After nearly every loss this season – and there have been six of them – Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano says that he needs “to fix it” or “we’ll get it fixed.”
With Tampa Bay now losing 11 of the past 12 games under Schiano after Sunday’s 31-23 loss at Atlanta, it’s clear that he doesn’t know how “to fix it.” The Buccaneers are broken, and he’s proven that he’s not the man for the repair job.
“This situation needed Greg Schiano,” Schiano famously said in third person when addressing Bucs luxury suite holders at a recent breakfast.
No, this situation did not need Schiano, who is now 7-15 in his 22 games in Tampa Bay. It’s clear to see that the Bucs hired the wrong head coach.
Tampa Bay went overboard in looking for a disciplinarian who could corral the inmates who were running the asylum under the young and not-ready-for-primetime Raheem Morris, who was Schiano’s predecessor.
What the Bucs should have done was find a winner – a coach with a proven track record of success in the NFL.
Marty Schottenheimer, who had a record of 200-126-1 (61 percent) in the NFL, would have been a great choice. Perhaps Mike Sherman, who was 59-43 (57.8 percent) at Green Bay, would have been better than Schiano.
Schiano barely posted a winning record at Rutgers, finishing with a 68-67 career mark and a 5-1 record in bowl games with wins in the Texas Bowl, International Bowl, Papajohns.com Bowl, St. Petersburg Bowl and the Pinstripe Bowl. You know, the lesser bowls that teams that don’t win the Big East Conference go to.
Winning seven of 22 games is a winning percentage of 31.8 percent, which is below Morris’ 35.4 percent (17-31) mark in Tampa Bay. Schiano took a shot at Morris during that luxury suite holders breakfast, saying the Bucs were the “laughingstock of the NFL.”
Not much has changed with Schiano. He’s lost 11 games in a 12-game stretch – just like Morris did in 2011. And that was good enough to fire Morris.
Although Morris didn’t have a healthy defensive tackle Gerald McCoy in Pro Bowl form, nor did he have Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis, Pro Bowl free safety Dashon Goldson, Pro Bowl guard Carl Nicks, Pro Bowl wide receiver Vincent Jackson, Pro Bowl running back Doug Martin, star strong safety Mark Barron and star linebacker Lavonte David like Schiano does.
Instead, Morris had defensive tackle Frank Okam, cornerback E.J. Biggers, free safety Cody Grimm, guard Derek Hardman, wide receiver Arrelious Benn, running back LeGarrette Blount, strong safety Sean Jones and weakside linebacker Geno Hayes to work with, and still managed to win 19 games in three years and coach the Bucs to 10 wins in 2010. Morris didn’t have nearly as many assistant coaches as Schiano does, and didn’t even have a defensive coordinator – as he did both jobs from the midway point in 2009 through 2011.
Schiano is actually doing a worse job than Morris did because he’s never coached the Bucs to a winning season, nor will he with the way Tampa Bay is going. One can point to all of the blowouts at the end of Morris’ tenure, and they were some real bad ones, and make the argument that it’s actually better in 2013 than it was in 2011.
But there are no moral victories in the NFL, and a loss is a loss no matter what the margin is. A lot of those blowouts were because the Bucs were outcoached – and outmanned. The Bucs may be getting outcoached right now, but they aren’t outmanned under Schiano.
This is a poorly coached team that is stocked with Pro Bowlers. After loading the Bucs with talent over the past two years, general manager Mark Dominik has done his job, and has to beside himself, seeing this team being mismanaged, not coached up and the personnel not being used properly under Schiano.
Everyone had high expectations for Tampa Bay this year, from the fans to the media to the players to the coaches to the front office to the Glazers. To say the Bucs are underachieving is an understatement.
Morris, who is now the Redskins defensive backs coach, told me in the halls at Raymond James Stadium after the Redskins creamed the Bucs in the 2013 preseason finale, 30-12, that he wishes the Glazers would have opened the checkbook and signed some Pro Bowl talent when he was the head coach.
He also jokingly said, “I thought he was supposed to bring discipline?” referring of course to Schiano, and the fact that the Bucs were sloppy and undisciplined in generating just 146 yards of total offense and surrendering 311 yards and 30 points in the preseason loss to Washington.
Two months later, the Bucs still look sloppy, evidenced by 11 penalties for 103 yards at Atlanta on Sunday.
“Unfortunately penalties were a big issue again today,” Schiano said after the loss to the Falcons. “Certainly we’re very frustrated about that. It’s been a long time since a team that I have coached has had this kind of issue. Put it on me. We have to figure out a way to get that fixed. We had 11 penalties today, six of them in Atlanta territory and four of them in the red zone.
“I have to figure out a way with our staff … I think we do the right things and it’s worked over the years, yet it’s not working right now. So we have to examine everything we’re doing as far as that [goes]. We have four days to do it where you’re not going to be able to practice very much. It’s going to have to be between the ears more than it’s going to be physically. We have to get it resolved.”
While his optimism is admirable, it’s not going to get resolved – at least not with Schiano at the helm. This undisciplined style of play – with personal fouls galore – under a supposed disciplinarian is a clear sign of the disconnect between the players and Schiano and his coaching staff that PewterReport.com has been illustrating for weeks.
When team captains and leaders start committing penalties at crunch time you know you’re in trouble. Jackson, an offensive captain, had a 15-yard facemask penalty in the end zone in the fourth quarter, and guard Davin Joseph, the other offensive captain, had an illegal hands to the face penalty that wiped out a fourth quarter touchdown. Left tackle Donald Penn, a vocal leader on offense, had a critical holding penalty on that same fourth quarter drive in the red zone.
Tampa Bay has had at least 70 yards worth of penalties in five out of six games this year:
NY Jets – 13 for 102 yardsNew Orleans – 10 for 118 yardsNew England – 4 for 48 yardsArizona – 8 for 73 yardsPhiladelphia – 8 for 72 yardsAtlanta – 11 for 103 yards
Undisciplined play is one thing, but throw in the fact that Schiano’s 2013 drama season has been filled with episodes of MRSA, quarterback mismanagement, discontent and leaks, as well as six losses and no wins, and it’s time to cancel the show. We’ve seen enough.
But the Glazers don’t appear ready to end it just yet. Perhaps they will feel compelled to do so after a few nationally televised defeats against an improving Carolina team (3-3) on Thursday and a 3-3 Miami team on Monday Night Football in three weeks, although the fans prefer not to face the embarrassment of more penalties, sloppy play and losing football in front of the entire nation.
Don’t let the illusion of close losses fool you. The Bucs are playing competitive football because of the amount of talent on the team and the fact that the prideful players get along very well and are playing for each other. But the players aren’t necessarily playing for their coach because they know that he is getting outcoached on Sunday and not doing his part.
In successive weeks, Tampa Bay couldn’t find a way to beat an Arizona team that was missing five starters on defense, nor could it find a way to beat Philadelphia with backup quarterback and Bucs-killer Nick Foles, or an Atlanta team that was missing both starting wide receivers in Julio Jones and Roddy White, its starting left tackle in Sam Baker, and its starting running back in Steven Jackson, on Sunday.
Wonder what the Falcons will do to the Bucs later in the season with White, Baker and Jackson back in the starting lineup?
Some Bucs fans saw St. Louis quarterback Sam Bradford go down on Sunday with a torn ACL in Carolina, and saw the upcoming Rams game as winnable. Savvy Bucs fans saw Bradford go down and forecasted a loss in St. Louis to backup QB Kellen Clemmons.
There is an uncomfortable layer of fear and distrust of the tightly wound head coach at One Buccaneer Place. This is not going to get fixed under Schiano.
When you are worse than the coach you replaced, it’s time to go, and that’s why PewterReport.com called for Schiano’s firing after last week’s loss to Philadelphia.
We’ll excuse Bucs Ring of Honor member John McKay’s 33.3 percent winning percentage in Tampa Bay because he started an expansion team that didn’t win a game for nearly two years, but ultimately took the Bucs to the postseason a couple of times, including a memorable 1979 campaign in which Tampa Bay won the NFC Central and nearly made the Super Bowl.
With Sunday’s loss in Atlanta, Schiano’s winning percentage is now below that of ultra-disciplinarian and taskmaster Ray Perkins – the original Schiano – who won just 33.2 percent of his games (19-41).
While Leeman Bennett’s feeble 12.5 percent winning percentage (4-28) is probably safe, Schiano could come close to passing Richard Williamson’s 21.1 percent mark (4-15) if he and the Bucs continue to lose in 2013. Yes, it’s that bad in Tampa Bay.
Scott Reynolds is in his 22nd year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds enjoys giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: email@example.com
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