Bellying Up To A Raised Bar

July 22nd, 2019


For Bruce Arians, judgment day is here.

In this case, judgment day lasts five months. The new coach of the Buccaneers has the next five months to validate the faith of a battered fan base by meeting lofty expectations.

Arians set a high bar himself during his introductory address at One Buc Place, when he declared this reclamation project far less challenging than the turnaround he engineered in the desert six years ago.

For Arians, no less than his legacy is at stake.

He’s a two-time winner as NFL Coach of the Year, but the Cardinals were only 15-16-1 in his final two seasons on the sidelines before he walked away and entered the broadcast booth.

Now he’s back, lured by a fat contract, the opportunity to work with Jameis Winston and the chance to surround himself with a familiar group of assistants.

Many national pundits are anticipating a disaster this fall. Some have forecast the Bucs to pick first in the 2020 draft. Few are predicting Tampa Bay to register a winning season.

That’s catnip for Arians, who brims with confidence even in the darkest of times. He can’t wait for Friday’s opening practice of training camp.

“I love it when nobody says you have a chance to win,” he crowed in 2014, after the Cardinals beat the Rams.

Should the Bucs silence their skeptics and end the NFC’s longest playoff drought, Arians will surely be in the conversation for another Coach of the Year award. If he wins it for the third time, he would be in select company with Bill Belichick and Chuck Knox.

Don Shula, sitting atop the chart for most NFL coaching victories, is the only 4-time winner of the honor. That’s the kind of heady company Arians keeps.

Ultimate Task

After working with Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Andrew Luck and Carson Palmer, the quarterback whisperer is now conversing with Winston. His message is a simple one: play smart football and we’ll shock the football world.

Byron Leftwich might be calling plays and Clyde Christensen has the title of position coach, but let’s not kid ourselves … Winston’s course is going to be charted by Bruce Arians. The Glazers didn’t hire him to delegate authority — they hired him to resurrect Winston’s profile as the face of the franchise.

Winston is about to be poked and prodded like never before. There will be times Arians will seem overbearing … but then there’s a bear hug to show he cares.

“He has such a unique gift for MF-ing them during the week and getting him to play hard for him on Sunday,” Arizona GM Steve Keim told NFL Network. “He works them and works them and breaks them down, and yet the players genuinely love him. It’s an art form. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

When Arians arrived in the desert, the Cardinals boasted some solid defensive talent, led by Patrick Peterson, Calais Campbell, Darnell Dockett and Daryl Washington. What needed fixing was an offense that ranked last in yards and 31st in points.

Tongue lashings are coming Jameis Winston’s way, writes Ira Kaufman.

A 4-0 start in 2012 gave way to a 9-game losing streak in which Arizona averaged 10.6 points. That’s what cost Ken Whisenhunt his job.

A quarterback quartet of John Skelton, Kevin Kolb, Ryan Lindley and Brian Hoyer wasn’t going to cut it for Arians, so Keim worked a deal with Oakland to acquire Palmer.

“I’m here to introduce our starting quarterback and put it to bed,” Arians said three months after he was hired.

But that’s not all he said. Arians also laid out a blueprint for Cardinal fans, the same optimistic vision he shares with long-suffering Buc supporters.

“We are not in a rebuilding stage,” he said. “This is too good of a football team for a youth movement. We’re in it to win and win now.”

Judgment Day begins.

13 Responses to “Bellying Up To A Raised Bar”

  1. Cobraboy Says:

    High expectations can be contagious.

    Catch it!

  2. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    I ask….what else could we have done that would give us a better chance to win soon?
    We have some talent…..there is no doubt about it…..Winston, Evans, OJ, Marpet, Brate, Godwin…..Vea, Suh, White, LVD…..
    Maybe not enough talent though….that’s when coaching comes in….


  3. 813bucboi Says:


    GO BUCS!!!!

  4. SB Says:

    Amen TBBF! Amen.

  5. Swamp Buc Says:

    YES cobraboy!


    If this team really becomes a TEAM, then look out! 9-7? 10-6?

    if not, this same team can be right back where we left off.

    It’s going to be an intense season either way. There are just so many possible outcomes for the future of the Bucs that depend on how this season plays out.
    Way more than any other season that I can remember.

    if we are 5-11 this coming year, do we have a QB, GM, or HC staying here?
    What if we are 8-8? Do we keep said people in place?
    Normally we probably would, this year maybe not.

    I really wonder where the line in the sand is when the Glazers talk about this.
    Keeping Jameis in Tampa for another contract is going to be very hard to do when they add all those Greenbacks up and have a reality check.

  6. TampaTown Says:

    Battered fan base indeed. What an understatement Ira. We’re battered, bruised, kicked, punched, and finished off with a pile driver.

  7. bogiedr Says:

    Shoot, 8 & 8 and being competitive in the loses while Jaboo shows improvement and total command of the offense is good enough. I am on board! IF Rojo get sgoing, we have a chance … can we sign Jay Ajai on the cheap? A prove it year … agree?

  8. Mike Johnson Says:

    Its Arians job to be optimistic. But we fans..those of us who have rode them rodeo’s after eval of our roster Know….Ira I had us 10-6 before JPP’s unfortunate injury. Sure Suh and Vea are gonna play ok. But nobody can replace JPP’s production. Thats a spot we need a miracle in. I have absolutely no confidence
    in any of our DE’s after Nassir. He does have a motor. You guys can tout our secondary all you like, they will be fine. Suh and Vea will flash here and there. But where is our pass rush? All blitzes? Teams got solutions for that. We’d better pray to God we get a miracle from somebody’s waiver wire. We need another Hella pass rusher. Ok..I’ll settle with 8-8 to signify we are trying to..Stop the Bleeding

  9. gotbbucs Says:

    Arians biggest job is teaching this team how to ride the emotional rollercoaster. I’ve never seen a team look so good for one or two weeks in a row and then just completely self destruct and not be able to recover like this team does. Its uncanny.

    I will be very interested to see how they react the first time they have adversity in a regular season game. I want to see how they play the rest of a game if they find themselves down by two scores in the first half.
    Historically they crumble.
    The veterans on the team need to check the seniority card at the door and allow themselves to be remade.

  10. Pete Says:

    8 – 8 or better!

  11. rhenry Says:


  12. TampaTown Says:

    It’s exactly that type of enthusiasm that’ll get you a punch to the throat followed by a kick to the ba!!s. The Bucs are like the Mind Flayer.

  13. RODNEY ALLEN Says:

    Bogiedr even though i think barber n rojo will surprise us i would love to see us get ajayi especially on a one year prove it deal on the low or bargain 2yr with only the first year guaranteed if for nothing else at least a back up plan but wtfdwk 🤷‍♂️