TAMPA — The defeats have piled up, and the fan base is beaten down, ready to abandon ship. But Greg Schiano hasn't lost the locker room.
Not according to Bucs safety and defensive captain Dashon Goldson, who was inactive for Thursday's 31-13 loss to the Panthers because of a left knee injury but played a little defense Friday for the beleaguered coach.
"I have high respect for this coach. He's taken a lot of scrutiny off the field," Goldson said. "These are tough times. We understand that. He has a job to do, and we do as players. We just try to do the best we can to prepare every week and win a football game. He hasn't lost the locker room."
At 0-7, all else might seem lost for the Bucs and Schiano, who has been demonized by callers to sports-talk radio stations, was booed by the smattering of fans who remained at Raymond James Stadium on Thursday and is the subject of "Fire Schiano" billboards that have sprouted like weeds around Tampa Bay.
"Have I lost the locker room? No," Schiano said. "Are (the players) listening? Yes. Are we getting everything we need out of them? Obviously not, because we're 0-7. Ultimately, we've got 61 guys in that locker room that I believe in, and I very strongly feel they believe in me. Does belief get tested when you're not having success? Yes, I'm sure it gets tested both ways when someone misses a play. At the end of the day, these guys are busting their guts to do it.
"Why are we making a mistake? I always look first at myself. Somehow we (coaches) didn't communicate it clearly enough, whether it's the importance of it or the urgency with which it needs to be done or the technique to it. Because I'm a coach, I always look at the coaching first."
However, as the losses mount, the Bucs could be losing confidence in Schiano's game plans. Case in point: Panthers quarterback Cam Newton broke containment several times Thursday, including on his 6-yard touchdown run. The Bucs called a defensive line stunt on the play, and as a result, Newton had an easy path to the end zone.
"That's not my job," defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said. "I just run the calls I'm told to do, whether I agree with it or not. For me to not run the calls would not be right. I don't get paid to coach or come up with game plans."
Cornerback Darrelle Revis, whose use in zone schemes has come under scrutiny, also stopped short of endorsing Schiano's defensive game plan.
"I don't know. I don't know." Revis said. "We have a game plan every week. We've got to stick to the game plan. We've got to abide by the game plan and what we're trying to do to win. I don't think guys are literally going out there and trying to do their own thing. In every game there are mistakes up and down the board. The word that we have to get to and we have to focus on is 'consistency.' That's all. And at this point, that's a hard word for us to try to do."
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Schiano said the players know what is at stake and understand the high level of scrutiny that comes with being winless. The Bucs have lost 11 of their past 12 games dating to 2012.
"Football players at this level are very intelligent," Schiano said. "They understand the business. Look at the coaching changes in the league. Half the team is different, so it's not just the coaching change. When the coaching change occurs, the players change. I think we all realize it's a performance-based business.
"Players and coaches, we're paid to win. We owe it to our fans, our city, our community to win. When you don't win, there are consequences. We need to get our wins. I said it the other day. We'll get our share of wins. I believe we will. I have some say in how to fix it. The players have some say. The fans don't. I understand their frustration totally. We've just got to give them a better product. That's what it's all about."