Not only does Tampa Bay have a staph infection, it has a staff infection.
With Sunday’s 31-20 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, the Buccaneers have not only started off the 2013 season with a very surprising and disappointing 0-5 record, the team is now 1-10 in their last 11 games under head coach Greg Schiano and there have been very few signs of sustainable progress.
It’s time for the Buccaneers to fire Schiano. It’s time for the Glazers to step in right now, this week, and relieve him of his duties in a message that would tell the players, the remaining coaches and the fans, who pay good money to attend the games, as well as those who watch the team in frustration each week on television that losing 10 out of the last 11 games is unacceptable, and that they won’t stand for it.
Isn’t that what they essentially told the fans when they fired Raheem Morris before hiring Schiano? Didn’t the Glazers say that the environment at One Buccaneer Place had gotten “stale” following the 2008 season under Jon Gruden? Those back-to-back seasons of 9-7 records that Gruden produced probably sound really good to Buccaneers fans right now.
MRSA isn’t the only thing that has afflicted the Buccaneers this season. Losing has also infected One Buccaneer Place, unfortunately.
Sunday’s announced attendance at Raymond James Stadium was 62,505 thanks to close to 20,000 dedicated Eagles fans that showed up. The crowd of actual Bucs fans on Sunday was probably closer to the 44,954 that showed up for the Cardinals contest, a game that made it look like Raymond James Stadium was somehow hosting a fifth preseason affair.
At the end of Sunday’s game against Philadelphia, boos and profanities from hurt and angry Bucs fans rained down on Schiano as he ran into the tunnel. It was an ugly scene. It was just as ugly as Tampa Bay fans watching their team blow a halftime lead for the second straight home game against a beatable opponent with Schiano at the helm.
The Glazers need to fire Schiano and tell the fans that help is on the way. Special teams coordinator Dave Wannstedt, a former NFL head coach in Chicago and Miami, should be inserted as Tampa Bay’s interim head coach immediately and be given a chance to turn the team around. Should he prove to be successful in that endeavor, he would be given the chance to interview with other candidates for the head coaching position in the offseason.
With Sunday’s defeat, Schiano’s record in Tampa Bay falls to 7-14, and after a once promising 6-4 start to the 2012 season, his overall record shows that he’s now lost twice as many games as he has won since he took over for Morris in January last year. Morris was fired after losing the final 10 games of the 2011 campaign to finish 4-12.
The Bucs’ only win in their last 11 games was a shocking upset of the NFC-leading Falcons in Atlanta to end the 2012 campaign and halt the Bucs’ five-game losing streak. To their credit, Schiano’s Buccaneers scored an impressive road victory to end the season 7-9.
The reality is that the Falcons had already clinched home-field advantage throughout the playoffs by Week 17 and didn’t play up to their potential that day, probably assuming they could simply show up and win against a 6-9 Bucs team.
Ironically this week the Bucs return to the scene of their last victory – Atlanta – to face an injury-ravaged 1-4 team that is just as disappointing as Tampa Bay. The Bucs won’t be considered favorites for that game, nor should they be.
There’s a good chance Schiano and his legion of assistant coaches won’t be able to find a way to win that game because they haven’t been able to find a way to win 10 out of their last 11 games.
Come to think of it, when is Tampa Bay’s first win of the season going to come? Look at the schedule and try to find it. Going 0-16 is not out of the question because the Raiders and Jaguars aren’t on the schedule, unfortunately.
The Bucs failed to beat a 1-2 Arizona team that was without six starters on defense in the fourth quarter, including three of its four linebackers. Philadelphia was 2-3 and without its starting quarterback, Michael Vick. In two wins over the Buccaneers the past two years, Nick Foles, a backup quarterback, has thrown for 677 yards, five touchdowns, no interceptions and rushed for two more scores.
The Buccaneers offense remains a mess – even with a quarterback change from the disappointing Josh Freeman to rookie Mike Glennon. While the Bucs scored a season-high 20 points on Sunday, the Eagles defense was statistically one of the worst defenses in the league, and Tampa Bay needed to score more than that.
Yet with two weeks to prepare for Philadelphia, that’s all offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan and his troops could muster. That’s no surprise for an offense that has not scored more than 23 points in its last 10 games. In fact, the Bucs are the only team in the NFL to not have thrown for 1,000 yards yet, and have managed just 57 points on offense in five games, which is easily the lowest in the NFL.
Tampa Bay’s defense, which has been the team’s strength this season under Schiano, surrendered 31 points to a team that came in averaging only 27. The Bucs have three Pro Bowlers on defense in cornerback Darrelle Revis, free safety Dashon Goldson and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, as well as young, up-and-coming stars in weakside linebacker Lavonte David, middle linebacker Mason Foster, defensive end Adrian Clayborn and strong safety Mark Barron. With those very good players and two weeks to prepare for Philadelphia’s offense, giving up 31 points, including 17 in the second half, is unacceptable.
Schiano and his staff struggle mightily with making second-half adjustments and are routinely outcoached.
Looking at Sunday’s game, how do you scheme to have David, Goldson and Barron cover DeSean Jackson, the Eagles’ fastest player, in coverage? In the fourth quarter, Jackson lined up in the slot in front of David, who inexplicably gave the receiver a free release off the line, and stayed underneath in coverage. With a free release, Jackson then made a bee line for Goldson near the 5-yard line and then took a sharp left, and beat Barron to the ball in the back of the end zone for a very easy and decisive 36-yard touchdown pass that gave the Eagles a 28-20 lead with 9:32 left in regulation.
Why not at least try to put Revis, the team’s best cover corner, on Jackson, who scored two touchdowns, all day and help over the top with a safety?
The Bucs came into Sunday’s game getting outscored 31-10 in the second half this year. After the Philadelphia game, Tampa Bay has now been outscored 48-13 after halftime. That’s unacceptable, and a clear sign that this former head coach at Rutgers is in over his head in the NFL.
It’s time to remove Schiano, who was supposed to bring discipline to an undisciplined team. Instead the Buccaneers, which are run by a “toes on the line” coach, routinely commit more penalties than the other team and make too many mistakes to win close games.
On Sunday, a costly neutral zone infraction on fourth-and-1 negated a 6-yard sack by free safety Dashon Goldson and took away a turnover on downs opportunity by Tampa Bay’s defense. The Bucs, who committed eight penalties for 72 yards against the Eagles, would have had the ball at their own 23-yard line down by eight points with 2:58 left and all three timeouts.
Instead, that penalty allowed the Eagles to run more time off the clock and force the Bucs to burn all three timeouts before kicking a field goal to give Philadelphia a decisive, 11-point lead.
“I believe it is a well-coached football team, but not well enough,” Schiano admitted following Sunday’s loss to the Eagles when asked if the Bucs were well coached. “There are certain things that we have to get done consistently. We’ll get ‘this’ done in one game and we’ll get ‘this’ in another game, but we’re not getting it all together. That may frustrate some, but I’d tell you if I didn’t think we were doing a good job. We need to be better – it starts with me, it goes through all my assistant coaches and then through every player on the team. Again, we’ll get over this hump and we’ll get through it and we’ll start winning.”
That’s doubtful. The Bucs desperately wanted to hire a disciplinarian after the loose ways of Morris caused this team to lose the final 10 games in 2011, but they should have found a proven winner in their coaching search instead. Schiano complied a record of just 68-67 at Rutgers, and didn’t win the hapless Big East Conference once in his 11 years with the Scarlet Knights.
Set aside the MRSA distraction and all of the drama and negative news coming from Schiano’s handling of Freeman and whether or not Schiano was the source of leaking confidential medical information as USA Today is reporting. Going 1-10 in the last 11 games is a fireable offense by itself, and reason enough to remove him as head coach.
Schiano actually had the nerve to tell luxury suite holders a few weeks ago that before he came to Tampa Bay the Buccaneers were the “laughingstock of the NFL.” He later apologized if he offended anyone, as he was merely referring to the team’s lack of discipline under Morris.
After a 0-5 start to a once promising 2013 campaign, losing 10 of the last 11 games, and with all of the embarrassing national headlines surrounding Schiano this year from potentially rigged captaincy votes, to being the supposed reason behind players-only meetings, to the benching and release of the team’s starting quarterback to the NFLPA investigating Schiano and the Bucs for possibly releasing confidential health information, it seems like Tampa Bay is still the laughingstock of the NFL under this guy.
“We’re a competitive franchise that’s been on the short end of the stick too many times here, so we need to get on the right end of the stick,” Schiano said after Sunday’s loss to Philadelphia. “We’ve got to play our way and coach our way out of it one day at a time, one meeting at a time, one practice at a time, one walkthrough at a time. That’s how you do it. There’s no magical answer.
“You get better by doing all the things that football teams do and coaches do. You stand to your convictions without being stubborn and you move forward. We’ve got a good group of people in that locker room, and coaches, and they’re going to stick together, and we’re going to get it turned.”
Morris won 10 games in 2010 with a far-less talented Buccaneers team. The Glazers hardly spent a dime in free agency until Schiano arrived in 2012, and what has he done? Schiano has essentially wasted their money by squandering so much talent with a 0-5 start. He deserves to be fired.
Bucs legendary defensive back Ronde Barber, who still has many friends and confidants on the team, works for Fox Sports and indicated that Schiano has lost the locker room. Tampa Bay’s Hall of Fame defensive tackle Warren Sapp, who works for NFL Network and is in regular contact with a few Bucs players, suggests that Schiano’s rigid, “my way or the highway” isn’t working.
The players won’t come out and publicly criticize Schiano because they are afraid to, but off the record they grumble about his approach, coaching methods and results. The players have seen Schiano cut a starting free safety in Tanard Jackson and a starting defensive tackle in Brian Price. They have seen Schiano trade a starting tight end in Kellen Winslow and a starting cornerback in Aqib Talib. They have seen Schiano used a scorched earth approach to bench and cut Freeman, the team’s starting quarterback, who was in a contract year. The players know there are no sacred cows at One Buccaneer Place as long as the iron-fisted Schiano is at the helm.
The assumption here is that with the micro-managing Schiano gone, and a more player-friendly coach like Wannstedt inserted to loosen up the tightly wound environment at One Buccaneer Place, that the Bucs players would have less anxiety and could perform better on Sundays, especially in crunch time when Tampa Bay seems to be at its worst.
The Bucs are 3-8 in games decided by a touchdown or less under Schiano.
Hope is on the horizon. The Kansas City Chiefs were 2-14 last year, including a 38-10 loss at the hands of Tampa Bay, yet had six Pro Bowl players. All it essentially took was a new quarterback, and a head coach – a proven winner in the NFL in Andy Reid – and the Chiefs have raced out to a 6-0 start in 2013 with virtually the same roster.
At the rate the Buccaneers are going, they will be in prime position to select one of the elite quarterbacks in the 2014 NFL Draft with a very high first-round pick if Glennon shows that he can’t get the job done. Now all Tampa Bay needs is a proven coach capable of winning in the NFL, and one capable of successfully managing and developing a franchise quarterback.
That’s something Schiano has proven he can’t do. The Bucs can’t afford to let him be in charge of picking their next quarterback.
With the 2013 campaign already lost due to a 0-5 record, the Glazers need to fire Schiano now, attempt to win back a fan base that is turning away from the franchise, and start working on the 2014 season right away.