Glazers take blame for playoff drought, blackouts: 'We have to get it right on the field'
There have been nothing but dark days lately for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers: a five year playoff drought, three head coaches in five seasons and slumping attendance that has led to blackouts.
Co-chairman Joel Glazer knows it has been a painful period. "I don't know how to describe how it feels,'' Glazer said Tuesday. "It rips you apart on the inside. Every fan feels that way.''
Speaking at the NFL owners' meetings in Phoenix, Glazer said the Bucs ownership takes full responsibility for the Bucs' lack off success.
"There's no question we have to take responsibility,'' Glazer said. "Not being in the playoffs for five years, there's no question that is a contributing factor. So we have to get it right on the field and we're committed to doing that and determined to doing that and I'm optimistic about this upcoming season. I feel good about our football team.''
Glazer said despite a 7-9 record, he was pleased with the first-year performance of coach Greg Schiano, who made the transition from college to the NFL.
He said the franchise still has confidence in quarterback Josh Freeman, even though he is in the final year of his contract and the team has decided not to consider an extension until after 2013.
"The headline is it's his last year on his contract but it's not that simple and it's not that straightforward and there are options,'' Glazer said, noting the team could place a franchise tag on Freeman after the season. "You saw with the Ravens, it all worked out for them.''
Glazer said he was encouraged by the way the Bucs finished the 2012 season, with a 22-17 win at Atlanta over the NFC South champion Falcons. "When the season ended, I was excited about getting to the next season right way as I've been in a long time,'' Glazer said.
That said, the Bucs haven't won a playoff game since Super Bowl XXXVII more than 10 years ago. "Do we take responsibility? Absolutely,'' Glazer said. "We also take the responsibility to fix it and put it on the right course and deliver another championship. That's what we're dedicated to do.''
In what has become an annual state-of-the-Bucs meeting, Glazer touched on topics ranging from Schiano, general manager Mark Domink, Freeman, Raymond James Stadium and the ownership's support for a possible blockbuster deal.
On coach Greg Schiano: "Looking back to last year, we had our ups and we had our downs but overall I was pleased with Greg in his first year,'' Glazer said. "He came in, had to put together an entire staff, had to make an adjustment going from college to the NFL. Then, boom, right into free agency, right into the draft, not a lot of time to settle down. But I think he did a tremendous job in the players, earning the respect of people around him, working well with Mark and then getting into the season. I thought he did a very good job of managing the season, managing the players, managing different situations. Overall, I was very pleased and I expect going into his second season, with one season under his belt, he'll be that much further ahead and I expect good things."
On the decision not to negotiate a contract extension for Freeman: "You've seen it all which ways, you've seen it done too early, too late,'' Glazer said. "There's never a perfect answer. I think the important thing is that Josh is focused about what happens on the field.
"We have a lot of confidence in Josh Freeman. If you look at last year, Josh was coming into a new coaching staff, a new system and he did a lot of great things. And then there were moments I'm sure he'd like to have back. But I know this much about Josh, he works hard, nobody works harder than Josh, Josh is committed and he's had some great moments on the field. Now, at quarterback, if you don't have those great moments, they're magnified and it causes lots of problems. I have confidence with another off-season under his belt, being the same system and the same coordinator, Josh comes back as dedicated as ever.''
On the Bucs playoff drought: "No one can't stand not winning more than myself or any member of my family,'' Glazer said. "Then when you look at the situation, everybody is getting judged every year. I go into the meetings and there are eight or nine new head coaches? It's a demanding business and the patience is small at best these days in the National Football League. We're no different. I think people in our organization put that same pressure on themselves.''
On ownership's support of the Bucs pursuit of a possible trade for Jets CB Darrelle Revis: "Our view always is if you can something to make the team better, we're supportive,'' Glazer said. "The circumstances, what you're giving up for the future, those are all factors. If there's something our coach and our general manager think it would be wise for the franchise, no matter who it is, we're always going to be open and supportive because our goal is winning.''
On the Bucs' slumping attendance that has led to blackouts: "We've got great fans in the area,'' Glazer said. "The economy is still difficult. That hasn't changed over night. But our fans are responded, we had positive signs throughout the season. But it's incumbant upon us to put a team on the field this community can be proud of and they will respond. I have no doubt.''