Bucs Make Gruden Walk the Plank

Josh BassettCorrespondent IJanuary 19, 2009

Over the last few years, I've been torn on how I feel about Jon Gruden. I love his work ethic, I think it is safe to say that he is one of the top three coaches in the NFL, if not No. 1, at preparing for a game. I love his fiery personality. I love how you could watch a game and see him drop seven F-bombs at the refs.

But, he has his flaws. His offense is very complicated, and leaves not room for error. But in a league where young, inexperienced players need to see the field due to the $$$ they are making, they cannot under Gruden. He will not allow it. He has a reputation for playing veterans over the young players, which is fine. However he doesn't seem to have the patience or desire to develop the young, raw talent.

The Buccaneers fired Jon Gruden Friday. I was sort of shocked, but not really. After starting 9-3 and looking like they had a legit shot at the Super Bowl, the Bucs finished 0-4, missing the playoffs for the fourth time in six years.

Was it Gruden's fault the Bucs finished 0-4?

I don't think so...First off, the defense was overwhelmingly bad three the last four games giving up 38 to the Panthers, 41 to the Chargers, and 31 to Oakland.

But I don't necessarily blame the defense either. Injuries to defensive lineman late in the season allowed teams to run the ball with ease. With no depth at D-line, the make-up of the team shows its flaws. Undersized lineman and linebackers cannot handle the extra load and a defense based on speed gets tired faster and is dead by the third quarter.

Just a side-note...the losing streak started right about the time that it came out that Defensive Coordinator Monte Kiffin would leave the Bucs to coach under his son Lane Kiffin an the University of Tennessee.

General manager Bruce Allen (who ran Warren Sapp and John Lynch out of town) was also fired. He never impressed me, and his one good draft pick, Cadillac Williams, looks like he may not be ready to go by the preseason...again. Maybe if he signed some back-up defensive lineman or quality back-up linebackers instead of seventeen old tight ends and eight quarterbacks then maybe things would have ended differently.

Now Raheem Morris will take over, becoming the NFL's youngest head coach at 32, alongside new GM Mark Dominik. There is still a lot of talent on this team, but a lot of questions too. A good draft is imperative, because it has been years since the Bucs have had one and there are a lot of aging veterans on the roster.

As the Buccaneers try to "right the ship," decisions will have to be made concerning Jeff Garcia, who will be turning 64 this year, the running back spot, and getting a reliable speed threat at receiver, as well as more depth on defense.

There has been a sizable portion of Bucs fans who have been calling for Gruden's head the last few years. They got what they have been asking for, but with so much change in the offseason, including breaking in a young, new coach that has absolutely zero experience leading a team (who will have quite a few players older than he is), I don't know how successful the Bucs can be next year.