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:
FAB 1. BUCS PLAYERS ARE SEEING POSITIVE CHANGE FROM SCHIANOWhen 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.
FAB 2. “FIRE SCHIANO” MADE THE TEAM RALLY AROUND THE COACHAs 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.”
FAB 3. DAVID CLEARLY EMERGING AS THE LEADER OF BUCS DEFENSEAlthough 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.”
FAB 4. EXPECT A HEALTHIER REVIS TO FINISH THE SEASON STRONG 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.
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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