Pulling Licht Off The Ropes

June 14th, 2019


There’s so much on his plate, so much riding on his agenda.

Bruce Arians has a lot of mouths to feed this fall, starting with a starving fan base desperate for winning football. Buc Nation is hungry for a savior to rise from these sweaty streets and make this franchise relevant in the national conversation.

There’s also the matter of a legacy to maintain.

Arians is a two-time Coach of the Year who has already proven he can turn around a chaotic organization. He doesn’t want anyone thinking his success in Arizona was a mere desert mirage.

There’s also the matter of raising the profile of assistants like Byron Leftwich and Harold Goodwin. Arians would love to see some members of his staff generate interest as head coaches, but that won’t happen if the Bucs go 5-11 for a third consecutive season.

Yes, the Bucs are on a four-coach losing streak since the dismissal of Jon Gruden in 2009. Arians can end that trend and show that the Glazers learned from their mistakes.

Bucs GM Jason Licht

But there’s one more interested party who isn’t getting enough attention at One Buc Place. The upcoming season will be a referendum on coaching, with Jason Licht’s future hanging in the balance.

Licht has watched with hands folded as premium draft picks like Jameis Winston, Vernon Hargreaves, Noah Spence and Justin Evans failed to develop into stars.

Even last year’s first-round choice, Vita Vea, has much to prove as an impact player. Perhaps Alex Cappa can win a starting job in 2019.

Lovie Smith and Dirk Koetter are history and Licht played a pivotal role in goading Arians out of retirement.

Once Licht acquired the talent, he didn’t have much of a say in how those players would be utilized. In that respect, Tampa Bay’s failures could be blamed on poor coaching.

With a new staff, assembled by a head coach that Licht pined for, those excuses are gone.

Battling Off The Ropes

What we hear constantly about Arians and Todd Bowles is their willingness to shape the game plan around the talent – putting players in the best position to succeed. So if Hargreaves struggles as a press corner or Spence receives scant playing time as an edge rusher, that’s on them. That’s on Licht.

If the quarterback whisperer can’t improve Winston’s penchant for giveaways, that’s on No. 3. That’s on Licht.

Let’s look at the bright side.

If these young players become key contributors on a winning team, Licht’s reputation as a sharp GM would soar. It was the coaching that held these guys back, his supporters could say — with some justification.

At the moment, Licht is getting ravaged when national pundits rank the NFL’s top executives. Fair enough, because a 27-53 record is a brutal bottom line in a bottom-line business.

Heavy load on his shoulders

Licht’s a punching bag, but Arians can help his buddy off the ropes in a big way this fall. He and his staff can develop the talent Licht brought in through the draft, Arians can bring out the best in Carlton Davis and maximize the skills of Devin White.

Winston is the key, of course, by virtue of his position. He’s got several voices in his head, but Arians represents the loudest voice. This will be Winston’s first pro season without Koetter, whose relationship with his starting quarterback was surely strained in 2018, if not before.

Everyone at One Buc Place has skin in this game, especially Jason Licht. There were times during his five-year tenure when Licht undoubtedly chafed about how Tampa Bay’s coaching staff utilized the available talent. Well, there’s a new sheriff in town and Arians is laying down the law.

Commandment 1: Honor thy father, thy mother and thy draft choices.


Thursday, June 20, at Ed Morse Cadillac Brandon, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Friday, June 21, at Ed Morse Cadillac Tampa, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Come celebrate the rollout of the all-new Cadillac XT6!

RSVP by clicking a logo below. Casual fun with Ira at beautiful Ed Morse Cadillac showrooms.




13 Responses to “Pulling Licht Off The Ropes”

  1. Jean Lafitte Says:

    Of course the NFL didn’t do the Bucs or Licht any favor with the doomed to fail uphill battle type schedule. You almost get the feeling it was done on purpose. Maybe Goodell and his cronies got wind of the fact that Jason might be a conservative republican or maybe something even more nefarious to their own bias ideologies. Nevertheless, it seems this franchise is embroiled in controversy and drama every season whether it be imagined or manufactured..

  2. Defense Rules Says:

    @Ira … “Once Licht acquired the talent, he didn’t have much of a say in how those players would be utilized. In that respect, Tampa Bay’s failures could be blamed on poor coaching.”

    Wow Ira, THAT’S a pretty good spin. Ryan Smith wasted a year being ‘developed’ as a Safety, even though he was really a CB … and who drafted him to be a SAFETY? Noah Spence is a 3-4 OLB (maybe) who was drafted to function in a known 4-3 system … and who drafted him to be a 4-3 DE? VHIII was known as a man-to-man corner in college … and who drafted him to play in Smitty’s zone defense?

    Reality to me is that there was a huge disconnect between Lovie Smith & Jason Licht, but it was pretty much irrelevant because Lovie pulled the strings it appears (unless you want to blame JL for gutting much of the team in 2014 then watching it go 2-14). And it’s quite obvious IMO that Licht & Koetter were never ever on the same page, in either the draft OR free agency. Did the Bucs acquire talent from 2014-2019? Definitely yes. Some of that talent developed (ME13, Marpet?) but many didn’t or at least haven’t yet (for some it takes more than 1 year?). Lovie brought along a circumspect staff in several position groups (key factor). Rookie HC Koetter retained some of that offensive staff & brought along his bud Smitty (key factor).

    Disregarding 2019 (I still contend that was BA’s & TB’s draft), Bucs have had 34 draft picks starting in 2014. We have 1 left from 2014 (ME13). We have 3 left from 2015 (Jameis, Ali & Donovan). We presently have 5 remaining from 2016 (VHIII, Spence, Ryan Smith, Benenoch & Bond), none of whom are truly exciting. We now have 3 left from 2017 (OJ, Justin Evans & Godwin) … I like them all, but 2 of them have been pretty fragile IMO. As of right now, all 8 draft picks from 2018 are still with us, and there’s some good talent there, although I suspect we’ll lose a couple of them before the season starts.

    Nope, not impressed with Jason Licht’s drafting prowess. And oh ya, anyone who thinks that BA came here as a ‘favor’ to Jason Licht needs to give me a call. I don’t have any oceanfront lots in the Everglades for you to buy, but I’ll find one real fast after you call and sell it to ya.

  3. Bird Says:

    Spot on

    Thanks for objective piece !

  4. Joe in Michigan Says:

    I have faith that this will be a successful season (8-8 or better) because if Cappa, Watford, or whoever else can’t cut it at RG we’ll find one who can. A Logan Mankins kind-of-guy. The Patriots took two O-Linemen (3rd & 4th Rounds) so maybe we can get somebody who at least has had the finest coaching. I looked at the active sack leaders (if our pass rush isn’t getting it done), the name that stuck out was Clay Matthews, if the Rams have better options and trade/release him. I think Nassib/Barrett/Nelson/Spence might be okay as outside rushers, though.

  5. down in the dirt doug Says:

    IRA, can always count on you to tell it like it is.Hope you can be with us for many more years.

  6. BucEmUp Says:

    Licht has never had control to pick whoever he wants. Up to this day Koetter, Lovie, even Smitty have all haf day on who was drafted. Remember Lovie HIRED LICHT. LICHT DID NOT HIRE LOVIE!!! So Ira, if Winston fails its on Lovie, not Licht.

  7. Buccluck Says:

    Irv…I mean Ira, Licht is on the mat not the ropes! The counting has begun…we’ll see if Bruce can be the bell that saves him.

  8. SKBucsFan Says:

    Even if they go 16-0 Licht has to be gone. He has made too many blunders over the years to warrant employment as a GM in this league. Any success now is purely because of coaching and he also did hire the other coaches. One out of three might be good in baseball, but not in football.

  9. Todd Says:

    It was nice to read some good contributing content this morning without the perineal gamma ankle-biter and non-contributor Succaneers sh!tting on the thread as the local Master if Projection (no worries, he won’t understand the last part due to his extremely low IQ).

    Anyway, I’m holding out hope that he successfully weaseled his way into a Jihadi work accident…bad detonators are a thing for those who can’t muster up a single creative thought.

    RIP. You suck.

  10. Buc believer Says:

    @Joe In Michigan…. I guess according to Buc standards 8-8 would be considered “success” but to me ANYTHING under 9-7 EVERY year is a failure! 8-8 means you are just blah and less than that means you downright blow chunks!

  11. Bird Says:


    8-8 is a start by buc standards
    Don’t forget the ncf south has 3 other filthy QBs

  12. Barbosa Says:

    Let’s not use the word mediocre to describe the last decade. It’s a slap in the face to mediocrity everywhere. This team, our team, has been cellar dwellers almost every year since Gruden was booted. Bad ownership. Period.

  13. Joe Says:

    It’s a slap in the face to mediocrity everywhere.

    A team that has the longest playoff drought in the NFC and the worst home record in the NFC in the past decade cannot be described as “mediocre” unless one has no concept of the definition of “mediocre” or one is trying to outright con someone.