TAMPA — Jon Gruden answered questions for nearly 25 minutes Monday morning. On seven occasions he used some form of the phrase, “I got to take responsibility.”
Three other NFL coaches took responsibilities for their teams shortcomings on Monday. They were fired.
Fire Jon Gruden?
It has been discussed.
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Whether it is being discussed by the Glazers is a question that probably won’t be answered soon.
The Glazers do not run their NFL team the way Jerry Jones does in Dallas. That’s both good and bad. Good that they don’t turn One Buc Place into a made-for-ESPN drama-comedy, and bad because we don’t know what they are thinking in the aftermath of this season.
Is Gruden safe? Is he on double-secret probation?
Gruden was asked Monday what he would say to fans in the wake of the season-ending disaster and in light of the firings around the league.
“I’d say (the fans) have every right to feel the way they do,” Gruden said. “I’d just assure them I’m doing the very best that I can. And I appreciate everybody’s opinion on this matter. I’m working as hard as I can, and I will continue to do that as long as I’m in this position.”
No one is questioning Gruden’s work ethic today. Just his ability to coach a football team. The offense, his area of expertise, seems at times to lack direction. The defense fell apart.
To reach the playoffs, the Bucs needed to beat a four-win Oakland team Sunday that traveled cross country to play their meaningless season-ending game, provided, of course, the Cowboys lost, which the Cowboys did. Didn’t matter. The Bucs blew a 10-point fourth-quarter lead. Gruden took responsibility for that.
The Bucs’ shoddy play in the month of December since the 2003 season? Gruden took responsibility for that.
“That’s my record, and it’s not very good,” he said.
The Glazers fired Tony Dungy for not being able to get the Bucs over the next hump when that hump was the first round of the playoffs. Gruden is having trouble getting the Bucs to the playoffs.
Is that even a topic of conversation for the Glazers?
The Bucs have more than a few areas that need fixing, and it’s not sure if those areas can be addressed through free agency and through the draft.
The good news is the NFL is a quick-fix league. Just look at the turnarounds in Miami and Atlanta. Ah, both those teams changed coaches and quarterbacks before this season.
Gruden has three years left on the extension he signed before this season, so it is unlikely the Glazers would make a move now. And Gruden sounded Monday like a coach who knows he still has a job.
“I’m just going to continue to work hard,” Gruden said. “Nine-and-seven isn’t a disgrace. The way we finished is somewhat disappointing to say the least. We lost to some pretty good football teams. We didn’t play good enough (Sunday) with the lead, and I take responsibility for it.”
How much responsibility is up to the Glazers to decide, because 9-7 after a 9-3 start is pretty disgraceful.