Many fans of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were convinced that better talent on defense would be the keys to a 7-9 team turning into a playoff contender in 2013.
So when the Buccaneers acquired Darrelle Revis and Dashon Goldson, it seemed almost certain at that point that half of the problem was solved. The Buccaneers had the defense they needed.
After all, Josh Freeman managed to set franchise records despite a shaky start and end to his season, and Doug Martin emerged as a star running back in his Pro Bowl rookie campaign. Freeman needed to improve, but being in his second season with a new offensive coordinator would help him progress.
But as the chaotic indecision of the offseason stirred the pot about the Buccaneers’ quarterback situation, it became clear that developing Josh Freeman wasn’t a priority for the Bucs’ coaching staff. And that’s fine, the team had enough talent to win with a less dynamic player at quarterback.
That player isn’t Mike Glennon. Mike Glennon was the apple of Greg Schiano’s eye. And that’s just one of the many reasons why Schiano’s time in Tampa Bay should be done by the end of the season.
The Mike Glennon Mistake
When Mike Glennon was moved into the starting quarterback position, General Manager Mark Dominik said it was because the team could win with a game manager like Glennon under center.
Head Coach Greg Schiano said that the decision to move to Glennon was “performance-based,” and that Glennon gave the team a better chance to win football games. He even referred to last year’s dynamic rookie quarterbacks in the NFC as proof that an inexperienced player could step in and help a team win games.
The problem is that Mike Glennon doesn’t have the pedigree of Andrew Luck, the athleticism of Robert Griffin III, nor does he have the savvy and efficiency of Russell Wilson. He’s an statue-like pocket passer who doesn’t handle pressure well and has streaky accuracy and decision making.
So rather than bringing in a backup to compete with Josh Freeman and truly give the Buccaneers a better chance to win, or working to adapt to and develop Josh Freeman, Greg Schiano went with the player he recruited but didn’t get coming out of high school, and who he could finally mold into the quarterback he’s always wanted.
Glennon is not ready and was not going to be ready to compete this season as the Buccaneers’ quarterback. His first game against a defense missing multiple starters shows just that. His slow drop back meant that the Cards could rush him any time they liked, and his inability to throw deep down the field meant they just had to tackle well on passes dumped off short to safety valve receivers.
I have no problem starting Glennon during the 2013 season to “see what you’ve got” and evaluate him in real NFL games rather than on the practice field. But doing so under the pretense of “giving the team a better chance to win,” is absurd.
The Raheem Morris Mess
Greg Schiano got the dreaded “vote of confidence” for all the wrong reasons this weekend, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network and NFL.com
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 29, 2013
“Clean up the mess from Raheem Morris?” Are you kidding me?
This goes hand in hand with the “can’t load a roster in two years” nonsense that Schiano spewed on local talk radio not so long ago. There is either a culture in Tampa Bay of supporting Greg Schiano’s crusade to build a college program in the NFC South, or it’s nonsense leaked to the national media to attempt to salvage Schiano’s image and keep fans on board with the franchise.
There is no time for excuses in the NFL. Just look at the Kansas City Chiefs.
Romeo Crennel took over during the 2011 season, and stayed through the end of 2012. His time in Kansas City was completely underwhelming, as he misused talents like Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe en route to a disastrous record and his ultimate removal from his post as head coach.
The Chiefs would then bring in Andy Reid to be head coach, and with a sub par quarterback in Alex Smith under center, Kansas City’s ridiculous amount of talent has finally come together and they’re off to a fantastic start to the season.
So unlike the other examples of Indianapolis and Seattle, who needed a young, promising quarterback to turn things around, Kansas City showed that the right coach who uses his talented roster properly can make all the difference.
If Greg Schiano and those around him in the Tampa Bay organization truly believe that the roster he has at his disposal is simply a “mess” left over from Raheem Morris, they’re kidding themselves to serve their own purposes. No team with multiple All Pros on defense and Pro Bowlers covering the offense should be considered less than “loaded” regardless of who is under center.
The Distrust, Disbelief, and Lack of Accountability
One of Greg Schiano’s tenants as a head coach, part of his “proven process,” is the concept of trust, belief, and accountability. But in recent days, there’s been nothing but distrust, and a lack of accountability in Tampa Bay.
Take for instance his comments about Josh Freeman and his benching. Despite reports that Mike Glennon was warming up on the sideline during the New England game, Greg Schiano told the media that he never gave a thought to benching Josh Freeman.
He then confirmed that Josh Freeman was his starter in his “day after the game” press conference following the New England contest. That was just two days before Freeman was benched, and Mike Glennon was named the starter.
That wasn’t the last moment of controversy surrounding Schiano and his prodigal quarterback, as Sunday’s game saw Freeman sent to the suites at Raymond James Stadium to watch his team lose, instead of joining them on the sidelines. Schiano said this was a mutual decision, Freeman’s agent claimed otherwise.
Schiano continues to tell the media that he and his staff have to do a better job of coaching, and that’s his way of fulfilling the “accountability” portion of his “proven process.” But a team that has lost 9 of 10 games clearly isn’t doing a better job of coaching or preparing. If anything, you could say the opposite is true.
Just consider Sunday’s game against the Cardinals. Mike Glennon started the game looking comfortable and completing easy passes, even without a running game to support him. Many of his best throws were short throws over the middle, which is his biggest strength as a quarterback.
But in the second half, still maintaining a 10-0 lead, the passes and routes started to get deeper. Rather than allowing the tall, quick-scanning quarterback to dump the ball off on quick routes, he was attempting to throw back shoulder throws to Vincent Jackson, or simply lobbing the ball out of bounds on attempted deep passes.
Mike Williams was not being stopped by his defender, Jerraud Powers. Why did the Buccaneers not continue to exploit this matchup?
And why did receiver Eric Page not see the field as a receiver despite showing moments of brilliance against the Patriots? Why not spread the Cardinals out and dictate the matchups, instead allowing them to stack the box and rush the passer all day?
The Buccaneers never attempted to exploit the aggression of the Kansas City defense. Instead, they stubbornly plowed on with Doug Martin running into hopeless situations, and Mike Glennon being asked to stand in the pocket longer and throw deeper down the field as the game progressed.
So the same problems that have been seen and pointed out (including by national media members like Doug Farrar of Sports Illustrated) for weeks, dating back to last season, continue to happen. So if Schiano and his coaching staff “have to get better,” where are the signs of progress?
Schiano installed his system and it greatly improved the defense and the ball protection for the Buccaneers. He holds his players to a high standard when it comes to tackling, forcing turnovers, and not fumbling the football.
But other than installing those principles. he’s added very little to a team whose offense was quickly figured out by NFL coordinators, and has only scored more than two touchdowns in two of their last 12 games.
And before you blame Mike Sullivan, remember that he was a part of a top-10 offense in New York for the four years he was present, an offense that is now near the bottom of the league with extremely similar personnel. Sullivan was a head coach candidate for the Chicago Bears in the offseason, and has respect around the league.
But he, like every other player and coach, is accountable to Greg Schiano, who oversees the entire operation more than any coach in the NFL. And it’s Schiano who is looking over a team that has lost 9 of 10 with an offense that has talent many prospective NFL coaches would love to be able to use.
The time for excuses and cliches is past. Schiano has said enough without delivering to show that his words ring hollow in the halls of One Buc Place. Professional, elite athletes will not continue to trust and believe in a system that has led them to the bottom of the NFL, while sources around the national media continue to find new stories about Josh Freeman’s alarm clock and Darrelle Revis’ displeasure with Greg Schiano’s schemes.
If Greg Schiano wanted to install a system of trust and belief, he needed to do so by proving that he was trustworthy. But saying one thing and doing another is the opposite of trustworthy. And that’s what he did with the Josh Freeman situation, it’s what he did when he made excuses about his roster, and it’s what he’s doing by continuing to take responsibility for losing without changing anything about his team.
And for that reason, he should not be the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers past the 2013 season.