Loafing Will Not Be Tolerated By Greg SchianoFebruary 29th, 2012
Last week new Bucs coach Greg Schiano was buttonholed by the radio duo running “The Blitz,” Adam Schein and former Super Bowl quarterback Rich Gannon, to share his thoughts on his first few weeks as the Bucs head coach, live from the NFL combine, heard exclusively on SiriusXM NFL Radio. Naturally Joe transcribed all 2,968 words of the interview.
What was telling for Joe was that Schiano called out an unnamed Bucs cornerback for loafing on run plays, which Schiano said directly led to running backs running like starving cheetahs through the Bucs defense. In short, Schiano said such a meek effort will simply not be tolerated by him and his staff.
Joe’s going to take a stab and suggest said cornerback was not Ronde Barber.
Adam Schein: Here’s the new coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he’s Greg Schiano who is kind enough to give us a few minutes. Coach, congratulations.
Greg Schiano: Thanks Adam, I appreciate it.
Rich Gannon: Well Greg, it’s great to have you on board. Obviously you have a lot of work to do I know… where do you start? I know putting the staff together was the first order of business which wasn’t easy. But after that I’m sure you buried yourself into trying to become familiar with your team.
Schiano: Well I do, and we just kind of finished though we have a couple more positions to fill on the staff. We have a pool of people and we interview some and will get that done. Bu you are right, evaluating our own roster. I’ve done a little bit of that but it’s more like catch an hour here, 20 minutes there, get on the airplane to come up and watch a little tape. But that’s going to be pretty important because we are getting into free agency pretty soon and then the draft but it doesn’t do any good if you don’t understand your own football team. So that is the No. 1 order of business that I am just getting into now.
Schein: Greg, why did you take this job? You did just a good job, a great job in building that Rutgers program. Did such a great job establishing an identity in a metropolitan area, really building that program from scratch to a big time power in the Big East You have had a lot of opportunities on the NFL level, on the collegiate level. Why the Buccaneers?
Schiano: It just felt right. As you go through as a coach, as a head coach, people approach you. Some people say, “Why would you even consider if you are so set at staying at Rutgers?” I think you owe it to yourself to your family and to the program where you are still coaching to make sure that is where you still have your passion. That there isn’t something better for you and someone else can take over with an increased passion for the Rutgers program. I always felt like that was where I wanted to be. Usually, coaches don’t normally build a new house if they don’t lose a job. I thought I was going to be there for the rest of my career. I passed up on some super jobs. This one, every step of the way, just felt right. The only thing that was really hard was saying goodbye to the players and some staff people I knew weren’t going to be making the trip with us. Once you did that, I am really excited to be the head coach of the Bucs.
Gannon: Greg, talk about your staff I know you hired some really good quality people, guys that have been in the business on this level, guys that have been on the college level kind of talk about how your staff has shaken out.
Schiano: I think you are right Rich. I think we have a good mix of some really experienced guys in the National Football League and some college guys that are really hungry…
Gannon: … which is great I think…
Schiano: I agree. And you know what? When you are teaching 17- and 18-year old freshmen skills, the skills aren’t very different but I think those teaching methods are really helpful. I don’t care if you are 25, 30, 35. I was coaching the Bears when Michael Jordan was there [in Chicago] and I can remember going down there once and watching them practice. His beginner’s mentality, he had been doing it for 11 or 12 years, his beginner’s mentality, the way he approached everything, the greatest who has ever played the game. I always talk to our team about that. If you can continue to learn and continue to grow at your craft, maybe you get a new coach and he brings up maybe one thing that maybe you have never been aware of? I’m hoping that is what happens.
Schein: There has been a mixed bag of college coaches going to the NFL and being successful Greg. You know you referenced your time with the Bears – Rich and I have talked about it – I always viewed you as a pro coach, coaching on the collegiate level. Is that a fair way to phrase it?
Schiano: I think if you look at our players and why they have been successful in the National Football League, they haven’t had all first round picks – we’ve had four of them – but I tell you the thing we did when I came from the NFL and went to Miami, Coach Davis was at Miami so it was an easy transition, what we did was we shrunk the day and when I went to Rutgers we did it with the entire team, not just the defense. So we took what we did in the National Football League from what we did at walk-throughs and at practice and shrunk it down so it would fit in a college day around three or four hours from seven or eight hours. But our kids, the way we installed, the way we walked-through, the way we do all of those things, our kids got to the league and when they came back after their first minicamp or came back after their first OTAs, “Coach, they’re doing it the same way we did it.” Well, that’s where we got it from. To me, I have always looked at the National Football League as a football laboratory. It’s the greatest level of football in the world so why wouldn’t you try to copy and emulate the best?
Gannon: Greg, I think one of the attractive things about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is their quarterback. He’s a young guy that I think has a very bright future in this league. As you sat down and peel back the layers and visit with him, what has been the most impressive thing about Josh Freeman?
Schiano: Well, Josh, No. 1, I have had quite a few opportunities to sit down with Josh Freeman and visit with him not just about football but about life and about who he is and I am excited to have a chance to coach this guy. He really has that sparkle in his eye. He is such a [laughs] physically imposing guy. You don’t program them much better than that. But there are some things if you watch the tape that he will certainly have to improve on. We have to get — as an offensive football team – our ball security is atrocious. You better stop losing games before you start winning games. We have to start taking care of the football. That has been a trademark of our football teams in the past. Josh is a bright guy. I’m looking forward to working with him.
Schein: What is it did you see when you looked under the hood, when you looked at the talent of the Buccaneers and how close they are to getting to the playoffs. A couple of seasons ago they had this incredible run and they achieved and just fell a little bit short of the playoffs in the final week. Last year a lot of people thought the Bucs were going to make the playoffs and frankly we talked to some of the players about t and we talked to Coach Morris, we had him on the show every week. I think that the team frankly quit. I think that the team lost their way down the stretch of the season. What did you see when you looked under the hood of the Buccaneers?
Schiano: I don’t know about what happened to the team outside of what you see on video. Without being in the facility and being in the locker room, there’s no way to tell. I do know what we need to do and that is create a culture. We need to create a culture in that building about the way we do things, all right? It will be about discipline. It will be about toughness. It will be about speed. And I don’t mean just fast running speed. I mean the way we do things. We have to be urgent about the way we do things. This is the most competitive league in America. This is the most competitive sports league in the world. We have to do things with at an urgent level. At an urgent pace. Toughness to me, is it about blocking people and tackling people? Sure. But it’s more than that. Every time you force yourself to do something you don’t want to do. When you get up in the morning and don’t hit the snooze, all right? It’s mental toughness. Do something you don’t want to do. Pretty soon you get tougher and tougher and in the clutch – you know, Coach Paterno, I worked for him for six years. There are two things I learned from him that I will carry with me forever. No. 1 is you better have guys who can perform in the clutch. And No. 2, time is your enemy. Well, those kind of tie together. You are not really getting ready to play another team; you are getting ready to compete with yourself. Because you can only be the best you can be. We have to work against the clock. That’s why this staff hiring has dragged out. It was so important to me that I knew we knew it was important. Now we have to switch gears real quickly and work very, very hard. We have to catch up. We have to get ready for OTAs and the draft and evaluation of free agents in two weeks. There is a lot of stuff to do here in not too long of time. I’m looking forward to it. It’s fun.
Gannon: Greg, you mentioned you are playing catch-up; you are still trying to put the staff together. You are trying to do the overall personnel evaluations on top of your players, but you have to feel you have a nod, coming from the college game; you’ve seen some of these players. Just give me your overall thoughts on some of the players you are familiar with form being a college coach the past dozen years.
Schiano: I tell ya’ Rich, it has helped a lot. I have sat not in all the draft meetings but I have sat in a lot of them. You will see a kid you either played against or recruited so will kind of know the moral fabric of the kid. Now you have to figure out he is has changed or if he is still the same kid. It helps a lot. I am sure the further and further I get away from the college game, the interviews and the evaluations will become even more important. The great thing is with Mark Dominik and Dennis Hickey, they have done an incredible job of just feeding me information. I go through it whenever I have time, throw up the tape and kind of match the opinions up with the video and it has been really helpful. Those two guys have been incredible supportive.
Schein: Take us through the defense and the coaches that you obviously have on your staff. You have Bill Sheridan. You have Coach Davis. When you think of Greg Schiano football, I think of defense. Whose defense is it going to be. What is the style, what will be the personality of the Buccaneers defense that is going to be coached this season?
Schiano: Well, without getting into too many things that will give away what we will do this season and give away a competitive advantage, we are going to be an attacking defense, which everybody says, who’s not? I never heard a coach say we are going to sit back and let them run it down our throat. I think it will be a mix of different kinds of schemes. Are we going to be a traditional 4-3? At times. Are we going to have a 3-4 look? At times. So I guess it is a little bit of a hybrid. As you watch, the thing for me that sets are defenses apart is how hard we play. We work tirelessly to make sure we practice that way and that we play that way. That may be a little bit of a change. You know, when I watch video, you don’t see the backside corner getting to the ball. That is not going to be acceptable. Guys won’t play. We will get 11 guys – unless your responsibility takes you elsewhere – we will get 11 guys moving to the football every single play. To me, that can make up for a lot of schemes, 4-3, 3-4, it doesn’t matter to me. When you do attack and you are aggressive, you have to make sure you have people in the back in the back end to get them on the ground if it pops. You can’t allow big plays. We allowed – one of the things that I do is pop in the big play reel. We allowed far too many big plays on defense. So we have to eliminate those and I think the way to do that is to play hard, play tough, play fast and to get guys in the back end, guys that can get them on the ground when they pop. We are big believers in you get them on the ground you are still in the play. If you don’t, you are kicking a PAT.
Gannon: Greg, my sense is you are a guy that wants to draft and develop players, that will be the backbone and the success of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But in free agency, what is your thoughts on free agency in terms of adding players, experienced players that can come in and make contributions right away?
Schiano: I think it has to be more than physically make a contribution. They have to fit into the culture we are trying to build. Now if that is the case they do fit in that way and they do have the athletic ability, then it is going about dealing with it in a responsible way. I think it has to be an addition that fits our football team. We are not just going to be signing guys – I’m not concerned with people have said this, people have said that. At the end of the day, we have to win games. And we have to put people in our organization that are a right fit for where we are going. And I think there is some opportunities in free agency. But we are going to be responsible with how we are going to go about it. We are not just going to throw money at things. We are going to make sure where our money goes is a need and a guy that fits our culture.
Schein: You are your own man. What have you learned about coaching in the NFL from Bill Belichick?
Schiano: A lot, yeah. A lot. I learned about coaching whether it was NFL or college. He’s an incredible football coach. He was kind enough to share some things with me when I was at Rutgers. We spent some time together, even now, even though certainly we are competitors, there are only 32 teams, but stuff that I think would not put them at a competitive disadvantage he’s been able to share with me, things that I just don’t know because I have never done it, so I appreciate that. I know over the years I have learned a lot of football from Coach Belichick, there is no doubt.
Gannon: You feel like you look at the changes from the college game to the pro game, you will have a busy spring and summer just getting ready to call a game, and to be able to deal with all of the substitutions, the rules all the differences. There is a lot of work, aside from personnel to get yourself ready for the regular season.
Schiano: Boy, you are right Rich. I think the big difference is, personnel and changing groups all of that stuff and knowing the other team’s personnel, that is going to happen. You do that in college, you do that in the National Football League. I went through and tried to lay out a schedule. I think we need a day – I need a day – just to go through instant replay, to make sure I don’t screw up. That’s the quickest way to get hung in effigy, right? I think there are certain plays in college you couldn’t challenge but every play was supposed to be reviewed. There is more than that, there are rule differences. I am watching tape and I say, “Hey, wait… ” and they say, “No, coach. You can’t do that in the National Football League.” So I have the rule book and I read a page a day. I don’t think it will get to the point where I sit down read the whole rule book and know all the rules, but systematically chop away at it and know the rules. We don’t need to be ready in June. We need to be ready when we open in September and that is my goal.
Schein: Coach, great stuff, you did a great job building the Rutgers program, you deserve tremendous congratulations for that. Best of luck in Tampa, great fit for you and your family and we will talk to you again real soon.
Schiano: Thanks Adam, I appreciate it.