Former Kansas City Chiefs general manager and current NBC Sports Network Analyst Scott Pioli was a guest at Bucs camp on Monday to observe practice. When it comes to football, Pioli has 20 years of front office experience. After spending some time at One Buc Place Monday, his experience showed as he spoke about the Bucs, specifically Josh Freeman, Darrelle Revis, and head coach Greg Schiano on NBC Sports.
Pioli became the Chiefs general manager in 2009. Immediately following his hire in Kansas City, he relieved former Bucs assistant Herman Edwards from his head coaching duties and hired Arizona Cardinals offensive coordinator Todd Haley to replace Edwards. Pioli talked about such a change and the type of players Tampa Bay will see in head coach Greg Schiano's second year.
“This is Greg's (Schiano) second year. And what Mark Dominik and his staff are doing now is that they are making sure that they are finding players that fit the mold or vision of Greg Schiano,” Pioli said. “And that is one of the biggest transitions — when there is change within franchises. You have a personnel department that is out getting players for one head coach. When you get a new head coach, styles are different, desires are different in terms of what the head coach wants. What I think we are going to see this year is the second year of a Greg Schiano type player which is a smart, tough, liable, dependable football player.”
Those types of characteristics in a player may lie within quarterback Josh Freeman. Many across the country feel there is a disconnect between Schiano and Freeman but as Pioli puts it, that may be overblown and Freeman fits the character that Schiano looks for in a player.
“I think there is the regular pressure that comes with being a quarterback that marries into a situation with a new coach. But I get the sense in talking with Greg (Schiano), that he really likes Josh Freeman,” Pioli said. “He's seen a lot of growth out of Josh and I think we maybe, some of us in the media, have made this out to be more than what it really is. I think Greg really likes and respects Josh Freeman. I also think that he has seen a growth.”
Pioli would go on and talk about Freeman's character.
“For instance, he has taken a leadership role in working with Mike Glennon and is actually trying to mentor and help Mike Glennon. And to Greg (Schiano), that seems like a really important thing because it's showing Greg an entirely new dynamic to this player. Not that it didn't exist but he didn't unearth previously — the fact that he is trying to help someone who is fighting him for his job.”
Freeman is in the last year of his rookie contract. While his character fits what Schiano may be looking for, the Bucs are going to let this season play out and base their plans on a contract for Freeman off of his 2013 performance. Could be a risky move from both angles on if he excels or not, but Pioli also mentions that it's not always up to the organization on a final decision for keeping a player around.
“Greg (Schiano) wants to see how this works out and truth is, what people have to remember about free agency is not just whether or not, when a player becomes a free agent, it's not just whether or not the team wants him, but does the player want to remain in the system. Right now things are as good as they could be and we'll see how the season shakes out for Josh and how it shakes out for Greg Schiano.”
While there may be uncertainty from the Schiano and Freeman front, there is a sense of excitement from All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis as he spoke to Pioli.
“He's very excited about the opportunity and I know Greg Schiano is very excited about the opportunity,” Pioli said. “It sounds like the toughest thing they've had to do is to keep themselves in control and remain patient. What they've tried to do is, Darrelle (Revis) wants to come back really fast, Greg (Schiano) wants him back and they have to keep reminding one another to be patient throughout this whole process.”
Revis, according to the Bucs training staff, is progressing well. The staff is beginning to ease him into the practice schedule and breaking him in slowly by participating in some drills. And as he progresses in his rehab, results become evident. Pioli was optimistic after watching the former New York Jets star cornerback at practice, validating the positive direction that Revis is headed.
“He hadn't done anything until today,” Pioli said. “Today was his first day doing it (7-on-7 drills). But not only did Darrelle Revis look good, he sounded good.”