Monday, July 16, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Are Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano's domineering ways good or bad?

Some would call new Bucs coach Greg Schiano a control freak. Others would suggest that he's merely detail-oriented.

You might say he's a tyrant. He might say that he's just really focused.

Perhaps he could be called a puppet master. Or, perhaps, he's just a master leader.

At a recent offseason practice, Schiano scolded players for not sprinting fast enough to get water. That sounds intriguing.

Sports Illustrated's Peter King wrote that when Schiano was at Rutgers, team meetings had to be held in a room with an absolute specific temperature. That sounds weird.

You can't help but wonder if the trade of tight end Kellen Winslow earlier this week was, in part, Schiano's desire to set a tone that demands hard work, dedication and participation in order to wear the pewter and red. If so, that's admirable.

But we don't know for sure because Schiano dodged questions about it. That seems neurotic.

So are Schiano's domineering ways a good thing or a bad thing? Let's consider:

A good thing: The Bucs need a change

The Bucs went 4-12 last season and they did it under nice-guy coach Raheem Morris. Think of it this way: Morris was like that hip, young substitute teacher you had in school. He was cool, he understood you, he was more like a friend than a teacher. Schiano is like that hard-nosed, no-nonsense principal who could scare the apple juice out of you with just a look. Schiano even has that principal haircut, doesn't he? The Bucs' 10-game losing streak that ended the season suggested that the pupils had taken over the classroom. Following the script so many teams follow by replacing a good cop with a bad cop then with a good cop again, the Bucs traded in the laid-back Morris for the demanding Schiano. It doesn't seem fair to doubt Schiano's style already when he hasn't yet coached a game and the last style was no longer working.

A bad thing: He doesn't have the pedigree

Players might be willing to buy into just about anything if the coach has had success in the past. Patriots coach Bill Belichick can have the personality of an earthworm and players still listen because he has three Super Bowl rings. Former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden used to teach his players the proper way to put on their socks, for crying out loud, and he might be the greatest coach who ever lived. Vince Lombardi, Pat Summitt, Bill Parcells, Tony La Russa and Scotty Bowman are all coaching legends and all famous for their my-way-or-the-highway styles. But Schiano's record in the NFL? Zero dash zero. Even his 68-67 college record isn't that impressive. How long before Schiano lights into a player and that players thinks, "What have you ever done?''

A good thing: Players want structure

Tom Coughlin's Giants, Sean Payton's Saints, Mike Tomlin's Steelers, Nick Saban's Alabama Crimson Tide, Coach K's Duke Blue Devils, the old Lightning and the new Rangers under John Tortorella. What do those teams have in common? All have rules. All have structure. All have coaches who believe that if you do the little things right, big things will happen. Maybe Schiano is right. If the players run hard to get water, they will run hard to get to a loose football.

A bad thing: This isn't college

You can't treat a 27-year-old man like an 18-year-old kid. You can't use the same tone with a 10-year veteran who is making $5 million as you can with a redshirt freshman who is just thankful to be on scholarship. In college, every player was personally recruited and approved by Schiano. He could weed out the undesirables and fill his roster with players who fit his mold. The pros are different. You can get rid of the Tanard Jacksons and the Kellen Winslows, but eventually you're going to have to tolerate a few malcontents, head cases or lazy bones just because they can pancake linebackers, chase down running backs and make one-handed catches on Sunday afternoons. That's why this Winslow trade for nothing is so compelling. How will it play in the locker room, in the media and among the fans if Winslow, one of the Bucs' most productive players over the past three seasons, has a solid year in Seattle and the Bucs stumble?

Bottom line

Will Schiano's dogmatic coaching style work? It depends on one thing: winning. When he was fired in Cleveland, Belichick was an insufferable dictator because he went 36-44. In New England, he's the same coach, but now he's a genius.

Think about the past three coaches in Tampa Bay. Morris went from being a breath of fresh air when he was 10-6 to a coach in over his head during last year's 4-12 downer.

Jon Gruden won a Super Bowl and was a mad genius. Then he lost a few too many games and became a paranoid egomaniac.

When he won, Tony Dungy was a calming influence. When he didn't win enough, he was considered too nice.

Thus, that's how it will be with Schiano. If he wins, he will have a steady hand that might someday sport a Super Bowl ring. If he loses, that hand will be a shaky one that ends up holding a pink slip.

Tom Jones can be reached at [email protected].com and can be heard from 6-9 a.m. weekdays on WDAE-AM 620.

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