Zero Tolerance

January 28th, 2019


Yeah, Mr. Iverson, we talkin’ about practice.

When Bruce Arians was a younger man, he couldn’t tolerate lousy practice habits. That’s when he reached for the Maalox and the wine glass.

The F-bombs came out routinely and players were blistered with tough love.

Now, at the age of 66 and knowing there’s an array of medical issues behind him, Arians isn’t inclined to go easier on these Bucs. He doesn’t intend to cut anyone slack, starting with OTA sessions and extending right on through the 2019 season.

That’s a big reason why Arians was the choice to replace Dirk Koetter. He’s not above calling his guys out, even in public, if he sees lack of effort or poor decisions.

Cleanup crew chief is in the house

Even Todd Monken acknowledged last summer that Tampa Bay’s 2017 practices should have been held to a higher standard. And toward the end of the 2017 season, Jon Gruden told me that Buc practices were “sloppy,” adding the ball was on the ground far too often.

Arians isn’t here for the long haul, so he’s going to make his mark quickly and he’s not going to grade on a curve. Like his mentor, Bear Bryant, he’s not worried about bruising egos.

The way he sees his job description, Arians figures he’s here to squeeze the most out of what he deems a talented roster.

Grow-up time for Bucs rookie cornerback M.J. Stewart

That means M.J. Stewart will have to grow up in a hurry.

That means Chris Godwin will have to raise his game.

That means Mike Evans and Jason Pierre-Paul have to give even more.

That means Jameis Winston has to answer all the nagging questions.

“I like yelling at the very good ones,” Arians says. “The other ones get the message.”

Arians won’t treat everyone the same, but he won’t play favorites, either.

In Arizona, he had no problem letting Larry Fitzgerald know about those few occasions when he messed up a route or exhibited poor technique. If he can critique a future Hall of Famer, imagine the juice when Arians gets a load of Caleb Benenoch.

“He’ll be all over you and you’ll think the world is crashing down on you, that he wants you on another team,” says Carson Palmer. “Then Coach Arians brings you in and loves you up a little bit.”

This new regime could represent a major leap forward in accountability, and that’s never a bad thing.

Some players won’t appreciate being called out by Arians in front of a podium, but who cares as long as it drives them to be their best selves?

Here’s advice for these Bucs, young and old … don’t loaf.

One year during training camp with the Cardinals, Arians had seen quite enough. He gathered the team together and spoke straight from the heartburn.

“You’ll either be flipping burgers and bagging groceries, or you might be here,” Arians said. “That’s your choice in about three weeks because if you practice like you did, you ain’t getting in the game next Friday night.”

You can’t cheat on this guy’s watch. He’s seen it all, from the fakers to the overachievers, and he knows a diva when he sees one.

Just ask Antonio Brown.

Ira Kaufman began covering the NFL as a New York Giants beat writer in 1979. He arrived on the Buccaneers beat in 1985. The corporate leash was removed from his neck when he joined in July 2016. The award-winning Ira Kaufman Podcast fires twice per week, and Ira’s columns appear thrice weekly, except when Ira is on special assignment. Tampa Bay’s only Hall of Fame voter also is a popular guest on various national radio and on local TV.

22 Responses to “Zero Tolerance”

  1. Bucsfanman Says:

    Accountability! Preach!

  2. JimmyJack Says:

    I knew this team wasn’t practicing good enough.

    Last year we got beat several times by less talented teams who were just flat out playing harder then we were. This likely came from working harder then we were all week while preparing and practicing.

    Some of the things written in this article is evidence that it’s all true.

    This is why talent does mean as much as we wanna believe. You will get beat a lot if you constantly play teams that are outworking you. This is true in football and is true in all walks of life.

  3. Mike Says:

    Sounds like a domestic abuser

  4. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    All of the NFL players have talent…..but they don’t have the same desire….JPP is a great example of talent & desire. We have some other players that have great desire….and it’s noticeable……Peyton Barber, Carl Nassib, Kwon Alexander, Jordan Whitehead, Chris Godwin,Ali Marpet….LVD
    Others need to step it up….and I believe they will.

  5. Defense Rules Says:

    @Ira … “This new regime could represent a major leap forward in accountability, and that’s never a bad thing.” I agree 100% with Bucsfanman … ACCOUNTABILITY is huge. Tony Dungy had a patent on that far as I’m concerned. Greg Schiano came the closest to holding Bucs players accountable after Tony IMO, but his techniques for doing so ultimately turned players off.

    Coach Arians is a very different cat & this team is in for a shock I think. He’s assembled a coaching staff that thinks like he thinks. and ACCOUNTABILITY will be the watchword of the day … every day. They’ll undoubtedly get more out of every player (or they’ll be gone), BUT … the other 3 NFC South teams were pretty well stocked last year, and I expect that they’ll have even stronger rosters this year. To give BA a chance at a winning season, Bucs MUST improve our talent level to at least come closer to the talent those others have. Winning teams like Bama & Clemson not only have great coaches but they also recruit the best players year-in & year-out. They understand what it takes to win, and are very consistent about putting it into practice IMO.

  6. Bob in Valrico Says:

    well, Ira I welcome any improvement that Arians can make. But I gotta wonder how he is going to move MJ into the fast lane. He doesn’t seem to have the speed to stay with the fast receivers in the league.

  7. JJV Says:

    Sergeant Hulka is the big toe now boys. No more soft serve ice cream in the locker room. It is almost certain that some will cry a bit too. Boot camp will make men out of some of our boys on the team. The times they are a changin’!

  8. Jean Lafitte Says:

    Luckily besides McCoy and Dotson we don’t have long tenured guys on our team that would dare be verbally defiant toward Arians. That was one of the problems Schiano had when he came in. Several players resisted and found their way off the team. Would Arians be so bold to release talent that resist to toe the line sorta speak? Will the media allow him to run his team as he sees fit? This will be interesting if this time they let this kind of disciplinary coach do his job without scathing negative articles about how much of a tyrant he is. This franchise and it’s media need to grow a spine and quit whining about thermostats or brutal 100 yd. sprints.

  9. JimmyJack Says:

    Bob that’s a good question……..It beings me to one of the best HC quotes I ever heard.

    “Don’t tell me what he can’t do. Tell me what he can do.”

  10. JimmyJack Says:

    Jean I agree. Schiano took a lot of bad publicity by our media. They didn’t like him on a personal level because they couldn’t get their precious interviews.

    Our media showed a supreme lack of class. It really bothers me too because most of the media’s don’t truely care about the Bucs. Lots of them fake their true interest………they are actually yankee fans.

  11. stpetebucsfan Says:

    This is it! Coach Arians has already expressed he’s not here for the long haul…he wants to win now!

    And he will not lack in motivation…it’s not just making a Super Bowl…an SB appearance with perhaps a Conference final in another year and Arians becomes a legitimate HOF candidate.

    If Arians can turn our sorry franchise around he will be lauded and remembered by everyone in the NFL.

    When he claims there is talent on this squad I believe him. At minimum I believe that HE believes there is talent or he wouldn’t be here.

  12. Darin Says:

    You still need proof now? 5-11 says it all. Dirk was an Iverson.

  13. westernbuc Says:

    Chucky thought the Bucs practices were sloppy?

    How are the raiders doing?

    I love it, we fired Schiano because he hurt feelings and now everyone is creaming themselves that we hired another disciplinarian.

    Shows you how desperate our owners are.

  14. Jean Lafitte Says:


    Isn’t it ironic ..and little thing called k ..karma

  15. Mike Johnson Says:

    I have new hope However, Not a single game has been played yet. I still remain cautiously optimistic. I’m personally a little sick of Arian’s bravado. Let me see
    results on the field and in the Winning column first before I shout your praises there sir. This Buc franchise has had many a..false prophet. ..Talkin loud and
    producing nothing. I’m waiting…………..

  16. Jean Lafitte Says:

    so are the rest of us with you Mike

  17. Stanglassman Says:

    You guys no nothing if you’ll think Arians is anything like Schiano. They may have discipline in common both other than that they’re polar opposites.

  18. Rod Munch Says:

    Wrote this yesterday but I was looking up some old articles and when Ray Perkins was hired at Alabama to take over for Bryant he keep around an assistant named Bruce Arians. That makes Bruce part of the Perkins camp, so get those 3-a-days scheduled!

  19. Broy34 Says:

    Sick of the arians bravado? He’s had a presser and a couple interviews and you’re sick of a guy lauded by everybody? No wonder we always suck when we have fans sick of a coach that has a personality and actual resume. Wow.

  20. Alaskan Abdominal Snowman Says:

    Most important question, what about Chris Conte?

  21. Buc believer Says:

    Ira call out the two BY FAR BEST PLAYERS ON OUR TEAM in Mike Evans and JPP but says NOTHING about Mr. softie the bumbling overpaid self promoting little beotch Batman err GMC…. Damn SMHID!!!

  22. Stanglassman Says:

    Buc Believer- Please tell me you’re a young child or English is your 2nd language.