Lessons Of 2011 Alive For 2017

February 13th, 2017


Not a bad time to be a Glazer.

The Bucs are coming off their first winning season since 2010, Manchester United hasn’t lost a match in more than three months, and the value of both franchises continues to soar.

Now comes the moment of truth.

We are 24 days from free agency and the Bucs have all the cap room they need if they want to be major players. But do they?

It’s useful to go back to the spring of 2011, when Tampa Bay had just won 10 games with a young quarterback named Josh Freeman. The NFL meetings were held in New Orleans that year and I sat down with co-owner Joel Glazer to reflect on the team’s 10-6 record.

“That was one of the most enjoyable seasons I’ve had in the NFL, seeing this team start to come together for the long term,” Glazer said. “It’s a great feeling when I talk to fans and I see how excited they are.”

Six years later, the parallels are striking.

Some NFL pundits are already tabbing the Bucs as the 2017 team to watch under the leadership of Jameis Winston. It’s easy to understand why.

But the Bucs aren’t there yet.

In 2011, GM Mark Dominik signed punter Michael Koenen in free agency and called it a day. That fall, the Bucs bolted to a 4-2 start before losing their final 10 games, prompting the Glazers to dismiss head coach Raheem Morris.

Here’s Joel Glazer in 2011 on the team’s approach to free agency.

“Our thinking doesn’t change,” he said. “We’re going to stick to the plan. The road that leads to sustained success is drafting well, keeping those players and growing the team that way. You never close the door on anything, but it has to fit your formula for success. Big contracts come along with this formula because if you get it right, you’ve got to pay big salaries — and we look forward to that.

“If there’s a player out there in free agency that gives us a great chance to win a Super Bowl, you have to look at that. But we won’t have a knee-jerk reaction. Every fan I talk to wants a team that they believe can win a Super Bowl year in and year out, not just for one year or two years.”

In retrospect, the 2011 Bucs should have been more aggressive in free agency. Darren Sproles was available from San Diego, but the versatile back signed instead with the Saints and immediately led the NFL with 2,696 all-purpose yards.

For Real This Time

The 2010 Bucs weren’t as good as their record indicated. Freeman kept pulling games out of his butt and there wasn’t enough leadership in the room to pull Tampa Bay out of its death spiral the following season.

The 2016 Bucs are different. Tampa Bay went 6-2 in the second half of the season, losing tight games at Dallas and New Orleans.

A five-game winning streak included victories against league powers Kansas City and Seattle.

“The Bucs were really playing well as a team when we faced them,” Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton told me at the Pro Bowl. “It’s arrows up for Tampa. Winston’s going to be a really good quarterback. He’s not an easy guy to get down and he reminds me of Ben Roethlisberger, a big man who can move in the pocket. You sense how his teammates respond to him — good body language, good vibes.”

Now it’s up to ownership to provide good vibes for Jason Licht, who admits he isn’t proud of a 2014 spending spree that ushered in Anthony Collins, Michael Johnson, Josh McCown and Alterraun Verner.

Licht swears he learned from his mistakes and, to be fair, Lovie Smith had a big hand in shaping that 2014 roster.

Power Shift, Expectations High

Licht has more power now, but he’s not an autocrat. He will work closely with Dirk Koetter to build depth and add impact players on both sides of the ball.

The Bucs are close, and the Glazers know it. Expectations have been raised and that nine-year playoff drought has to end next season or there will be consequences.

“We hope to watch the young guys grow and mature,” Joel Glazer said after that magical 2010 season. “I just can’t wait. It’s been a long time since I’ve been this excited. Last year was one of the most fun years I’ve had as an owner. Don’t get me wrong, winning the Super Bowl is the pinnacle, but last year … the players we had, the chemistry we had, the attitude, the optimism. I can’t wait for what’s next.”

We all know what came next — three coaching changes within a five-year span.

Licht and Koetter are currently stacking their free agent boards and you can be sure the mistakes of 2011 are well documented at One Buc Place.

Here’s some free advice gentlemen … you don’t need a punter.

15 Responses to “Lessons Of 2011 Alive For 2017”

  1. The Buc Realist Says:

    Biggest lesson of all for the Glazers??? That mark dominik was a terrible GM!!!!!

  2. Tampa Tony Says:

    Licht can’t let his or even Dominik’s failures scare him away from adding talent through FA. Building through the draft is great but you have to draft well for that to work and Dominik didn’t do that well enough to rely solely on the draft. Licht is good at 1st round picks but seems to fail on the 2nd and 3rd rounds as ASJ, Sims, Aguyao seem like bad picks and the jury is out on Spence, And Smith.

    A great offseason could propel this team for years to come. All eyes are on you Jason.

  3. Guzzie Says:

    Victor Cruz gets released today, not a bad second option at WR, plus he can sign now since he was released WEAPONS FOR WINSTON

  4. Guzzie Says:

    Nevermind we don’t need a washed up injury prone receiver, already saw that movie last in VJax

  5. Bucsfanman Says:

    We just need to be smarter with the guys we bring in. Spending for spending’s sake doesn’t do anybody any good.

  6. Big-BucsGA Says:

    Good article posted. I certainly will never forget the 2011 off season moves. Nearly 70 million in cap space and we sign a punter. What made me upset as a loyal Bucs fan was that they tried to defend the signing by saying field position wins game. 2011 we had a few holes that we could have addressed and we didn’t. CB, WR, LB and add another RB in 2011 to go along with Blount would have made that 4-2 start become at least a Wildcard playoff berth. 2017 is big for Licht. We have the exact same issue last off season again. Let’s not forget Mark Dominik was not a great GM. The jury is still out on Licht but I understand that the first two drafts where not his picks really it was more of Lovie Smith. I still disagree with his trade back into the second round last year for a Kicker. I think he will be good but the holes we have are at WR, DL, OL, S, and RB. I hope Licht will not be afraid in free agency because of past failures. Not to mention Licht signed JR Sweezy and as soon as he got his signing bonus he was on IR. I don’t understand how they didn’t pickup on the back issue with him before they signed him. I hope Tampa builds through the draft and add good pieces in free agency this year because there will be high expectations this year. I expect another above .500 season and we are able to pull out victories in very very tight games.

  7. tickrdr Says:

    I am probably the biggest “stats nerd” on JBF. My latest research is on the quality of the overall passing offense, as measured by the TD percentage (what percent of the passes result in a TD) and the INT percentage (what percent of the passes result in an INT). Obviously, this stat is reported only for the QB throwing the ball (found under Career Stats on NFL.com), but just as obviously depends on many factors other than the QB; i.e. receivers, rushing attack, O line blocking, play calls etc. But I still think the majority of these stats are on the consistency of the QB, and the likelihood of making the playoffs.

    For instance, Josh Freeman for 2010 had a TD% of 5.3, and an INT% of only 1.3! Voila, the Bucs make the playoffs.
    In 2011 and 2012, Freeman actually threw for more YARDS than in 2010, and even more TDs in 2012 than 2010, but his TD% fell to 2.9% and 4.8% respectfully, while his INT% climbed to 4.0% and 3.0% respectfully. No playoffs.

    I haven’t had the time to research more than the last two years yet, but these two stats (TD% and INT%) seem quite interesting to me. I’ll try to bore you all later with additional info and conjecture.


  8. The Buc Realist Says:


    Maybe look up the stat that the Bucs have not made the playoff since 2007!!!!

  9. Stpetebucsfan Says:


    You left out one very important detail that makes a world of difference in the comparison.

    The Glazers made numerous moves to purchase Man U…they needed 75% of the shares to delist ManU from public trading and make them privately held. They did that after wheeling and dealing for a couple of years completing that purchase in 2005.

    The final purchase price of the club totalled almost £800 million. Most of the capital used by Glazer to purchase Manchester United came in the form of loans, the majority of which were secured against the club’s assets, incurring interest payments of over £60 million per annum.

    Read that last line…their INTEREST payments alone were around 75 MILLION annually. They leveraged big time and the effects were lingering during Rah’s coaching tenure.

    That is all gone now!!! The Glazers completed their leveraged takeover…ManU is raking in the moolah and the Glazers no longer have to plunder the pirate ship to meet interest payments. It’s all good.

    As for our FA’s…I’m concerned about spending $$$ just because we have them.
    Again I don’t even mind overpaying if its for someone like an Ayers or Grimes who produces…Ghost Johnson and Collins would have been a total waste even if we got them at a bargain basement price of one million.

    Got to be the RIGHT FA’s…Grimes and Ayers are excellent examples of the right FA’s. I could name plenty of whiffs but you guys already know the names.

    I don’t simply want FA’s…I want the right FA’s…right for the field and good in the locker room. This team worked too freaking hard to turn the culture around to bring in any Kellen Winslow types regardless of their talent.

  10. Fred E. Buc Says:

    StPeteBucsFan you just clueless and anti-Semitic. We’ve seen your type here down South.
    Awfully harsh and unwarranted, Fred E. Buc. –Joe

  11. gotbbucs Says:

    Draft well and fill holes in free agency. If your goal is to use free agency to bring in “star” players, you will lose. History has proven that time and time again. Dominik was terrible in the draft and had some cancer going through the locker room, thus the lack of consistency after the 2010 season.
    This team is ten times closer than that team, and they seem bought in to the system.

  12. LakeLandBuc Says:

    The Bucs wasn’t trying to win in 2011, but they did sign one Free Agent …The Great Michael Koenen…A Punter….Then they went out and drafted Adrian Clayborn ahead of Cameron Jordan and Muhammad Wilkerson in the 1st round.

  13. Brandon Hendricks Says:

    PLEASE QUIT MENTIONING VICTOR CRUZ PEOPLE!!!! Ira, as always great column! Can’t wait for you to expound upon it on the pod tomorrow

  14. Buc4Lyfe79 Says:

    i believe i’ve heard Ira reference b4 that in 2011, team Glazer actually thought they knew how to run a football team and did not hesitate in injecting their 2cents into personel decisions. I’m sure Man U’s finances at the time also played a role, to what degree we’ll never know, but if I’m not mistaken Ira, you’ve stated how they have owned up to being clueless in that department and have sworn to stay out of that area of the team unless Licht starts laying some serious eggs and the team takes a serious downward swing? Atleast, I HOPE AND PRAY, that’s what I’ve heard you make past reference to. GO BUCS!!!

  15. Pickgrin Says:

    2011 was the 8TH straight year that the Buccaneers fielded the lowest payroll in the entire NFL. And also roughly the 8th year into a decade long lack of capable drafting.

    Rah never had much of a chance to succeed and the 2010 team was the best example of smoke and mirrors “winning” that I have ever witnessed from an NFL club.