Saturday, December 16, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs coach Greg Schiano plans to buck pass-happy trend

There's still much to learn about Greg Schiano, but here's something we can unequivocally say about the Bucs' new coach: He is not one to cave to peer pressure.

While at Rutgers, Schiano resisted the spread offense that now is widespread in college and high school, instead running a pro-style offense.

And now that he occupies the corner office at One Buc Place, Schiano has no plans to employ an offense that resembles many of today's pass-happy NFL schemes.

In an era in which offensive records are falling at a breakneck pace, Schiano is sticking to his principles. The Bucs will run the ball, then run it some more. Yes, QB Josh Freeman has a big arm, and WR Vincent Jackson — the centerpiece of the team's recent foray into free agency — specializes in catching deep balls.

But based on what Schiano has shared about his offensive philosophy, it's not hard to tell what his intentions are.

"Punting is okay. We have a great punter (Michael Koenen)," he said. "Scoring drives, they may be one series, they may be two series, they may be three series. If you punt the ball and get the ball back in better position, the drive just continues and you put it in the end zone."

But is this a realistic approach in a pass-first league? Schiano believes it is. But it's worth noting he's willing to be flexible.

"I do believe at times the best way to play is keep-away, especially with the quarterbacks we have in our division," Schiano said. "But if you look back, when we had guys (at Rutgers) like (WR) Kenny Britt, we were the first team in NCAA history to have a 3,000-yard quarterback, a 2,000-yard running back and two 1,000-yard receivers. So we'll throw it around when we have the guys to do it and when you have the quarterback to do it. I think it'll be a good mix."

But if you had questions about what to expect from the offense, think 49ers and Ravens more than Patriots and Packers: run first with a successful but selective passing game.

DOES IT MATTER? You might have heard that LSU CB Morris Claiborne, a prime candidate for the Bucs' No. 5 overall draft pick, reportedly scored a 4 on the 50-question Wonderlic intelligence test given at the combine.

It's unfortunate his low score became public because it does nothing but suggest he is dumb and subjects him to public ridicule. As for if the score should be a red flag, the answer is most likely no. Claiborne is not a quarterback or offensive lineman, positions that require a heavy volume of learning.

But as far as the Bucs are concerned, they have an asset that will ensure they make an educated decision on Claiborne. His college position coach, Ron Cooper, now is Tampa Bay's defensive backs coach. If Claiborne has issues with grasping concepts, no one is in better position to help than Cooper.

Despite all the hubbub, the conventional wisdom says the Bucs will pick Claiborne if the Browns take Alabama RB Trent Richardson at No. 4.

DT Okoye, former first-round pick, signs

Free agent DT Amobi Okoye was signed Saturday to a one-year deal, his agent said, adding much-needed depth to a position that has been besieged by injuries the past two seasons. Okoye, 24, who will earn $2 million, helps with depth behind starters Gerald McCoy and Brian Price, both of whom have been injured the past few seasons.

The 10th overall pick by the Texans in 2007, Okoye has started 59 games in five seasons, recording four sacks in a part-time role with the Bears last season. The native Nigerian is considered a disruptive force who is quick off the line of scrimmage.

Stephen F. Holder can be reached at [email protected]

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