Friday, December 15, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

New Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano has impressed during first 100 days

TAMPA

On the 100th day of Greg Schiano's new job, he stood quietly in the sun, teaching rookies how to sweat. There in the afternoon heat, he seemed to be doing very well at it.

It was Friday, and a calmer, more patient Schiano was standing on the sideline at the start of the Bucs' minicamp. Schiano's hands were on his hips, and his face was passive for, oh, four minutes or so.

Then Schiano saw something he didn't like, and his voice rose to the point where you worried that the windows at One Buc Place might shatter.

"You're trying to make a team!" Schiano yelled. "You can't make a team running half-a - -!"

Yeah, that's what Schiano sounds like. Loud. Urgent. Demanding. Like a man trying to stuff 75 seconds into every minute.

He is still new, but already Schiano sounds a lot like hope. He looks like a coach, and he acts like a coach, and until further evidence is at hand, it seems as if Tampa Bay is willing to believe he is the coach to solve all the riddles on the roster. So far, you might say, so good. One hundred days in and, yeah, this feels like Schiano's team.

Yeah, yeah. There is a reason they don't give out trophies in May, and fans always like a fresh face who offers a fresh start. I'm sure during Leeman Bennett's first offseason, there were those who thought things were moving along swimmingly, too.

"Not until we go out and play games or work through a training camp will it feel like, 'Hey, we're all doing this,' " Schiano said. "We're learning about each other right now, which is the way it works when you're new. They're learning about me, and I'm learning about them."

As for Tampa Bay, it seems to be learning, too.

Soon enough Schiano will be judged on how many he wins and how many he loses, and whether trophies are involved, just like any other NFL coach. For now Schiano has not run when he should have passed or passed when he should have run or punted when he should have gone for it or lost a game he should have won.

That said, it is safe to say this much: No one around here seems ready to ship him back to Rutgers, do they?

For that matter, no one cares if Chip Kelly of Oregon is ready to reconsider. No one wants to interview Mike Sherman one more time. Put it this way: If being an NFL coach was an elected job, Schiano would carry Tampa Bay.

"I think Buccaneer fans are starting to understand why we went through the entire interview process," general manager Mark Dominik said. "Some people wondered, 'How did you hire Greg Schiano?' I think people are learning why he's been a candidate for the NFL for a while.

"He's organized. Detailed. Disciplined. Structured. Tough. He's a loyal guy. We're very happy about our decision. He's been everything you want him to be."

Let's face it. The Bucs needed a lot of what Schiano has brought to town. They needed structure, they needed direction, they needed urgency. If you don't think so, roll the calendar back to the 100 days before Schiano was hired.

That week, back in October, the Bucs had gone to 4-2. That was when disaster hit. Albert Haynesworth happened. Tanard Jackson happened. Coach Raheem Morris getting fired happened. Along the way, the Bucs lost 10 in a row. They didn't play very hard, or very tough, or very well.

As much as anything, getting rid of last year's taste was the reason the franchise needed Schiano to hit the field running. And he has. Already the Bucs have learned a great deal about what to expect from the new boss.

"I think that's important, especially in this situation," Schiano said. "A lot of times, jobs are open for a reason. The Bucs brought me here to do a job, and I'm going to try to do it to the best of my ability. Part of that is setting the tone and tempo of how we're going to do it."

As much as anything, that explains the way Schiano has attacked this job. He gets in some mornings as early as 5:30. He works some nights until 11. He has watched endless film. He is an intense guy, Schiano, one of those guys who gives off the impression that he would rather be in the next room watching film.

Remember all the questions when Schiano was hired? The announcement was ripped by Sports Illustrated, by CBSSports.com. He was a college coach, the critics said. He was out of his element.

Who knows how this turns out in the end? Eventually the scoreboard will judge Schiano's career. With coaches, it's always that way.

So far, however, it's easy to be impressed with Schiano's start. Haynesworth and Jackson are gone. Vincent Jackson and Carl Nicks are here. Standards have returned. Enthusiasm has returned. When you consider last week's signing of former Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand, the heart of a franchise may have returned.

For 100 days he has been a hit. Especially compared to the 100 that came before them.

By the way, the Bucs' first preseason game is only 96 days away.

Better hurry.

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