Sunday, June 24, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Jones: Unfortunately, Bucs fans, the Gruden circus has left town

TAMPA – What a strange week it has been.

A strange, awkward and absolutely delicious week. Talk about fun. Well, about as fun as can be when you’re talking about one of the worst teams in the NFL.

Around here, a goofy soap opera is about as good as it gets in a season like this.

There’s Dirk Koetter, barely hanging on to his job while fighting off rumors that he can’t get along with his starting quarterback.

Then there’s Jon Gruden, going into the overcrowded Bucs’ Ring of Honor while not exactly fighting off rumors that he’s going to coach again someday.

All the while, the Bucs are ravaged by injuries and watching their underachieving season swirl down the toilet.

RELATED: All Eyes gallery: Tampa Bay puts up a real fight in loss to Atlanta

Throw all that in a bag, shake it up, bring Monday Night Football to town and you end up with some familiar, yet intriguing conversations about what will happen next around here.

Fire Koetter? Fire general manager Jason Licht? Bring back Gruden? Beg Tony Dungy to come back?

Hire Dungy, fire Dungy and re-hire Gruden?

Hey, on a week like this, nothing sounds too crazy. As Gruden was giving his thanks-everyone speech Monday night, one fan was seen holding up a sign that read "Gruden 2018.’’

That has been pretty much the theme of the week. Some Bucs fans are trying to play matchmaker between the Bucs and Gruden even though we’re still not sure Gruden wants to come back and even less sure that Koetter will be fired.

And, oh yeah, the Bucs are still playing games, too. Like Monday night. Another loss — this one a 24-21 decision to the Falcons.

Give the Bucs credit. They are not packing it in. They are giving effort. Monday was a pretty competitive game. The Bucs showed up. Then again, that’s the least a professional football player can do, don’t you think? But the point is they haven’t given up on Koetter. Not yet.

Does that matter?

If the Bucs lose the rest — and that is more likely than not —– they would finish 4-12 on the season. That’s ugly. Probably way too ugly for Koetter to survive.

If the Bucs win their last two — very unlikely at this point — they would finish 6-10. Still not pretty. But maybe just decent enough that Koetter could survive, especially if you want to make a case that Jameis Winston, who played his best game of the season Monday night, was banged up for part of this season.

Here’s the thing, however: Won’t Koetter be the exact same coach in two weeks as he is today regardless of how the Bucs finish? And isn’t he the same guy who led the Bucs to a 9-7 record a year ago? Either way, I’m guessing the Glazers already have their minds made up about Koetter’s future.

If they think he can’t coach, he should be fired even if they win their last two. And if they believe he is the man for the job then the final two games, even if they are lost, shouldn’t change that belief.

My gut tells me that Koetter isn’t going to come back because that same gut tells me that Tampa Bay will lose the final two games and 4-12 is awful no matter how you slice it.

It’s not a great look to fire your coach every two years, but I get the sense that the Glazers don’t care about those appearances. They care more about the appearances of losing records, missed postseasons and the idea that another coach other that can turn this thing around, give the franchise hope and sell tickets (not necessarily in that order).

We don’t know yet what will happen. But here’s what we do know: the Gruden circus is leaving town. All we’re left with is one really bad football team.

And two anti-climatic weeks that won’t be nearly as interesting as the past one.

Contact Tom Jones at [email protected] Follow @tomwjones.

Sign up for our daily Bucs Red Zone email newsletter here

Comments
Greg Auman answers your questions about NFL’s investigation into Jameis Winston

Greg Auman answers your questions about NFL’s investigation into Jameis Winston

There are many unanswered questions and discrepancies about the story of Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston and the March 2016 Uber ride in Arizona that has led to his upcoming three-game suspension for violating the NFL's conduct policy.The Bucs won't ...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Will this be Jameis Winston’s last season in a Bucs uniform?

Will this be Jameis Winston’s last season in a Bucs uniform?

A t his introductory news conference after being drafted No. 1 overall by the Bucs in 2015, Jameis Winston said to judge him on his actions moving forward."Actions speak so much louder than words, or what they may have read or what they may have hear...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Ronald Darby’s friend: Jameis Winston got into second Uber ride alone

Ronald Darby’s friend: Jameis Winston got into second Uber ride alone

New details emerged Friday night about the Uber ride in Arizona in March 2016 that led to Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston's three-game suspension to start the upcoming season, including the fact that Winston was in a car that night with a former Vand...
Published: 06/22/18
Chris Godwin on SiriusXM: Bucs have confidence in backup QBs

Chris Godwin on SiriusXM: Bucs have confidence in backup QBs

Bucs receiver Chris Godwin, who has had as good an offseason as any Tampa Bay player, was on SiriusXM NFL radio for a scheduled interview on Thursday night, talking about a range of subjects, including the news of Jameis Winston's suspension to start...
Published: 06/22/18
With Winston suspension, how might Bucs split QB reps in preseason?

With Winston suspension, how might Bucs split QB reps in preseason?

With news that Jameis Winston will be suspended for the first three games of 2018, Bucs coach Dirk Koetter has an interesting decision to make for training camp and especially in preseason games: How does he split reps between Winston and backup Ryan...
Published: 06/22/18
Bucs QB Jameis Winston’s suspension: What they’re saying

Bucs QB Jameis Winston’s suspension: What they’re saying

There are so many sides to the Jameis Winston suspension, and it will continue to be a major Bucs story line through September and beyond. Here's some of the reactions and notes that have already emerged in the first 24 hours since news broke Thursda...
Published: 06/22/18
Welcome back to the dark side, Bucs fans

Welcome back to the dark side, Bucs fans

TAMPA — Thursday was not the end of Jameis Winston in Tampa Bay, but it is in sight.Me? I was sitting at home. I was tired of the NBA draft, even with Tampa's Kevin Knox going to the New York Knicks.So I switched to the NFL Network. An episode ...
Published: 06/22/18
Winston aftermath: Report says Darby wasn’t in car for whole ride

Winston aftermath: Report says Darby wasn’t in car for whole ride

There's no telling how much detail will be disclosed in what the NFL learned in its investigation that led to Jameis Winston being suspended for the first three games of the upcoming season, but some have already been reported in the first 24 hours s...
Published: 06/22/18
Kwon Alexander to Jameis Winston: ‘We gotcha back’

Kwon Alexander to Jameis Winston: ‘We gotcha back’

There are many questions in the aftermath of Thursday's news that Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston will be suspended for the first three games of the 2018 season, but even before the suspension is officially announced, he is drawing support on social ...
Published: 06/22/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Jameis Winston to receive three-game suspension

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Jameis Winston to receive three-game suspension

Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston will be suspended by the NFL for three games according to reports, and that number could go up if he doesn't meet certain criteria.Rick Stroud explains that the suspension is not for a failure to report the 2016 i...
Published: 06/22/18