I want to judge Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano solely based on the way his team has played on the field.
Let’s put aside the fact that Schiano had a dysfunctional relationship with his starting quarterback, Josh Freeman. And let’s not blame the head coach for the MRSA infections that have caused major concerns on the team. And let’s just say that stuff like trying to blow up the other team’s kneel-down formation is a gray area where reasonable people can disagree about whether it’s a legitimate tactic.
Instead, let’s assess Schiano, who is closing in on the midway point of his second season as an NFL head coach, by saying this: His team stinks.
The Buccaneers are 0-5 even though Schiano has been handed a roster that has plenty of talent. Vincent Jackson is one of the best receivers in the NFL. Doug Martin is one of the most explosive young running backs to enter the league in the last few years. Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy is a beast in the middle of the line. A secondary with veterans Darrelle Revis and Dashon Goldson, plus last year’s first-round pick Mark Barron and this year’s second-round pick Johnthan Banks, is the envy of almost every coach in the NFL. You can’t say Schiano is losing because his team doesn’t have the personnel to win.
What you can say is that Schiano doesn’t look like he has any coherent plan in place for molding all that talent into a good football team. Yes, yes, I know, Schiano wants to be “tough” and “physical” and “disciplined,” but does Schiano have a competent defensive scheme? It sure didn’t look that way on Sunday, when that talented secondary got lit up by a backup quarterback, Nick Foles, who went 22-for-31 for 296 yards, with three touchdowns and no interceptions.
And does Schiano have any plan for his offense? It sure doesn’t seem like it when he spends the entire offseason insisting that this is Josh Freeman’s team, then benches Freeman after three weeks and cuts him after four.
I could be persuaded that Schiano is a good coach who just needs time to turn things around if he had a good track record elsewhere. But the truth is, his track record at his only previous head-coaching job — at Rutgers — isn’t particularly impressive. In Schiano’s 11 seasons at Rutgers, his team never won the Big East and only finished in the Top 25 once.
The coach on the opposite sideline from Schiano on Sunday, Philadelphia’s Chip Kelly, also went from college to the NFL, but Kelly had coached a big-time winner at Oregon. In Kelly’s four seasons as head coach at Oregon, he won the conference championship three times and was never ranked worse than No. 11 in the country. Whether you think Kelly is going to succeed or fail at the next level, there’s no question that Kelly has shown he can win big at the college level. The same can’t be said for Schiano.
The old Bill Parcells saying, “You are what your record says you are,” is how Schiano deserves to be judged. And Schiano’s record says the Buccaneers have a winless and hapless coach.
Here are my other thoughts on Sunday in the NFL:
Joseph Fauria: NFL’s best undrafted rookie and best dancer? Fauria, the 6-foot-7 Detroit tight end, may be having the best season of any undrafted rookie in the league through six weeks. He’s been an outstanding red zone target for the Lions, and he reeled in three touchdown catches on Sunday in Cleveland. And Fauria’s touchdown celebration dancing is also amusing, having already drawn attention on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. The dances he did on Sunday in Cleveland had his teammates cracking up in the end zone, and with his height and leaping ability, you can bet he’s going to go up and get a lot more touchdown passes in the future. Asked why Fauria has been successful in the red zone, Lions coach Jim Schwartz answered, “He’s tall as hell.” Sometimes that’s enough.
Vontaze Burfict needs to cool it with the personal fouls. Burfict, the Cincinnati linebacker, had 15-yard penalties for facemasking, for a hit on a sliding quarterback and for a hit on a defenseless receiver on Sunday. Burfict has been a terrific player for the Bengals since they signed him as an undrafted free agent last year, but the reason Burfict wasn’t drafted was that NFL teams didn’t think he could keep himself in check after developing a reputation as a hothead during his college career. Three personal fouls in a game is not acceptable.
Danny Amendola’s injury was frightening. Amendola, the Patriots’ No. 1 receiver, took a hard (but legal) hit to the head and fell face-first into the turf. When he got up, he couldn’t even walk straight. The Patriots immediately announced that he wouldn’t return to the game, and that looked like the kind of head injury that will sideline a player for more than just one game. Amendola is a talented receiver, but he simply hasn’t been able to stay healthy.
Baltimore needs Eugene Monroe to get better. Monroe, the left tackle the Ravens acquired in a trade with the Jaguars, whiffed on a block just before halftime, leading Joe Flacco to get blindsided and fumble, setting up a Packers field goal on the last play of the first half. That was one of the ugliest plays of the day, and a bad sign that trading for Monroe wasn’t close enough to fix the problems on the Ravens’ offensive line.
Can anyone explain what happened to the Texans? I don’t know if I can ever recall a team imploding quite the way Houston has. After Week 13 of last season, the Texans were 11-1, and a lot of people considered them the best team in the NFL. Since then they’ve gone 4-8, and seven of their eight losses were blowouts, including Sunday’s horrendous performance against the Rams. There have been no major coaching or personnel changes, and yet this team looks absolutely nothing like the good football team we saw in Houston a year ago. Gary Kubiak probably won’t last much longer in Houston. Like Schiano, Kubiak is going to be judged by his record, and his record isn’t good.