Sep 8, 2013; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano (right) and his coaching staff look on against the New York Jets during the first half at MetLife Stadium. The Jets won 18-17. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Losing is hard on any organization. Losing a game you believe you should have won is even worse. The Buccaneers organization experienced it the hard way this week after falling to the lowly Jets.
On Monday and Tuesday they had to answer questions about “the late hit”, then on Wednesday broke the news that Greg Schiano rigged the captain vote to keep Freeman out. Finally on Thursday the team photo debacle began.
Through all of this there were numerous articles about players only meetings and Freeman/Schiano tiffs. And at this moment we still don’t have any answers about the vote, the meeting, or whether or not Schiano and Freeman really are at odds.
But one fact we do know, the Buccaneers will take the field Sunday afternoon at Raymond James Stadium to take on the New Orleans Saints.
December 9, 2012; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano reacts on the sidelines against the Philadelphia Eagles during the first half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
I see it as a clear fork in the road of the 2013 Tampa Bay season. The team can go in one of two directions. First, they could get caught up in all of the off the field garbage, lose the game, and begin spiraling out of control like the dreadful 2011 squad that got Raheem the ax. Or, they could band together, become a tighter team, and take the step to the next level like we’ve all hoped.
Let’s start with the bad. If the Buccaneers are truly distracted by all the craziness happening off the field, and if there really is a rife between the coach and quarterback, things could get ugly real quick.
Teams without a clear message or clear leader tend to flop when times get tough. And with a difficult pair of games ahead of them, things could get out of hand really quickly. If the Buccaneers do indeed lose to the Saints, they then have to head to Foxboro to take on a 2-0 Patriots team who’ll be coming off nine days rest.
People will start questioning Freeman, wondering about Schiano, and demanding answers from the architect of the team Mark Dominik. After just one game the Bucs could very well already be sliding down this slippery slope, another loss or two could put them in true freefall.
Or maybe just the opposite will happen. Maybe it is all fabrication and the team will be able to come together as one to drown out all of the outside noise and focus their efforts even more on winning football games. Freeman will stand up as a leader, Schiano will garner the respect of his team, and the talent pool the Bucs have will put it all together, with a little added motivation from all the off the field hooligans, will finally show through.
This team could get on a nice little roll. If they can knock off New Orleans and then somehow go in and beat the Patriots, the schedule loosens up quite a bit and the team will be riding a major confidence high. It seems far fetched right now coming off a loss to the Jets, but sometimes a bit of added pressure can be just what a team needs to get it going.
The fact remains, results will determine the road this team heads in. Winning creates chemistry, not the other way around. It may look disjointed right now, but a pair of wins would change the tune of just about everyone really quickly. The scary part is, a pair of losses could mean disaster.