Martin Fennelly Columns
Bucs can't afford to stand pat this time
TAMPA - If you were interviewing to find yourself NFL owners and a football general manager, would the Glazers and Mark Dominik be on either one of your short lists? Would Dominik even be on your long, long, long list? Are we heading toward a new standard of lowered standards in Bucs history? It's easy to wonder about that even after the end of Raheem Morris as Bucs coach, easy to wonder if the Glazers and Dominik are committed to exploring all options to find a head coach in much the same way they explored all options to improve this team before last season. By the way, Mike Sherman went 4-12 his most recent season as an NFL head coach, too, in 2005 in Green Bay. Armed with Brett Favre, Sherman managed two playoff wins in six seasons and didn't exactly sparkle in a dual role as coach/general manager, botching a draft and free agent signing period or two.So, clearly, this is the guy. Say it ain't so, G-men and Marky Mark. This franchise and its fans are owed due diligence and a painstaking search _ exactly what you promised last Monday when you dispatched Morris. I'd hate to think Jeff Fisher wasn't on your list because the only person on the list was Mike Sherman. I'm not saying Fisher's elevated status isn't partly due to a thin crop or that Fisher's resume of 16 years as a head coach is slimmer than it appears (six winning seasons in 16 years?), but have you heard about any other team in hot pursuit of Mike Sherman for its head coach? The Glazers are methodical men _ the Glacier family, as we say. They're not rash. Clearly they must like what they see in Sherman, and it must be seconded, as most Glazer things are, by their GM, who survived last Monday's purge for some reason that still eludes some of us. Think Mike Sherman, who just lost his college job in Texas, will have much leverage here, at least at first? "We are going to spend whatever it takes to win, to put the best team on the field," Bucs co-chairman Joel Glazer said after Morris was fired. It flies directly in the face of reality. And it's nothing personal. Hey, some of my best friends are free-agent punters … The onus is on the owners and the GM to make any new coach, Sherman or not Sherman, not even begin to twist in the wind because they decided to stand pat. That's what just happened. The Glazers saw the perfect middle, a team that went 10-6 on a shoestring, relatively speaking, and the GM, in his first GM job, always remember that, lapped it right up and did their bidding, or non-bidding, as it were. It's easy enough to understand, but it's hard to defend right now. "A lot of it is we were 10-6 and that we were coming off a good football season," Dominik said last Monday. "We had a lot of young guys who were playing very well. We banked on that. I banked on that." Oops. There was, I think, genuine sadness in Dominik's voice as he talked about Raheem, some guilt. He should feel some guilt. Now it's on him. He's next. The Glazers appear safe. That's how it works. And that's how coaching searches work sometimes. It's about everyone feeling safe, comfortable. Only I don't know how many playoff seasons are built from that. I don't know if that raises any standards. I'm not sure what the standards are over at Bucs headquarters. They speak of winning, and spending, about the best coach out there. We'll see.