Is Greg Schiano Fit to Be an NFL Coach?

Knox Bardeen@knoxbardeenNFC South Lead WriterSeptember 18, 2013

Sep 15, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano walks off the field after the game against the New Orleans Saints at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports
Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports

As if the Tampa Bay Buccaneers didn’t have enough to worry about with their penalty-ridden 0-2 start, the first two weeks of the 2013 season was also marred with allegations of vote tampering in the team captain race and continuing questions of whether or not Josh Freeman was the quarterback of the future for this franchise and his declining relationship with head coach Greg Schiano.

Then on Monday a Fox Sports report surfaced involving new cornerback Darrelle Revis. Sources told Mike Garafolo that Revis, who has only been in Tampa since April, is unhappy with how rigid Schiano’s rules are and doesn’t like the zone coverage scheme Tampa Bay utilizes on defense.

Sources have told me Schiano's rules are a little too strict for him after coming from Rex Ryan and also not playing enough man coverage. They play man coverage on Revis Island.

NFL Network analyst Andrea Kremer reported on Twitter Tuesday that Revis and Schiano met for about 15 minutes to clear the air.

Revis took to Twitter himself to echo the sentiment.

With the latest Buccaneers debacle seemingly settled and preparations set to begin on the practice field Wednesday for Tampa Bay’s Week 3 trip to New England, you’d think it would be safe to focus all attention on football. But the last two weeks have been an off-the-field media frenzy and Schiano hasn’t done much in his short 18-game tenure as head coach to prove that controversy won’t rear its ugly head again.

Tampa Bay turned to Schiano in January of 2012 to replace Raheem Morris as head coach of the Buccaneers. Schiano left Rutgers, where he’d been head coach for 11 years, and brought an almost militaristic style of coaching to One Buc Place.

Schiano insisted on cranking the air conditioning to a set, precise temperature for all meeting rooms, according to Peter King of Sports Illustrated. Former Bucs tight end Kellen Winslow skipped OTAs in 2012 and was eventually traded because he didn’t agree with how rigid Schiano was, Michael Robinson reported on “The Real Rob Report.”

Schiano came over there, ‘Toes on the line! Toes on the line!’ Blowing the whistle. You can’t laugh. You can’t joke around. So, I decided not to go to OTAs. They got my man Rah (Raheem Morris) up out of there, and I was loyal to him. I would take a bullet for that dude. So, I had to roll.

All this happened before Schiano ever coached his first game for the Buccaneers. It didn’t take long for Schiano to ruffle feathers on the field either.

Near the end of Tampa Bay’s Week 2 game in New York against the Giants in 2012, Schiano had his defense attack the victory formation and quarterback Eli Manning when the Giants were just trying to kneel down to end the game.

Giants head coach Tom Coughlin had a few choice words for Schiano after the game about how things are done in the NFL. A Pro Football Talk report came out days later that uncovered the fact that while at Rutgers this method of attacking the victory formation produced two forced fumbles during Schiano’s 11 years as coach.

In the NFL, however, safety comes first. It’s an unwritten rule that you don’t attack the victory formation. Schiano was still thinking like a college coach.

And then an unnamed Bucs player later in the season said Schiano should go back to college.

After a tough 41-0 loss to the New Orleans Saints that featured a sideline shoving match between linebacker Adam Hayward and assistant coach Bryan Cox, emotions and tempers were flared in the locker room.

That unnamed player asked after the game, “Can we send these coaches back to college?” according to Pro Football Talk.

Schiano has been the head coach in Tampa Bay for almost 20 months and has had an offseason both prior to and after the 2012 season to get the lay of the land, both in how it relates to the Buccaneers and the NFL. His time before the 2012 season shouldn’t be too heavily scrutinized. He was in his first months as an NFL coach and was trying to learn on the job as he prepared for the NFL draft and camp season.

But after the 2012 season Schiano had plenty of time to reflect on his first season as a professional head coach. If he did even consider the fact that he was too rigid and might want to bend a little to placate the members of his team and staff, it didn’t show.

In college football the head coach is the centerpiece of the organization. And since a college head coach is dealing with 18 to 23-year-old men in most cases, that likely need the hard-line coaching style Schiano is known for, his methods work on campus.

They don’t work in the NFL, at least not when they result in a 7-11 record over 18 games.

There’s a lot of talent on this Tampa Bay roster. This team should be more like 11-7 than the opposite. That said, Schiano has two choices moving forward: 1) start winning or 2) start bending.

If Schiano can turn things around and lead the Buccaneers to the playoffs, he might be given a pass for his coaching idiosyncrasies. Winning does have a funny way of giving the head coach a longer leash.

But if the Buccaneers can’t start winning football games, Schiano had better become much more of a player’s coach. In the NFL, winning matters. But after winning, a head coach is responsible for motivating his troops. If players will run through a brick wall for you, team owners tend to let you stick around longer.

But winning eventually has to come. And so far, Schiano hasn’t shown the ability to string wins together or motivate his team properly.


Unless otherwise noted, all quotes and statements were obtained firsthand.

Knox Bardeen is the NFC South lead writer for Bleacher Report and the author of “100 Things Falcons Fans Should Know & Do Before they Die.” Be sure to follow Knox on Twitter.