Evaluating Tampa Bay Buccaneers Greg Schiano


Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano has completely changed the culture at One Buc Place, and it’s definitely for the better. No longer is the annoying catch phrase “youngry” heard, and, great news for a stat geek like me, stats are no longer for losers in Tampa.

Before he was hired by the Buccaneers, Schiano was a relative unknown to Bucs fans. When he was hired, many asked, “Who is this guy?” and wanted a bigger name. The ones who were familiar with Schiano knew about how he turned around Rutgers football and revamped the Scarlet Knights recruiting power. You see, that’s one of the marks of a great coach in college football; the great ones drive recruits. Don’t believe me? Look at all the quarterbacks who want to play for the Kansas Jayhawks ever since Charlie Weis became the head man in Lawrence; people want to play for good coaches.

Therefore, the more informed fans who were well-versed in Schiano’s motivational power, solid player evaluation, and sound schematic knowledge were excited by a hire. Greg Schiano represents the best of both worlds. He’s a young, energetic coach with plenty of fresh ideas, but he’s also wise in his decision making and doesn’t tolerate head cases. But he sure knows how to deal with them. After all, it is far easier to find enigmatic players on a college team than it is to find them in the NFL.

But for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, past success in the college world doesn’t mean much. It isn’t just that “talk is cheap”, but it also has to do with the disparity between the NFL and college football. The NFL is for the big coaches, and only the best college football coaches succeed in the NFL. Despite not coaching a major program, it was apparent that Schiano was one of the best coaches in college football. At the very least, it was apparent that he was one of the best to the Bucs.

At first, Tampa tried to hire Oregon Ducks coach Chip Kelly, who is one of the brightest offensive minds in the game. He’s built a powerhouse out west, and the Ducks are a perennial title contender under Chip. He stayed to focus on the Ducks, and one great, young coaching mind yielded way for another.

It’s easy to say that Chip Kelly is the better coach than Greg Schiano based on how their college teams produced, but there were concerns associated with Chip. Although he knows how to motivate a team and knows the offensive side of the ball extremely well, many were skeptical about his ability to manage a defense. It is a reasonable concern, but it was also a little bit overblown.

Even though Kelly is the better-known coach, Schiano fits the Bucs better. The team needed a coach who knows how to turn a team around and has a great working knowledge of defensive schemes. Schiano fits that description, and the “loud” coach has invigorated new life into this Bucs team. He’s also been classy in his first 100 days on the team, and this culminated in the signing of paralyzed former Rutger Eric LeGrand.

More importantly, Schiano has been getting results. He helped orchestrate a grade A draft that yielded three quality, starting-caliber players. The Buccaneers now have a new safety in the cerebral Mark Barron, who will be a solid player at the position for quite some time. Former Cornhuskers standout linebacker Lavonte David has been praised by Derrick Brooks and was a steal in the late second round. Former Boise State running back Doug Martin is an underrated, great all-around back who has a chance to start.

The Bucs also made some great pick-ups in the latter rounds, including versatile defensive back Keith Tandy who starred for the West Virginia Mountaineers in college. Another late-rounder to watch for is running back Michael Smith, who adds a new dimension of speed to this team and was an absolute steal for the Bucs.

The future looks bright in Tampa Bay with a new coaching staff in place, a great draft class, and Greg Schiano leading this ship into the future. He’s a better coach than Raheem Morris could have ever been, and it’s showing in the new aura surrounding this team. He’s the right man to turn around this football squad, and he is showing it. The signings of Vincent Jackson and Carl Nicks are huge, as the two elite players have massively upgraded this offer.

As for Schiano’s grade, it’s difficult for me not to get ahead of myself and give him a resounding “A+” for his work so far this offseason. It may be premature and the regular season results are more important, but Schiano has exceeded expectations in Tampa. He’s done an excellent job and deserves all the high praise that he has received.

You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.

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