Thursday, November 23, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs must decide, now who is in charge

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TAMPA

Who's in charge?

Seems like a simple question.

Who is in charge of the Bucs?

Is it new coach Lovie Smith or is it Jason Licht, who was officially introduced Thursday as the new general manager?

Good luck getting an answer on that.

Smith was asked Thursday who was in charge. He smiled, then started comparing the GM-coach relationship to a marriage.

Licht was asked. He laughed and started talking about how too much was being made about who had control of the Bucs.

And so the day came and went, both men were each asked about a dozen different ways, and we were left with no simple answer to what seems to be a rather simple question.

Who is in charge?

Either no one is saying or that particular detail hasn't been ironed out just yet. Let's hope it's the former because if it's the latter, the Bucs have troubles.

"This thing is going to be a group discussion," Smith said. "We're going to pull all and any type of knowledge we can get from everyone. I do think too much is made out of all of that. We're all going to be making decisions."

Mr. Licht?

"It really isn't about who is in charge," Licht said. "We both are in charge of our own deals, but we are working together. It's going to be a partnership."

Well that sounds swell. Until it's time to sign or draft someone and Smith and Licht turn into the Yankees and Red Sox.

"There are going to be … I'm going to say disagreements and good discussions in every position," Smith said. "That's just a part of guys being in an environment where they can speak their mind. And in the end, you have a chance to make your case, state your case and we come to the best conclusion. It's kind of as simple as that."

Sorry, Lovie, but there is nothing remotely simple about that.

Someone has to be in charge. Someone has to have final say. Someone has to be the boss.

The guess is that person is Smith. While Licht will run the draft and certainly will have a major voice in free agency and other personnel decisions, Smith likely is in charge of exactly who is on the 53-man roster and how they will be used.

It's like this: Smith will ask for the ingredients, Licht will go shopping and Smith will cook the meal.

For the record, however, Licht admits that somewhere in the files at One Buc Place, there is a contract that specifies who has final say on personnel.

Let's just hope no one will ask to see those contracts.

"They have to work together," Bucs co-chairman Joel Glazer said. "If we ever, if any organization gets to a point, where people are pulling contracts out, reading fine lines, we've got serious problems. That's not an environment you can win in. You see any successful organization, people are working together, each person's having their say."

Even if Smith holds the trump card in all decisions, Licht said something interesting Thursday. He said he had still been in the hunt for the Miami Dolphins' GM job but decided to take the Bucs' job.

"I felt that this one was way more comfortable for me than that one," Licht said. "And that's going to be a great job for somebody. I just felt more comfortable for myself, and I just thought this was a better fit."

There's this, too: Licht worked for coach Bill Belichick in New England, who had total control over everything. Yet when asked if the Bucs would be run in a similar fashion, Licht's answer was quick and firm: "No."

Licht made it sound as if there was ever a disagreement on a player, there would be an easy solution.

"We'll have arguments on players," Licht said. "I'm going to plead my case … and I'm sure he'll do the same thing. If we don't come to an agreement, the answer is easy. It lies in itself — we won't take that player."

Of course, it's easy to say that now when all the scenarios and players are fictional. What happens when you're on the clock in the draft room?

Worst-case scenario is Licht likes Player A and Smith likes Player B and because they can't agree, they end up taking lesser-talented Player C.

Smith and Licht both seem confident that any arguments will be healthy ones and that they'll be on the same page way more often than not. Smith talked about knowing almost immediately that Licht should be the GM. Licht talked about how much respect he has for Smith and that he doesn't foresee any issues.

"As long as we trust each other, and there's no doubt I'm going to trust Lovie," Licht said. "He can get along with the devil. … A man of integrity, honesty, he's going to tell you like it is. He's got a presence about him that's unlike most people."

In the end, fans don't care who is making the final decisions as long as those decisions are right and the team wins. And as long as Smith and Licht know who is in charge, there shouldn't be any problems.

Let's just hope they do, in fact, know who is in charge.

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