Friday, January 19, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs coach Schiano apologizes for 'laughingstock' comment

TAMPA — Coach Greg Schiano said his comment to Raymond James Stadium suite-holders last week that the Bucs were the "laughingstock" of the NFL when he took over was only referring to the team's discipline.

"It wasn't the on-field football, and I apologize if I offended anybody with that. That was certainly not the purpose," Schiano said.

"That was our suite-holders, and the question was in reference to some of the discipline and some of the things that, as I've shared with you guys, I had to be a little over the top, because it was the adjustment to how far the other way things had gotten. That's really what I meant. Taken out of context, I could see how that could be offensive, and it certainly wasn't meant to be that in any way."

Speaking Friday at a breakfast, with GM Mark Dominik at his side, Schiano said, "What I walked into was a very, very bad situation, a very messy situation. A situation that quite frankly, nationally, the Buccaneers were the laughingstock of the National Football League."

New QB: The Bucs still have a spot on the 53-man roster after releasing QB Josh Freeman, but the team added former Vanderbilt QB Jordan Rodgers to the practice squad Monday.

"He fits in our building," Schiano said. "He's a ball guy, he loves it. A grinder, likes to study, likes to be around football, likes to be around the locker room, and we're looking for as many of those guys as we can put in this building."

Rodgers, 25, the younger brother of Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, went undrafted in April and signed with the Jaguars but was cut before preseason camp. He threw for 24 touchdowns and 15 interceptions in two seasons as Vanderbilt's starter, with 4,063 career yards.

"Good bloodlines, No. 1, right?" Schiano joked. "His brother has done some things in this league. But he's his own man. Since college, Mark and I have both had our eye on him. There's something about him. He's a competitor. He's not the biggest guy, he's just a fiery guy who's a baller."

Rodgers, recovered from surgery for a groin injury in rookie minicamp, was a roommate of Bucs rookie QB Mike Glennon when they worked out in California before the draft.

"I'm good friends with Mike. We were just talking — you wouldn't think when we were training together we'd end up on the same team," Rodgers said. "But it's a great situation. I love Mike. I'm behind him the whole way. He'll be helping me, and I hope I'll be able to help him on game days."

Been there: As the team builds a plan to try to contain coach Chip Kelly's uptempo Eagles offense on Sunday, one Buc has experience both within that scheme and with an opponent who has beaten it: rookie WR Russell Shepard.

Shepard, a former LSU player who has not caught a pass this season, joined the Bucs after spending four months this summer with the Eagles, where he appreciated the complexity of the offense Kelly brought from a college powerhouse in Oregon.

"It was pretty challenging — it's an uptempo offense, very different from a lot of college and NFL (teams)," Shepard said Monday. "There's a challenge it presents to every defense that goes against it, being able to figure out those wrinkles you don't usually see. As a skill player playing in that offense, I realized what a challenge it was learning it. I can only imagine as a defensive player (trying) to stop it."

Shepard said he enjoyed his time with the Eagles. But he also saw a rare Kelly loss at Oregon — his Tigers beat Oregon 40-27 in 2011 (though Shepard was suspended for the game). It was one of just three losses Kelly took in his final two college seasons.

"The way you beat his offense, the way you shut it down, is you hit it in the mouth," Shepard said. "You play physical football up front, take away the running game. Their offense is built off the run. If the running backs can be productive and have open lanes, that sets up everything else. Our defensive front seven is the best in the NFL, I believe. We have all the right guys to be able to have success against this team."

Shepard said he'll try to use his knowledge of the Eagles offense to help the Bucs, working on the scout team.

"The best thing to do is get lined up, identify your keys, play fast and play violent," he said.

Greg Auman can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3346. Follow him on Twitter at @GregAuman.

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