The Tampa Bay Buccaneers welcomed the 12th head coach in franchise history on Thursday afternoon, as Bruce Arians was formally introduced.
The former two time NFL Coach of the Year with the Colts and the Cardinals is coming off a one year retirement and will be trying to breathe life into a franchise that’s only had two winning seasons in the last 11 years.
And, make no mistake, Arians “won the press conference” with his cool demeanor flashing a Superbowl ring on his right hand (above), and talking about what it will take to turn the Bucs into a winner:
LIVE: Tune in for Head Coach Bruce Arians' introductory press conference. https://t.co/DYy4Th2hDf
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) January 10, 2019
Now the question becomes: what’s next?
Yes, Arians has put together much of his Cardinals coaching staff, including former defensive coordinator Todd Bowles agreeing to rejoin him. And yes, the Bucs have great optimism that they will be able to lure free agents and change the view of a franchise that has floundered, since firing Jon Gruden.
And speaking of Gruden, Arians is arrival and debut in front of the microphones for the Tampa Bay media and fans was much like the fan fair around Gruden 17 years ago.
The Glazer family had famously traded two number one and two number two draft picks, as well as $8 million to pry Gruden away from the Oakland Raiders. However, from the first day he stepped behind that podium and spoke to the Buccaneer fans, Gruden looked and felt in charge.
And, in storybook fashion, the Bucs won the Super Bowl later in his first year and his credibility was validated.
Recent history though, has shown the other Tampa Bay coaches had impressive press conferences, too. But, not much else.
Rutgers coach Greg Schiano preached about “Trust, Belief and Accountability” to the media upon his hiring. However, the Buccaneers quickly unraveled at the end of his first season, and he was fired after a disastrous 0-8 start in year two resulted in 4 – 12.
Former Bears coach Lovie Smith came back to coaching to clean up after Schiano’s mess and he too was impressive in his opening day, talking about linking to the past. That’s when, he was an assistant under Tony Dungy in the late 1990’s and the Bucs turned their fortunes from laughingstock around.
Unfortunately for Smith, all the talk about turnarounds fell flat. The Bucs on the field were a disaster at 2 – 14 his first season. He was gone a year later.
His offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, however was promoted largely based on his work with rookie QB Jameis Winston in 2015.
And Koetter too, was impressive at his opening news conference. Koetter not only promised more improvement with the offense, but announced that he had hired former Falcons head coach Mike Smith to come in and run his defense. That got Tampa Bay fans excited about the future.
But while the Bucs did have a winning 9-7 season his first year, it all unraveled, again, especially on defense in year two. The Bucs never recovered, as Koetter lost 22 of his final 32 games (firing Smith mid-season this year), and he became the latest Buccaneer coach to be shown the door.
And that leads us back to Thursday. And, Bruce Arians taking to the mic, and talking about one of his favorite phrases “No risk it, no biscuit,” which means: if you’re not willing to be bold, not willing to take chances and have some confidence in what you’re doing, you’re never going to succeed at the highest level.
Arians knows exactly how to succeed, but there are question marks about his age and his health, and whether or not he can pull Tampa Bay out of the perennial losing that’s going on for over a decade.
That’s going to take a lot more than just winning words for the media and fans on your opening day.
Buccaneers fans have seen that all too many times already.
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