ESPN defends Greg Schiano, but misses the point

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Greg Schiano may have been unlucky and saddled with a bad quarterback, but he made the decisions to put the Buccaneers in those situations.

ESPN has posted an interesting defense of Greg Schiano behind their paywall. Mike Sando attacks the narrative that Greg Schiano lost the locker room, and that's causing them to lose games. That reverses cause and effect, Sando says. Essentially, the Buccaneers have been unlucky in close games and their quarterback wasn't playing well enough to win. All of that is true, and Sando does a good job of addressing that narrative.

Unfortunately, that's not really the narrative surrounding Schiano, although it may become the narrative if the losses continue. The narrative is that the Buccaneers are losing games due to poor coaching decisions, especially on offense. That's on Greg Schiano, because he has his hand in everything the Bucs do, and he chose his own assistants. Another narrative is that Schiano is the cause of a lot of unnecessary off-field drama. Him losing the locker room was at most a minor narrative through the first five games.

Yes, the Bucs lost close games and were unlucky, but Greg Schiano's conservative decision making didn't help. Yes, the Bucs are a better team than their record, but they shouldn't be a better team -- given the talent on their team, they should be competing for a division title. Yes, Josh Freeman was playing poorly, but Greg Schiano chose him when he took this job, and when he didn't move on from him this offseason.

If Freeman is at fault, then Schiano is at fault for making him his quarterback, and then undermining him. Whether or not Schiano wanted to move on from Freeman, the quarterback felt that way -- and that is at least partly on Schiano. Moreover, he's certainly at fault for the vanilla down field passing attack and an inability to run the ball. You have Doug Martin and Vincent Jackson. This should not be that difficult.

Another issue: most of the off-field drama was completely avoidable. An eight-month long quarterback controversy that shouldn't have been. A weird decision to place Lawrence Tynes on the NFI-list. The constant appearance of reports questioning Schiano and the Bucs in various ways.

This defense of Schiano feels similar to the defense he received after pulling Freeman. After all, Josh Freeman was playing poorly, so why were we bashing Schiano? Well, the issue was never that he pulled Freeman. That's not what most people are upset about. They're upset about the losses and the fact that the Bucs' reputation is in tatters, and those issues remain.

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