The Buccaneers Fired Dirk Koetter and the Bengals Finally Fired Marvin Lewis: To win you have to get rid of a problem, especially in areas of management

One of the reasons I am still a Tampa Bay Buccaneer fan after many seasons of losing is because the organization as ran by the Glazer family is always on a quest to find the right combination of coaching to match with the players they have on the field to be victorious. If they fall short, they do not hesitate to fire their coaches such as they did Sunday afternoon at the end of their season after losing to the Atlanta Falcons. Dirk Koetter had been with the team for three years but it was obvious with all the weapons the Bucs had on the field to use that the coaches just didn’t have an approach, and they ended the season with just five wins, most of them coming at the beginning. I thought Dirk Koetter was a pretty good guy, not the worst coach in the world, but even after victories after he’d hand out game balls to star players, there was something not quite right about him, and that surely turned up on the field. The Bucs organization is quick to determine that someone is working out and they fire them when its apparent that things just aren’t going to change which is precisely why I continue to love the Tampa Bay Buccaneer organization as a whole. They may not win every game, but at least they try to.

That is why the Bengals in Cincinnati should have terminated their relationship with Marvin Lewis years ago. The guy just doesn’t get it. They have stuck with him for 16 lackluster seasons and the results have never been good. He should have been fired many years ago because it was disrespectful to the Bengals fans who pay premium money for the NFL experience to expect them to put up with Marginal Marvin for so long. The resentment was obvious at the stadium even under the best of circumstances. I had gone to the game this year with good club seat tickets to watch Tampa Bay play the Bengals in Cincinnati on a beautiful October day just before Halloween. It was an absolutely perfect day for the NFL experience in a big city with real playoff implications, because at the time both teams were in the hunt. And the Bengals won that day so everyone should have been happy. But virtually everyone from the vendors selling beer to the men in the restroom talking to each other about the game across urinals were talking about how they were surprised that Marvin Lewis hadn’t found a way to blow the game. Any kind of respect for Marvin Lewis had left Cincinnati a long time ago, yet Mike Brown had stuck with him perpetually with no end in sight.

In any kind of successful organization, you can’t be trigger happy either. You have to give a new coach time to implement a change culture of winning from losing, and that should take a year or two. But in the NFL fans are the ones paying the bills, its unrealistic to expect them to put up with a bad team for more than a few years and still retain their season ticket packages. A lot of people say that Mike Brown doesn’t care about such things so long as he has a profitable television contract which I find hard to believe. As a businessman of any kind it is stupid to leave any money on the table and you don’t get to be as rich as the Brown family is by being stupid. I just don’t think they know what they are doing as football people. The father Paul Brown did understand, but his family didn’t and it shows.

The Bengals have been living in the past, they have had a couple of Superbowl appearances in the 1980s but nothing since and they are hanging their hat on that one achievement. Meanwhile the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won a Superbowl back in 2003 for a great 2002 season which had been many years in the making. But that was then, the world we live in is very much a what have you done for me lately reality. While at that Bengals game I wore my 2002 Superbowl victory hat for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and people kept saying to me that it was silly to wear that hat because it was a long time ago. I would then say to them with friendly banter that I would be happy to wear the Bengals Superbowl victory hat if they could get me one. Of course, that was when laughter from both sides exploded at the absurdity of it. But why should it be absurd?

The NFL is designed to give every city with an NFL team a shot at victory. I view much of the NFL structure as an entirely socialist enterprise where winners are penalized, and losers are boosted up, particularly in regard to draft picks. But this is because the goal of the NFL is to sell tickets and merchandise and if a team doesn’t make it to the big dance at least once a decade their fan base cools it in regard to spending. People generally support their home town team, but they don’t necessarily dream of a new football jersey for Christmas for a losing team. They want to at least thing that there is a chance at victory. Those are the basics of business. Yet in Cincinnati we have been asked to put up with losing as a reality and that goes against so many raw emotions for which the NFL experience depends. To stick with a coach like Marvin Lewis for so long because he’s a nice guy, which he is, or because he’s a progressive employment option that earns street credibility with the very progressive NFL isn’t enough to justify what they have asked fans to endure. You don’t keep a coach because of being nice or black, but because they win. That is the only objective in playing professional football—winning.

I would love to cheer on the Cincinnati Bengals. But I will always love the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and will spend quite a lot of money flying down to a game or two from time to time to blow many thousands of dollars on the Tampa economy because the Glazer family are always trying to do what they have to do to win. If the Bucs don’t win a single game in the whole season, I will still cheer them on. It didn’t surprise me at all that just a few hours after losing to Atlanta that Dirk Koetter was terminated as the head coach. It would have surprised me if he hadn’t been fired. But after the Bengals lost against the dreaded Steelers, YET AGAIN, it wouldn’t have surprised me if the Bengals had signed Lewis to a 150 year contract extension—but under tremendous public pressure, they finally fired Marvin Lewis. Because the Bengals have become synonymous to losers, and that is a terrible thing to bestow on a city that has supported that team through many years of lackluster performance. It’s a terrible disrespect to a community that doesn’t deserve it and I do feel sorry for Bengal fans. At least for me I can look forward to positive changes in the Buccaneer organization which gives me hope for an upcoming season of victory. That season may be over by the upcoming October, but at least they are trying. The Bengals are like drunken gamblers who have lost their life savings at a slot machine. They just keep pulling the lever and hoping for a new car. But all they ever get are lemons. Hopefully their next coach will be a real one.

Rich Hoffman

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