Buccaneers' collapse costs Gruden his job
TAMPA, Fla. - The Tampa Bay Buccaneers fired coach Jon Gruden and general manager Bruce Allen on Friday after the team collapsed following a 9-3 start and failed to make the playoffs.
Gruden, who helped lead the Buccaneers to a victory over the Oakland Raiders in the 2003 Super Bowl, was Tampa Bay’s coach for seven years. Allen was general manager for the last five seasons.
“We will be forever grateful to Jon for bringing us the Super Bowl title, and we thank Bruce for his contributions to our franchise,” Buccaneers co-chairman Joel Glazer said in a statement. “However after careful consideration, we feel that this decision is in the best interest of our organization moving forward.”
The Buccaneers were tied for first place in the NFC South heading into December, but finished with losses to Carolina and Atlanta on the road and San Diego and Oakland at home, where they had been 6-0. One more win would have landed a NFC wild-card berth.
The 9-7 record this season gave Gruden consecutive winning records for the first time since arriving in Tampa Bay, yet still left the Bucs out of the playoffs for the fourth time in six years.
The Glazer family fired Tony Dungy and used four high draft picks — two No. 1s and two No. 2s — and $8 million cash to pry Gruden away from the Raiders following the 2001 season. He led Tampa Bay to its only NFL title the following year, but the Bucs haven’t won a playoff game since the Super Bowl appearance.
Gruden, who had three years remaining on a contract extension he received after winning the NFC South in 2007, leaves as the winningest coach in franchise history at 60-57, including the postseason.
But since going 15-4, including the Super Bowl, in his first season with the Bucs, Gruden went 45-53 and made quick exits from the playoffs after winning division titles in 2005 and 2007.
This season’s collapse continued a trend of playing poorly late in the year. Since winning the Super Bowl, Tampa Bay is 9-17 in the month of December.