfan Says:

    Funnily enough, both Koetter and Monken preferred Mariota over Jameis Pre-Draft. So to did a LOT of people on this website. For months people spewed vicious and vile things about him on here, the more ignorant ones still do.

    Luckily I can call myself a Jameis supporter from day 1. Although I wasn’t posting on Joebucsfan at the time, I vividly remember having a conversation before the start of the 2014 season that somehow, someway I wanted the Bucs to end up with Jameis under center. I had no Idea that someway would involve us going 2-14 under bumbling Lovie, but holy crap, I wouldn’t change a thing.

    There isn’t another young QB in the League I’d take over Jameis, his passion and fire are beyond emulation. I honestly do believe that when it’s all said and done, he could go down as one of the best to ever do it. He is that special.

    Once we get these #Weapons for Winston, all but the most Bigoted fans will be on board.

  14. Buc1987 Says:

    Oh poor Blake…you missed all the action in here pre-draft.

    It’s why I dubbed myself JBF’s very own Jameis Winston Authority.

    You should search the archives under “Jameis Watch”. It was as the kids used to say…epic.

    Oh and you’re right btw. The league is about to be put on notice.

  15. Rrsrq Says:

    Bucs haven’t won consistently since Tony D. Even Gruden was up and down. Tony gave Jameis props before Joe did the article, he admitted being impressed with Jameis in his rookie year, not after, not only that, TD had personal knowledge with MM, his son played for Oregon with MM, so like many of you, you go with the person you know with most things being equal.

  16. Blake_bucsfan Says:

    Oh no dude, I was here man, I was just more of a lurker in those days. I would Just read the articles, and didn’t comment. I remember the wicked words tossed his way, Just gonna make it that much sweeter when he brings home the Gleam.

  17. Buc Fan N NC Says:

    Pickgrin for the last time. Here’s your link

  18. Stpetebucsfan Says:

    It’s not important WHEN these guys came around. What is important is that they HAVE come around.

    Before every draft folks have opinions…sometimes they are right…sometimes they are wrong. That’s why those opinions..correct or mistaken are not what is important.

    3 years after the draft the player is then judged on performance not opinion. I’d rather have somebody think a player is not right and have him totally exceed expectations than think their great and have them bust.

    #3 is ahead of that 3 year sked. He’s already got his pre draft detractors on board.
    All’s well that ends well!

  19. TouchDownTampaBay Says:

    Ok first of all the guys that did the real research knew there was no question as to who the pick should have been. It was only the guys who were uninformed that supported Mariota. While Koetter may have initially believed in Mariota because of his relationship with his college coach, make no mistake the trio all agreed that Winston was the man. I did a lot of research and they did much much more. There was no real debate once the draft day arrived.

  20. TouchDownTampaBay Says:

    St Pete was actually similar to Dirk probably. Initially he was a Mariota but gradually over time he came to his senses. I also remember a lot of guys saying the Noles here were just being homers. I am not a Noble but I know many who are and they don’t tout all of their players (i.e. I never heard any Noles saying EJ Manuel was the man). In fact I heard many of them saying that he wasn’t that good and shouldn’t have been taken so early. Being an avid fan of a school and watching all of their games gives you a good understanding of the players and how good they may be at the next level. I trust most of them now that swear by Cook. What is your take on him 87? I haven’t seen you say much about him.

  21. Buc1987 Says:

    TouchDownTampaBay…I’m back and forth on Cook. I guess it all depends on FA and what they do there. I’m also one of those guys that just doesn’t like drafting a RB in 1st rnd. We saw guys come of the street (Rodgers) and run pretty well behind our line. Plus I keep reading the draft is stocked with backs.

    To sum it up. I really like Cook. The kid runs by DB’s on a regular basis. I mean runs…. by them. Like a blur and before you know it he’s in the endzone. He’s quick, has great cuts, a helluva burst, great vision and catches the ball well.

  22. Stpetebucsfan Says:


    St Pete was actually similar to Dirk probably. Initially he was a Mariota but gradually over time he came to his senses.


    But I concede I had an advantage that DK did not…87 was whaling on me every evening here at JBF! LMAO. He MADE me see the light!

  23. Stpetebucsfan Says:

    The kid runs by DB’s on a regular basis. I mean runs…. by them. Like a blur and before you know it he’s in the endzone. He’s quick, has great cuts, a helluva burst, great vision and catches the ball well.

    Yes 87! This is why NOSBOS and I lust for him soooo much.

    I hear ya about RB’s in the first round. I agree to the extent that they need to be genuine game changers and perhaps even generational like AP.

    Dalvin and a fast WR (Pryor lol) instantly give us game changing speed. Imagine a little swing to Dalvin….whooops there he goes to the house.

    Imagine year before last if Dalvin had the holes Martin had…he would not have been pulled down from behind like Dougie.

    I just believe we can’t draft scared at this point. Let’s go for the gusto…Cook would be putting some serious chips on the table. Add a player or two to our D and watch out we might hit 87’s forecast of a SB this year.

    Do we want to get incrementally better or blow the lid off the motha.

    Pryor at the other WR and Cook in the backfield (again he can CATCH) and this team is suddenly explosive…in just one offseason!

  24. Blake_bucsfan Says:

    You know who else ran by Db’s in college on a regular basis?

    Todd Gurley.

  25. Buc1987 Says:

    lol I whaled on everyone about Jameis. Morning, noon and night.

    lol I remember coming in here on one Sunday morning during the season, with what I called a Jameis Blitz. It drove people bonkers.

    Talked about a petition around the parking lot to to give to the Glazers to get Winston. It was all craziness for about 3-4 months straight. It started early cause Joe started Jameis Watch early before the season was even over. I think it was like late Oct or early Nov.

    I got what I wanted. I really never cared about what they wanted. It was always talk to the hand anyways. Damn I took some hits too. The closer we got to the draft I was taking harder and harder hits. I forget all the names there was so many people in here.

  26. TouchDownTampaBay Says:

    One time in my life I have pulled hard for a Bucs loss. I literally was jumping up and down when we lost to the Saints to secure that first pick and the rights to JW. We will never know what happened but I think Licht and the Glazers gave Lovie his marching orders to throw the game and sit the starters. Licht is on record saying he wanted JW rather than drafting Johnny Football the year he came out. I think the Glazers and Licht never really considered taking Mariota. ’87 and I knew it and it was very annoying to listen to all the uninformed Mariota boys.

  27. LifeOfABucFan Says:

    Fred E Buc..great two posts you did there..