Why all the local hate for Jon Gruden?
It seems to be a pre-requisite for working on Tampa sports radio, to really have it in for the Bucs' head coach. And if you look round some of the Buc-based message board, opinion seeems to be split between loving and totally hating the man who has won more games as head coach than anyone else in Buccaneer franchise history.
But why is this? Have you ever seen a coach who is posting his second straight winning season, take so much flak? And even when the Bucs win, the venom spews towards Jon in terms of "not winning well enough" or "screwing up the offense".
I am going to turn to a 1980s music analogy (sorry JD and Lee) and look back to Frankie goes to Hollywood. Their first album, Welcome to the Pleasure Dome, was such a superb production and massive success, that they could never live up to the hype. By the time the second album came around, the euphoria had died off and naturally they faded away leaving the memory of the first masterpiece.
Jon Gruden came to Tampa in 2002 and won a Super Bowl. Naturally the people who have it in for him, give all the credit to Tony Dungy. My own take has always been that we would not have won the Super Bowl with Tony, but we would not have won it without him. But he did win it and the 2002 season will therefore always be his magnum opus.
2003 was a post-party hangover with all the big egos on the team (Keyshawn, Sapp etc) causing locker room trouble as everyone took their shot at the champions. 2004 was the year of the veteran free agent disasters as the Bucs tried to capture one more shot at the big time without blowing up the whole roster.
Since then, 2005 and 2007 were division championships with the 2006 season in between being marred by quarterback injuries and a 4-12 record. You can of course pin that on both Jon and GM Bruce Allen for putting themselves in that position, but if you want to throw brickbats for mistakes, then you have to throw plaudits for their success.
The Bucs right now are on a two-game losing streak. In case you hadn't noticed, that's the first time this year it has happened. The Bucs just got beaten in Carolina by a better team (sorry Lee). The loss to the Falcons was more frustrating but without your injured starting quarterback and play-maker, it was on the cards to happen.
My own view is that Brian Griese deserved to start last weekend. He was the starter/back-up before getting hurt and Luke McCown is the No.3 in the pecking order. So if Griese was fit, then it was his job to lose and he didn't do anything to cost the Bucs that game. The defense gave up too many yards and were lucky to even find themselves in overtime in the first place.
The Glazer family believe in stability and do what is best for the long-term future of the franchise, not listen to the latest issue-of-the-day to make a spontaneous decision. Jon Gruden has only once been in any danger of his job (Pittsburgh 2006, eh Nick Halling?), and is in no trouble right now. But when you have sensationalist talk show hosts and dweebs on boards with a forum to try and get themselves noticed, then Jon is always going to be walking round with a target on his back.
Paul Stewart, December 2008