Two Completely Opposite Personalities
I have a hard time understanding how it is that Tony Dungy is so beloved, while at the same time, Jon Gruden is so detested by so many fans. I’m sure some of it comes from the fact that, at face value, Tony Dungy is easier to take. He comes off as more of a gentle soul, easy going, laid back, a players coach, etc. While Jon Gruden makes those Chucky faces, and is a more “in your face” emotional type of guy. He’s a bit harder to stomach.
Dungy Builds A “Defense For The Ages”
It is a fact that Dungy came to Tampa at just the right time. Future Hall of Famers Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks had just arrived, as well as John Lynch. Also during Dungy’s and Rich McKay’s watch, many more pieces of the puzzle were added, especially to the Defense. Tony originated his Tampa 2 Defense here, a variation of the Defense he himself played in as a Steeler. The Super Bowl foundation was laid for that side of the ball.
Dungy’s Achilles Heel
There was only one problem, and it was a huge one: As good as Tony Dungy was with his Defense, he was that bad with his Offense. The Bucs were going to the playoffs basically on the backs of their Defense. Once there, The Bucs inept offense got them sent home every time. Twice to The Hated Eagles in the Wild Card game, and a stinging loss to the Rams in the NFC Championship game in 99. Tony was told he needed a new OC because Mike Shula’s offense just wasn’t getting it done. Enter Les Steckel with the same results. The following year he hired Clyde Christensen with the same results. Bucs ownership was tired of the Offensive woes and felt Dungy was too conservative and so were his OC’s. So in their eyes, it was time for a change. A secret agreement was made between the Bucs and Bill Parcells to replace Tony. Alas, it was not to be, as word leaked out by the Tampa Bay Times two days before what would be Dungy’s last game, the playoff loss to the Eagles. The backlash from NFL coaches was that Parcells had undercut Dungy, and he backed out of the deal. Eventually paving the way for the mega deal for Gruden with Al Davis. (Two first round, and two second round picks, plus 8 million). It was arguably worth every pick, and every penny!
Gruden Arrives In Tampa With High Expectation And Builds His Offense
Gruden came in and in his first year made some changes to the roster. Between 8-10 different players were now starting. Gruden brought in players like Joe Jurevicius, Keenan McCardell, Tight End Ken Dilger, and running back Michael Pittman, who replaced Warrick Dunn after he signed with the Falcons. The Defense even had a couple of new faces from the year before as well. Jon instituted a variation of his West Coast Offense with Brad Johnson in the shotgun. Monte Kiffin made sure the defense didn’t skip a beat and with that much different new Bucs Offense went on to upset Philly in the NFC Championship game and then absolutely destroy the Raiders in Super Bowl XXVII.
Gruden Makes It Happen, And Deserves Better From This Great City
So in fact, Gruden didn’t win with Dungy’s players. He won with some of Dungy’s, and some of his own. More importantly it was Dungy’s Style of Defense that so suited the players and Gruden’s offensive style that so suited his offensive players that finally made the Bucs the best team in the NFL. It took Both coach’s but make no mistake about it, Dungy couldn’t get to the Super Bowl with his own players. Jon Gruden came in and got it done in his very first year, no less. Many fans blame Jon for breaking up the Super Bowl team a few years later. The fact of it all is, over time, teams change. It’s a business. Players move on in a league built for such changes. It’s time for the fans to get over it and recognize the Biggest, and by far the best thing, that the Bucs have ever done is win that Super Bowl in the way they did. There are teams that have never been, Teams like the Vikings, and Bills have been there four times, and never tasted victory. We are frothing at the mouth right now, to get back to one. Isn’t it so Buccaneer that the only coach to actually lead them to the promised land, (and the franchise’s most winningest coach), gets so little respect and admiration from the fans? If he was standing in front of me now, I would kiss him on the mouth, hug him, pat him on the shoulder and tell him “Thank you, Jon! You’re my hero!” He deserves better from the fans he brought a Lombardi trophy!