Sunday, November 19, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Key corner of Bucs' world sours on Schiano

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TAMPA

On a lot of Sundays, it has been the friendliest corner in America.

There, on either side of the southwest tunnel at Raymond James Stadium, the fans linger and call out the names of their favorite Bucs players as they leave the field. They plead for wristbands. In the good times, they shout their support.

But not on this Sunday.

On this Sunday, the noise was loud and belligerent, and it rained down misery as the Bucs ran beneath. This was the sound of unhappiness, of leather-lunged and gravel-voiced fans unleashing their frustrations. This is what 0-5 and going nowhere sounds like.

When it was Greg Schiano's turn to run through the tunnel, the volume rose, and the insults intensified. Clearly, they blame Schiano for this mess, and they rode him hard as he flashed through the tunnel.

Perhaps Schiano has not lost this team, and perhaps he has not lost this stadium. But he has lost this corner, at least, and the fans seemed intent on telling him about it.

So how does a guy coach his way out of this situation?

Just asking, but shouldn't he start soon?

Schiano had just lost his fifth straight game this year, and his 10th in the past 11 games. He lost to a losing Philadelphia team 31-20. He lost to the 31st-ranked defense in the NFL. He lost though the Eagles were playing their backup quarterback. He lost with two weeks to prepare. He lost despite playing the quarterback he preferred. He lost at home.

Is all this getting familiar to anyone else?

Week after week the Bucs lose. They have too many big penalties, and they give up too many big plays, and they fade in the end. And every week Schiano points his thumbs at his chest and says it starts with him.

At this point, who disagrees? At this point, fans are nodding along and shouting "Amen."

For crying out loud, this is the 0-5est team in the history of the Bucs. These days the entire franchise is a dysfunctional wreck. Every week, it seems, there is a never-ending line of bad headlines coming out of One Buc, whether it's about MRSA or the departed Josh Freeman or the games themselves. Every week seems worse than the week before, and from here, we can all see 3-13.

You wonder what was the last good thing to happen to this team. The trade for Darrelle Revis? The signing of Dashon Goldson? The victory over Atlanta in the last weekend of last season? These days Schiano's team manufactures nothing but ill will. And no one is sure when it will stop.

Meanwhile, on the field, the team is 0-5, and no one can be sure when that will stop, either.

And so the question is simple:

Is this a well-coached football team?

The quick answer is no. The coaches are as 0-5 as the players are. You don't get to 0-5 and look around and say, man, how bad would this team's record be if the coaching wasn't so splendid? Think of it like this: The Bucs won seven games last year, and they improved the secondary in the offseason, and they still struggle.

"I believe it is a well-coached football team," Schiano said Sunday. "Not well enough. There are certain things we have to get done consistently. We'll get this done in one game and this done in another game, but we're not getting it all together. That may frustrate some.

"I would tell you if I didn't think we were doing a good job. We need to be better. It starts with me, and it goes through my assistant coaches, and it goes through every player on the team. We'll get over this hump, and we'll get through it, and we'll start winning."

You know what? Raheem Morris thought he was doing a good job, too. So did Sam Wyche and Richard Williams and Leeman Bennett. Ray Perkins was a tough guy, too. All those coaches thought it would get better, too, if only they had enough time.

At 0-5 it is fair to question everything. Is Schiano, ex-college coach, out of his element in the NFL? Is he micromanaging too many things? Is he paying for bullying Freeman out of town? Is he running out of time?

Then there is this: After 21 games under Schiano and seven wins, shouldn't we be seeing more positives, more growth out of this team?

Look, Chip Kelly is in his first NFL year, and he outcoached Schiano on Sunday. Arizona's Bruce Arians is in his first year as an NFL head coach, and he outcoached Schiano two weeks ago. Kansas City, which was horrible last year, is better. And so it goes.

"We're a competitive franchise that's been on the short end of the stick too many times here," Schiano said. "So we really need to get on the right end of the stick. We've got to play our way and coach our way out of it one day at a time, one meeting at a time, one practice at a time, one walkthrough at a time.

"That's how you do it. There's no magical answer. You get better by doing all the things that football teams do and coaches do."

You know: Score. Tackle. Win.

One question: Why hasn't any of that happened before now?

Judging from the frustration in the southwest corner, a lot of people seem to be agreeing on an answer:

"Schiano."

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