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Glazers have reasons to wait on firing Schiano

TAMPA

Greg Schiano is starting to look like what they call a dead coach walking.

Barring a remarkable turnaround, it's certain his future will be measured week to week rather than year to year.

But there are many reasons why the Glazer family — or any owner for that matter — does not want to fire a coach during the season.

Sure, it shows the organization has standards and holds people accountable. Fans will feel empowered. Players might even breathe a sigh of relief and extol the virtues of the new boss.

But the reality is once you replace a coach during a season, a lot of things tend to get worse, not better.

When you're 0-7, how can that be?

Consider when you fire a coach, you're also firing all 25 assistant coaches as well and maybe another half-dozen or so in football operations. Maybe not immediately, but they know eventually they won't be invited back for 2014.

You risk a situation in which assistants stop putting in the effort in their current jobs in order to look for future employment.

If you don't like the game plans the Bucs are devising now, just wait. They will get worse. I've been told stories of owners and executives having to sit in on coaches meetings to make sure they're working hard.

Players respond differently as well. Even though game tape is required, practice effort can become a problem. The new bosses are temporary. With the kind of salaries some of these players earn and with much of it guaranteed, many of their jobs are secure.

Right now, Schiano still has his team's attention. As long as he is the coach — with the ability to affect playing time and game plans — players must respond to him.

But as the team piles up losses, players are losing belief in their coach.

The plans aren't working, particularly on defense. The Eagles scored 31 points in Week 6. The Falcons had 31 last week. Same with the Panthers on Thursday.

The Bucs lost contain on Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, particularly during his way-to-easy 6-yard touchdown run that made it 21-6 in the third quarter. Defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan called for a line stunt, looping end Adrian Clayborn inside. That led to a loss of containment.

Line stunts, or "games" as they are called, are hard to run inside the red zone because the ball tends to come out of the quarterback's hand quicker as routes are shortened.

"I don't get paid to coach," defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said dejectedly Friday. "I just get paid to play. I'm going to leave it at that. If we run stunts, that's what they called. That's why we run them."

Listen to McCoy on Friday, and it's apparent he believes the coaches were slow to make adjustments.

"(The defense) has been dropping the ball," McCoy said. "(Thursday) at the beginning of the game, it was our discipline. After that, they just figured us out. At first, we had them. Then once they had us figured out, we had no answer for them. We couldn't stop them."

What can Schiano do to keep control of the locker room at this point? Short of winning, of course.

"Don't stick your head in the sand," he said. "We've had a stretch of losses. But by the same token, this is what we do. You get up in the morning and do everything you can try to do to get a win next Sunday. I think we have the right people in that locker room to do it."

If the Bucs do make a coaching change during the season, look for Dave Wannstedt to take over. He has coached the Bears, Dolphins and University of Pittsburgh. He coaches special teams, which means players on both sides of the ball have a relationship with him. And he has a presence.

It might not happen, but for all of the aforementioned reasons, the Glazers would rather Schiano last the season.

"As long as he's our coach, we're going to respect him and we're going to play as hard as we can for him," McCoy said. "It's as simple as that."

Rick Stroud can be reached at stroud@tampabay.com.

Glazers have reasons to wait on firing Schiano 10/26/13 [Last modified: Saturday, October 26, 2013 8:04pm]

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