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November 15, 2013 @ 3:18 pm
Current rating: 3.00 Stars/4 Votes

SR's Fab 5 - 11-15

Written by Scott
Scott Reynolds


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What positive changes have the players seen from Bucs head coach Greg Schiano? What made the team rally around him? Why is Lavonte David emerging as a leader on defense? Why is the best yet to come from CB Darrelle Revis? Get the answers and more inside scoop on the Bucs in SR's Fab 5.
SR's Fab 5 is a collection of inside scoop, analysis and insight from yours truly, Pewter Report publisher and Bucs beat writer Scott Reynolds. Here are a few things that caught my attention this week at One Buc Place:

When the Buccaneers lost to the Philadelphia Eagles 31-20 in a Week 6 contest to drop to 0-5, PewterReport.com called for head coach Greg Schiano to be fired. There was a disconnect between the players and the coaches, and more importantly, Tampa Bay had lost 11 out of its last 12 games, which was the same 1-11 record Raheem Morris had over his last 12 games before being fired.

We reported the facts as we knew them at the time and felt justified in calling for an in-season regime change. One of the reasons PewterReport.com used in determining that the Bucs needed a head coaching change is that Schiano had bungled the development of quarterback Josh Freeman, who was benched after Week 3 and released a week later after he and his agents had become a distraction by – according to the Buccaneers – leaking information to the media that when reported would look like it was leaked by the team.

After weeks of digging, PewterReport.com has reversed course and believes the team’s version of the accounts over Freeman’s, and has welcomed an NFLPA and NFL investigation into the leaks because of evidence the team has proving that Freeman’s representatives were the source. Freeman apparently missed a slew of meetings during the OTAs (organized team activities) in the offseason and also some at the beginning of the season after training camp concluded, including the team photo.

But the most egregious offense was missing the mandatory team meal before the season opener at New York and nearly missing the team bus ride to the stadium prior to the start of the game. Sources in the locker room have told PewterReport.com that it was no wonder Freeman looked out of sorts in New York and was befuddled when his helmet intercom wasn’t working and couldn’t call a play, which led to two delay of game penalties on the same drive.

The fact that Schiano was not a culprit in Freeman’s demise as a Buccaneer, and that the quarterback himself has certain issues that led to his downward spiral in Tampa Bay is a game-changer. With Freeman struggling with his completion percentage, which was below 47 percent through three preseason games and three regular season games, the team was forced to make a quarterback switch.

Schiano and the organization were blamed by many, including PewterReport.com, for not preparing Freeman enough for the regular season by not allowing him enough reps in the preseason. But behind the scenes, the staff had accurately forecasted trouble with Freeman and that’s why Mike Glennon received so much playing time in the preseason – to prepare him for what was to come.

As it turns out, playing Glennon more in the preseason was the right call. That’s a fact, evidenced by Glennon completing nearly 60 percent of his passes with nine touchdowns and four interceptions and a QB rating of 81.8.

As it turns out, starting Glennon in Week 4 and benching Freeman and ultimately releasing him was the right call. That’s a fact, evidenced by a career-low 42.9 percent completion percentage in three games with Tampa Bay and one game with Minnesota with two touchdowns and four interceptions and a 52.6 QB rating.

League sources tell PewterReport.com that Minnesota, a team that is desperate to find a solid starting quarterback, has probably caught on to some of Freeman’s issues by now, and that’s why he hasn’t returned to the starting lineup since his lone performance against the New York Giants on October 21. Freeman has allegedly been dealing with a concussion, but was cleared to play last week and the team turned to backup Matt Cassel instead of Freeman when Christian Ponder was injured.

Don’t be surprised if Freeman doesn’t play another down in Minnesota and isn’t re-signed in the offseason. Should that happen, that would further vindicate the decision Schiano and the Buccaneers made in benching and releasing Freeman, and absolve the head coach from the quarterback debacle at the start of the season.

But what about the fact that a 0-5 start turned into a 0-8 start prior to a 22-19 win over Miami on Monday Night Football? Behind the scenes a lot of things have changed that have actually brought Schiano and the Buccaneers players closer as the losses have mounted.

Schiano, a tightly wound head coach, who wears his emotions on his sleeves, has tried a different approach and has become looser and more relaxed in practice and on the sidelines during the games. In fact, on the dry erase board in the Bucs’ locker room at halftime of Monday’s win over the Dolphins, Schiano wrote three words for his players – relaxed, confident, focused.

For the first time all season, the Bucs players were relaxed in crunch time. Aided by a fiery speech by weakside linebacker Lavonte David, Tampa Bay’s pass rush came to life to sack Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill twice and the cornerback Darrelle Revis picked him off on fourth down to finally hold a lead and capture the Bucs’ first elusive win of the season, 22-19.

“He’s been more relaxed lately,” said Buccaneers wide receiver Tiqun Underwood, who played for Schiano at Rutgers. “Coach Schiano loves his job and he’s all about his craft. He takes it very seriously. He is an emotional guy and there’s nothing wrong with that. Some guys are relaxed and some guys are tense. It’s the same with coaches. He’s more relaxed lately and he’s letting us play our game. He’s changing for himself. He’s doing what’s best for the team. That’s what he feels we need and he needs.

“To be with him for six years, to see Coach Schiano from college to his first year in the league to now – it has been a transformation. It’s still all about structure and telling the team exactly what he wants, but at the same time, he’s meeting us halfway. He’s really grasping the fact that he went from college to the NFL. At the end of the day, we know that we’re the players and they’re the coaches and we have to listen to the. At the same time we are collectively in this as a group.”

Underwood said that Schiano needed to be tough initially and get rid of some of the players that didn’t buy into his system and ways of doing things.

“When he first got here I would say that Coach was a little tough because he was changing the culture,” Underwood said. “You have to weed guys out and do what is best for the organization. Now that he has the guys that he wants here – some draft picks and some guys he has brought in from other teams – he can pull back the reins a little bit and worry about football rather than character issues or things that happen off the field.”

Lost in the fact that the Bucs lost eight straight games prior to Monday’s win over Miami was that Tampa Bay is one of the few teams not to have a player get arrested this year or get suspended by the league for any off-field issues. Schiano has stressed character since the first day he stepped into One Buccaneer Place and that message has taken hold in the locker room.

Underwood has seen how the Buccaneers’ character has helped the team stick together through the losses.

“Adversity will do that to you and it shows true character,” Underwood said. “When you are winning everything is easier and there are good feelings around the locker room. When you are being tested that’s when you really get to see what kind of guys you have on your team. We know we have a lot of games left for us and the tide will turn. We just have to keep fighting. There is a lot of talent on this team and a lot of good guys and a great coach to lead us.”

Given the fight the Bucs showed in Seattle by taking the Seahawks, who are the best team in the NFC, to overtime and by beating the Dolphins on Monday night, it’s clear that Schiano hasn’t lost the locker room, and that his changing ways have had a positive effect on the team.

“It’s not like we’re out there giving up big plays to give up or to get beat,” said Bucs linebacker Dekoda Watson. “We’ve really been fighting our butt off. Even though we started off with a better record last year I feel like we’re a better team because we’ve all bought in more than we did last year. Our record may not show that, but I know there are a lot of guys that think that’s true.

“What everybody is saying about Coach Schiano is true. He’s a lot more relatable. We can relate to him a lot more than we could last year. What he had to do was set his foundation last year. Once he felt like we’ve got the program and bought in, he’s loosened up. He used to be a lot more animated.”

Bucs starting dime safety Keith Tandy said that the players have become a lot more accepting of the expectations Schiano has set forth for the team.

“The main thing is that guys know what to expect from him now,” Tandy said. “He doesn’t have to preach to guys. They’ll do it on their own now. Any time something is new or different there is always going to be that adjustment time to it.”

Schiano also used to micromanage the team. For example, he made the players check in for every meal last year in an effort to make them more responsible. That’s changed.

“The only meal we have to check in for is the pre-game meal,” Underwood said. “He leaves it in our hands to be pros and we have to do our jobs and be accountable.”

There are lots of positive changes taking place. Friday practices aren’t as intense and physical as they used to be. Schiano isn’t as tense and animated on the sidelines during games in an effort to try to promote a calming effect. The players have noticed Schiano sitting in on every positional meeting for a few minutes to tune into what is going on and perhaps better evaluate the relationships between his assistants and the players.

“The players and coaches are growing closer together,” Watson said. “We’re a lot better than we were last year – honestly. You all may not think it because of our record, but that’s the truth. It’s a lot different in the locker room than it was last year.

“Honestly, it could be a lot worse. We could be 0-9 and getting blown out every week, but that’s not what’s happening. Day in, day out, and week in and week out this team fights – no matter what.”

Schiano’s changing ways may open the door for the Bucs’ record to change. Monday night’s victory was a good start.

As the Buccaneers’ losses mounted in October, the players actually rallied around their head coach. As there were calls for Greg Schiano’s firing from PewterReport.com, the Tampa Bay Times, 98.7 The Fan and others, the Bucs players came out and publicly supported their head coach.

“I have high respect for this coach,” said Bucs safety and team captain Dashon Goldson. “He’s taken a lot of scrutiny off the field. These are tough times. We understand that. He has a job to do, and we do as players. We just try to do the best we can to prepare every week and win a football game. He hasn’t lost the locker room.”

Fellow defensive captain Gerald McCoy publicly defended Schiano after some rowdy Bucs fans were hurling insults at the head coach following Tampa Bay’s 31-13 home loss to Carolina on Thursday Night Football.

“If you want to be angry about the game or what’s going on, be angry because we’re angry, too. But don’t disrespect him as a man,” McCoy said. “That man has a wife. He has kids at home. We have wives and kids. Just keep it to football. Don’t take it outside of that. If you want to be whatever in football, that’s OK. Be angry. We expect you to be angry. Nobody wants to be 0-7. But just leave everything else alone. Just keep it to the game. It’s still just a game. We’ve got lives outside of football. When you disrespect a man as a person, then you’re taking it too far.”

When the “Fire Schiano” billboards went up around Tampa Bay just before Thursday night’s game against Carolina a few weeks ago, players like linebacker Dekoda Watson gained an even higher level of respect for him due to how the head coach handled the situation.

“The biggest reason why I look up to him – and the man that he is – is with all of the criticism that is coming in and all the stuff that has happened to him this year he has kept the focus on us and this team,” Watson said about Schiano. “I commend him for doing that. Any man would break down with all of the criticism that he’s taken and he continues to use that as fire and we allow that to motivate us.

“Without a doubt [the billboards] are tough to see, but he is our leader and our leader for a reason. As a leader you can take it when it’s good and you can take it when it’s bad. When it’s all said and done, it’s not about the media or the fans. It’s about us as a team – our coaches and our locker room.”

Watson said the team has marveled out how well Schiano has tried to tune out the distractions that a MRSA outbreak, the benching of the team’s starting quarterback and the loss of key starters, such as Pro Bowl running back Doug Martin and wide receiver Mike Williams and rally the team to win.

“One thing you have to understand is that distractions are going to present themselves, but you can’t allow yourself to be distracted,” Watson said. “Whether it’s the MRSA, whether it’s the quarterback situation or whether it’s playing a bunch of rookies. When it comes to the rookies they have to understand that they aren’t rookies when they step on the field. They are part of our starting 11. Our rookies don’t play like rookies. With all that being said, I think it says a lot about our team and a lot about Coach Schiano and what he’s done.

“I love playing football, and when you have a coach that is just as passionate about football as I am, you respect that man and you do enjoy playing for him.”

Schiano acknowledges the fans’ disappointment in a tumultuous season that was once filled with high expectations.

“I do understand the fans’ frustration,” Schiano said. “I have some say in how to fix it. Our players have some say. The fans don’t. All the fans can do is watch and take what’s out there. Lately, it hasn’t been good enough, so I understand their frustration totally. We’ve just got to give them a better product.”

The last two weeks has certainly been a better product on the field. The coaching has been better and the execution by the players has been better. That should continue this week as a beatable, 2-7 Atlanta team comes to Raymond James Stadium. Due to sticking by Schiano and continuing to play hard, the Buccaneers appear to be capturing some midseason momentum.

“Coach Schiano is very passionate about the game,” Watson said. “When it comes to the players, he’s passionate about us. He stands up for what he believes in. Whether you like it or not, he’s going to stand up for his beliefs. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to be here. I want to be here. We as players want to be here.”

Although he’s not a team captain, Buccaneers weakside linebacker Lavonte David is a team leader. He’s proven that this year by leading the team in tackles (77), tackles for loss (13), sacks (five) and safeties (one). David also makes all of the defensive calls on defense.

In Tampa Bay’s glory days, defensive tackle Warren Sapp was a leader, as was strong safety John Lynch. But make no mistake. Legendary linebacker Derrick Brooks was the true leader of the defense. Linebackers are always expected to be the leaders, especially if they are great players.

In Monday night’s triumph over Miami, David took another step towards greatness by not only getting a safety in the first half for two points, but by what he said to his defensive teammates with two minutes left in the game and Tampa Bay hanging on to a three-point lead.

Bucs head coach Greg Schiano began to talk to the defense when David interrupted in the huddle and came up with a sudden, fiery speech that no one expected.

“In that last drive, at the two-minute warning, I started to say a few things and Lavonte stepped right in the middle and took over, and I was really, really proud of him. There are a lot of great players on that field, in that defense, and Lavonte said, ‘Right now.’ That’s good stuff.”

The Bucs players were electrified by the normally quiet and reserved David. He implored his teammates to make plays to shut the Dolphins defense down.

“Lavonte just took control of the huddle,” Bucs cornerback Leonard Johnson said. “He told everybody we’ve been in this situation before and that this time it was going to be different. Just stick to your guns and trust your training and have fun. We did and it was awesome.”

“We’ve been waiting for Lavonte to take over as our leader,” Tampa Bay safety Keith Tandy said. “He’s always out there making plays on defense, but he’s never been a vocal guy. During that timeout he said, ‘It all stops right now. We’ve been in this situation so many times this year and we’ve lost the game. It’s on us right now and we need everybody to step up and make a play. We did that and proved what we can do on defense.”

David felt compelled to speak up and inspire his fellow defensive players to step up and finish the Dolphins. He recalled his speech during the two-minute warning on Monday night.

“It’s the same thing we’ve seen virtually every week where it comes down to the last drive,” David said. “I just had to come in and talk to the guys. I told them, ‘Everything changes right now! We need to make a statement! All that last-second, game-winning drive stuff stops right now!’ Everyone bought in and executed. Hats off to everybody. That’s what we’re supposed to do. That’s what we need our M.O. to be, and we need to try to keep it up every week.”

The result of David’s speech was an immediate sack of quarterback Ryan Tannehill by defensive ends William Gholston and Da’Quan Bowers, followed by another sack by defensive tackle Gerald McCoy.

“I think it definitely helped because we all know the type of guy that he is – he’s not very vocal,” Tandy said. “When he said what he said it gave you chills running up and down your body. It was like a surge of electricity and we said, ‘Okay, let’s go!’ It gave us that extra umph we needed. Those sacks came so fast. I was in coverage and as soon as he snapped the ball we were in the backfield.”

David loved how his teammates responded to his instant animation.

“The first sack was a blitz with Mark Barron,” David said. “He read the guard and wrapped around. He had a free rush lane and made a great play. Da’Quan and everybody got the quarterback. On the second time, we let the defensive line eat and Gerald came clean. Those guys got to the quarterback with another sack.”

On fourth-and-27, Tannehill looked for big-play target Mike Wallace, but the receiver was blanketed by Tandy and cornerback Darrelle Revis, who made the game-clinching interception.

“That’s him,” David said of Revis. “That’s what he does, and he takes pride in that. All that side of the field, that’s his area. He’s a leader on this defense, too. He stepped up and made a play.”

Schiano praised David, whom he declared Pro Bowl-worthy, and his decision to stand up and address the team, even if it was out of character for Tampa Bay’s second-round pick from a year ago to do so.

“The leadership – he’s growing up,” Schiano said. “He made plays since he walked in the door, but now, he’s become one of our leaders on defense as a second-year player.”

Tampa Bay linebacker Lavonte David isn’t the only leader on defense. Cornerback Darrelle Revis, who is one of the most decorated and respected Buccaneers, is having a very good initial season in pewter and red.

Revis has 29 tackles through nine games, and leads the team in passes defensed (seven) and forced fumbles (two), and is tied for the team lead in fumble recoveries (one) and interceptions (two). Revis’ biggest interception of the season came against the Dolphins on fourth-and-27 and allowed the Bucs to hang on for a 22-19 victory, which was the team’s first of the 2013 season.

“He saw the routes coming as soon as they happened,” Bucs safety Keith Tandy said. “He was playing a flat corner, but he saw everybody go vertical and he just sunk with it. He knew they were going to Mike Wallace, who is one of the best deep threats in the league. They needed a big play, so they were going to him. He sunk with it and I looked back for the ball and I saw Revis way up in the air picking it off. What a better way to win a game.”

Bucs cornerback Leonard Johnson agreed.

“He put the icing on the cake and that did it,” Johnson said. “We are 1-0 in the Miami season and there will be more wins to come if we continue to play like that.”

While there was much consternation at the beginning of the season about how little Revis was being used in man coverage despite being the best cover cornerback in the NFL, the reality is that Revis did not have the endurance or the strength in his surgically-repaired knee to handle man coverage duties 100 percent of the time during the first four games of the season. After the bye week, Revis’ workload in man coverage gradually climbed from 65 percent to 85 percent, which is the amount of snaps he plays in man coverage now.

“I think great players, the bigger the stage, the better they’re going to be, but you look at what he’s done the last three weeks – he’s playing like his old self,” Schiano said. “He’s thrown, legitimately, three shutouts. That’s why, [on Monday night], when they ran that double-move early in the game, he had pick-six on the brain. He’s really playing at a high level right now, and that’s what we need.”

Schiano and defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan took a lot of heat from fans and the media for not revealing that Revis was not healthy enough to play man coverage early in the season, but their intent was to protect the player from being targeted by opposing quarterbacks.

Revis admitted that he’s close to 100 percent healthy, and his play over the last three games in which he has taken out Steve Smith (four catches for 42 yards), Golden Tate (three catches for 29 yards) and Wallace (four catches for 15 yards) has been spectacular.

“I’m getting back to my old self, so I’m feeling very comfortable,” Revis said. “The knee is feeling a lot better. The leg is feeling a lot better. This is nothing new. Coming into this, this was a process, and this is what I’ve got to deal with, this is my situation right now, and I’ve just got to keep on working on it and getting better.”

Tandy has noticed marked improvement in Revis’ play over the past three weeks.

“You can definitely tell that coming off an ACL injury playing cornerback isn’t easy,” Tandy said. “The cuts you have to make aren’t easy. I don’t know how much it affected him at the beginning of the season, but these last couple of games you can definitely tell he’s back to his old self. He looks like the guy I grew up watching.”

When challenged to make a play by David during the two-minute warning on Monday night, Revis stepped up and showed why he’s Tampa Bay’s $16-million man, earning every penny in the fourth quarter with the game on the line.

“We put Revis on the best receiver and we let him compete and he shuts them out,” David said. “That’s what he gets paid to do and he takes pride in that. You have to take your hat off to a guy like that. He works hard at it, and it shows on game day. He helped win the game for us.”

Revis, a four-time Pro Bowler who was sometimes portrayed as a malcontent in New York, has shown patience, a positive attitude and great leadership despite his first year in Tampa Bay that began with a turbulent 0-8 start.

“I think we’re just sticking together,” Revis said. “Being 0-8 or having a losing record, usually guys start thinking about other things or are not really focused in on what we’re trying to do and accomplish, but guys have been focused. We’ve just been trying to get better as a team, I think that’s what we’ve been trying to do, and not try to point the finger here or there or say it’s offense, say it’s defense or special teams. We’ve just been sticking together. We know we’ve got good players on this team, and we know we’ve got some great talent, so we’ve just got to put all the pieces together. … Hopefully, get on a winning streak.”

FAB 5. Here are a few things to hold you over until the next edition of SR’s Fab 5:

• After the Buccaneers held the Atlanta Falcons to just 18 yards on 18 carries three weeks ago, Tampa Bay surrendered 129 yards and two rushing touchdowns to Carolina in a 31-13 loss, and 198 yards rushing and one touchdown on the ground in a 27-24 overtime loss at Seattle.

But on Monday night against Miami, Tampa Bay’s rush defense set a franchise record by allowing just two yards on 14 rushing attempts.

“At this level, that doesn’t happen,” Bucs linebacker Lavonte David said. “These last two games we haven’t done a really good job against the run in keeping their totals down. We had to make a statement this week and take away the run. Everybody did his job. Everybody was all in on the game plan.”

David’s safety, in which he tackled Dolphins running back Daniel Thomas in the end zone in the second quarter, set the tone for the Bucs run defense that night.

“It was amazing,” David said. “I take my hat off to the whole defense. They did their job and I had a free lane to go through and I wasn’t going to let anyone stop me, and I made the play.”

• The Buccaneers have lost an astonishing four running backs to season-ending injuries this year. Michael Smith was the first to be placed on injured reserve with a foot injury before the season started. Next up was backup running back Jeff Demps, who tore his groin against Arizona, followed by starter Doug Martin with a torn labrum he suffered against Atlanta one month ago. On Tuesday, the team put rookie Mike James on injured reserve after he fractured his ankle on Monday night against the Dolphins.

With the Bucs down to just two running backs – Brian Leonard and Bobby Rainey – the team signed rookie Michael Hill off Green Bay’s practice squad. Hill played at Missouri Western State and is the school’s all-time leading rusher, finishing his career with 4,969 yards and 35 touchdowns on 828 carries. As a senior, Hill led the NCAA with 2,168 yards rushing.

At 5-foot-10, 210 pounds, Hill is a compactly built, physical running back with a wicked stiff arm, as shown here in his highlights from college.

He rushed for 60 yards on 21 carries playing for San Diego during the preseason and also caught two passes for 15 yards before being released and signed to Green Bay's practice squad.

“He’s picking it up well,” Bucs head coach Greg Schiano said of Hill. “He’s the third running back now. He’ll be active and he’ll be ready to go. We’ll have him involved on special teams. I don’t know how much he’ll actually get on the field that first week, but he’s a quick learner and he’s worked hard. He’s fit in well in that room.”

While Hill may be a no-name player right now, that was the case with Rainey three weeks ago when he joined the Buccaneers before becoming a hero on Monday night with a key 31-yard run down to the Miami 1-yard line, and a 1-yard touchdown run on the next play, which proved to be the game-winning score for Tampa Bay.

• Bucs rookie quarterback Mike Glennon has thrown a touchdown pass in each of his six starts, which set a franchise record for the most consecutive games throwing a touchdown pass for a rookie. Glennon has nine touchdowns on the season and with one more he will tie Josh Freeman for the most passing touchdowns by a rookie in franchise history.

• And finally, there is a notion by some who have posted on PewterReport.com’s message board and in article comments about my shift in tone regarding Bucs head coach Greg Schiano. Some suggest that I have gone weak-kneed in my reporting about Schiano and his future with the team for fear that my access or credentials would somehow get revoked.

Let me be clear. Not once in my 18 years of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have I ever felt threatened, scared or even concerned that the team would deny Pewter Report or myself access to anyone in the organization – players, coaches or front office – due to my reporting. First of all, that’s not the team’s style, and I don’t think the Glazers would tolerate that. Since I started covering the team in 1995, I do not know of any Bucs beat writers or columnists that have had their credentials revoked.

PewterReport.com is widely read and respected at One Buccaneer Place, and we enjoy a solid working relationship with the team’s media relations staff. Since calling for Schiano’s firing after a 0-5 start, we have hardly had any negative pushback from the organization at all. In fact, Schiano has been nothing but class in my interactions with him, and has answered every question I’ve asked or Mark Cook has asked in press conferences without any animosity towards PewterReport.com or myself. I’m sure Schiano knows it’s nothing personal.

I’ve earned a reputation of being fair and objective in my reporting over the past 18 years in the Tampa Bay area. I’m interested in reporting the facts. When I get those facts wrong, I’m the first to want to correct them and set the record straight.

Sometimes when a story has a lot of layers like an onion, you have to peel back a lot of layers before you can get to the truth. I think that’s what has happened in Schiano’s case in Tampa Bay this year, and that’s why there has been a noticeable shift in coverage over the past two weeks.

The truth is that Schiano took a beating in the media from PewterReport.com and others for not being forthcoming about the Josh Freeman situation to the media earlier when problems were surfacing, and didn’t do a great job defending himself or the organization when Freeman’s camp was manipulating the media, including PewterReport.com.

The same thing happened earlier in the year when Schiano and defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan were crucified by the media for not using cornerback Darrelle Revis more in man coverage. It wasn’t until Revis finally came out and admitted two weeks ago that he didn’t have the stamina or strength in his leg to play man coverage more than 65 percent of the time in games.

In the cases of Freeman and Revis, Schiano didn’t tell the media what was really going on behind the scenes. That’s not his style. He isn’t nearly as open with the media in general as former Bucs head coaches were, and that’s his right to be like that. But his reasoning was to protect the players and their professional lives – both Freeman and Revis – and that’s undeniably noble.

The Bucs players have taken a clear look at how Schiano has handled the press while covering for Freeman and Revis during the first half of the season, and that has earned him a lot of credibility and personal capital in the locker room. No wonder the players have continued to play hard for him, and why Schiano just may save his job if Tampa Bay can win a few more games down the stretch and show improvement while doing so.

For now, I’m officially rescinding my call for Schiano to be fired and will reserve judgment on his coaching future in Tampa Bay until after the 2013 season has concluded. I have a sense that the Bucs will beat Atlanta and their midseason momentum will continue.

Last modified on Friday, 15 November 2013 16:28

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  • avatar

    Well said Scott. I'm not sure he is that guy to lead us to the promised land. You did delineate what he has had to deal with in the last year and a half. Maybe I'm older and have seem much more football than some of the youngsters just wanting to toss out the HC, so sure that we would get the next Tony Dungy and build a SB champion....but the odds are just as good it could go the other way...new regimes, new schemes, trying to rebuild player trust, etc., back to square one. Being up in Packer land, I see first hand what losing a top tier QB means to a good team. We were at best a slightly above average team and have been hurt at many critical positions, including a meltdown of our QB, line injuries, RB, WR, TE, and slow physical recoveries from surgery, in addition to MRSA. Knowing all those things, how many of you would have predicted a good record? I wouldn't have. I think if we fight in every game as we have in most games this year, and the team plays hard for this coach, shows growth, and we can win half of the remaining games, I don't know how you fire him.. If we do this, I think he deserves another year. And for those that think it is all about the record...well, every year only one coach is successful when it comes to that. Many coaches have been fired with "a winning record".
  • avatar

    Say what you want about Schiano. He's a good guy, he's a bad guy, whatever you want. At the end of the day it's about winning football games. Simple as that. In the last year, all he has is a win over a lousy Miami team and an Atlanta team that wasn't interested in playing that day. He should be evaluated by his record. It sucks. So he may beat Atlanta today, another lousy team. When he ends up with 2 or 3 wins at the end of the year, he needs to go. Simple as that. The rest of the talk is a bunch of b.s.
  • avatar

    I can't believe I'm agreeing with Owlykat again. I remember the days of Coach Richard Williamson. Players, especially Vinny, supported him..... but his team went 2-14 as I recall and he was fired. After winning only 8 games in the last 25 it's really hard for me to endorse Schiano at this point. I am willing to let the next 7 games play out before forming a final opinion that won't matter anyway. I know this much; it's no fun having an "in-stadium experience" that consists of the hundreds, if not thousands, of opponents fans, like there will be infesting our home field today, mocking us.
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    Glad to hear you have honored your profession and allowed the facts to guide your reporting. I was tiring of the "Fire Schiano" rants....This team still has a lot of room for improvement. I hope we see it over the next 7 games. What happens to coach Schiano is the Glazer's decision.
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    It's about the Win-loss record. Schiano just doesn't have it. If you change assistants and run the same scheme you gain nothing!
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    Thanks for the insight on how our defense managed to win the only game of the season--a fiery speech by David. It had nothing to do with Schiano! How many games did we lose this year with a poor offensive line because Schiano was too dumb to insert Meredith at LG, after Meredith had played great at guard last year? We should have but for Schiano won a lot of games already! He will not find any good assistants who want to coach under such a losing HC; so keeping Schiano and trying to change assistants is a waste of time. He may luck out again this week against the hapless Falcons, but I don't think he is a good enough Coach to win the rest of his games this year. Only if he does would I consider flip flopping like you just did Scott.
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    It's all about wins and losses. I don't care about all the peripheral stuff - what's the final result. Right now, it's awful. Can it change? Perhaps, but are we saying two or three wins is good enough? Schiano being more relaxed, approachable, not video taping players on the side-line, etc., doesn't change the fact that his coaching decisions and schemes are found desperately lacking and have cost us games going back to last year. THAT has to change and the wins need to happen in bunches before I buy into to him as the HC. Will always be a Bucs fan but I won't shy away from criticizing when I see something wrong. This is a better team that what Raheem Morris had but the record doesn't show it. To paraphrase Bill Parcells, you are what your record says you are. That makes use 1 - 8 and about 2 wins out of the last 14. We are in the running for the title of the worst team in the NFL. That is unacceptable and should be to every fan. It needs to change now!
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    Schiano might be a good guy although I haven't heard anyone not on the current BUCS roster say so - Dexter Jackson doesn't think so, Warren Sapp doesn't think so, Anthony Davis definitely doesn't think so. But maybe he is, don't really care. What I do care about is wins and losses - when has Schiano ever been a winner as a coach - 68-67 at Rutgers with a conference winning percent around 30% (and 8-17 with us) is not really winning is it. Why does anyone think that he suddenly will develop a winning strategy to football when he has never had one and openly admits he will never change his football approach. Nice guy or not, he's not a winner and that means the BUCS won't be either....or do we need another 160 games to prove it....
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    first off, @Juno: nice post! sth. about x´s and o´s would seem to be perfect, since this realy helps to evaluate things. @Rat: Of course it would be better long term, because Shiano is medicore at best. To give a good coach, this kind of very good starting position would be great (with the right moves, we could be very dangerous as soon as next season). @all: Ey, cannot understand this Shiano-backing-up stuff. There are plenty of players out there with GREAT character looking for jobs - why? It´s performance/talent related. Is it realy that hard to get a connection to Mr. loved by all players? Plenty of other (costly) mistakes made (Revis is not healthy - so did this trade realy have had to happen??????????? i think about the cap, the draft picks lost, the FA we could have got; we could have been finishing that re-building process by exact next season; now everything looks harder to accomplish). As said many times before: this team wasn´t ready. Is not ready, won´t get ready (with Shiano). What is expected to happen? Yeah new Coordinators, right. He will fire Sully (maybe rightfully so, like Freeman) and promote his former Rutgers O-Coordinator McNulty (like Glennon, that´s bad.. to be fair: just not good enough); same on defense, but witch Butch Davis or Wannestedt.. And they both weren´t geniuses... Bucs are stuck with Shiano and not worth the bucks.. still HC has to go. Still GM´s part of this mess is very very hard to evaluate.. Still hoping Glazers will make the proper decissions by seasons end. Still GoBucs!!
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    Nice write up Scott. For those calling for Schiano's head, I've got one burning question. Will the Bucs be better off long term starting over with a new coach or staying with a remade version of Schiano lite? If the team continues to play hard and stand by their coaches, I'd opt to keep the coach and change out the GM and coordinators. Just me. As to the question about specifics leading up to the Freeman meltdown, the entire Bucs organization is showing some class here. I suspect they will continue to say absolutely nothing. The player and his camp have made their own bed by taking the low road and his well earned reputation as a bust is here.
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    I stopped reading PR and a lot of other sideliners a few weeks ago. You expect geniuses like the Big Dog and ira to slam everything possible about Tampa sports, but I was surprised to hear SR and the Pewter crew pile on so quickly, especially in Freeman's case where everything was hearsay . The only non biased news source was Buccaneer.com. As far as the wins an losses it came down to the old saying "Some days you get the bear, and some days the bear gets you." Football is a sport and it is fine to attack the way the game is played, but as far as the huge personal assault launched against Schiano, that was totally unjustified. I respect your reversal Scott, and while I fully realize the Glazers may clean house next year it will be because the team failed to perform, not because the coach failed to try or was less than an honorable, intelligent man. Go Bucs...........
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    Well stated, Martini. I never thought Schiano was the sole reason for our record. I was surprised by the piling on of PR. If Freeman had conducted himself as a professional, this season could have been much different....Do we need to make coaching changes at the end of the season? Perhaps. But I'm glad the facts have and are continuing to come out. Freeman showed us all what kind of QB he is on MNF. Vindication for Schiano.
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    Lifes short, can't do anything now about the 0-8 start. I'm willing to give him his last mulligan. I'm going to look at us being 1-0 in an eight game season. No more excuses, get it done. Belichek was run out of Cleveland, Tony looked over his head in 96 until Sapp, and Brooks said it stops now! Sort of like what David said Monday night. Success is'nt always on an ascending curve, sometimes you stumble along the way. Let's see how they pick themselves up the rest of the way. I for one hope Schiano succeeds. Do we really want to start from scratch again?
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    Freemen Freemen Freemen, really? This coach is 1-8 and may only win one more game , next!
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    You're an idiot.
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    I like the old SR better. I recall the old SR stating it was all about the wins and nothing personal. Now we see the new SR telling us its not all about wins. Folks, we have one win this season. Hate to remind everyone of that. Step back and ask yourself if you would have accepted tha fact prior to the start of the season.
  • avatar

    "The fact that Schiano was not a culprit in Freeman’s demise as a Buccaneer, and that the quarterback himself has certain issues that led to his downward spiral in Tampa Bay is a game-changer." Game-changer? Really Scott? Did you really think he was sabotaging his starting QB behind the scenes? So when you figured out he wasn't, now you are personally starting the "Save Schiano" campaign for a guy who is 2 and 13 over the last 15 (would have been 0-15 if Atlanta actually had something to play for last year and the Jonathan Martin saga had not happened in Miami). Nice flip-flop. It is not like he is Dungy in his first year, this is his second year and the team has regressed. You are cherry picking little nuggets here and there to support your agenda. This is not sound reporting. Where is the balanced reporting? I could not find a single negative point in the entire article! How is that possible when covering a team that is 1-8? You talk about how Schiano was crucified for playing Revis in zone and that is true. However, most would not have complained if the zone scheme was competent. You guys have been saying that Schiano may need to fire some assistant coaches at the end of the year...why? They are just running Schiano's schemes. I mean...I am not going to argue that Sheridan doesn't suck...He definitely does! But Schiano is the one who hired him...probably just so that he could find a defensive coordinator who would agree to run Schiano's Rutgers defense exactly as dictated. The pass rush scheme is awful and the run defense is only good lately against terrible teams like Miami and Atlanta. Carolina and Seattle absolutely chewed them up. The only time the pass rush works is when the players ignore their coaching and use their natural talents. But instead of that being an indictment on Schiano's defense, somehow you turned it around to be a positive in that Schiano's is Mr. Flexible. BRILLIANT! All of these excuses for Schiano and not even a single mention about Mark Dominick. Is it because in the process of defending Schiano, you would have to say that Dominick screwed the pooch? And then you would have to point out how Dominick has never had his own strategy for picking players and just picks (and releases) who the coach tells him to. Then you would be back to blaming Schiano. Probably a good call to leave Dominick out of it then, because it definitely would not have helped Schiano's cause. I can remember when I was excited to read PR. That was around the time Jim Flynn was still around and so was Charlie Campbell. Now, I just come here for amusement. You guys need to step it up. Bucsnation and JoeBucsFan are much better sources of Bucs information than PR, and they are completely free. You can start by adding X's and O's analysis. I cannot remember the last time I saw any schematic reporting on PR. You could try to hire Steve White. He is very good at that (of course he does not seem to be a big fan of Schiano...so that might be a problem). Stop writing one-sided powder puffs like this. Put some balance and objective reporting back into PR and I will gladly renew my subscription.
  • avatar

    Juno; Mark cook has not flip flop so it is not all PR.
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    Right on Horse. I don't always agree with you, but you are a man of reason.
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    That's all well and good but honestly I like many other fans are favoring firing schiano for his coaching ability and while it sounds like he is finally being less stubborn it's a little too late this season. If this were week 5 and the season wasn't already lost I'd be willing to support him but what's the point now? And what's to say he doesn't revert to his tried and untrue ways if given another season? Bottom line, I don't care about the drama I care about the coaches ability to out scheme opponents and willingness to adapt scheme to players. Schiano has not been a good strategist and tactician and that is the reason I cannot get behind him. Maybe if he continues to improve in that area I will but he needs drastic improvement to show he belongs in the nfl and new coordinators as well.
  • avatar

    Scott, that would be a great Fab 5 if we were 4-5 or maybe 3-6; we're 1-8. I can't flip flop as easy as you just did Scott. We could have just as easy lost the Miami game at the end; just like four other games where we did lose at the end. I just don't see this scheme working and I will gladly eat my words if we go 7-9 this season or even 6-10 this season. Scott do you actually believe that Underwood who nobody else wanted, or Watson who is in a battle for a starting job, dare say anything against their Coach or the other coaches? I believe we will beat the Falcons too at home, then it gets very tough before and after the Buffalo game.
  • avatar

    For every situation, there is a broad spectrum of information and reporting of that information. Your reporting goes from one extreme to the other - from "fire him" to "it was all Freeman's fault." All this with no supporting information. Given 100 games that are lost due to no half time adjustments by the Bucs, there will eventually be a Buc win due to happenstance or whatever. I saw no real half-time adjustments in the Dolphins game just like I saw no adjustment in prior games that we lost. Maybe it was just our all-pro linebacker finally blowing up that did it but it sure didn't look like better coaching. The article above contained a lot of assertions presented as fact. The prior articles calling for Schiano's firing had similar content. Perhaps a hormone imbalance?
  • avatar

    I think if Schiano let go became more "relaxed" about the way he wants his team to play, got some new coordinators, and turned the play calling entirely over to them, he might be a pretty good NFL coach. There is always going to be a learning curve for coaches. People expect it with players, but with coaches they expect immediate excellence, and that is kind of fair. But I never bought into Schiano being a bully, at least not this year. He does, however, need to change his scheme, especially on defense. This team might have more talent at pass rush then what it seems, but those stunts cover it up. Also, I love hearing that Lavonte is becoming such a leader. This article actually made me excited to watch the Bucs again.
  • avatar

    Me too!
  • avatar

    To be clear, I’m not concerned about how Scott Reynolds, my favorite Bucs website editor, feels about Schiano! I stated very clearly why I was no longer on the Schiano bandwagon before the season started way before there was MRSA or the Freeman debacle. And I still feel that way. I have never called for Schiano to be fired. I cannot fire Schiano, Scott cannot fire Schiano, and I’m not about to tell billionaires how to spend their money. If Schiano is coach next year, I will still support the Bucs as I have for 37 years. But I will still ethically hold to my opinion that Schiano is not a competent NFL coach and his intractable ability to change and adjust will continue to plague our team. In his presser today when presented with the success by allowing his DEs to rush the QB, he flatly denied that anything had changed and he will not be calling any different schemes going forward. Scott Reynolds, you were there, you heard it with your own ears. To me this is a matter of being patient. What we say is not going to be Schiano’s downfall. He is quite capable and seems determined to cause his own end. When you dismantle the #1 defense against the run in the NFL, when you continue to attack the victory formation and 31 other NFL teams consider it unsportsmanlike, when you have no receiving TE or Slot receiver, when you make no in-game adjustments, when you misuse by virtue of bad schemes some of the best talent in the NFL, when you win only 2 of your last 14 games – many of which were quite winnable, - nobody is going to tell me there’s a Super Bowl in my future. I quit now as I’m responding to a non-sensical argument, ie, hitting my head against a wall just so I can stop and make it feel better!
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    macabee, I could not have said it better. He is a black eye on everything. I just get so upset thinking about him.
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    Mac- I seriously doubt that anyone thinks Schiano hasn't made several mistakes and perhaps wasn't adequately prepared this season. I also know that it is very easy to criticize and ONLY bring up the negative observations when judging people. Should Atlanta, Pittsburgh, NYG, Texans, Washington, and Minnesota be calling for the coaches to be fired there as well? All those teams were projected to be in the playoffs this year, we were not by the national media. Did the Bucs sustain multiple key injuries this season? Most losing teams do. How many teams win games when their so called franchise QB quits and gets released and oh, now the 3rd string in Minnesota. Have we been blown out often this season? Do key starters, heck pro bowlers on our team go out of their way to support and play hard for coach? This team has gone through a lot. IMO Schiano is working to overcome adversity, something most people run away from. I can also say I am not in support of Schiano yet but if he shows improvement in the remaining games and replaces some assistants I think he will overcome this adversity and be better for it. I agree with you in that the game adjustments are horrible but I also know that coaches do not win games players executing properly does. GO BUCS!
  • avatar

    Dbuc63, I am not intractable to coin a word. I, as you suggest, would like nothing better than to see Schiano turn things around. If anyone would care to read my earliest posts, I thought Schiano was just what these young Bucs needed. That was a lot of losses ago and a lot of odd characterizations and personality traits to boot. Your own words say "if he shows improvement in the remaining games and replaces some assistants I think he will overcome this adversity and be better for it". And I agree with you, but that implies change, something that I believe is not in the vocabulary of this coach. On this final point we agree wholeheartedly and that is - GO BUCS!
  • avatar

    So to recap: Freeman was a leftover "country club atmosphere, prima donna I'm the entitled qb cancer" that was rightly let go, and even while he was working to undermine his team and head coach, his hc was still covering for his unprofessionalism...Score: Schiano=1, haters=0. Our #1 corner was "surprisingly" not 100% for half the season because he spent the last year recovering from his surgically repaired knee instead of being able to stay in football shape (imagine that) and Schiano rightfully said hey, let's not expose Revis and his current limitations to opposing offenses and possibly even get him reinjured...wow...that sounds like the actions of a head coach...Score: Schiano=2 haters=00. All the hate and vile filfth that has come out of the mouths of the worst fan base in the NFL actually rallied the Bucs players around their HC because THEy knew the whole story and the worst fan base in the league didn't, because the Bucs HC, chooses to not deal with anything non football related especially he said she said baby mama drama BS...SCORE: SCHIANO=3 haters 000. Ever since Sciano walked in the door at OneBuc, the Bucs have been drafting like it was the 90's again, where as not a single player from the previous 3 drafts b4 Schiano came to town is even still on the team and most are out of the game of football....SCORE: SCHIANO=4 haters=0000. The players as evidenced by their own televised performances, are playing the butts off to win games for themselves and their head coach...where as players from just 2 seasons ago, laid down and didn't care about their HC or that they were the laughing stock of the league because they were still getting paid...and yet, surprise surprise, those same players from 2 seasons ago were the same players who were shocked and angered that their head coach was fired (I wonder why)...SCORE SCHIANO=5 haters=00000. That's 5 BIG reasons why we should have atleast 5 wins by the time this season ends...and regardless of how the record is when the season ends, the Bucs DO have the worst fan base in the NFL and those who do call themselves "fans" should be ashamed of their actions....but I forgot...there is NO shame in this country anymore.
  • avatar

    I was ready to fire him after the Arizona game, but after the last two games, I say let's see what happens the rest of the way. Freeman in his only Minnesota game told me that cutting him was a good decision. Keeping a team motivated after losing 8 games in a row is a big accomplishment. But winning over Miami was huge for me. My rabid Fins fan sister-Iin-law was at the game with us, and watching her reaction when Tannehil got picked off by Reavis - priceless! If they keep winning, and keep getting better, then you know we have something worth keeping. We had to live in Atlanta for 8 years and put up with the "Dixie Chicks". Go Bucs, stomp the Birds, and you make a stronger case for keeping the coach.
  • avatar

    Glad to finaly see the adjustment, but lets remember... miami is the worst team in football right now and we won by 2 at home. Schiano was right about freeman though... to bad he wasn't allowed to trade him this past off season.
  • avatar

    Great reporting Scott. I appreciate your thorough, honest reporting. And your own opinions.I personally felt that too many fans always jump to conclusions than rather wait for the real truth to be told. I will wait ( like I have been) until the 2013 season is over to make my final decision on Schiano's wins,adjustments, decisions and over all coaching before I decide to run our coach out of town. GO BUCS!!!
  • avatar

    Fab 1 & 2 - Hopefully the attitude of the players shifting towards the coach translates to the field the rest of the season. Schiano still can't manage a game so the players have to overcome that. It seems like the calls from the refs have become a little more balanced as well so the team has that going for them as well. All in all, my attitude is the same as it was prior to the season...win dammit! Or continue to win dammit I suppose is more accurate now. Fab 3 - Way to go David! You da man! Fab 4 - Same for you Revis! Fab 5 - Keep doing your thing SR. I've never had a problem with your reporting and as for your analysis the only time over the past year I can remember disagreeing with it is over whether we should have paid to keep Bennett. I still don't think we should have so that we could find out what we had in Bowers, but to each his own. If anything we should have kept Selvie and paid him peanuts, or Gilbury (sp?) from last year who went to the Bengals. Nothing wrong with stockpiling pass rushers, but we have a tendancy in Tampa to fall in love with average, 8-9 sack per year guys and overpay them and I was sick of it.
  • avatar

    Ironic how some of you posters are digging in your feet about firing the coach at the same time the players are playing for him. No one here has a clue as to what is going on all we know is the win/loss record. In the end that is what everything is about but the journey and commitment it takes to become a winner in this league doesn't just happen. Learning, adapting, and overcoming are essential ingredients of being a winner. The so called "know it all" posters offer nothing new in your arguments on firing the coach so why the constant repetition? Offer something new or quit whining already...GO BUCS!!!
  • avatar

    Good article Scott. I've been pretty vocal myself about wanting Schiano to be fired, but all the other stuff aside, my sole reason is the won-lost record. I've always felt that Schiano was probably a good guy, but in the end, it really doesn't matter if you can't get your players to win. I'm going to curb my voice on this as well, but I still wouldn't retain him if he only wins 3 more games out of the last 7. I think 5 wins more than generous for him to save his job and would really like to see 6 wins out of the last 7 to finish again at 7-9.
  • avatar

    I have been a big supporter of Coach Schiano from day one and have written so many times, on this site. In my opinion, all of the personel decisions Schiano has made have turned out to be accurate....including benching and waiving Josh Freeman and the professional character of this team has changed. He is the man for the job in Tampa, today, tomorrow and next year. Scott Reynolds and Mark Cook have been leading the charge to fire Coach Schiano and they have been wrong earlier, they are wrong today and they have been a disservice to the readers of PR. Reynolds states in this report: " We reported the facts as we knew them...." Good reporters report the facts when they have ALL of them. The Revis situation is a perfect example. Schiano kept him in zone play earlier because of the knee condition and took grief for it from those who thought they could coach better!!!! Schiano took the heat while Revis continued to heal. Now, weeks later, we know the truth and ALL the facts. The same for Josh Freeman. I guarantee you that Freeman self destructed and tried to blame Schiano for the issue of his poor play and Reynolds and Cook helped him. Readers believe what is reported to them by reporters and adopt views and opinions based on their reports. Reynolds and Cook have an obligation to apologize to Schiano, their readers and to the BUCS players.
  • avatar

    Sir, could you be more specific about these Freeman's allegations, please? Exactly what was he doing to show that he would be a problem, etc? I'm sorry but I don't agree with you about this second rate college coach. He is a total blackeye to the team, and more so to your community, of which I am not an inhabitant. I would also doubt that his reputation around the league has improved because he is so bush league. Anyway, please don't forget to write these examples, or is it confidential, or from unnamed sources?
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Point-Counterpoint: Will Schiano Return In 2014? Point-Counterpoint: Will Schiano Return In 2014? Will Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano be retained or removed in 2014? That's the topic that Pewter Reporters Mark Cook and Scott Reynolds debate in this month's Point-Counterpoint.
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