Sep 15, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano walks off the field after the game against the New Orleans Saints at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports
Many people have credited Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano with the team’s improvement to 7-9 after a miserable 2011 season.
After all, Schiano brought a hard-nosed, “toes on the line” mentality that took a locker room that had gone out of control under Raheem Morris to the verge of a winning season.
But did the team ever really buy in?
Everyone remembers the infamous “Can we send these coaches back to college?” comment obtained by Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. A comment that came after the fourth loss in a row, after a seemingly promising season had crashed and burned.
And ever since, there have been constant comments, rumors, and general negativity coming out of Tampa Bay.
There has also been an increase in penalties, miscommunications and general lack of synced play. Things thought to be in opposition to Schiano’s style.
(First of all, great job by Tedy Bruschi of saying absolutely nothing but football clichés for four minutes.)
As Damien Woody said in the video, Schiano did not come into the league with any “cache” with his players. Veteran NFL players aren’t going to readily fall in line with any random coach showing up and trying to enforce strict rules and regulations. A coach with a .500 winning percentage at Rutgers doesn’t command the utmost respect on his first day in an NFL locker room..
So if the team isn’t going to buy in, the coach needs to get on the good side of a superstar player, as Jerome Bettis says in the video above. The problem is, Schiano clearly didn’t do that.
Ronde Barber was the superstar player and locker room leader when Schiano arrived, who promptly retired when he was replaced in the Buccaneers’ defense this past offseason. The only other players who even loosely resembled superstars are Gerald McCoy, who doesn’t seem to be an overly outgoing and commanding personality, and Josh Freeman.
And it’s clear that rather than being a player Schiano approached to help be a good role model for his style and his ideals for the team, Freeman was challenged from day one to change certain aspects of his game, and to improve after a disappointing 2011 season.
If the team didn’t buy in, what happened?
Aug 29, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Washington Redskins defensive back coach Raheem Morris during the second half against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. The Redskins won 30-12. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Raheem Morris was never given the level of talent Schiano had for his first season in Tampa Bay, and Morris had a similar lack of cache when it came to controlling his players. When the team was winning, Morris was able to stay out of the way and things went swimmingly. But when adversity struck, things got out of control quickly.
General Manager Mark Dominik continued to improve the team, using the large amount of cap space given to him to bring in excellent veterans (and Eric Wright, but we’ll ignore that for now…) who made an immediate impact. He also greatly improved his drafting record by snagging immediate starters Doug Martin and Lavonte David.
So despite Dominik continuing to do his job and provide Greg Schiano with a plethora of talent, including All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis (who is being wasted in this defensive scheme, according to Bucs Nation’s Sander Philipse), the team isn’t able to put it all together on the field.
The players are professionals, and they all want to win. So they compete every week, and do the best they can to make sure they keep their job, or increase their paychecks.
But they might not all have bought in to the “toes on the line,” “family” atmosphere in Tampa Bay under Greg Schiano. And that could explain the rumors, the penalties, and the frustrating miscommunications.
So what do you think? Did the Buccaneers’ locker room buy in to Greg Schiano’s system at any point?
Does it even matter?
Leave your thoughts in the comments.