I'm trying to get back into the swing of things, blog wise, but no promises.
There's an interesting blame-game poll up over at Sticks of Fire about the 2006 Bucs... Ultimately where does the blame lay with how horrid Tampa Bay has become?
The first 4 answer choices are serious while the last two are just joshin'-around a bit. The Ghost of Hugh Culverhouse nor Bucco Bruce are to blame for the Bucs ills. Neither is Chris Simms spleen, if you want to go there.
So who should Tampa Bay football fans blame for this season of wither that has wrapped it's cold dead arms around the Pirates of the Pewter Pants and dragged them down to Davy Jones locker? The Players, where the effort is half hearted or lackluster at times? Jon Gruden? Bruce Allen? Or the owners -- The Glazer family?
The Glazer option feels like a cop out as the owners are ultimately in charge of everything and can be blamed for everything, while the Player option seems too direct. Players are only as good as those leading them. It's Gruden who holds this fans ire. The loyal fan will erupt at this accusation, talking about the 2002 championship season... But ultimately what has Jon Gruden produced for the Bucs since then?
During Gruden's tenure, he has fought for total control of operations of the Buccaneers -- running out General Manager Rich McKay (in a feud ultimately sparked by a drunken triad to reporters that Gruden had over the subject of former NFL great Emmit Smith). He's had flare ups with players and his comrade-in-arms/sycophant GM Bruce Allen has all but appeased him with regards to personnel moves. Over priced, over-the-hill players were Gruden's preference and they have hurt the Bucs under the cap. These choices came ahead of retaining the services of safety John Lynch and others on defense. While future hall-of-famer Derrick Brooks and Ronde Barber remain on the defensive side of the ball, what once was the cornerstone of the Buccaneers -- the Tampa Two -- is in shambles. It should only get worse after this season with likely retirements and other personnel moves from coaches to players.
The 2002 Buccaneers were a great thrill -- and the championship overdue -- but sometimes I think it was the greatest mistake in Buccaneer (if not NFL) history for the Bucs to severe ties with Tony Dungy. The whole deck of cards have fallen since and discipline has been replaced with contempt. Character replaced with the Oakland Raider adage "Just win, baby." The choice to ditch Dungy came from lack of playoff wins. How does it feel now that there is a lack of wins, period?
How the mighty have fallen.