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This is your chance to be Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager for 15 minutes. What will you do?

Will general manager Mark Dominik, left, let coach Raheem Morris stay in charge of the defense next season?


Will general manager Mark Dominik, left, let coach Raheem Morris stay in charge of the defense next season?

He is not particularly rich, and he is not remotely famous. He is not yet accomplished, and he is not especially secure. He doesn't have a TV show, and he doesn't have a record deal.

And yet, everyone seems to want Mark Dominik's job.

Go figure.

You can hear it in the discontent in the voices of the fans. You can read it in the headlines. You can feel it alongside the apathy of a community. It is a difficult time to be the general manager of the Bucs, and yet, you get the feeling that in Tampa Bay, it is considered the best job anyone could have.

And so you are ready to storm the palace. You are ready to seize control. You want to sit behind the big desk and make the big decisions no matter how hot the seat may be. After all, you finished third in your fantasy league this year, so you are obviously qualified.

So here you go. For the next 15 minutes, you can have Dominik's job. For the next 15 minutes, you are in charge. Work fast, because after that, security is going to show up, and you'll have to explain how you got inside the building.

Now that you have the helm, what do you do first? Probably you have a decision to make about the future of coach Raheem Morris. No, not about whether Morris is fired. That won't be Dominik's decision. Around here, the Glazers decide who the coach is (See Gruden, Jon or Dungy, Tony).

As general manager, however, you do have some say in whether Morris remains as his defensive coordinator. And it's an interesting debate. How much responsibility is too much? And if it isn't two jobs, why do most teams treat it as such?

A lot of coaches still run their offenses, but it's a bit harder for a defensive coach. After all, an offensive coordinator is always in attack mode, and things such as going for it on fourth down and two-point conversions are part of their plan. A defensive coordinator, on the other hand, is in a reactionary position.

Still, with Morris, it comes down to this: As defensive coordinator, Morris has finally put his mark on his team, and his team has improved because of it.

My guess? Yes, Morris will perform both roles next season, too. (No, he won't accept being defensive coordinator while someone else is coach.)

Ah, but how about offensive coordinator Greg Olson? The offense has underachieved most of this season, and it went 11 quarters without a touchdown until the second half of last week's game.

That said, Olson was forced to take over a team in midseason, which is something like changing horses in the middle of the river. And Olson has done nice work with quarterback Josh Freeman, and that bond shouldn't be taken lightly. Besides, how many coordinators can a franchise fire before no one wants the job?

My guess? Olson is back as coordinator, too. And this time, he gets an offseason and a training camp to prepare.

When it comes to the offense, there may be no bigger decision to make than with receiver Antonio Bryant. Bryant still makes highlight-reel catches, but he makes a lot of money, and his numbers are going to be half of what they were a year ago. That's a shaky position. After a year in which Bryant struggled with a bad knee, the Bucs are going to wonder about his health, too.

My guess? The next two weeks are important for Bryant's closing argument. Bryant would be hard to replace. Still, how much should the Bucs be willing to spend to keep him?

Then there is linebacker Barrett Ruud, one of the Bucs' more popular players. Yes, he could be nastier on the field, but he has flourished as much as anyone since Morris took over the defense.

My guess? He'll be back. The Bucs have enough holes to fill without adding Ruud's spot.

Next question: How about free agency? Last year, the Bucs tried shopping off the top shelf, but they missed on Albert Haynesworth and Jonathan Vilma. Next year, you would like to see the Bucs be active again. After all, free agency still works if you can match the right player with the right team.

My guess? The Bucs will look hard at wide receivers and defensive linemen.

Then there is the draft, and already you can hear the debate. Ask yourself this: If the Bucs end up with, say, the second pick, should they move up? Move down? Stay where they are?

For instance, if the Bucs end up with No. 2, how much should they offer to try to move up to No. 1 and draft Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh? If you trust the NFL trade value chart — and I've always thought the value was out of whack when it came to the top 10 picks — it says the Bucs would have to trade their No. 1 and the second-rounder acquired from the Bears to get the pick. On a team that needs as much as the Bucs, that's a steep price. Then again, Suh is a fierce player.

For the Bucs, this has to be a great draft. With three of the top 40 or so picks, the Bucs have to come away with their nucleus for the next decade.

My guess? The Bucs offer a lesser price and hope the Rams fall in love with someone else. Sam Bradford, anyone?

Of course, there are smaller questions that need answering, too. Even if Bryant comes back, don't the Bucs need another receiver? (Yes.) Does Ronde Barber deserve another year? (Yes.) Couldn't the Bucs use a defensive end with closing speed? (How about two?) A punter? A guard? A safety? (Yes, maybe, maybe.)

Then there is this: Does Chicago want to make another deal?

In other words, there is a lot of heavy lifting involved in building a football team. That's why the job is so darned attractive.

When you were a kid, maybe you wanted to be a quarterback. When you were a teenager, maybe you wanted to be a coach. But quarterbacks take too many hits, and coaches work too many hours.

Ah, but general managers? You could do that, couldn't you?

As of now, you have 10 minutes left to get things fixed. After that, of course, it's your head.

Gary Shelton can be reached at

Bucs at Saints

1 p.m., Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans

TV/radio: Ch. 13; 103.5-FM, 620-AM

Line, O/U: Saints by 14, 49

This is your chance to be Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager for 15 minutes. What will you do? 12/26/09 [Last modified: Saturday, December 26, 2009 8:15pm]
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