The Buccaneers fired head coach Jon Gruden (above) and GM Bruce Allen today, a move that not only renders the visor-donning workaholic available for the Jets vacancy, but also provides one journalist with the earliest opportunity to hint that Tony Dungy’s retirement might be amongst the shortest in history. From the St. Petersburg Times‘ Rick Stroud.
Tampa Bay was the first team in 15 years to start 9-3 and fail to reach the playoffs, losing their last four games in a row. That historical collapse also included blowing a 10-point fourth quarter lead to the 4-11 Oakland Raiders in the regular-season finale at Raymond James Stadium.
“We were extremely frustrated,” co-chairman Joel Glazer said. “The losses are as hard today as they were 14 years ago and the way the season ended obviously was terribly disappointing. But, you know, it’s not just one thing. It’s four losses ast the end of the season. It’s look at our franchise and see where we are and where we want to go.”
One possibility is promoting Mark Dominik, the Bucs’ pro personnel director, to the GM position with defensive coordinator Raheem Morris as head coach. Recently fired Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan would also seem to be a strong possibility.
The list of coaching candidates available include Shanahan, former Steelers coach Bill Cowher, former Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren and Dungy, who retired Monday from the Indianapolis Colts to return to his family in Tampa.
The Bucs also have Morris, 32, their recently-named defensive coordinator who was a candidate for the Denver Broncos head coaching job. If the Glazer family believes Morris is going to eventually be a successful head coach — following in the footprints of Steelers coach Mike Tomlin — he would be the speculative favorite.
Players were understandably stunned by the timing of the news of Gruden’s dismissal Friday, but not entirely surprised.
“How do you build a championship team with all the inconsistency?’ receiver Mike Clayton said.
“You have to do it the right way. I’ve always been a person who feels like you reap what you sow. You have to treat people fairly.’
When asked what he wished Gruden would’ve done differently, Clayton said, “It’s about showing more confidence in your players. He was kind of a turncoat. He’d tell you one thing and then do something else.”