Heat no longer describes it. Whenever Bucs fans talk about Raheem Morris these days, they are pointing flamethrowers.
Also, the noise is loud, and the discontent is widespread, and the impatience is growing. If the fever gets any hotter, the waters of Tampa Bay might boil.
Ah, but enough about Raheem.
What about general manager Mark Dominik?
This is one more thing we do not know from the ever-speechless Glazers, or from the mostly mute Dominik himself, or from anyone else in the Fortress of Silence, where no one ranked higher than the coaches speaks out loud about anything. Are Dominik and Morris tied together in this mess? If one is fired, is the other? Or does one get to outlast the other?
The last regime, as you might remember, was more or less a partnership. Bruce Allen was the designated general manager of Jon Gruden, and when one was shoved out the door, the other was doomed to the same fate. There was no Allen without Gruden and no Gruden without Allen. They were Starsky and Hutch, and their show was canceled together.
This time, we do not know. There is a feeling Morris and Dominik are not necessarily partners, just two men who ascended to their jobs at the same time. There is an argument they should go out that way, too, but this time, a shared fate does not seem to be a foregone conclusion.
Ah, but should it be? Ask yourself: How culpable is Dominik when it comes to a franchise stuck in the mud? How much of this disappointment is on the front office, and how much is on the coaching? Hasn't Dominik lost seven in a row, too?
Judging a general manager's share of the blame is a complicated equation. It is easy to decide about coaches because the standings tell you most of what you need to know. The lack of discipline, the lack of improvement and the absence of belief that things are going to get better tell you the rest.
It is more difficult to read a general manager's report card. Over his time, Dominik has some big wins. Over his time, he has some defeats.
He drafted Josh Freeman (Morris had a lot to do with that, too), which is still a good thing despite the quarterback's struggles. He found Mike Williams in the fourth round. Gerald McCoy hasn't been as durable as desired, but the run defense was much better when he was in the lineup. Adrian Clayborn will be a very good player. Overall, his drafts have been solid. Grabbing LeGarrette Blount off the waiver wire was grand larceny.
On the other hand, there have been some missteps, too, especially during Dominik's first attempt at free agency, when he handed out big contracts to Michael Clayton and Derrick Ward and Mike Nugent.
This year, he gave a good linebackers contract to Quincy Black. Looking back, the Bucs should have tried harder to keep Barrett Ruud because tackling someone 6 yards downfield is better than tackling him 14 yards downfield.
Then there is the whole free agency passivity. Let's ask again: There was no one in the free agent class who could help this bunch? Really? This is a team that has gaping shortcomings because of poor drafting during the Allen years. At some point, don't you have to plug a gap with a free agent or two even if they aren't the high-priced guys? Bottom line: If the Bucs were so smart then, why is the record so bad now?
How much of the decision to sign free agents is budgetary, and how much is on Dominik? We might never know. But this much is clear: The Bucs need more than next year's draft picks to turn things around.
In the meantime, it's also easy to wonder if Dominik put enough emphasis on veteran leadership (there isn't much of it around) or on accountability (or that) or on character (also that) or on maturity (ditto). And shouldn't he have a clue as to why the players seem to fold up at the first sign of adversity? This is a team that could drown on a single raindrop.
Gut feeling? Dominik survives because the Glazers have to have someone they can trust when it comes to the decisions ahead and because a franchise needs someone to guide a team through transition. It isn't unusual for the general manager to stay after a coach leaves.
The Chiefs just fired Todd Haley but not Scott Pioli. The Dolphins just fired Tony Sparano but not Jeff Ireland.
If you remember, former Bucs general manager Rich McKay survived the firings of both Sam Wyche and Tony Dungy. (On the other hand, if the Bucs bring in a coach who demands absolute power, that could change things.)
Either way, the Bucs need a lot of growth from the position. From time to time, someone needs to stand up and speak up. From time to time, someone needs to lead the direction of an organization that has alienated too many for too long. That's up to a general manager, the man in charge of the answers. If he won't talk to the customers, who will?
If he survives, Dominik needs to be better. He needs to be direct. He needs to lead. He needs to be more open. Most of all, he needs to make sure this kind of season doesn't happen again.
Either that or soon the flamethrowers will be aimed at him.
Poison darts, too.