It's time to fire Greg Schiano.
That won't happen tomorrow, or before the end of the season. The Bucs have come too far with Schiano to cut the cord now and finish the season with an interim coach for two games. What would be the point? But the Monday after the final game in New Orleans, the Glazers should fire Greg Schiano and start their search for the team's third head coach in six years.
For me, today's loss to the San Francisco 49ers sealed the deal. Greg Schiano's Buccaneers had an opportunity to earn their head coach's return today. A win would have done wonders for the Bucs. A competitive and close loss would have worked, too. Instead the Bucs were dominated almost the entire game.
'Fixing' Raheem Morris' mess
When Greg Schiano came to Tampa Bay, he was the disciplinarian who would fix the mess Raheem Morris had left behind. He's done some of that, getting rid of a few players who didn't fit the locker room culture he wanted to build and creating a team that is very tight-knit and hard-working, by all accounts.Unfortunately, he hasn't managed to create a team that can actually go out and win games.
When Raheem Morris left, the offense was a disaster. The Bucs couldn't run the ball, and the quarterback was struggling in a talent-low offense. Two years later Tampa Bay no longer has a talent-low offense, but they still have a struggling quarterback, and they still can't run the ball. When Raheem Morris left, the Bucs couldn't tackle anyone, couldn't rush the passer and couldn't cover. Two years later, the Bucs still struggle to tackle anyone, still have too many coverage busts and still can't rush the passer -- although they have, at least, gotten better at each of those.
Two years of Greg Schiano have seen surprisingly little improvement over Raheem Morris' Tampa Bay team, despite an infusion of talent. Lavonte David, Gerald McCoy (who missed almost all of Morris' final season), Mark Barron, Vincent Jackson, Doug Martin, Dashon Goldson, Carl Nicks, Demar Dotson, Darrelle Revis were added over the past two years and the Bucs are still 4-10. What gives?
Improvement, but not enough
The Bucs have won four of the last six games, but they're still 4-10 on the season and exceedingly likely to be 5-11 or 4-12 by season's end. That kind of result with this roster isn't just a poor performance, it's absolutely horrendous. Schiano's team has the best defensive tackle, the best cornerback and the best 4-3 outside linebacker in the NFL. It has a stellar pair of safeties. It has an emerging weapon at tight end and a top-notch number one receiver. It has good offensive tackles, although the guards have struggled this year. You can't have everything, after all.
With a decent quarterback, this team would have enough talent to win a division title, and maybe more. With a good quarterback, this team could challenge for a Super Bowl title. Even with a bad quarterback, 8-8 shouldn't be too much to ask. Instead, the Bucs are still one of the worst teams in the NFL, and a large part of that is coaching. An offensive scheme that can't help its quarterback get into a rhythm and can't create running room. A defensive scheme that insists on minimizing the impact of its best player, and uses the best cornerback in the NFL as if he wasn't any different from a rookie.A conservative approach to game planning and game calling that has consistently lost the Bucs close games.
There has been real improvement over the past six weeks, though. The Bucs have played better. They just haven't played anywhere near good enough to see their head coach return, and that was reaffirmed today. Over those six better games they were still blown out twice, and all those same old issues continued to plague Tampa Bay. This team is better, but it's nowhere close to being good.
Greg Schiano must go
At this point, we haven't even touched the off-the-field mess in Tampa Bay this year. Some of that wasn't Schiano's fault, but some of it was, and he certainly didn't handle everything very well. The simple fact is that we don't need to talk about that to justify firing Schiano. The on-field performance alone is bad enough.
Make no mistake: these are Greg Schiano's schemes, and Greg Schiano's hires. He's always going to be conservative on offense. He's always going to be blitz- and stunt-heavy. He's always going to prioritize a downfield passing game similar to what the Bucs have now. He's not going to change. Unless you believe that the Buccaneers can win with this type of game plan and this kind of performance, Greg Schiano has to go.