Three weeks ago, Greg Schiano looked like a dead man walking. He was 0-7, had just been blown out by three teams and every bit of his team was collapsing. There was off-field controversy, reports of a divided locker room and an atmosphere of fear and a fanbase that absolutely hated his guts. The anti-Schiano feelings were strong in Tampa, and still are to an extent.
What seemed unthinkable then seems decidedly possible (though not probable) now: Greg Schiano could keep his job if the team continues to play like this. For three straight weeks the Buccaneers took two-score leads in the first half. For the second straight week, the Buccaneers won a game. And for three straight weeks, the team has played hard, if not always well. Most of all, it has looked like a different Tampa Bay team and closer to the team we expected to see coming into the season.
2-8 is not enough to keep a head coach, but it's enough for it to become realistic, if a few other things happen. With a schedule that's less than murderous, Greg Schiano could get another four wins out of the next six games. If he does that, and if the team plays well and shows progress throughout the process, he could earn the right to stay in town in 2014. And when I say (write) 'earn', I mean 'earn' -- because getting four more wins and playing well is not going to be too easy.
The Greg Schiano we've seen over the past few weeks is not the same Schiano we saw before. He's more relaxed in his press conferences, is far more aggressive in the game and his team's simply playing better football. The coach has tried a looser approach with his players in practice and in games, according to Pewter Report. It's like he flipped a switch and said "Screw it, let's just have some fun this year" after the blowout loss to the Panthers If he can bring that approach to his job in the future as well, there's a chance he figures out what it takes to be a good coach in the NFL.
Problems still remain, but they're at least becoming less prominent. The defense is suffering fewer breakdowns, the running game is finally on track and the passing game is getting better as well. The run defense is an issue, but it's not as important as the other elements of the team. Of course, it's a concern that it took this long for the team to recognize some fairly elementary things, but progress is progress.
Schiano deserves credit for that, as he deserves the blame for not adjusting sooner. If the Greg Schiano we've seen in the past three weeks -- loose, relaxed, aggressive, capable of making adjustments -- continues to show up through the final six games and manages to gather wins while coaching a team that's playing well, then there may be a real reason to keep him in 2014. He may fire Bill Sheridan or Mike Sullivan, but he could keep his own job.
For any of that to happen, though, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have to start winning games and playing well in those games. An ugly win against a discombobulated Miami team and a dominant win against one of the worst teams in the league (due to injury) won't be enough. There has to be more than this.
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