Alea iacta est, the die is cast. Schiano is done, most probably Freeman as well, and I see good cause for showing Mark Dominik the door if he doesn't take action soon. I’m not a reactionary, this is not about losing the first two games of the season or winning just one of its last eight, or even losing late, or complaints from a fan 5 years separated from a playoff game. It is about poor leadership, leadership so poor that it has only one potential outcome – consistently decreasing performance. Its this simple point: the leadership of this organization is dysfunctional because they simply refuse to learn from their mistakes.
I don’t challenge and wouldn't offer my opinion to a football coach on Xs and Os -- even in my draft guide you see only the most rudimentary explanation of how offenses and defenses work at the pro level. That being said, I spent a good deal of time in the Army rising to senior leadership positions, joined the intelligence community and worked for an organization that simultaneously ran three to four tactical operations at once; and now am a program manager for a defense contractor. So I feel qualified to offer my opinion on the biggest leadership quality I’m not seeing: accountability.
News flash for the Bucs: leadership mistakes WILL HAPPEN, I have made and will make plenty. Making mistakes does not define a leader though at its core leadership is about accepting responsibility, good leaders do that when they learn from their mistakes and improve. Good leaders do not keep seeing open signs of deficiency and try to apply the same solutions to solve them because they believe "the right" subordinates will get it. I see this all the time with "tough guy" leaders that the masses enjoy applauding (when it's working). However a good leader, working from a good culture, has to have multiple tools in their toolbox. Some players/employees will respond to a swift kick in the butt or a challenge; some need a pat on the back if you can only do one of those two things you are not maximizing your organizations effectiveness and maximizing your organizations effectiveness is the job of its leadership.
To illustrate my critique I’ll point out a few things that are sure signs of dysfunction since Schiano took and things that should be improving over time but appear to have gotten worse:
Can there be a better measure of team discipline than making sure your players are lined up properly and focused? Last year the Tampa was 8th in the NFL in pre-snap penalties averaging 2.69 per game. The teams who finished worse than Tampa in 2012 all had rookie QBs or were organizations noted for dysfunction (St. Louis, Dallas, San Diego, Seattle, Buffalo, Washington, Detroit). Through the first two games of this season Tampa Bay has average 5 pre-snap penalties tied with Oakland and Jacksonville and behind only the 49ers.
I always said when I was a First Sergeant if I have one guy missing formation that’s a "him or her problem"; when I have multiple people missing formation that’s a me problem. When veterans like Mike Williams and Vincent Jackson can’t line up right when the play is not getting to Freeman – that’s a you problem, coach.
Lack of trust shown by leaks from One Buc Place
This is pathetic. As fans we love eating up juicy rumors and it makes Sander’s life and every other bloggers life easier. That said I can’t think of a single successful team that did this much leaking this early in the season, so far we have:
- Allegations by some players that Schiano rigged the team captain count after Freeman missed the team photo by over sleeping.
- Darrelle Revis already unhappy with Schiano’s scheme, per Mike Garafolo.
- We heard leaks about Da'Quan Bowers not being a hard worker (and not right as he was out the door).
- Heck, they needed a "player only" meeting already before the first game just as a pep rally.
If the people who work for me feel they need to talk to someone else in order to resolve an issue, I obviously, for whatever reason don’t have their trust.
Failure to accept personal accountability
I went back to watch Schiano’s post game and next day media interviews. His language, what he says, particularly galls me. He does not accept personal accountability he says "mistakes were made" or "we need to clear up mistakes". The "We" is a great line for your players, but coach you are the organization’s face, you're its leader….I want to hear "I need to do a better job preparing the players" , "I need to make sure we stay focused", "I need to put Josh Freeman , Doug Martin, Gerald McCoy etc.. in better position to make plays".
"I" is a statement when you want to accept accountability for conduct and be a proactive part of the solution. We is when you want to share blame. We, should only be used when your organization has had success and you want to embrace the fact that others helped contribute to your success. The difference in organizational leadership between those two approaches is palpable; if you lead more than 10 people try holding a meeting to correct a deficiency (say everyone is taking too long of a lunch break).
If you start it with "We" need to start looking at how long "we" spend on lunch breaks – what’s going to happen is people will take a shorter time when you are around and longer when your not. Say "I" need to start making sure we keep our lunch breaks down to 30 minutes its costing us X, X, and Y. You’ll get a totally different response.
Turning to Josh Freeman
This is his 5th season. Is he substantially better now than he was his sophomore year? His third season? How about last year? Does he routinely improve from week to week? Many QBs have bad games, but is Josh ready to have 11 or 12 "good" games out of 16? How much does his accuracy affect the coach’s playcalling or the playcalling affect his overall numbers? It’s a symbiotic relationship and if things were different they wouldn’t be the same.
Vinny Testaverde turned out to be a good QB but would he ever have been one in Tampa? I can’t prove a negative but I suspect the answer would be no. Freeman has the physical tools and always has, but a new coach, as we are clearly going to get is going to want and deserve "his guy" rather than sticking with someone who has failed through two different coaches.
At the front office, specifically Mark Dominik
Let's look at a few mistakes.
Offensive Line. I wrote an unpublished piece about this but we have a lack of depth with only two drafted offensive linemen on the roster (both taken under Bruce Allen) , Dominik has drafted just 1. This lack of depth shows up the minute we have an injury. Carimi looks bad at left guard. Demar Dotson has been a good developmental find but how many years did we have to suffer through Jeremy Trueblood, while we waited for the intriguing Dotson to get to this point? The line screamed for an infusion of talent. He brought out the owners wallet for Carl Nicks but teams are not made of just starters. Offensive Lines are 45% of your offensive starters and (assuming 3 backups) are 1/8th of your total roster. Of the past 5 Super Bowl winners they have all ranged from 4-6 drafted offensive linemen on their roster (and a few had great UDFA finds like Dotson and Penn). Bob Bostad, for my money is the best coach on this team.
Tight End. if Dom is "all-in" with Freeman why not finding a TE that can actually catch a pass. For two seasons the need for TE has been glaring. What’s his action to fix it? Crabtree wasn’t that exciting when signed. We had other priorities? Perhaps, but a slew of developmental TE’s have been taken after round 4 the past two seasons. Dustin Keller signed for only 3.25 million with the Dolphins (who also drafted Dion Sims). After round 4 the past two seasons we’ve seen the following intriguing TE’s: Kyle Jusczylerk (also a FB), LaDarius Green, James Hanna, David Paulson (who started Monday for the Steelers), Levine Toilolo ..etc and those are just some of the ones on NFL rosters who are better pass catchers than what we have on the roster.
Cornerback last year. We knew we were shaky with Talib and lacked depth. In the draft we ignored the CB position. This year we had to trade for Revis, draft a CB, and bring in Michael Adams.
Slot WR. Do we have one, beyond street free agents and never will be's?
Dom continues to play checkers not chess with roster management. He does a poor job anticipating where needs will be next season and then is forced to "over-react" the following season and sign/draft everyone in tight narrow blocks.
Bottom Line: These Guys are STUBBORN as MULES. Schiano preaches discipline and refuses to adjust how he handles players to build trust he keeps expecting them to "get it". Freeman keeps trying the same thing in the off-season and film study but keeps getting inconsistent results. Mark Dominik continues to be a better crisis roster manager than someone who anticipates future weaknesses.
I wasn’t Eisenhower in the military, William Donovan of the intelligence community, and I probably won’t be Jack Welch of the business world. Yet it doesn’t take a great leader to recognize three poor ones. These guys all believe they have a "winning formula" and despite results, keep excepting different circumstances around them to produce different results – that’s not the action of a leader. A leader learns from his mistakes, accepts accountability for them, and applies the lessons learned in the future. A Head Coach, a QB, and a GM who refuse to improve is it any wonder that this team won’t follow them to victory?
More from Bucs Nation:
- NFL Playoff Odds: Buccaneers drop to 15% according to Football Outsiders
- Buccaneers cut Connor Barth's pay to $500,000, alter 2014 terms to create cap space
- Buccaneers cancel throwbacks against Cardinals
- Darrelle Revis says he is happy to be a Buccaneer
- Josh Freeman is not as bad as his statistics suggest