-NEW BUCS GM CONFIDENT TEAM WILL WIN SOON-
Jason Licht welcomes the challenge of turning the Tampa Bay Buccaneers into a championship contender, and the team’s new general manager doesn’t believe it’ll take long to do it.
Without making any bold predictions or offering a specific timetable for success, Licht said Thursday that the Bucs already have a solid foundation in place and that he’s confident he and incoming coach Lovie Smith will form a “partnership” that will help the struggling franchise end its cycle of losing.
The Bucs have missed the playoff the past six seasons. They haven’t won a postseason game since the 2002 Super Bowl run that produced the club’s only NFL title.
Licht has worked with five different teams over 18 seasons, including the Cardinals, New England Patriots, Philadelphia Eagles, Carolina Panthers and Miami Dolphins. He spent the past two seasons serving a second stint with Arizona, where title in 2013 was vice president of player personnel.
Working alongside GM Steve Keim in Arizona, Licht helped overhaul of the Cardinals’ roster last offseason, resulting in a 10-6 record in 2013 — an improvement of five wins over the previous year.
He believes Tampa Bay, which lost the first eight games of 2013 and finished 4-12, can pull off a similar turnaround.
Licht, who also interviewed for Miami’s GM opening this winter, met Smith a few years ago, when Licht was a candidate to become the Bears’ GM.
He said the presence of Smith, as well as the nucleus of talent assembled in recent years and ownership’s commitment to winning were all factors in his decision to leave Arizona.
Bucs co-chairman Joel Glazer said Licht is an ideal fit for Smith and was the only candidate interviewed three times.
Licht replaces Mark Dominik, who was 28-52 in five years as GM. (Photo: Chris O’Meara/Associated Press)