TAMPA – "Our search for a new head coach will begin immediately and will be conducted by General Manager Jason Licht."
Happy New Year.
Dirk Koetter sleeps with the fishes.
Jason Licht is doing the backstroke.
The return of the Bucs still general manager, a survivor with maybe some conniver thrown in, gives us a sinking feeling about this franchise. The S.S. Roberto Aguayo sails on.
Five awful, dysfunctional seasons and Licht not only keeps his job, but he's in charge.
"You know, right now I'm just grateful to be here," Licht said at a Monday news conference. "I'm grateful to be here, I'm grateful to be standing here. I told that to Dirk last night. He told me that he was happy that I was here. Right now, like I said, the Glazer family has put their confidence in me to find the next head coach, and I'm grateful for that opportunity."
Oh, and "Jameis Winston will be here – we have him under contract for a year," Licht said.
A reminder: Your couch cushions may be used as a flotation device.
Obviously, Licht he must have convinced the Glazers that a 5-11 team should have been an 11-5 team, that the team he built, the personnel he chose, deserved better coaching.
And so, Koetter ends up in the car trunk. Now he knows how Lovie Smith felt. No one delivers the long knives like Licht.
I'm not saying the Bucs should have kept Koetter. But this should have been a package deal. If Koetter is going to get strung up by the thumbs for a 19-29 record despite an explosive offense, then how does Licht skate at 27-53?
You heard it right. That's Licht's record as a football executive in Tampa Bay:
That's one win less than the modern art masterpiece rolled out by Licht's predecessor, Mark Dominik.
"We thought Dirk did a fantastic job," Licht said.
Yeah, I can tell.
Oh, by the way, Licht hired Koetter.
This isn't a hard call. It's not rocket science.
Licht should be carrying a box out of the building.
Instead, he gets to run the show.
It's like keeping a termite to run a pest-control business.
Licht gets to try to save the day.
Thing is, he might save it. Maybe if he brings in his friend and former Arizona co-worker, AARP wunderkind Bruce Arians, who reportedly is interested. Arians checks two boxes: likes Licht and can work with Jameis Winston. "Likes Licht" might be the key box.
But why does Licht get to stay? Why should he get to pull one out of the fire when he should be in the fire himself? Why him? Keeping him is far too high a price to pay for the Glazers not knowing their right foot from their left during coach searches.
A GM shouldn't be able to survive 27-53, two coaches and a seemingly failed No. 1 draft pick QB. Heck, most normal failed GMs would have been gone for moving up to get a kicker in the second round, which Licht once did.
The Bucs have depth issues. They're soft. Who is that on? The Bucs have made so many bad draft picks, so many horrible signings in free agency. Who is that on? The Bucs just began to address their defensive line last offseason season. Who is that on? And if it was raining running backs, Licht and his scouting staff couldn't get wet. Who is that on?
Licht's best draft pick was his first draft pick: Mike Evans. He also reeled in Chris Godwin, Ali Marpet and O.J. Howard. He is good at targets. He also took Aguayo, Vernon Hargreaves, Noah Spence. Aguayo's name should be written on Licht's tombstone, except there's no tombstone.
How many Johnsons did Licht go through in search of a pass rush? Anthony Collins was a debacle on the offensive line. Defensive lineman Chris Baker was a bad player who was bad for the locker room. We could go on.
Yeah, a lot of GMs swing and miss.
Fine. Fire them, too.
I think Licht is as responsible as Koetter for this disaster. Poor personnel decisions have set back this franchise. It isn't nearly as close as it thought when it was 3-3 this season.
But that's why he sat out the trade deadline, keeping a malcontent like DeSean Jackson when you just knew the Bucs could have gotten something, anything for him for him.
Licht might rightly point out that he didn't hire Lovie. But he saw him to the door and had no problem with it in the name of saving his own hide.
And, if cornered, if Jameis blows up again, Licht might say Jameis was Lovie's guy all along, though I can remember Licht slobbering over Winston in his praise for him at the Rose Bowl in 2014. The Glazers clearly believes in Jameis, so Licht believes in Jameis.
By the way, why is it that when the Bucs bring in a new coach there are 712 Glazers in attendance, but when one gets fired, you can't even find a Glazer using infrared?
This franchise needed a fresh start, a reset. This isn't that. The Glazers needed someone who wasn't afraid to speak to power. They needed someone to tell them what they need to hear, not what they want to hear. Licht isn't that.
That is how, as awful as he has been at his job, he saved it while Koetter lost his. Licht's career-preservation light is always blinking. That's no way to run a football team, except for a bad one.
Contact Martin Fennelly at firstname.lastname@example.org or . Follow @mjfennelly