Greg Schiano’s bush league tactics may have finally cost his team a game
Tampa Bay rookie head coach Greg Schiano has already come under a lot of fire this season for his questionable coaching tactics. Schiano’s insistance on thumbing his nose at coaching convention in his first year in the NFL – most notably by bull rushing the kneel down play at the end of games - hasn’t sat well with much of the league’s old guard.
Some have defended Schiano for playing to the final whistle and instilling mental toughness in his team, while many coaches, players and fans (us included) have flat-out labeled his coaching style as bush league.
But on Sunday, Schiano’s latest stunt may have finally cost his team the game.
During the fourth quarter of the Buccaneers 35-28 loss to the Saints, with Tampa Bay trailing 28-21, New Orleans set up for a 50-yard field goal attempt. But just prior to the snap, “the Bucs’ defensive line abruptly shifted and, according to Saints players, shouted in unison.” The move drew a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty, keeping the drive alive for New Orleans and setting up a Pierre Thomas touchdown run just four plays later.
Considering that the Bucs were in position to tie the game on the final drive, those extra points (4 if the Saints had converted the long field goal, 7 if they missed) could have proved the difference between winning and losing for Tampa Bay.
Of course, when the flag was thrown, Schiano went ballistic at the refs … incredulous that he would be penalized for his ingenious “strategy”. And today, Schiano remained defiant that his team’s shift was legal:
“Quite frankly, it’s a legal play. We’ve done it before. We did it in the Washington game right there before the half. Exact same thing. One time we went left to right, the other time we went right to left. Other than that, it’s the exact same thing. I’m not quite sure, but like I said, I’m not going to get into (officiating). I know what we do and I feel very comfortable with it. Now, the fact of the matter is that it got called Sunday, so I don’t know if you should be looking for that one very much anymore because that would be downright stubborn, right? But as far as I’m concerned, that’s a legal play.”
Schiano’s “we’ve done it before, so therefore it must be legal” schtick is getting tired … especially when he’s flat out wrong. It’s apparent that Schiano thinks he’s smarter than every other coach to come before him, but someone in the Bucs organization needs to show the guy an NFL rule book, because he seems to be stuck in college. Here are the applicable sections from the rules:
RULE 9, SEC 1:
DEFENSIVE TEAM FORMATION
Article 3: During a punt, a field-goal attempt, or a Try Kick, a Team B player, who is within one yard of the line of scrimmage at the snap, must have his entire body outside the snapper’s shoulder pads.
RULE 12, SEC 3, Article 1:
DISCONCERTING - (prohibits) The defensive use of acts or words designed to disconcert an offensive team at the snap.
It’s becoming clear that teams and officials are keeping their eye on Tampa Bay for this type of shenanigans, since Schiano seems to take pride in pushing the boundaries of the rules. New Orleans G Jahri Evans said game officials were notified of the Bucs’ pre-kick baiting practice before the play … most likely because the Saints saw it on film in the Washington game Schiano so proudly cited:
“I think that’s just what they’re being taught,” Evans said. “And that’s what we told the refs — they can’t try to draw us offsides in that situation or in any part of the game. I haven’t seen that in a long time. I played Division II, and they didn’t even do that in DII. It was definitely done to draw us offsides and we all knew it.”
Saints DT Sedrick Ellis also said he had not seen that play run before:
“I haven’t seen it in the pros, because it’s against the rules,” Ellis said. “You’re allowed to do your shifts but you’re not allowed to yell to try to get the offense to go offsides.”
So now that Schiano has been called out multiple times for his bush league tactics, and his Bucs are floundering at 2-4, one has to wonder how long this tough guy act is going to play in Tampa Bay. More than anything, the fact that Schiano elects to spend time coaching these desperation maneuvers, putting them into the playbook, and actively pushing the boundaries of the rules speaks to the losing culture he’s creating down there. The Bucs would be much better served if they focused more energy on playing better football, rather than trying to pull out wins using high school, (can’t say it any other way) bush league trickery.
We had already predicted Schiano would be out of the league within 3 years, but the way he’s going – and especially if his stunts continue to backfire like this – Schiano might not make it through two full years before getting sent back to the minors.