New Bucs GM confident team will win _ and soon

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 23, 2014 at 4:35 pm •  Published: January 23, 2014
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TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — 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.

"The GM and coach have to work together. It's a partnership," Licht said, shrugging off a question about who'll have final say of draft selections and other personnel moves — him as a first-time GM or Smith, who won three division title and one NFC Championship during a successful nine-year stint as a first-time head coach with the Chicago Bears.

"At the end of the day, it doesn't matter if you're Ron Wolf, Bill Polian or Jason Licht. Our job is to serve the coach," the former Arizona Cardinals front-office executive said. "He's got to tell us what kind of players he wants, and we've got to (provide) players who are the right fit. ... It's got to be a partnership. Otherwise, it doesn't work."

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.

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