ORLANDO — While declining comment on the issues that led to a dismal 2013 season for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, co-chairman Joel Glazer chose instead Tuesday to talk about a “feeling of excitement’’ surrounding a struggling franchise that he hasn’t felt in quite a while.
Giving his annual state of the Bucs at the NFL owners’ meetings, Glazer brushed aside questions concerning former quarterback Josh Freeman or the dismissals of head coach Greg Schiano and general manager Mark Dominik.
“That’s in the past,’’ Glazer said of the 4-12 finish that prompted Schiano’s departure after only two seasons. “We’re at a point where we’re looking forward with the changes we’ve made.’’
Glazer is pleased with the team’s recent free-agent harvest orchestrated by new coach Lovie Smith and GM Jason Licht.
“We were 4-12 last year and anytime you have a new coach and GM, there’s going to be a different perspective on things,’’ Glazer said. “We’re open-minded to following the plan they have. This is a team that needed some overhaul.
“With any team, the coach has to put his stamp on the team and bring in the type of players he needs. Our fans are excited, they’re energized. There’s a feeling of excitement around the team that I haven’t felt in a long time, a real positive feeling, and we’re seeing it reflected in new season-ticket sales and renewals.’’
The 2013 Bucs lost their first eight games and the club was beset by MRSA infection issues. Rookie Mike Glennon replaced an ineffective Freeman under center and Tampa Bay finished in the NFC South basement for the third consecutive year.
“My whole focus is today, tomorrow, the next day,’’ Glazer said. “There’s no benefit in looking back. The bottom line is you are what your record says you are … and we were 4-12. We are focused on changing that.
“We had a good relationship with both Mark and Greg. They gave 200 percent for the Buccaneer organization and we’re very appreciative of that. What’s most disappointing to me is we have not been up to the standards we’d like to be as an organization. All these changes were made in an effort to take a step forward and get back to the top.’’
The Bucs haven’t won a playoff game since routing the Raiders in the 2003 Super Bowl and their playoff drought has stretched to six seasons.
“It’s been extremely tough because we’re competitive people,’’ Glazer said of his family, which has owned the franchise since 1995. “There’s no better thrill than winning. Once you’ve lived it and you’ve had that experience, you want it more and more.
“It’s been disappointing and frustrating and what we’re feeling is no different than what our fans have been feeling. Now we have an influx of new ideas by people who have seen it done in different ways, trying to reverse the trend we’ve had.’’
Glazer is comfortable with the quarterback tandem of veteran Josh McCown and Glennon, who attended the league meetings on Tuesday and sat within a slant pass of ownership when Glazer made his remarks.
“Mike as a rookie performed very well last year and bringing in a veteran like Josh is a great combination,” Glazer said. “Josh is someone Lovie has a history with (in Chicago) and that will benefit everybody.’’
Shortly after the free agency period began March 11, the Bucs released Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis, who was paid $16 million in 2013 and cost Tampa Bay a pair of draft picks, including a first-round selection.
“The bottom line is this is Lovie and Jason’s team to lead and we have to go with what they think is right,’’ Glazer said. “We’re 100 percent supportive.’’
During Smith’s nine years with the Bears, the former Bucs linebacker coach averaged nine wins as Chicago succeeded with stout defense and stellar special teams.
“The hallmark of the Bucs will be Lovie doing it his way, and his way will unfold,’’ Glazer said. “Yes, Lovie came from the defensive side of the ball, but he also has a vision for what the offense will be.
“I will say this much – if you look at what won the Super Bowl this year, it was defense, and the top defenses were all in the playoffs. You know the adage that defense wins championships? There’s no evidence to the contrary.’’