Bucs co-chairman Joel Glazer: 'We've got to get this right'
Here at the NFL owners meeting held in the opulent sea-side Boca Raton Resort, the only thing changing faster than the Florida spring weather is the head coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
With yachts parked on the docks outdoors, the Bucs have their fifth head coach at the helm since 2008, choosing offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter to replace Lovie Smith and provide some contunuity for Rookie of the Year quarterback Jameis Winston.
The Bucs haven't been to the playoffs since 2007 and have had only one winning season since firing Jon Gruden the following year. Co-chairman Joel Glazer admits the roulette wheel of head coaches is a recipe for disaster, but says 'we've got to this right.'
“At the end of the day, we take responsibility because we made those hires and there are other factors that contributed to it,'' Glazer said Tuesday during a one-on-one interview with the Tampa Bay Times. "I’m not just going to blame it all on the head coach. But we take responsibility. When we set out on this whole path, the first thing we say is, “Hey, this is on us and we’ve got to get this right. We’ve got to get this right.’’
“We say it’s not a recipe for success to have constant change, especially in football. In football, there so much change in everything that comes with it. By the same token, if you feel like this is the right thing to do, you can’t also fear the criticism you’ll get for doing it. So we will do what we think is in the best interest of the team, for our fans and for our future success.''
Glazer's optimism is based largely on Winston, who set a rookie club record by passing for 4,042 yards and accounting for 28 touchdowns (22 passing, 6 rushing).
"He’s just been everything you want in a quarterback,'' Glazer said. "People talk about quarterbacks and the leader of the team and the face of the franchise, but he’s been the first guy in the building, the last guy out of the building, he’s learned the respect of teammates. But again, I can’t emphasize the off the field part enough. Being in the community and being the first guy to raise his hand if something is needed and working with kids or whatever it may be. We’re just very happy.''
Glazer said in part because of a desire to provide continuity for Winston, they hired Koetter and increased the power of general manager Jason Licht, who has produced two stellar drafts.
"Absolutely. The coach-quarterback relationship is a critical relationship in football and the continuity of going through his first year and the thought of having to change coaches his second year, while we were prepare to do it if it was the right thing to do, there were so many positive things (with hiring Dirk),'' Glazer said. 'They have a great relationship and made great progress, at the end of the day, we thought the right thing to do was to keep that moving forward.'
But since both Koetter and Licht were essentially brought to the Bucs by Smith, their ascension created an 'awkward,' transition.
“The whole awkwardness, I totally understand,'' Glazer said. "But at the end of the day, we were going forward with the right people we thought we should go forward with. It has nothing to do with Dirk, it has nothing to do with Jason, it’s just at the end of the day, we felt this was the best decision. You’re not going to overlook people just because of the awkwardness. You’re going to do what you think is right. Again, I think they understood and we understood their awkwardness, but we had a long talk about it, about moving forward and we all agreed this was the best result.''
Licht was given the authority to run the Bucs football operations and also has the final say on the 53-man roster, which used to belong to Smith. He said part of the reason they had Licht announce the firing was 'symbolic,' in nature.
“I think our view at the time was we our moving forward and we had restructured some things to give Jason more power, and he’s running football, he’s in charge and let’s let him talk about where we’re going from here,'' Glazer said. "And maybe slightly symbolic situation to show he is in charge. And that was what was behind our decision-making.''