October 21, 2011; Louisville, KY, USA; Rutgers Scarlet Knights head coach Greg Schiano (far right) talks to his players in a timeout during the first half of play against the Louisville Cardinals at Papa Johns Cardinal Stadium. Louisville defeated Rutgers 16-14. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports
Be honest, you’re not surprised are you?
You can’t possibly be surprised that Tampa’s quarterback situation has turned out this way. That the once-and-future king of Tampa, Josh Freeman, has been diminished to the point that he sits behind a player that only completed 47% of his preseason passes against backups.
No, this shouldn’t shock you.
After all, it’s been written in the stars since Greg Schiano stumbled into Tampa.
Whether you like how the Buccaneers drafted Josh Freeman or not, Raheem Morris and Mark Dominik took a leap of faith and stood behind their young starter. There was no hedging of the bets, no looking longingly at other quarterbacks.
For better or worse Morris lived and died with his young quarterback.
That included some early success too, Freeman’s sophomore season saw Tampa go 10-6 while Freeman threw for 25 touchdowns and just six picks. Things looked bright heading into 2011.
Then things fell apart.
Two years later things are still falling apart.
Oct. 3, 2011; Tampa Bay FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Raheem Morris (left) talks with quarterback Josh Freeman (5) against the Indianapolis Colts during the first half at Raymond James Stadium. The Buccaneers defeated the Colts 24-17. Mandatory Credit: Matt Stamey-USA TODAY Sports
Raheem Morris’ departure was a necessity, he lost his locker room and his porous defenses forced his young QB into regular throwing situations – no QB thrives when he’s down big in the second half of every game.
So two years ago Tampa began its search for a new coach and interviewed candidate after candidate after candidate. They ended up with Greg Schiano. Not because he was on top of their list but because he was available and he was a disciplinarian and, well, he was the opposite of Raheem in every way, shape and form.
Unfortunately, nobody bothered to ask him if he knows anything about quarterbacks.
He doesn’t seem to.
Greg Schiano’s most prolific quarterback at Rutgers (where he was a game over .500 for his career) was Mike Teal. His history of cluelessness with relation to QB’s actually begins there.
Tom Savage (now at Pittsburgh) was just awarded Davey O’Brian National Player of the Week honors after throwing for 6 TD’s this past weekend. In 2009 he was a freshman All-American at Rutgers. Following the 2010 season he announced he would be transferring because Schiano decided to use another QB that year – Rutgers finished 4-8.
The next year, using two different QB’s, Schiano managed to go 9-4 which was more than enough for the Glazers to pluck him out of New Jersey and hand to him the development of – what many thought at the time was – their franchise QB.
Now it’s important to point out that GM Mark Dominik retained final say over coaching hires after the Bucs brought in Schiano. But it would also be naive to think Schiano didn’t have his fingerprints on every single hire.
Sep 14, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Florida International Panthers head coach Ron Turner in the second quarter of a game against the Bethune Cookman Wildcats at FIU Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports
When Schiano got to Tampa he had the option to retain Alex Van Pelt. Van Pelt was the one who had been with Freeman during his impressive 2010 season and had worked with Freeman through a difficult 2011 campaign.
But continuity meant little at that point, Schiano has never hidden the fact it’s his way or the highway. He let Van Pelt go and pushed to replace him with arguably the worst coach in organized football – Ron Turner.
Who Ron Turner has incriminating photographs of I will never know, but they must be some pretty damning pictures because despite having never won at any level in his entire life, Turner continues to get coaching gigs.
In college Turner was 35-57 at Illinois. His crowning accomplishment from a quarterbacking standpoint was Kurt Kittner.
In the pros Turner had ruined a first rounder before. Rex Grossman showed promise once in Chicago, by the time Turner was done with him he was calling in favors for third-string jobs.
The last thing Turner had “accomplished” before arriving in Tampa was assisting Curtis Painter in taking the Colts 2-14 and embarrassing every QB who ever came out of Purdue.
So naturally, who better to take over Josh Freeman’s development than Schiano’s old friend from Chicago, Ron Turner?
Turner lasted a year in Tampa before somehow being PROMOTED to become the head coach of FIU. At last call FIU was 0-4 and had just made use of a running clock to prevent Louisville from demolishing them by an even bigger score than the 72-0 they lost by.
Josh Freeman is now on his third quarterbacks coach in as many years and three games into the season the Bucs have already turned to a rookie backup that many draftniks felt they reached for in the first place.
If Greg Schiano’s master plan was to let Freeman play himself out of town so he could have his own guy then I would credit the Bucs’ coach for his sense of cunning.
But for that to be true the endgame would have to be an upgrade at quarterback. As it stands Schiano’s move looks more like a deft form of self-immolation.
That or Schiano really has no idea how to evaluate a quarterback.
At this point my money’s on the latter.