When Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano was walking off the field on Thursday night after an embarrassing loss at the hands of the Carolina Panthers, fans in attendance didn’t hold back in their anger towards the embattled coach.
The Panthers won easily by a 31-13 margin, and the home crowd was boisterous in vocalizing their extreme displeasure. Schiano understands their frustration.
"I do understand the fans' frustration,'' Schiano said. "I have some say in how to fix it. Our players have some say. The fans don't. All the fans can do is watch and take what's out there. Lately, it hasn't been good enough, so I understand their frustration totally. We've just got to give them a better product.''
But it’s also about a lot more than just delivering a better product. It’s also about a group of coaches who work hard to get the most out of that product. It’s also about earning the respect of players, who will absolutely work harder to improve that product when they believe in their coaching staff.
Based on comments made recently, that may not be the case in Tampa Bay.
Cornerback Darrelle Revis was specifically asked after Thursday’s game if the Buccaneers believed in their coaches. Revis gave a three-word answer that wasn’t exactly a ringing endorsement.
"I don't know," Revis responded.
Revis would go on to expand on those comments as well.
“I don’t know. I don’t know.” Revis said. “You know, we got a game plan every week. We gotta stick to the gameplan. We gotta abide by the gameplan 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. You know, in every game there are mistakes up and down the board. You know, 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, to try to do that, to be consistent.”
Here’s the thing—when one of the defensive leaders of the team isn’t buying into what the coaches are selling, it’s time to blow things up and start from scratch.
Schiano took his share of hits with the way he handled the benching of quarterback Josh Freeman and his subsequent release from the team. He’s also taken a hit from other parties outside the team as well. A local radio station spent a considerable amount of money in posting 19 “Fire Schiano” billboards throughout the city.
In comments made to Pro Football Talk, Michael Sharkey, program director of FM station WHPT, said that the station is merely voicing the opinion of its listeners.
“The ‘Fire Schiano’ billboard is simply a reflection of the Tampa Bay community’s opinion of the Buccaneers’ Head Coach,” Sharkey said. “Our listeners have voiced their opinion that they are tired of a team, that on paper, should have a winning record. This billboard isn’t a message to the Buccaneers as much as it is a message to our listeners that we are right there with them.”
It certainly won’t be the billboards that ultimately gets Schiano fired, but between Revis’ comments, the radio station’s actions and angry fans hurling ugly comments after another loss, Tampa Bay management has to be at least considering the possibility.
And well they should. The Buccaneers on paper are a far better team, and an 0-7 start is not even close to acceptable. Schiano has had his chance to turn things around. It’s now time to give the keys to the kingdom to someone else.