TAMPA — So a man who didn't spend enough money walked into a room beside a man who didn't find enough players, and together they tried to explain the firing of the man who didn't win enough games.
Once again the blame was rolling downhill at One Buc Place. This is the way it works in the NFL. At the end, the culprits with the most power are always standing and solemnly explaining why they have just fired a culprit with slightly less.
On the other hand, Bucs co-chairman Joel Glazer didn't fire co-chairman Bryan Glazer, and Bryan didn't fire co-chairman Ed Glazer, and no one fired general manager Mark Dominik.
The Bucs did fire coach Raheem Morris on Monday, and yeah, most people seem to agree Morris had it coming. This underachieving mess of a 4-12 season wasn't all Morris' fault, but he deserved blame a lot more than he deserved another year as coach. After a 10-game season-ending losing streak that was worse than the final 10 games of the winless 1976 Bucs, the franchise really had no choice but to break out an ax for every coach on staff.
Keep this in mind, however. The simple task of firing Morris won't cure the Bucs. It won't transform bad players into good ones, or half-hearted efforts into intense ones, or give new direction to a franchise that seems as lost as it has ever been. Morris' departure simply means there will be new suspects to blame for the seasons to come.
Such as Joel and the rest of the Glazers, who haven't done their job, either.
Such as Dominik, who didn't do his.
Such as the players, who didn't do theirs.
That's the thing about the Backwards Gang. Some of the ringleaders got away. Some of them stared into the cameras Monday and tried to explain why tomorrow is going to be different from today.
Sure it is. Tight-fisted owners are going to spend freely, and a short-sighted general manager is going to get smarter, and an immature bunch of players is going to grow up overnight.
Either that, or the Bucs will meet here in another three years to fire another coach.
Oh, during their news conference, Joel Glazer and Dominik suggested they shared the blame, too. Who is to disagree? The Bucs' roster is filled with players who will have successful careers with whatever Arena Football League team they end up with. The Bucs lacked enough cash and enough commitment to free agency to give Morris a roster that would have made a better argument in his behalf.
Say this for Glazer. There were some write-it-down-and-tape-it-to-the-fridge moments during the news conference.
"We are going to spend whatever it takes to win, to put the best team on the field," he said at one point.
"We will be happy to spend in free agency," he said a bit later.
Show of hands: Who out there requires a bit of seeing before believing? After all, the Glazers have had a lot of opportunities to spend in recent seasons, and somehow they managed not to do so. A cynic might think there was some sort of plan to spend as little as possible.
If so, that has to change. More than coaches, more than commitments, winning in the NFL is a product of organizations. It's why Pittsburgh keeps winning, and New England, and Green Bay. From top to bottom, an NFL team has to be hungrier, smarter and more willing to pay for production than the other teams in its division. Around here, that sort of commitment has been missing for a very long time.
Then there is Dominik, who suggested that one reason the Bucs seemed so disinterested in all the free agents of a year ago was because the lockout prevented potential additions from visiting during the offseason.
The word that jumps to mind is this: Hooey. Isn't that why NFL teams have pro personnel boards that rank the players of other teams in the league? Don't you have tape of players? Scouting reports? Come on. The Bucs this year brought in defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, who had problems with Washington and New England. They're afraid of someone else's character?
Go back a year. The Bucs were 10-6, and the feeling was they had figured things out. They were winning, and they weren't spending, and life was good. That euphoria was what eventually cost Morris his job. Well, that and the 41-14 loss to Jacksonville. And the 10-game losing streak.
Next? Jeff Fisher, maybe. Brian Billick, maybe. Herm Edwards, maybe.
Show me a coach with standards. Show me a coach with experience. Show me a teacher, a leader, a drill sergeant. Show me a coach who isn't particularly patient and who isn't remotely tolerant. Show me a coach who can mop up a bigger mess than the Bucs have had in two decades.
Most of all, show me a coach who can get inside Dominik's ear and Glazer's wallet.
Otherwise, the next coach won't have a chance, either.