Finally, Schiano can get down to business
Greg Schiano had extra incentive to wake up this morning. For the Bucs’ new head coach, this was a day a long time in the making as he finally was able to stand before his players to begin setting the tone for his time at the helm.
“Today marks the beginning of something,” Schiano said on the day the Bucs' offseason program began. “It’s nice to have a football team to stand in front of. Our coaching staff has worked incredibly hard since they’ve trickled into Tampa.
“We’re in the beginning stages of who we’re going to be. To be able to talk to the team about football and talk about what we’re going to be as an organization, I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you I didn’t fly out of bed this morning excited to go.”
For Schiano and his staff, today is something of a symbolic start to the 2012 campaign, as only strength and conditioning are permitted for the next couple of weeks.
But it’s also a very key point in the offseason.
The NFL’s new collective bargaining agreement strictly limits when teams can conduct certain activities in the offseason. Until today, Schiano and his coaches were prohibited from even discussing football matters with their players. For a team preparing to use new offensive and defensive schemes, this presented a unique challenge.
But, finally, the wait is over.
And the Bucs won’t waste any time. Meetings are permitted during this phase of the offseason, and they’re already underway. The Bucs, because they had a change in coaching staff, are allowed an extra two weeks of offseason work. Most teams will begin on April 16.
Though players cannot be required to attend most offseason sessions, Schiano said he was encouraged by the attendance.
“It was great,” he said. “We had a really good turnout. I had some guys who contacted me before and let me know that they had some things they had scheduled previously. This is not mandatory. I was very impressed with the commitment level of our guys, being here on time and ready to go.”
The players who showed up likely realize this is an important time not only for the team but for them personally, too. Though a number of players struggled last season, when the Bucs went 4-12 and fired coach Raheem Morris, there’s a real chance to turn the page.
“It was great to have those eyes staring back at you,” Schiano said. “Certainly, I have to explain to them how I want it done. But I what I took from them is that we have a group of guys who are willing… I just have to provide that leadership.
“I think we all understand that we’re all new. Everybody’s got an opportunity. If I’m a player, I like that. If I’m good and I’ve been good, then I’ll be good again. If for whatever reason I’ve had some issues, here’s a fresh start. I have a chance.”