Yardbarker Horiz

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Mark Dominik Should Still Be Bucs GM, Part 1

When the Allen/Gruden Era ended in Tampa Bay, ownership hired Raheem Morris and Mark Dominik on January 17, 2009. Nobody except Jay Glazer knows how much input Dominik had in the decision.  Although the Buccaneers went 3-13 in Morris’ first year (2009), the team bounced back the following season to reach 10-6 in 2010.  The 2010 season stands out in the history of the franchise as the only time a double-digit winner in Tampa Bay did not get into the playoffs. Instead, the 10-6 Giants and 10-6 Packers went into the playoffs based on tiebreakers. The odd circumstances can be traced to every team in the NFC West having a losing season that year, skewing the numbers and resulting in 7-9 Seattle getting a playoff berth -- the same Seattle team the Buccaneers trounced 24-7 in Week 15. 

Historically, each of the six other 10-win Buccaneer teams went into the playoffs, as did 3 of the 9-win Buccaneer teams.  For all intents and purposes, 2010 was a playoff caliber team for the Buccaneers, even if it was not a playoff year.

The fact that the Buccaneers were playoff caliber in 2010 with the youngest head coach and youngest GM in the NFL is outstanding enough, but if you also consider that the Buccaneers were coming off a horribly managed cap and (essentially) did not participate in free agency in either of the first two years of Dominik’s tenure, the achievement is quite unbelievable.

What exactly had Morris and Dominik inherited?  Remember the purge of players in 2009 which included Derrick Brooks, Ike Hilliard, Warrick Dunn, and Joey Galloway? The fans were upset, but the fact is Dunn, Hilliard, and Brooks did not see a regular season game again and Galloway played for three different teams in the following three years, making a total of 19 catches.  Cato June, also cut during the same offseason, played one game the following season for the Chicago Bears and did not play again. Dominik may have gutted the team at that point, but the cuts were precise and correct opening cap space to begin a turnaround.

The Buccaneers were also incredibly free-agent heavy, which meant a thick salary cap with little immediate relief except drastic veteran cuts.  How did it get this way?  Dominik’s predecessor (Bruce Allen, now GM of the Washington Redskins) oversaw 51 draft picks from 2004 until his departure: only 23 were still with the Bucs at the end of the 2008 season.  Dominik also successfully navigated the troubled waters of an uncapped year and a new players agreement without penalty, something Bruce Allen was unable to do.

Based on what he inherited, how he handled a team going the wrong direction, and the way a playoff-caliber team was created in such a short time are three reasons why Mark Dominik should still be the Buccaneer's General Manager.

More to come. . .