In reality, Greg Schiano is 'married' to Josh Freeman
Bucs coach Greg Schiano’s media session at the NFL meetings on Wednesday featured, predictably, a lot of talk about quarterback Josh Freeman.
Schiano’s comments after the season in which he indicated he’d like more competition behind Freeman introduced all kinds of questions about the way he views the player the Bucs have always portrayed as their franchise quarterback.
Naturally, the questions are still coming.
As Rick Stroud reported from Phoenix, Schiano, in a way, said all the right things. He reinforced that he thinks the Bucs can and will win with Freeman and that he believes Freeman is going to have a “great” season.
But Schiano tempered those laudatory comments with some (valid) criticisms while adding that he’s not “married” to Freeman.
“I've said I believe we can win and achieve all the goals we want with Josh Freeman as our quarterback. But to say you're married, well, nobody is married to anyone in this game,” Schiano said. “The reality is this is a performance-based game. You've got to win. They're not married to me. You've got to win or I'm not going to be the coach. Everybody in this game gets that.”
One quibble: Schiano is married to Freeman, and that’s a fact.
Here’s the situation: If Freeman stinks up the joint in 2013, odds are the Bucs will move on and begin a search for another quarterback. And barring them uncovering the next Russell Wilson, that’s going to be a long and arduous process. The success of rookie quarterbacks in 2012 – like Wilson, Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III – was a once-in-a-generation occurrence. Rookie passers generally experience plenty of hardship before experiencing success.
If the Bucs have to go that route, it means Schiano would be coming off two seasons of subpar results after a 7-9 record in 2012. What are the odds of the record improving drastically with a young quarterback at the helm? And what are the odds of Schiano sticking around long enough to see that process through?
Schiano is a smart guy. He understands all of this. It’s why he was quick to point out that Bucs ownership isn’t married even to him. That’s another way of saying, if Schiano doesn’t get the job done, he knows they’ll find someone else who can.
But as it relates to Freeman, the Bucs have invested four years in him. They have seen shades of the exciting things he can do (though not consistently enough). And if they’re going to have success in the short term, it’s going to be largely because Freeman played lights out.
So, while Schiano often doesn’t sound like he’s all in with Freeman, the fact is Freeman’s performance will go a long way toward to determining Schiano’s future.
In that sense, the two are linked – or, if you prefer, married – whether Schiano thinks so or not.