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November 20, 2012 @ 3:10 pm
Current rating: 5.00 Stars/2 Votes

The Schiano Era Is Resembling Dungy's Tenure In Tampa Bay

Written by Dory
Dory LeBlanc


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With strict on and off the field discipline, a change in culture, and belief in the system the 2012 Buccaneers – led by Greg Schiano – are beginning to take the shape of another "new era" Tampa Bay had 16 years ago under former head coach Tony Dungy. 
Looking at the 2012 Buccaneers, there appear to be a few parallels between head coach Greg Schiano and another first-year Bucs head coach, Tony Dungy.

Tampa Bay was the first head coaching position for both men after stints as defensive coaches in the NFL – Schiano with the Bears from 1996-98 and Dungy with the Steelers (1981-88), Chiefs (1989-91), and Vikings (1992-95). Coincidentally, Schiano and Dungy even shared a specialty, coaching defensive backs. 

Although their paths to being hired to steer the Buccaneers’ ship were different, both men brought two similar traits to the table when they landed in Tampa; they were both consistent in their approach and they got their respective teams to buy in to new philosophies. 

When Malcolm Glazer bought the Buccaneers in 1995, the first order of business was changing the Bucs’ image. The new modern pewter and red uniforms would take two years to be unveiled, but the billionaire immediately began lobbying for a replacement for the outdated Tampa Stadium. Not impressed with the 23-41 record over the previous four years, Glazer fired Sam Wyche following the 1995 season. The hiring of Dungy was key to implementing the new era Bucs, much like hiring Schiano will hopefully be the catalyst for the Buccaneers of the future.

Much like Dungy’s first season in 1996 when the Bucs went 6-10, Schiano has immediately improved on the team’s record from a year ago. At 6-4, the Bucs are 10 games into the 2012 season and have two more wins than the squad had in all of 2011. 

Under Dungy, the Bucs’ drafted two cornerstone pieces in his first draft in fullback Mike Alstott and cornerback Donnie Abraham in rounds two and three, respectively. 

In Schiano’s first draft he added three pieces to the puzzle that have immediate shown a return on investment. Safety Mark Barron has had an overall solid campaign, while running back Doug Martin and weakside linebacker Lavonte David have been nothing short of sensational. The front office added wide receiver Vincent Jackson and Pro Bowl guard Carl Nicks – thought to be the best free agents at their perspective positions, one of the most prolific tight ends of the past decade Dallas Clark and cornerback Eric Wright. 

When Dungy’s rookie coaching season was complete, it was obvious the Bucs were building something special for the future. 

This Tampa Bay team has evoked the same emotions in fans and the community with six games left to go. 

Rebuilding years usually mean that you are trying to fit all the pieces of the puzzle together; take what was handed to you and add your own ingredients to formulate a winning equation. 

The biggest loss for Dungy following his inaugural season was wide receiver Alvin Harper, but through free agency, the Bucs added linebacker Shelton Quarles who spent 1995 and 1996 in the CFL with the British Columbia Lions. In the 1997 draft, the Bucs selected players that would be instrumental in turning the franchise around in running back Warrick Dunn, wide receiver Reidel Anthony, guard Frank Middleton, tackle Jerry Wunsch, and two players who would receive Super Bowl rings in linebacker Alshermond Singleton and cornerback Ronde Barber. 

In Dungy’s second season the Bucs would improve to 10-6 and make the playoffs for the first time since 1982. 

After this season, the Bucs are facing more potential personnel losses than the 1996 team had. Running back LeGarrette Blount will be a restricted free agent, and Barber, Clark, defensive end Michael Bennett, cornerback E.J. Biggers, long snapper Andrew Economos, defensive tackle Roy Miller, and offensive tackle Jeremy Trueblood – to name a few – will be unrestricted free agents. 

With 206 starts and counting, Barber’s impact on the organization is long and esteemed and if the converted free safety does not see a 17th season, it will most likely be because he chooses retirement, not because he was pushed out the door.  

Clark has established himself as a leader on and off the field, guiding the young players in the tight ends room, while being a productive, reliable player on the field – despite what the statline shows.  

Blount, a third-year back has had a rough season playing sparingly after losing the starting job to Martin, and he hasn’t found a niche in offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan’s playbook. However, third-down back D.J. Ware has and the Bucs still have one of two 2012 seventh-round draft picks, Michael Smith, waiting in the wings. 

On the defensive line, the Bucs will have to make an offer to Bennett, who is the team's leading sacker (seven) and fumble-producer (three), and Miller has been steady and productive in stopping the run all season. 

Then there’s the injured players who should be back at 100-percent next year - defensive end Adrian Clayborn, linebacker Quincy Black, and guards Davin Joseph and Nicks. 

The players that have been asked to step up have, putting the Bucs’ front office in a unique position in regards to the offseason with an influx of talent, whether it is “homegrown” in the case of right tackle Demar Dotson or through free agency as is the case of Bennett. Each and every player that has walked through the front doors of One Buc Place have either bought in or walked right out.

Dungy was a master of disrupting bad habits whether on or off the field. His modus operandi was to reprogram players from thinking so much during a game into making automatic, instinctive decisions. Off the field, players were held to a higher standard than in previous years. 

Schiano has taken a similar approach. His coaching philosophy is to be prepared and trust, belief, accountability have been preached since his arrival. Like Dungy, Schiano believes in players being held to a higher standard off the field with the departures of several “problem” players, such as tight end Kellen Winslow, defensive tackle Brian Price, wide receiver Dezmon Briscoe and cornerback Aqib Talib, as evidence. 

Although it will always be debated if it was Dungy’s defensive players or Jon Gruden’s offensive genius that won Super Bowl XXXVII a year after Dungy moved on to the Colts, one thing is certain – with an overall record of 54-42 (.562) and four trips to the postseason in six years, Dungy certainly had a hand in the 2002 world champion squad. 

Schiano has laid the same foundation for winning seasons to come – be responsible for yourself, be a strong teammate, and believe in what the coaching staff is trying to accomplish. 

In his first season, Schiano may not win the Super Bowl, but the groundwork has already been implemented. Unlike Dungy, hopefully Schiano will be the one to take full credit for bringing another Lombardi Trophy to One Buc Place. 
Last modified on Tuesday, 20 November 2012 16:14

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  • avatar

    Good Article PR. I am not comparing either one of these Coaches mentioned because it is a different situation and the game is different too. Attention to detail is the difference here first and foremost. Most of the players on this team in 2011 were use to this philosophy in college and are comfortable with it. The ones who weren't and were willing to give it a go are still on the team. I was wrong about Dominik; it wasn't his fault for last year; it was clearly Raheem Morris who talked it, but didn't walk it. One more Free Agency with two additions and one more draft and I believe we will be in the 10-12 win arena.
  • avatar

    This team is a contender in its current form. If Schiano can somehow get Biggers and Lewis to improve each week then I think theres a chance. The offense when in sync is second to none. The balance in this offense makes them extremely tough to gameplan for, similar to the Houston Texans minus the zone blocking. The key will be finding enough schemes on the backend of the defense to mask some of the holes. Im interested to see how this season plays out. Go Bucs!
  • avatar

    @KINDERRT - A "real" football team? What the hell does that mean? These guys are as real as a heart attack from what i can see. Give some credit, Dude. It's deserved even if the process is incomplete.
  • avatar

    The hiring of Shiano was a blessing, exactly and I mean EXACTLY what this team needed. The desparately needed discipline, and needed real coaching. IMO, we are SO fortunate that Chip Kelly turned us down. Honestly, Bobby Petrino comes to mind with Chip Kelly. As much as some people complained and bashed Shiano, that play against the Giants, "kneel-down gate" sent a message to the players and the league that we will not quit. It was a strong statement to the players, that quitting will not be tolerated. How many times have we seen it since. ZERO. I doubt we see it to much in the future, but looking back, that was a huge statement to our players, and also gave us a glimpse into Shiano, and I really like what I see.
  • avatar

    BuccanAy, Looks like Freeman is more solution than problem now huh?
  • avatar

    An important and noticeable point, Scubog! Instead of scolding or berating a player when a mistake is made, there is positive encouragement even a pat on the head. Schiano is a passionate man - I'm sure those events are discussed at a later time, but never on the sideline or before the press!
  • avatar

    The similarity I see is the even keeled demeanor both exhibit on the sidelines. They both remain calm and thoughtful even during times of duress. You can't coach or manage by going berserk when crisis hits. A confident, "this is what we're going to do" is much more effective than a profanity laced tirade. Just ask Rex Ryan how his bluster is working.
  • avatar

    @Stan - Gruden beat Dungy's best team 45-0, and won the Super Bowl with a team that had lost its last two playoff games 52-12. You're part of the reason we've had to endure the last three years around here. Who knew that spending a fortune on free agents, hiring competent coaches and keeping your premium draft picks led to a competitive team in this league?
  • avatar

    The only real differnece I see between Dungy and Schiano is that Greg is flexible enough to bring in Quality Offensive coaches and allow them to implement a solid offensive system.
  • avatar

    We need two top tier CB's either in the draft or FA and a DT that can get to the QB in 2013. This team is being built for the long haul but it will be two more years before we can tell if we have a real football team.
  • avatar

    Don't knock Clark's stat line. He's coming on big time after two years of injury-plagued seasons. Seven receptions last week. Look for more of the same.
  • avatar

    I love the direction Schiano is taking this team!!!! I said it all of last year that this team needed a leader as a head coach and not a friend. And someone that would implement discipline, that we so lacked. Now that I am retiring from the Army, I will be getting my season tickets back next year. I have been to two games already this year and have my tickets to the Philly game as well. This team might not make the playoffs and that is fine, but the are heading in the right direction again. GO BUCS
  • avatar

    Gruden offensive genius?? Don't think so. Will agree he was offensive more times than it was warranted.
  • avatar

    Assuming Bennett & Clayborn come back next year to help the pass rush, I think this team just needs help in the secondary before becoming a strong playoff contender. Don't get me wrong, they're looking good this year. Just sayin'
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