The Tampa Bay Buccaneers used to go through coaches like clockwork in their early, pathetic history. It was only when Tony Dungy coached the Buccaneers that things started to change. But while Dungy took the Buccaneers to respectability, it was Jon Gruden that took them to the promised land. However, since Jon Gruden hadn’t done so again for years, and since the Buccaneers blew a good chance to get back there this year, Gruden was let go by the Bucs after seven seasons as coach.
Jon Gruden took general manager Bruce Allen with him on the firing block, as the Buccaneers became the latest team to fire a coach and GM. But Gruden’s job looked safe after he had gone the first three weeks of the Buccaneers’ off-season without getting fired, unlike so many other NFL coaches recently.
Gruden looked to be safe even after the horrible ending to the Bucs season. Tampa Bay was 9-3 heading into December, ready to make a Super Bowl run. But two straight losses to division rivals Carolina and Atlanta, then two unthinkable losses at home to San Diego and Oakland, cost the Buccaneers a playoff berth and cost Gruden a job.
Gruden lost his chance to lead the Buccaneers to a Super Bowl, which would be played in their home of Tampa Bay this year. However, the Bucs loss to the Raiders paved the way for the Eagles to make the playoffs, and possibly make it to Tampa Bay for the Super Bowl tomorrow afternoon.
The Eagles and Raiders proved to be a very important part of Gruden’s pre-Tampa Bay career, his highs as a coach, and the ultimate lows. Before joining the Bucs, Gruden was an offensive coordinator for the Eagles, then led the Raiders to the playoffs for three straight years as a head coach.
The Buccaneers controversially bought out Gruden so he could become their head coach, which paid off instantly. With the pieces of Tony Dungy’s Bucs intact, Gruden led the Buccaneers to the top in a way Dungy could not.
Gruden did this by upsetting his former Eagles in the NFC championship game, then by destroying his former Raiders in the Super Bowl.
But from then on in, the Buccaneers struggled to repeat their success, never winning another playoff game under Gruden. In the end, it was his former Raiders who swing the final blow against Gruden to end 2008, in a loss that cost the Bucs their season and gave birth to the Eagles’ Super Bowl run.
Gruden leaves behind a record of 57-55, the Buccaneers only Super Bowl ring, and the nickname of “Chucky” after the evil killer doll. 32-year-old defensive coordinator Raheem Morris is a favorite to be the new coach in Tampa Bay.
New York Times- “Buccaneers Fire Gruden After a Late Collapse” www.nytimes.com/2009/01/17/sports/football/17nfl.html
Tampa Bay Online- “Gruden Era Had Become Old News” www2.tbo.com/content/2009/jan/16/gruden-era-had-become-old-news/sports-bucs/