Super Vision

February 4th, 2019


It might be foolish to argue with a Hall of Fame coach, but here goes.

After earning his sixth Super Bowl ring, Bill Belichick kept talking about his players. He mentioned New England’s coaching staff, but he kept coming back to the players who implemented the schemes in a surprising defensive struggle against the Rams.

Coaches coach and players play … can’t argue that fact. But from my standpoint, the players didn’t win that game.

It was The Patriot Way.

Talent didn’t beat the Rams on Sunday night. If you matched the talent across the board, Los Angeles wins that game by two touchdowns.

And talent alone won’t determine the fortunes of the 2019 Buccaneers, who will be trying to end an 11-year playoff drought.

Bruce Arians says the Bucs have plenty of talent, and he’s got a point. What they haven’t had is a coaching staff that maximizes the available talent with a flexible game plan geared to a specific opponent.

“Bill did a great job,” said Sean McVay after the Patriots shut downanother high-powered attack. “There is really no other way to put it. The Patriots coaches did an outstanding job putting their guys in positions and then the players did a great job executing.

“They definitely changed it up with what they had done over the past couple of weeks, especially when you look at some of the things that enabled them to have success against the Chargers and Chiefs. Their coverage principles were definitely mixed compared to what they put on tape.”

When’s the last time you heard a Buc opponent praise Tampa Bay coaches for the element of surprise?

The Patriot Way is more than a corny slogan.

The Tampa Bay Overhaul

It starts with leadership from the top — Bob Kraft, Belichick and Tom Brady. The Pats have established a culture that demands excellence. Practices are hard, expectations are high and failure is simply not an option.

We will look back at the 2018 season and wonder how in the world did the Patriots pull this off. Brady is Brady, but Gronkowski is no longer dominant and you can’t name an offensive lineman on New England.

Julian Edelman is a crafty son of a gun, but the Pats didn’t have a credible deep threat. Other than Stephen Gilmore, you couldn’t pick this defense out of a lineup.

Bucs GM Jason Licht

Yet they’re champions.

Tampa Bay’s roster is about to be overhauled and let’s hope Arians shares Belichick’s vision for new recruits.

“For me, tough, smart, dependable,’’ Belichick said of his evaluation board. “That’s where I would start. Tough — mentally and physically. Smart — good decisions, good football understanding, high football IQ. Dependable — critical situations, you can count on those players to perform under pressure.”

The Bucs don’t have enough of those guys and they haven’t done nearly a good enough job of turning young players into trustworthy players.

Lost in the adulation about Brady and Edelman is the dominance of New England’s ground game during the postseason. That is a reflection of will and physicality, not overwhelming talent.

The Pats averaged 162 rushing yards against the Chargers, Chiefs and Rams, compared to 41 rushing yards for opponents. That’s why the Brady Bunch maintained possession for 38:30 and owned a 240-170 advantage in snaps during a stunning Super Bowl run.

Are You Listening, Jason Licht?

Arians is a two-time Coach of the Year, but he’s no miracle worker.

Nobody else has managed to duplicate The Patriot Way, but Buc fans will be thrilled with a reasonable facsimile.

When asked about players, Belichick mentions a lot of attributes. He rarely talks about talent.

“The tougher the game, the more critical the game, the more important the situation, the more I want the tough, smart, dependable player in the game, in the eye of the storm, making a decision that needs to be made for us to win,’’ he said.

Are you listening Jason Licht? Talent’s nice, but it’s not enough.

Not nearly enough.

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.

25 Responses to “Super Vision”

  1. 813bucboi Says:

    so coaching is more important than talent huh IRA…..i agree….trying telling other that….lol….


  2. Casual Observer Says:

    Great summary of the Bucs’ issues. One of your best columns.

  3. 813bucboi Says:

    Bruce Arians says the Bucs have plenty of talent, and he’s got a point. What they haven’t had is a coaching staff that maximizes the available talent with a flexible game plan geared to a specific opponent.

    thats the truth IRA!!!!!…..bucs coaching staff under dirks leadership has failed to develop any players outside of pass catchers…..and even they are inconsistent…..

    instead of holding coaches accountable, some folks rather have 53 1st round picks on the team….lol….

    ive said all along, the problem has been coaching/scheme not talent/players……


  4. Not there yet Says:

    How dare the patriots embarrass the bucs coaches by never picking in until the end of the first and still trading back for more picks simply to develop players who aren’t chosen with premium pick. I don’t think dirk understood he had to actually develop talent and game plan from week to week

  5. Jean Lafitte Says:

    Oh we’ve had our share pass through the halls of One Buc Palace but end up on teams like the Patriots. As all those attributes are significant for a winning club, players have to buy into the team they’re playing for as well. Tampa Bay with it’s awful history as a losing franchise just doesn’t instill the same challenge as teams who win often. Imagine in your mind, that if all the players were to be asked in secrecy when coming out of college if Tampa Bay was their first choice of destination? What do you think their answers would be? 1 -32 where would the Bucs be? @32 with 0%. Arians has got to get our guys to buy in or else we will forever be mediocre at best.

  6. Jean Lafitte Says:

    and not just our guys who are already here but recruit college kids who want to come here like the blue chippers always commit to Alabama

  7. Jean Lafitte Says:

    ^^^^it’s that culture theme again

  8. Defense Rules Says:

    813bucboi … your takeaway from what Ira wrote is so totally predictable … “so coaching is more important than talent huh IRA…..i agree….trying telling other that.” Try reading some of what else Ira wrote:

    “It starts with leadership from the top — Bob Kraft, Belichick and Tom Brady. The Pats have established a culture that demands excellence. Practices are hard, expectations are high and failure is simply not an option.”

    And he ended with “Are you listening Jason Licht? Talent’s nice, but it’s not enough.”

    None of the ‘others’ you speak of ever said talent alone is enough, thus the reason why a coach like Belicheck has been to 9 Super Bowls. Don’t be deceived into believing that the Patriots don’t have talent; they’re a VERY talented TEAM. And even more-so ab extremely well-coached TEAM. Look up their 2018 roster and you’ll find NINE STARTERS on offense & defense who were either 1st or 2nd round draft picks. I suspect there’s a little bit of TALENT there bucboi (SIXTEEN players on their 53-man roster were 1st or 2nd round picks).

  9. stpetebucsfan Says:

    Am I the only guy who watched that game and thought after watching Edelman….SIGN HUMP!!!

    I was rooting for the Rams but my favorite single play was on an Edelman reception when Talib was covering and ready to make the tackle and Edelman just lowered his head and tanked Talib….put him on his butt! It also made me wonder whether helmet to helmet hits only apply to defensive players or can offensive players like RB’s also get called?

    Another Buc takeaway for me…the Rams have the best pass rushing DT’s in the game but they were gashed by the Pats running game which as Ira pointed out was the difference.

    I’m hoping Vea who is huge and strong can truly anchor our line this year. He doesn’t need to be a sack master, but hopefully he takes up two OL and does not get pushed back. Frankly I was surprised how the Pats owned the line of scrimmage.

  10. D-Rome Says:

    I have always made the case that Backstabbin’ Jason Licht doesn’t know how to put a **TEAM** together. He just acquires talent and misses more than he hits in the draft. Anyone can do that.

  11. 813bucboi Says:


    if you were a fish, you’d be hooked, gutted and fried….lol….

    your so predictable….lol…i give you a whiff and here you come running…lol….wrong as usual….

    i read all of what he wrote….and he’s basically agreeing with me that the bucs have talent but that talent hasnt been coached or developed….and he wrote multiple times that talent only does not equal wins….its more about coaching, leadership,scheme, putting players in position to succeed……something the old staff failed to do…..instead of looking at those things, you and @realist only want to look at the roster….lol…

    i never said they(PATS) didnt have talent….every team in the NFL has talent…..what separates each team is COACHING…..

    and your proving my point….bucs have 15 players on their roster that were drafted in the 1st or 2nd round…..the difference again is coaching….dont be deceived into believing the BUCS have no talent….we are a talented team….

    stop “trying” to troll me man….lol…your embarrassing yourself…..


  12. Defense Rules Says:

    @813bucboi … “stop “trying” to troll me man….lol…your embarrassing yourself …..

    And you think I’m the one who’s predictable bucboi? LMAO. PREDICTABLE is when you end each & every comment with exactly the same shot at Realist. And I’m not ‘trolling’ you bucboi. You accomplish that all on your own when you cherry-pick what others write.

    Got news bucboi: if you think that EVERY NFL TEAM’S TALENT is EQUAL then you must also believe that EVERY TEAM’S DRAFT is EQUALLY as good as every other team’s draft year-after-year to achieve that condition. So I suppose that would mean that drafting a QB like Ryan Leaf would be equally as good as drafting someone like, oh let’s say Peyton Manning. After all, both were 1st round picks. Newsflash: I’m not the one who’s embarrassing myself here.

  13. 813bucboi Says:


    PLEASE find where i said every nfl team’s talent is EQUAL…….lol…

    i never said that….i said every nfl team has talent……HUGE DIFFERENCE….

    stop trying to put words in my mouth(post) and start comprehending!!!!!!!

    thats embarrassment #2!!!!!!…..keep going…its comical….


  14. Defense Rules Says:

    @813bucboi … “i never said that….i said every nfl team has talent……HUGE DIFFERENCE.” Really bucboi? Every team has talent? Wow, that is so DEEP. I’m impressed. Do you think that’s why each team has a salary cap of almost $200 mil? Nice back-tracking BTW.

    Your point many times in your past comments has been that the Bucs have plenty of talent; that all they need is a coaching staff that can develop it and they’ll be good to go. And my point many times in the past has been that the Bucs NEED BOTH better TALENT and better COACHING. The two go hand-in-hand.

  15. 813bucboi Says:



    back tracking….the only one back tracking is you…..

    we’ll see soon enough….

    you a str8 fool….im done going back and fourth with you because folks from a distance wont be able to tell who’s who…..

    bye troll…..


  16. D1 Says:


    Smart, dependable players,
    Is this team constructed with smart, dependable players?

    The idea that talent, coaching and what’s not mentioned in your posts, organization, can be removed from the whole and evaluated independant of the sum of its parts, simply
    you point to the success of coaching, wins v losses, as independent and not a component which comprises a portion of the total overall equation.

  17. Larry Says:

    15 or 16 1st & second rounders! I think you two are saying pretty much the same thing. We have nearly the same amount of talent giving that Winston’s youth equals the old guy on the Pats. Coaching and good coaching makes a huge difference. Mike smith vs Brian Flores – Billicheat vs Koetter. No wonder we’re in the NFL South basement!

  18. Alanbucsfan Says:

    Players make tough, smart decisions when their coaching staff make tough, smart decisions.
    You still need talent and Patriots have no fewer than 6 current and former pro bowlers, including hall of fame coach and qb.
    When you’re giving up 30+ points every game, turning the ball over, getting 3 points out of 500 yards offense- not tough , not smart.

  19. down in the dirt Doug Says:

    A rookie once called the Patriots in the middle of a vicious snow storm wondering if the days practice was cancelled.Answer-be here or loose your job.Would have been nice for Koeter to keep the Bucs out in a rain storm without lightning of course.

  20. GhostofSchiano Says:

    Agree with IRA.

    Just saw a mock draft having us take Rashan Gary. Defensive linemen out of Michigan with our first pick.


  21. Rob in Land O Lakes Says:

    Look, I’d agree that Belichick is the best coach in the league at developing a player and accentuating what that player does best. With that in mind, never forget… :

    Belichick’s genius was passing on Brady 5 times in the draft when everyone else passed on him 6 times. It’s not like he recognized greatness and moved up to draft him. Tom Brady was a throw away pick in that draft. Also remember, it’s not like he lit up his first training camp a la Russell Wilson and they sat down the starter. It took a freak injury to Drew Bledsoe for him to get in the line-up… so please let’s drop the genius BS. He’s a very good coach whom, without Brady absolutely falling in his lap AND a freak injury, would be just another coach being recycled every 5 or 6 years.

    Make no mistake about it. Belichick retires about 7 seconds after Brady makes the announcement that he’s retiring.

  22. stpetebucsfan Says:


    Agreed completely with the first part of your post. You could have tossed in Belichek’s failure with the Browns but everybody fails with the Browns. New guy has a shot because of all those #1 picks in the lineup and an actual NFL QB.

    I don’t know that I agree with the final sentence although I understand where you’re coming from and perhaps you’re right.

    “Belichick retires about 7 seconds after Brady makes the announcement that he’s retiring.”

    He’s 66 but he appears in good shape. We could say he has nothing left to accomplish…he already has scoreboard and is widely considered the GOAT. But he’s a very competitive man and right now a lot of folks agree with you feeling ole Bill was made by Brady. He “might” want to go a couple more years after Brady to prove he’s a good coach.

  23. ERIC Says:

    Rob, I think it’s the opposite. That superbowl was won by the coaching staff.

  24. unbelievable Says:

    When’s the last time you heard a Buc opponent praise Tampa Bay coaches for the element of surprise?


    Definitely not once in the 12 – 15 years, that’s for sure!

  25. ERIC Says:

    Btw, I recall Matt Cassell having a pretty damn good year when Brady was out fir the season. I also recall garopollo doing quite well too # coincidence. I think not.