Thank you, Cleveland!

August 7th, 2021

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The Cleveland Browns could have pounced. Instead, they snoozed.

The Bucs moved in quickly and the rest is history.

That’s how we got here.

Bucco Bruce Arians surveys practice

There were so many factors that went into building a Super Bowl champion in Tampa, but one decision looms over all others – signing Bruce Arians. Looking back over the past 31 months, ever since Jameis Winston threw that fateful pick-6 in OT against the Falcons, the arrival of Arians is the key moment.

It almost never happened. If the Browns weren’t the Browns, it wouldn’t have happened.

Midway through his only season in the CBS broadcast booth, Arians let his guard down when asked whether he’d consider a return to the sidelines.

“I would listen to the Browns,” he said in November of 2019. “And only them.”

Cleveland had just fired Hue Jackson and Dirk Koetter was in his final weeks at the Tampa Bay helm. But instead of wrapping up Arians, the Browns gave him the brushoff.

They wanted Freddie Kitchens. Can you believe it?

Within days in January, Kitchens was announced as Cleveland’s new head coach and Arians arrived at One Buc Place.

The ramifications have been huge.

Had Arians signed with the Browns, Jason Licht likely would have been shown the door. And few Buc fans would have complained. Licht was 27-53 as GM before Arians and he is 22-14 with Arians. The two men forged a bond at Arizona in 2013, when the Cardinals vaulted from 5-11 to 10-6 during Arians’ initial season.

Pouncing but patient Team Glazer

When the Bucs hired Licht in 2014, I asked Arians about him at the NFL owners meetings.

“Jason knows how to put a roster together,” Arians said. “We had a great relationship in Arizona. You don’t always agree, but you get along and you make decisions for the team. Other teams might not have a player that high on the board — we don’t care. They fit us. You draft for your coach and your team, no matter what anyone else’s grades are. That’s why Jason will succeed in Tampa.”

So the Glazers gave Licht a reprieve and he ran with it, selecting Devin White and Tristan Wirfs in the ensuing two drafts. Back-to-back home runs. Cornerstones for a decade.

Licht listened to his scouts and consulted a stellar coaching staff.

Smart move. Arians had assembled the best group of Buc teachers since Monte Kiffin, Rod Marinelli, Mike Tomlin and Bill Muir were riding herd on another Super Bowl champion.

And then along came Tom Brady.

Without Bruce Arians, no Brady. Arians was the first Buc employee to apply the full-court press the moment teams were officially allowed to talk to free agents.

By the time Arians handed his phone over to Licht, Brady was halfway to Tampa International.

Brady was looking for a talented team with an inspiring leader. He couldn’t find either commodity in that final season with the Patriots, throwing to Julian Edelman and a bunch of stiffs. And it became clear to Brady that Bill Belichick was ready to move on from a quarterback who had earned six Super Bowl rings in Foxborough.

Arians isn’t perfect. He made too many excuses for Winston in 2019 … until he ran out of alibis. Situational football wasn’t his strength that first season with the Bucs, but he has led the Bucs to eight consecutive road wins and his players swear by him.

They take less money to play for him. His coaches are loyal to him. It can all go to hell this fall, especially if Brady is sidelined, but bringing Bruce Arians to Tampa has been a game-changer.

Buc fans owe the Browns a huge thank you.

By the way, how’d that Freddie Kitchens hire work out?

22 Responses to “Thank you, Cleveland!”

  1. Hawk Says:

    Freddie Kitchens or Freddie Krueger. The result would be the same in Cleveland.

  2. mark2001 Says:

    Ira…I think he saw Jameis as somewhat mentally fragile, and was trying to keep heat off of him while coaching him up, allowing him to grow into the system, and hopefully succeeding. Unfortunately, Arians found out that Jameis’s inability to change and raise his game wasn’t going to happen. So he did what most would normally do…show him the door if there was someone else was out there that could raise the level of play at the QB position. Fortunately we got Brady.

  3. Chris@Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    Sure am glad Arians came here, but we have to be honest. Would we really be where we are today w/o Tom Brady ?
    Yes, Licht has hit back-to-back home runs with White and Wirfs, and has become a world class general manager since Arians and his gang got here.
    Arians coached at Pittsburg, so it is surprising he said he would go to Cleveland. Cleveland and Pittsburg hate each other.
    But Cleveland does have legendary fans!

  4. gp Says:

    I think it was more of “seizing the opportunity” than just a ‘dumping” of JW.
    Remember, he was on record as saying “we can win with him”.

    You just don’t turn down someone of Brady’s calibre.
    Unless you’re an idiot.

  5. Bush's Coke Spoon Says:

    Thank you, Browns!

  6. Bush's Coke Spoon Says:

    mark2001 Says:
    “Unfortunately, Arians found out that Jameis’s inability to change and raise his game wasn’t going to happen.”

    You got that right.

    Via PFT: “Winston said during a Super Bowl-week interview, via, regarding his reaction to a midseason benching: ‘Get back to playing Jameis Winston football. Be yourself. Have that swag. Don’t try to be something that a coach is trying to get you to be. You know, you gotta go and be you.’”

  7. kyle Says:

    BA will go down as the best Bucs coach of all time

  8. mark2001 Says:

    gp… You really think we intended to keep Jameis if Brady hadn’t been out there? Wow. Yes, Brady was a step up in so many ways. But believe we would have tried to sign at least another one or two FA’s out there before we resigned Mr. Self Destruction…you can’t win turning the ball over that much and continuously demoralizing a D…especially for anything close to his desired and rumored 25 mil. dollar salary expectation. What he got in NO was current market value of his services, give or take a million…a low tier backup salary.

  9. gp Says:

    I didn’t quite say that!
    On the other hand, I think you may be underestimating BA’s belief in his ability to develop a QB.
    I reiterate the final sentence.
    Only an idiot would have turned down the qualities that Brady brings.

  10. gp Says:

    A quick analogy
    Think of it has having a project car, say a late sixties Dodge Charger (lots of power, not so great at handling the curves) that you will be spending 20 grand or more to restore. When someone offers you a completely restored Austin Healey Sprite( beautiful, classic, well balanced power to weight ratio, and a lot of fun to drive) as a straight up trade.
    Granted, you do have to have an appreciation of all things automotive for this analogy to work but…

  11. mark2001 Says:

    GP.. You don’t factor in the time issue this team was facing. Arians and the Bucs didn’t have two or three more years to develop Jameis. Gronk and Brown wouldn’t have been here Guys like Suh, Barrett and David would likely not have resigned here after another development year here. And who knows how many more defections we would have had. The team probably would have never had made the playoffs again, much less reach the SB. This team last year was better in almost every way, because Jameis really wasn’t much of a leader either. So with those guys gone, Arians and Licht would likely be gone as well. Sure…Arians would have liked to see Jameis succeed…but obviously had little interest other than give lip service to see him stay here.

    The better automotive analogy, I think, is for a garage to buy that Charger, get about 10 grand into it, have to watch the manager and chief mechanic leave, taking a good part of the tools in the business with them. And eventually selling the Charger at a discount because the attempt to rebuild it failed because there wasn’t even time and eventually resources to get it done.

  12. gp Says:

    You missed my point and then kinda stumbled upon it with your own analogy.
    Time, effort, and lotsa money -vs- driving a classic, better handling car today?

    No brainer!

  13. mark2001 Says:

    No brainer is that we didn’t have the time to fix all that was wrong with Jameis. So we never wouldn’t have continued the project another year…. Even if it meant a CRV, rather than that broken down Charger.

  14. mark2001 Says:

    People think Arians was brought in here only to fix Jameis. Only half the story. He was brought in here to fix him, or let us know that he was broken beyond near term repair. Unfortunately, it ended up being the later. But Arians was one of the best guys to make that determination.

  15. gp Says:

    You need to get over your need to argue for the sake of trying to prove you’re the only one with a brain.
    We’re basically saying the same thing now, or have you noticed?

  16. mark2001 Says:

    Personally, I don’t think Jameis has the ability to read and react fast enough to be consistently successful. Or the consistent accuracy. But I could be wrong.

  17. mark2001 Says:

    GP…you haven’t noticed at least on criticism in every response to my posts? You can never say “agree” without some slight or correction. All began in this topic after my first post. But you say I need to argue for the sake of proving only I have a brain? Look in the mirror.

  18. gp Says:

    Okay Okay Okay!
    Pissing contest over!
    You win!

  19. gp Says:

    OOps sorry, forgot to wait for the shake…
    Plug any current QB at the time short of Brees, Big Ben, Wilson, or (heaven forbid) Rodgers, and it STILL would have been a no brainer!

    OK, I’m done.

  20. mark2001 Says:

    GP…we both win when we don’t have that contest. You do have a number of good things to share in the posts.

    Up here in the Northwoods, I think they have a new perspective on Rodgers. No denying his talent. But seems he has tried to usurp the decision making process of the coaches and the GM for some time. Prima Donna… whatever. Brady has an ego…and why shouldn’t he? But he can see the bigger picture. I’m thankful for that.

  21. Going for ✌️In a row Says:

    Thank you Cleveland and Jameis Winton’s last Pick6.

    Boy, how things changed this last year.

    Go Bucs!!!

  22. JimbobBucsFan Says:

    Thanks for the info and the insight, Sage!

    This is the kind of article that I crave as a fan. You are “old school” I guess. You are still riding high above many of your cohorts locally and across the nation as a sports reporter. You are still going strong at the tender age of ______. Keep it up! 😼

    Go Bucs!