New Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano knew he was way behind when he took the position. Free Agency and the NFL Draft are approaching like on-coming trains and for the ill-prepared it might not be pretty. The one thing we've discovered about Schiano in the little time we've seen him is that if anything - he is prepared.
Its why Butch Davis now sits in a cubby hole or whereever the office of the Senior Assistant to the Head Coach sits at One Buc Palace.
Before you can dip your toe into the free agent pool, you really need to know what you already have.
Where are your strengths and weaknesses? Who can you trust to bring it every week no matter the score? Who are your leaders? Who are the problem children?
Its a daunting task and its likely why Schiano filled his coaching staff with guys he can trust. Sure, a lot of these guys are as green as you can get in NFL coaching experience, but Schiano has won with them in the past. Those he didn't coach with, he's familiar with their reputation as teachers and communicators.
After all, when you don't know Josh Freeman from Josh Groban, every little bit helps.
So what will Coach Schiano and company see when they pop on the game tape of 2011?
Offensively, you have to wonder if Schiano thinks LeGarrette Blount was used too infrequently. Maybe he wonders why Blount couldn't block, run in short yardage situations, catch passes out of the backfield or maintain ball security. Could Schiano wonder what in the world GM Mark Dominik and his predecessor Raheem Morris were thinking when they gave a roster spot to Kregg Lumpkin instead of re-signing Carnell Williams? Was Earnest Graham's injury really the reason why the Bucs offense came apart at the seams and is he too old to still be relevant?
When he looks at his offensive line, will he see Donald Penn literally got fat off his new contract and Pro Bowl alternate nod? Will he view an aging Jeff Faine struggling with health and the ability to prevent interior penetration? Does he look at his boy Zuttah as the answer at left guard or center?
Does he view Jeremy Trueblood's Cowboys shibacle (where the entire nation saw him twirled around like Sookie Stackhouse at a vampire convention) as the exception or the standard? (Hint for Greg: it's the standard, buddy. We're just surprised Trueblood didn't get called for holding.)
How did he take his tight end Kellen Winslow's antics last season? Winslow certainly didn't endear himself to Schiano by saying he would have preferred Rob Chudzinski as coach. Is Luke Stocker a wasted pick?
Does he wonder who the hell Eric Lorig is and why is he the team's starting fullback?
Does he burn the tape of the "Benn-da-round"? Will he put in a 2010 tape of Mike Williams, then the 2011 and wonder if Michael Clayton snuck into Raymond James Stadium, conked Big Mike on the head and masqueraded in number 19 on game days? Will he be as infatuated with practice squad phenom Dezmon Briscoe?
We all know Schiano loves him some defense. When he puts on the defensive line tape, does he see Gerald McCoy's ability "to make everyone else around him better" for the five or so weeks he actually played? Does he recognize Brian Price did more on one leg than Roy Miller did on two? Does he see the potential of Adrian Clayborn and DaQuan Bowers?
Does he wonder how the heck MLB Mason Foster can get trucked at the goal line by 5'9" scat back Jacquizz Rodgers? Why Quincy Black wasn't arrested for robbery (of the Glazers' paychecks)? Why Geno Hayes played well for six games and then suddenly decided he had better things to do? Can he explain why I played more than Dekota Watson, pass rushing demon?
When he looks at the secondary - is he fearful Aquib Talib will punch him in the face or shoot him, Tanard Jackson will offer him a blunt and Sean Jones will give him an ole' to the end zone? Will he allow EJ Biggers to pay more attention to his cell phone than his coach in the Buccaneer locker room? I guess that's not on actually on the game tape...or maybe it is.
Will he see Ronde as too old? Anthony Gaitor as too young? Myron Lewis as too sucky?
Does he look at his special teams battery of punter Michael Koenen and kicker Connor Barth as, "Hey, at least we have that"?
Finally, when Coach Greg Schiano puts on the 2011 game film, what does he see in his starting quarterback? Will it be a young twenty-something who was victimized by the lockout, the talent around him, situational football and turning into a guy trying too hard to will his team to victory while inadvertently contributing to their demise?
Perhaps he'll view him as a young quarterback who believed he "arrived" and "had it figured out" but then quickly realized that he needed to put the work in every year?
Will Schiano identify those who quit on Raheem Morris and dump them? After all, if you quit on the last guy, what's stopping you from quitting on me?
Sure enough, Schiano has the unenviable task of having to watch the 2011 game tape. Buccaneer fans lived it and Lord knows, they don't want to see it again. In the end, what he just might see is a young team chock full of talent that had no leadership or discipline.
BucsNation, before I go I just wanted to say a quick thanks to Sander for allowing me to join his motley crew. You may have seen me writing all things Bucs, Bolts and Gators on the regional site SB Nation Tampa Bay or the few blog posts I contributed to our friends at the Pewter Report. I'm a life long Tampanian (Tampan? Tampon? Let's stop there) who grew up rooting for Lee Roy Selmon, Richard "Batman" Wood, James Wilder and Mark Cotney.
I was just a young lad when wept at the news that Ricky Bell had passed and Doug Williams left for the USFL. I've been through the Throwin' Samoan, Crystal Chandelier, Color-blind Vinny, Culverhouse's Vince Lombardi and Five-Dash-Two.
I remember vividly when Ronde intercepted Donovan McNabb and sent the Bucs to the Super Bowl. Every day Mean Gene's call of "There it is - the Dagger's in - We're going to win the Super Bowl!" crosses my mind.
What I'm trying to say (in far too many words) is I love this team - sometimes too much. I can't promise to be impartial or not have a rooting interest in whether the Buccaneers win or lose.
What I hope I can provide you is a few laughs, some interesting takes and a good read.
Thanks for sharing some time with me and I look forward to interacting with you in the future.