Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

For Bucs' Schiano, Eagles' Kelly, pros are different game

Contrasting offenses

With NFL rank:

EaglesBucs

454.8 (2nd)Yards per game274.8 (31st)

27 (8th)Points per game11 (31st)

186.6 (1st)Rushing yards per game100.5 (18th)

5.6 (1st)Yards per carry3.6 (T-22nd)

268.2 (11th)Passing yards per game174.2 (32nd)

118 (4th)First downs64 (32nd)

Banks set to play

Bucs rookie cornerback Johnthan Banks, diagnosed last week as the team's third player with a MRSA staph infection, has been cleared to play against the Eagles today. In a joint statement, the NFL and the players association said Banks "does not pose a risk of transmission to other players."

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TAMPA — A funny thing happens to college coaches when they leave campus life for the bright lights and big cities of the NFL.

Chip Kelly lost his genius somewhere between Eugene, Ore., and Philadelphia. Sure, his uptempo offense averages 27 points and 6.6 yards per play, but the Eagles defense is 31st in yards and 30th in points surrendered.

At 2-3 and with creaky quarterback Michael Vick injured again, the bloom is falling off Kelly as quickly as the Eagles snap the football.

Greg Schiano appeared to be the perfect contractor to go to work on the Bucs. "I build things," the former Rutgers coach said to Bucs suite-holders recently.

But somewhere between Piscataway, N.J., and Tampa, cracks developed in Schiano's foundation. A noted control freak, the second-year Tampa Bay coach already has run off starting quarterback Josh Freeman to rush rookie Mike Glennon behind center.

His offense is 31st in the league at 11 points per game. At 0-4 and having lost nine of his past 10 dating to last season, Schiano's failure to manage the clock and win close games has been his undoing. He's 0-6 in games decided by a field goal or less.

"It's a steep learning curve. While it's still football, there's some different parts to it," said former Bucs cornerback Ronde Barber, who will be the analyst for Fox for today's game between the Bucs and Eagles.

"You have to play through it. You have to figure it out on the field. I don't think there's any mystique why college coaches struggle, traditionally … in the NFL. It's not the same game. It has a different feel, and I think it just takes time to get your groove."

• • •

Coincidentally, Kelly was the Bucs' first choice two years ago when they spent nearly a month looking for a replacement for the fired Raheem Morris. The sides were working on a contract before Kelly got cold feet, influenced by Oregon's recruiting class evaporating by the minute.

"I looked at it very hard," Kelly said of the Bucs job. "I was very impressed. I met with (co-chairmen) Joel and Ed and Bryan (Glazer) and (general manager) Mark Dominik and was really impressed with those guys.

"My decision … was about where I was. I was extremely close to the staff at Oregon and my players. When push came to shove, I could not leave them at that time. My decision to not take that job was totally about … Oregon, not the Tampa Bay Buccaneers."

A year after rejecting the Bucs, he took the Eagles job.

Bucs fans can only wonder what might have been. Considering Tampa Bay's defense is allowing only 17.5 points per game, a better offense might have made a big difference.

The struggles of Kelly and Schiano probably should have been expected. Steve Spurrier's Fun 'n' Gun worked at Florida, but he was 12-20 in two seasons as Redskins coach and returned to his college roots at South Carolina.

Dennis Erickson won two national titles at Miami but went 40-56 in six seasons with the Seahawks and 49ers. Butch Davis, Schiano's longtime friend and current Bucs special assistant, went 24-35 in three-plus seasons with the Browns and was doomed by poor personnel decisions.

Pete Carroll is having success with the Seahawks after leaving Southern Cal. But he was only .500 in stints with the Jets and Patriots.

"I think the biggest thing in my transition was Dominik helped me understand the pro game, understand the personnel end of things," said Schiano, an assistant in the NFL with the Bears from 1996-98.

"The football part … we have guys that were on our staff that had coached in the National Football League. I had done it before. There are differences in the game without a doubt, and we talk through all that. The biggest difference is the personnel; learning all the rules that go along with it; something as simple as claiming a guy off a practice roster."

• • •

The difference for coaches such as Schiano and Kelly is they don't have 85 scholarship players to overcome injuries or lack of production. You also can't take away scholarships, the way Schiano would have liked with Freeman. Releasing the quarterback cost the Bucs $6.2 million.

"It's not very often that you get a college guy who has a great feel for pro football," Barber said. "That's not saying they won't figure it out.

"I think everybody in every locker room, all they really want to do is win. There are some guys who might have some selfish motivations, obviously. But generally, they all want to win, and you have no choice but to trust your head coach's way."

Kelly figures to have more time to get it right, but his mistakes have been costly.

He mismanaged the clock in a 33-30 loss to San Diego in Week 2, later admitting he didn't know that by calling a timeout, he could have allowed an injured Vick to return on the next play. A week later, he went for a 2-point conversion that failed on the Eagles' first touchdown in a loss to the Chiefs.

As other tried-and-failed coaches can tell Kelly and Schiano, college football is great. But in the NFL, you really get schooled.

Rick Stroud can be reached at [email protected]bay.com and heard from 6 to 9 a.m. weekdays on WDAE-620. Follow him on Twitter at @NFLStroud.

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