A kind but ruthless face?
When Greg Schiano first took the job of Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach, he talked about a Buccaneer Way that featured Buccaneer Men. They never did make it clear what, exactly, that would entailm but with the Bucs cutting Tanard Jackson today, it appears we've found the first example of what does not constitute a Buccaneer. Tanard Jackson was recovering from an injury, but that doesn't appear to be the real reason he was cut. Reading between the lines, it was his actions that got him cut.
Of course, it didn't help him that he played some terrible football during the 2011 season and has a history of drug-related suspensions. Jackson by all accounts is a good guy who just can't (or couldn't) stay away from the drugs. He hasn't been perceived as a locker-room cancer or a problem for the team. But the fact that he isn't entirely reliable undoubtedly helped pave the way for Greg Schiano and Mark Dominik to cut him. More importantly, he just wasn't good in 2011: he couldn't tackle anything or anybody, and too often he jumped routes, allowing big plays in the passing game. However, Jackson used to play at a Pro Bowl level, and there were hopes that he'd return to his previous form with a full offseason of work.
Despite that, there are a few other (and more plausible) reasons why he could have been cut. Hit the jump to find out what.
First, there's the fact that he didn't appear in town for the first week of the offseason program, as noted by Roy Cummings of the Tampa Tribune. While the program is entirely voluntary, the new coaching staff will want to get everyone in the building and get them up to speed. What won't be tolerated, apparently: not doing everything you can to get better, and that includes appearing for a workout program. Greg Schiano has talked about wanting players who love football. On multiple occasions. "The love it guys lose track of time when they're doing it, and that's the kind of guys we want."
Not showing up for the first week of an offseason work program doesn't mean you don't love football, especially if you're rehabbing an injury in New Orleans - which would seem to be a good excuse. But Tanard Jackson could probably have rehabbed that injury in Tampa as well - and then he could have studied film and gone over the new scheme with his new coaches.
More interestingly, Mark Dominik implied that Tanard Jackson hadn't grown - on or off the field. "What's important to us as an organization is the growth of our football players and how they handle (things) on and off the field to become the best Buccaneer possible,'' said Dominik, according to the Tampa Bay Times. What was meant by that isn't exactly clear, although we do know that this is not referring to another drug issue. It seems more likely that they're referring to his quality of play and the way he conducted himself professionally. Tanard Jackson was the worst tackling player in the NFL last season, so clearly they can't be satisfied with his on-field growth. His off-field growth is another matter, and we can only speculate - but it seems that they weren't satisfied there, either.
Greg Schiano has at least sent his first major message as a head coach, and he'll send many more over the coming months and years as he tries to shape the roster to his liking. This will take time, but it will be interesting to see which players he wants to retain and which he doesn't want to retain. More importantly: it will be interesting to see whether it helps the Bucs win games.