Thursday, December 14, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Lessons we hope Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano has learned

By all accounts, Bucs coach Greg Schiano is a nice enough guy. Good family man. Clean cut. Strong values.

Like most coaches, his language probably gets a little salty when one of his players runs a wrong route, misses a tackle or doesn't put his toes on the line. Who knows if he dropped a few R-rated words when he and Giants coach Tom Coughlin hashed it out at midfield after Sunday's game.

Publicly, however, he isn't one to use bad language — with the exception of one ugly word he needs to stop using.

"Rutgers.''

Regardless of which side of Kneelgate you come down on, Schiano referring to a tactic he used as the coach at Rutgers is like talking to Tom Hanks about acting and telling him how well you played a tree in the sixth-grade play.

No one wants to hear about Rutgers.

Plus, it only reminds us that Schiano is a fresh-out-of-college coach trying to make it in the NFL.

Will Schiano make it in this league? Time will tell. And he shouldn't be judged after 120 minutes of regular-season football. So far we've seen some good things (beating Carolina) and some not-so-good things (blowing a game against the Giants).

However, here are a few lessons we hope he has learned as his NFL education continues.

Toto, we're not in college anymore

This isn't Rutgers. This isn't the Big East. Skip Holtz isn't on the other sideline. B.J. Daniels isn't the other team's quarterback. You're dealing with the big boys now, such as two-time Super Bowl-winning coach Tom Coughlin and two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning. Sitting on leads and milking the clock, like the Bucs tried in their first two games, doesn't typically work in the NFL, not when your defense is under major construction, and not in a quarterback-happy league.

Unlike the Big East, the NFL is full of quarterbacks who need just a couple of seconds of protection to pick apart a secondary, and a couple of minutes to drive the length of the field. Cases in point: Carolina's Cam Newton, left, who threw for more than 300 yards in the opener; Manning, who threw for more than 500 yards Sunday; and this week's gunslinger, Dallas' Tony Romo, who has thrown for 11 touchdowns in three games against the Bucs.

You have to make adjustments during games

Do the Giants have more talent than the Bucs? No question. But much of the NFL is about schemes and adjustments, and the Bucs haven't had much of either, particularly on defense.

In two games the Bucs have allowed 813 passing yards. That's the most in the NFL. Think about this: The Bucs had the worst defense in franchise history last season, a defense so bad it cost Raheem Morris his coaching job, a defense so bad some accused it of quitting late in the season. And even that defense never gave up that many passing yards in back-to-back games.

From the start Sunday, it was obvious the Giants' plan was to attack the Bucs through the air. Manning threw 51 times, the most he has thrown in a regular-season game in nearly five years.

Yet, the Bucs insisted all day on blitzing Manning. He threw for 215 yards in the first half, then, after the Bucs presumably had time to make changes, threw for 295 yards in the second half. He threw for 243 yards in the fourth quarter alone.

Even with all that blitzing, the Bucs still never got to Manning, who isn't the most mobile quarterback in the NFL.

Where were the adjustments? You would have hoped Schiano and defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan would have tried something different — anything different — during the Giants' 76 offensive plays. You would have hoped the Bucs would have found a way to stop what turned out to be the 13th 500-yard passing game in NFL history.

At what point does someone throw a visor, break a clipboard or kick over a table of Gatorade cups and say, "Doggone it! Let's try something else.''

Final thought The Bucs are a work in progress. If they weren't, Schiano would still be coaching at Rutgers. They weren't supposed to win Sunday in New Jersey, and they aren't supposed to win this weekend in Dallas. And let's be fair, Schiano's biggest problem at the moment isn't his coaching ability as much as it is having a roster that isn't quite as good as many teams'. But they don't grade on a curve in the NFL. It's all about wins and losses, not just giving it the good ol' college try.

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