Saturday, February 17, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Schiano to Bucs fans: Special days ahead

TAMPA — The boo birds were perched near the tunnel by the southwest corner of Raymond James Stadium on Sunday as Bucs coach Greg Schiano left the field following a 31-20 loss to the Eagles.

Schiano said he never heard them, but that hasn't stopped him from feeling the frustration of fans following an 0-5 start and 10 losses in the past 11 games.

Monday, Schiano tried to assure Bucs faithful that their jeers would turn to cheers soon.

"If they can hang in there, we're going to be good," Schiano said. "If they can't, we're still going to be good, and they're welcome back.

"I'm not being smart. I mean that. I think our fans are great. When I came out to start the game, warmups, our fans were awesome. The end of the game, I'm disappointed just like they are."

Schiano's problems aren't confined to the field. His feud with Josh Freeman led to the quarterback's release. Sunday, the NFL player's union asked to assist the league in an investigation into who might have leaked confidential about Freeman's participation in the substance abuse program.

Schiano and general manager Mark Dominik said they would welcome that investigation and vowed to cooperate fully.

The Bucs also have three players coping with MRSA, which caused the union to file a grievance on behalf of kicker Lawrence Tynes. Guard Carl Nicks had a recurrence of the infection and faces surgery while rookie cornerback Johnthan Banks became the latest to contract it.

Cornerback Darrelle Revis called the MRSA issue a distraction and said it affected the Bucs in Sunday's game. Schiano said if that's the case, "I need to lead better."

Even Nick Carter, of the boy band the Backstreet Boys, tweeted his disapproval: #FireSchiano.

The Bucs got a better performance Sunday from rookie quarterback Mike Glennon, who passed for 273 yards and two touchdowns with an interception in his second pro start.

But for the fifth time this season, the Bucs failed to score an offensive touchdown in the second half and have not scored a point in the third quarter.

While Schiano speaks confidently of a turnaround, he's not putting a timetable to it.

"Certainly, we've got to win,'' he said. "But I don't sit there and say by this date, this should take hold and then this date this should take hold, because there are too many variables to predict."

Schiano wouldn't share what he said to his team Monday, except to say he was keeping it "real.''

"The Knute Rockne stuff, there's a time and a place for it,'' Schiano said. "But they're grown men who are busting their guts to win. They're as disappointed as I am."

Rookie tight end Tim Wright, who played for Schiano at Rutgers, has seen the coach turn losing streaks around.

"I think he can get it done and get everybody to rally around what he's preaching and I think he'll be all right," Wright said. "We're one play, two plays, three plays away from getting things turned around."

It won't be easy. The Bucs play three games in 14 days — Sunday at Atlanta, Oct. 24 against Carolina and Nov. 3 at Seattle.

"We've had plenty of opportunities to win every football game we've been in this year and we've found ways to lose them," Schiano said.

"I can imagine how frustrated (fans) are, absolutely. I can guarantee you that they're not more frustrated than I am — no matter how fervent a fan they are. But that doesn't make it okay. I understand we're disappointing a lot of people.

"I understand anything and everything that's disappointment. The fact that our fans care as much as they do, I think that's awesome. When we get it turned around, it's going to be really special."

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