BUCS : AFTER THE DUST SETTLES : BALTIMORE
By Leo Haggerty

This will be the shortest column I write when it comes to AFTER THE DUST SETTLES. That’s because this is a requiem and it’s not going to be pretty.

The Bucs ownership group, the Glazer family, are going to have to fire General Manager Jason Light and Head Coach Dirk Koetter along with his entire coaching staff. In my opinion, if the Buccaneers could have gone 8-8, the aforementioned individuals would have survived Black Monday when the ax falls on at least five National Football League head honchos. Sadly, the loss last week to the Ravens was the final nail in the coffin.

My good friend, Roy Cummings, and I totally agree on one thing. We are not proponents of firing coaches and cleaning house in the front office but there is just no other alternative.

A lot of the blame for this falls on the Jameis Winston suspension at the beginning of the season. Why, you ask. Well, I will gladly give you my opinion on that.

I went on record, after the three-game suspension came down from the National Football League on #3 before the campaign even started, saying the worst possible scenario for the Pewter Pirates was to go 3-0 or 2-1 with backup signal-caller Ryan Fitzpatrick. Fans, and even members of the media, called me crazy but that hypothesis came to fruition.

Not only did #14 go 2-1 out of the gate, with a season opening road win at New Orleans against the Saints along with a home defeat of the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles followed by a close Monday night loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers at Raymond James Stadium, but the Harvard grad was playing at a Hall of Fame level. Fitzmagic was in vogue in Tampa.

Koetter had no options. He couldn’t pull Fitzpatrick, especially when the Buccaneers were expected to go 0-3 to open the season, or he could lose the locker room. Now, my friends, you have a full-blown quarterback controversy and the wheels came off the cart in a hurry.

When Tampa Bay went to Winston in Week 6, after a bye week, the former Florida State Seminole was rusty and inconsistent at best. During a miserable Week 8 performance in Cincinnati, #3 was pulled and Fitzmagic rallied the Bucs to tie the contest late in the fourth quarter only to lose on a field goal as time expired.

So it was back to #14 and Tampa Bay was on the QB merry-go-round. By the time Koetter finally settled on Winston for the duration of the season Week 11, the ship was sinking and it would take a miracle to save it. Sadly, that was not to be.

Koetter was a victim of circumstance. His backup QB was playing like Dan Marino and, when that bubble burst, his starter was playing like a rookie who was starting his first game.

We will never know what the outcome would have been if #3 was calling the shots on the gridiron all season. What we do know is that his growth was stunted by the suspension and he never made the progress the franchise hoped he would make.

I fell sorry for the Glazer family on this one. Their hands are tied and the only course of action is to start anew from square one.

So, it’s sayonara to the coaching staff and the front office. Will Winston survive the purge? That, ladies and gentlemen, will be up to the new administration at One Buc. Stay tuned for that one.