Jobs On The Line

October 25th, 2017


Buc fans are running out of patience and this franchise is running out of time.

A 2-1 start has given way to a three-game losing streak heading into the opening of divisional play Sunday. If Tampa Bay doesn’t snap out of its funk within the next two games, this season will be toast at the midway point.

A lot of jobs, including some big ones, are on the line as the Bucs prepare for a home game against the reeling Panthers and a road meeting with the division-leading Saints.

New Orleans is a prohibitive favorite Sunday against the Bears at the Superdome, so the Bucs face the daunting prospect of falling four games behind the Saints with half the season gone.

In that grim scenario, the Bucs would remain in the NFC South basement and the Glazers would remain in shock about the sorry state of their football team.

Heads and helmets would likely roll in January as disconsolate Buc fans nod in agreement.

Yes, these Bucs are standing at the crossroads, singing the blues.

“The only thing you can do right now is you’ve got to get one game,” says Dirk Koetter. “I showed the guys the division standings and we are what we’ve earned to this point.”

The Bucs are on the short list of NFL underachievers, joining the Giants, Raiders and Bengals. That’s a group you want no part of.

Avoiding Draft Talk

How many times have you heard players and coaches bring out the old cliché about every game counting the same. That’s not true anymore. If the Bucs don’t turn this listing pirate ship around in the next two weeks, the final eight games won’t matter — except for positioning in the 2018 draft.

In case you haven’t noticed, the Saints are marching after an 0-2 start. They still average 28.5 points per game under the direction of the remarkable Drew Brees and now New Orleans has a solid run game,

That’s been a missing link the past three years, but Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara are providing balance since Adrian Peterson’s departure.

Despite playing half of their road games already, the Saints are 4-2 with the help of an improved defense. Although Sean Payton is pleased, he is taking the long view.

“I don’t think anyone’s paying attention to the horse at the quarter pole,” he says. “What we’re paying attention to most is the things that we’ve got to clean up. I get a kick out of Week 4 projections, ‘Who’s in the playoffs?’ It’s just white noise in the same way with where we are now. We haven’t hit the halfway point of the season yet.”

In Tampa, white noise has been replaced by carping.

The Bucs began the season as NFL darlings, a 9-7 team led by an impressive core of young talent. Now, they’re looking up at the Bears, Jets, Jaguars, Dolphins and Bills.

Fast Answers

What went wrong? We all know the usual suspects — woeful pass rush, poor tackling, soft coverage, lousy running game. You can’t let this coaching staff off the hook, either. In-game adjustments haven’t worked out and crushing penalties continue to haunt the Bucs.

Through the gloom, there is one saving grace … there is still time if the Bucs can get their act together.

“The fact that some other teams got beat in our division is in our favor,” Koetter says. “It is a factor that we have not played division games and those games can move you up fast. We have to play better football. We have to coach better football. You’ve got to get one. You’ve just got to get one win.”

These next two weeks will tell us all we need to know about this football team. Cam Newton and Brees could care less about Tampa Bay’s precarious position.

This season could effectively be over by the evening of Nov. 5. So could a few high-profile jobs at One Buc Place.

Ira Kaufman is the most beloved, revered and esteemed Buccaneers columnist in town. He has hung his hat at world headquarters since July 2016. Tampa Bay’s only Pro Football Hall of Fame voter, Ira busts out columns here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and his award winning podcasts fire Tuesdays and Thursdays. You can also see Ira every football Sunday at 10:30 a.m. on FOX-13, Scott Smith’s Tailgate Sunday.

22 Responses to “Jobs On The Line”

  1. Lamarcus Says:

    Usual suspects aND repeat offenders on defense seems to hold us back year after after. Jw deep passes to djx for tds can’t save us either so stop bitching about miss throws

  2. Pickgrin Says:

    Nice piece Ira.

    Reality sucks when the team most everyone had a highish level of expectation for under-performs so prolifically to start the season.

    I believe the Bucs would have beaten the Dolphins in week 1 and rolling into Minnesota at 2-0 with an extra game under their belts could have made a difference in how competitive that game was played.

    But instead – Vikings handed the Bucs their ass and its been pretty much down hill ever since (narrow victory over a bad Giants team aside).

    Irma and the fallout from not playing week 1 may have messed up this team’s mojo. Sad to say and it hints at mental weakness – but possibly true.

    Or maybe I’m reaching and the talent hole that Dom dug for us was far deeper and more difficult to extract from than we had hoped. Obviously the team has way more (young) talent than the day Licht walked in the door at 1BP 3 years and 10 months ago – but maybe its just a comparison thing and way more talent compared to Dom’s rosters does not equal elite NFL level team talent – yet.

    I believe the Buccaneers will “turn the corner” and start playing good ball at some point this year – but that’s small comfort if your season which started with such hope is already either teetering on the brink or effectively over.

  3. pelbuc Says:

    The logical step would be to keep Koetter (unless Bucs go on a Raheem like losing streak) and see if he can develop the offense. Fire GM Licht and DC Smith and see what a new GM can do getting defensive players and hiring an and coming DC instead of a retread. Litch has showcased his incompetence in evaluating players and the defense needs a housecleaning. If they can’t ( or wont) learn Smith’s defense after 2 years, then move on. Lots of lazy, disinterested players on this team. especially on defense. If they lose to Panthers, they should consider a firesale before trade deadline.

  4. DB55 Says:

    The only job that should be on the line is yours Ira. Always begging for new coaches every two years. How the he11 are you going to build a winning team when your firing coaches every other year?

    Fact is if Schiano would still be here we’d be in much better shape but the experts know so much. Smh.

  5. Phil Says:

    The main job on the line is Koetter. If we don’t make the playoffs him and the rest of the coaching staff are gone.

  6. Pickgrin Says:

    DB55 says:
    “Always begging for new coaches”

    WTH DB – where do you see that??

    “This season could effectively be over by the evening of Nov. 5. So could a few high-profile jobs at One Buc Place”

    Ira is not suggesting someone should get fired. Given the Glazers history of impatience with losing the last 7 years – he’s simply stating the facts.

    If the Bucs 2017 season goes down the tubes (which is starting to look likely) some type of changes may well be made and we’re not talking about waterboys or groundskeepers.

  7. Jason Says:

    I think the rotations are killing this defense. The best example I can give is Seattle Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas are on the field barring injury. Rotating Conte, Evans, Ward and Tandy are killing the secondary. Same with the defensive line get the best players on the field no matter what.

  8. Jim Says:

    You’re the best, Ira, but you’re not off the hook regarding that “5 game winning streak” you were talking about. What happened?

  9. Mike Johnson Says:

    Like’em or not..Its been well proven/documented the Glazers are not the least hesitant in..pulling the trigger. I’ve said long ago, if we keep Hoetter then he needs to either be just an Offensive coorinator of a HC. Not both. To be honest, Koeeter is a QB caoch. So I say if you fire DC Smith.. complete the cycle and let Kotter go fishin right along with him. Adter all, they are a inseperable package.

  10. 813bucboi Says:

    agree with IRA….jobs are on the line and rightful so….people aint say nothing when the previous staff was canned after 2 years….if we don’t make the playoffs, clean house….simple as that!!!!….gets some fresh minds in here that are leaders of men and know how to get the job done….too much talent not to make the playoffs!!!…GO BUCS!!!

  11. 813bucboi Says:

    Fire GM Licht and DC Smith and see what a new GM can do getting defensive players and hiring an and coming DC instead of a retread.

    no way in h3ll that would work….a new GM will want to pick “his” HC, who will want to pick “his” OC and DC….

    the way I see it all 3 are a package deal….if all 3 cant get the job done as a collective group, then they all need to be shown the door…..

    just like players, I rather get rid of a coach a year or 2 early VS a year or 2 TOO late….GO BUCS!!!!

  12. Kobe Faker Says:

    Panthers seen the tape

    There are going to ram Stewart and mccafertty down our throats and see if we can stop them

    If they can run through us than the pass coverage will also be exposed

    We need kwonie to step up and play lights out

    Panthers seen kwon slipping and sliding all game long vs buff

    Stewart vs kwonie

  13. Kobe Faker Says:

    December 18 vs Atlanta mnf


    “This is my house!”


  14. Defense Rules Says:

    @Ira … “What went wrong? We all know the usual suspects — woeful pass rush, poor tackling, soft coverage, lousy running game. You can’t let this coaching staff off the hook, either. In-game adjustments haven’t worked out and crushing penalties continue to haunt the Bucs.” Best recap I’ve seen to date Ira … kudos. Wish I could buy into your ‘We still have time to fix it’ notion but I don’t think Smitty can. Not because of his defensive schemes or coaching, but because of what he’s got to work with. On the other side of the ball though … IF this offense starts putting enough points on the board, AND owns the clock (so the defense stays on the bench), AND doesn’t beat itself with turnovers & penalties THEN we have a chance to salvage this season.

    Oh and Jason, Smitty is rotating personnel because of THEIR limitations I’m convinced (he’s trying to take advantage of various strengths in various down/distance situations?), not because he prefers to (look at last year). I’d bet that if he had Kam Chancellor & Earl Thomas as his safeties, he wouldn’t be rotating them either.

  15. StPeteBucsFan Says:

    I’m not sure if I’m really surprised anymore. To be honest I was probably more surprised by how our Defense played the last half of last year.

    I recall this last offseason being totally about #weaponsforJameis. It made sense and the Bucs offense does seem to be headed in the right direction.

    It appears however that we all overestimated our defense big time. And so it’s time to go #weaponsforSmitty.

    After six games it appears we have all overrated our D talent. Ultra thin in our defensive backfield….a DL that is lost and can’t rush the passer or stop the run…a promising group of LB’s once everybody gets truly healthy.

    And so as Ira points out…short of winning the next two games JBF is probably going to turn into a debate board…first about which positions to address in the draft and eventually morphing into arguing about who to draft for those positions.

    So where do we go….draft multiple DE’s? Cornerbacks? I don’t know but given the continuing improvement of our offense it seems pretty sure to me that just as we addressed the offense last year this year it MUST be the D.

    As depressing as my post appears I’m actually OK. If the Bucs can at least continue their improvement on offense we obviously need some serious talent infused into our defense. What is the call of the wild Buc fan?


  16. LakeLand Says:

    The Saints has done an excellent job of drafting during the past 2 seasons.

    2016 Draft
    1st DT Sheldon Rankins (starter)
    2nd WR Michael Thomas (starter)
    2nd S Vonn Bell (starter)
    4th DT David Onyemata ( rotational player)
    7th RB Daniel Lasco (practice squad)

    2017 Draft
    1st CB Marshon Lattimore (starter)
    1st OT Ryan Ramczyk (starter)
    2nd S Marcus Williams ( key backup)
    3rd RB Alvin Kamara ( rotational player)
    3rd LB Alex Anzalone (rotational player)
    3rd DE Trey Hendrickson ( key backup)
    6th DE Al-Quadin-Muhammad ( active roster)

  17. westernbuc Says:

    Licht has made questionable decisions, still not as bad as the Rockstar.

    This team might have a chance if local media and fans didn’t lose their minds after every loss.

    If Bucs fire Koetter or Licht at the end of the season, I’m done watching. Those two are the best things this organization has had since the Super Bowl and you’re delusional if you think they should be fired.

  18. Kobe Faker Says:

    saints benefiting from the fruits of their past draft classes

    with the new salary cap structure, the 1-3 years draft classes have to produce

    you have to hit on these draft continuously/yearly and plug holes on your rosters

    its the bellicheck/pats way…

    have the constant QB but then its the ever changing of influx of rookies and fa with specific skillset….and rinse and repeat the rookies who get their big contracts on their 4th/5th year for draft picks….dynasty even though your always picking last in every round in every draft

  19. Kobe Faker Says:


    superbowl tampa bay

    Glazers going to get a new GM/HC on 2018 not a few years before the superbowl

    “Timing is everything”

    kobe faker

  20. sorryitriggeredyou Says:

    Great stuff Ira as usual. I think Licht seat is heating up as it should be. If Koetter calls plays like he didn’t in Buffalo he’ll be safe for another year. If he goes empty backfield when in the enemy 50, putting an injured QB out to dry he’ll need to find another job ASAP. If he stays with play action they’ll continue to have success against any defense in the league JW is lethal with that play action!

  21. sorryitriggeredyou Says:

    @westernbuc get a grip dood holy crap. Fans caused the bucs to crap the bed that’s faking classic.

  22. Alanbucsfan Says:

    Re: running game- Buffalo has 4th best run defense in league,
    Bucs offensive line is focused on protecting Jameis- rightfully so, yet I think running game will improve as season progresses
    Cardinals game got out of hand quickly and running game pretty much abandoned- although Cards run defense allows less than 4 yds/carry

    Re: defense- Kwon is still hurt, losing Spence hurts alot, defensive coaching is experimental at this point , so there’s alot of confusion

    A win this week will help team’s confidence- must stop run and avoid Newton scrambles for big yards