Yesterday, Today And TomorrowOctober 15th, 2013
Joe didn’t have a drop of alcohol Sunday but woke up Monday morning as if he did. That is how loss after loss after loss after loss feels, and Joe is just a guy watching the games, not playing, not owning the team.
Saturday night, while Joe was trying to watch football and have a few beers, USA Today ran a piece that the NFLPA strongly believes, through its own investigations, that Bucs coach Greg Schiano was the source of the Josh Freeman medical information leaks.
Initially, Joe just shrugged and laughed. “Good luck proving that,” Joe snickered to himself. Joe really believed this news was trivial in nature and nothing more at the time.
Joe changed his mind overnight and woke Sunday believing this news is lethal to Schiano’s term with the Bucs. This is why:
NFL players, by nature, are paranoid. They believe Big Brother is out to get them at all turns. DUI cases in the NFL are, during the offseason, nearly epidemic proportions. What makes driving after a few drinks beyond the range of stupidity into the realm of moronic for NFL players is that they have a free car service at their disposal, 24/7, in which the players, per Forbes.com, get a $200 kickback to use the free service! The service is available any time – even via a smartphone app for Christsakes – NFL players can get a free ride home, no questions asked.
For the most part, they refuse to use it, instead choosing the chance to wrap their cars around a tree, or worse, kill someone. Why? NFL players are convinced the cars are rigged with surveillance devices and by using the car service, are being spied upon. They believe this information will be used against them by a coach, or worse, ammunition against them when contract time rolls around.
This is why Joe believes Schiano is done. If the agency that represents the players’ interests comes out with a statement that points a finger directly at Schiano for leaking Freeman’s information, then Schiano is toast. This allegation could be completely false but you don’t think Bucs players – and players throughout the NFL — now believe Schiano is the culprit given their paranoid nature towards management? You bet.
This was a smear job by the NFLPA, perfectly played, a ploy utilized better than anything people thought the Bucs were doing to Freeman. And it will work, if it hasn’t already.
Let’s say Schiano wins nine games this year. Yeah, that’s difficult to wrap your head around, but Schiano does enough for Team Glazer to say, “You have 2014 to get to the playoffs or back to college you go.” Just what free agent is going to want to play for the Bucs with the image (right or wrong) that if you get in the coach’s bad graces for whatever reason, he will drop your medical information in the lap or inbox of a reporter and that information very well could doom your career, or inhibit a chance of a big contract?
Fat chance of acquiring anyone short of a player desperate to continue collecting a paycheck.
To test Joe’s theory, Sunday Joe spoke with a former Bucs starter who told Joe he not only agreed with Joe’s take, but that Schiano “is toast” in the locker room. That whatever trust he still has with the team is evaporating quickly as the losses mount.
Notice there was a player’s meeting called, in part, to debate the authenticity of the captain’s vote and other players were griping at Schiano’s practice style. This was before the agency that is supposed to look out for the well-being of the players claimed Schiano is giving out people’s medical information.
This is why Joe believes Schiano will not return in 2014. That’s not saying Schiano won’t return (Joe always has to qualify things like this because readers try to read too much between the lines and put words in Joe’s mouth). Joe likes Schiano personally. Joe’s enjoyed working with him and talking to him from time to time off the field when paths have crossed. But Schiano is employed to win games. Period. That’s not happening.
Of course, the more Schiano loses, the more he is paving his own departure no matter what the Bucs locker room thinks about him. It’s the NFL and with a record like Schiano’s, that means “Not For Long” when your double-digit losses grow while your win total is stuck at seven.
No second half touchdown: This nugget is just staggering to Joe. Just how can an NFL team not have a touchdown in the second half through five games? How? That may be the most damning thing about Schiano’s tenure. Forget the Josh Freeman crap. Freeman wrecked Freeman, not Schiano. But to not have one touchdown through five games in the second half shows you are not adjusting anything offensively.
The NFL is like baseball in that players and coaches are constantly making adjustments. Not halftime adjustments, but changes and tweaks to gameplans in the middle of a series. Not being able to score a second half touchdown screams that defenses are adjusting to whatever the Bucs are doing offensively and the Bucs are not making necessary changes, accordingly.
And people raked Raheem Morris over the coals for not being prepared for games when the Bucs were often hammered in the first half before Raheem would adjust. This is the polar opposite with the same result: losses.
Little things: Joe learned long ago the little things that players do become big results. The little things are often tidbits taught by coaches. And no organization short of the United States Navy has more coaches than the Bucs. Yet yesterday, a guy who knows something about winning, Darrelle Revis, said the Bucs are not doing the little things to improve.
How can this be? Team Glazer has employed a platoon of coaches, a College of Coaches, and yet the little things are not being done? What the hell is the point then of employing 85 coaches?
Frustration is building: You could tell from Gerald McCoy’s voice that he has about had it. There may not be a better dude in the locker room than GMC. If he is reaching his frustration limit, then imagine what is going through the rest of the locker room?
Disputed call: Referees nailed the Bucs for a neutral zone infraction at a critical point in the game. Schiano, in his postgame press conference, all but claimed that was not accurate. Um-kay, then.
Joe is just going to throw this out there: How can a team with such a strict disciplinarian of a coach make so many undisciplined plays at the worst possible times? It doesn’t add up.
Missing Mike Williams: Clearly the Bucs missed Mike Williams terribly Sunday. Tiquan Underwood, unemployed from football after the Bucs cut him – and Bucs fans howled for weeks in protest – sure looked rusty yesterday. And after a rough return to the Bucs lineup for Underwood yesterday, Bucs fans screamed that Underwood is worthless.
Make up your minds! Either you wanted Underwood back or you don’t want him on the team? Can’t have both.
Pro Bowlers: Is there a team out there with eight Pro Bowl players that is winless? Joe’s not sure the Giants have eight Pro Bowlers. The Bucs have talent up and down the roster and yet their College of Coaches can’t squeeze an offensive touchdown out of them in the second half, and can’t get a win. And in the past two years, Team Glazer has dropped a quarter of a billion dollars on salaries. And what have they gotten in return for their massive investment? One win in the last 11 games. One win!
Coach Watch 2013: It is difficult to imagine even Schiano’s closest friends aren’t worried for his job. That is why Coach Watch 2013 is in full effect, though Joe really believes Schiano will finish the season, based on Team Glazer history.
Just a thought for those who want Schiano gone right now. Why? What exactly will that accomplish? Oh, it might lead to the Bucs winning an extra meaningless game or two and play themselves out of the Teddy Bridgewater/Jadeveon Clowney sweepstakes. Oh, that’s good!
Around the NFL:
Bears: If their defense improves just a little bit, that team could be an absolute force and push the Packers for the NFC North title. They may anyways.
Packers: This just in: The Packers have a defense this year, a good defense, and this is without stud Clay Matthews who is hurt. A good defense and a little bit of a running game to go along with Aaron Rodgers? Look out!
Bengals: People rag on Andy Dalton constantly. But unlike another top draft choice we all knew about locally, Dalton wins games. Period. It’s all about the “W.” Unless the Bengals tank, no need to make a quarterback change there.
Lions: Don’t close the door on the Lions. Matt Stafford has put up franchise record numbers and the team is tied with the Bears in first place. This could get interesting.
Rams: What in the world? Sam Bradford – who the Rams shamefully and stupidly have never surrounded with receiving talent despite investing a fortune in him – looked like a decent quarterback and beat the Texans. Hello, Gary Kubiak, Greg Schiano welcomes your company on the hot seat. Oh, remember how many Bucs fans screamed for days prior to the draft that the Bucs should select Tavon Austin? Well, the Rams, desperate for receivers, have benched him.
Chiefs: The fact the Chiefs are loaded with talent demonstrates that for all his faults (and there were many) Scott Pioli knew how to judge talent. Pioli’s biggest problem was he couldn’t judge coaching talent. Remember, this is largely the same team that made the playoffs with Matt Cassel as quarterback and Todd Haley as coach. That’s pretty damned impressive.
Stinking Panthers: They throttled Minnesota on the road. If they can do that to a team that made the playoffs last year, imagine what they can do to a team that has yet to score a second half touchdown this season?
Steelers: So the Men of Steel finally got a win this season. Talk about a team with too much talent not to win a game. Like Mike Tomlin said, there are no style points in the NFL. A win is a win.
Denver: Yes, the Broncos are winning. Peyton Manning is lighting up the sky. But it is the regular season. Manning’s kryptonite is largely January football. It is still October.
Seahawks: The juggernaut from the Pacific Northwest continues to roll. It sure seems like Richard Sherman gets a pick every game. Joe laughs when he reads Bucs apologists try to say numbskull Aqib Talib is the best cornerback in the NFL. Joe believes Sherman may have something to say about that.
Patriots: Joe was sick the moment he heard how Belicheat won yesterday.
49ers: Bucs fans, whenever Greg Schiano leaves, remember this name: Greg Roman. Look at the pedigree the 49ers offensive coordinator has. To that point, when was the last time a guy who was an assistant with the Crows sucked as a head coach? Joe can’t think of one offhand.
Cowboys: The Cowboys are winning with a Penn State stud and with Monte Kiffin and Rod Marinelli. Joe wants to throw up.
1) That Michigan-Penn State game was fun as hell. Who said the Big Ten is boring? Now the overtime, that was a cluster. But man, what a game and what a finish by the Nittany Lions. An instant classic.
That game reminded Joe of the time Penn State played at Michigan and collapsed in the final minute to lose with four seconds left. It was the lone loss of the season for JoePa and the Lions would later beat Florida State in an overtime thriller in the Orange Bowl.
2) There is no player, short of Famous Jameis, that Joe sets an appointment to be in front of his TV to watch than Johnny Football. The dude is so much fun to watch. Man, if Texas A&M only had a defense, a halfway decent defense, Joe is confident the Aggies would win the national title the way Johnny Football wins games and slings the football around and runs over linebackers.
For some odd reason, whenever Johnny Football runs out of the pocket, Joe hears Hanna-Barbera sound effects in the background.
3) Same as always with the Lightning. Goalie problems now that Ben Bishop is banged up. Maybe, rather than relying/hoping to develop a goalie, as the trade deadline nears Steve Yzerman should just bite the bullet and trade for a reasonably established goalie on a team not bound for the playoffs.
4) Georgia fans have to be beside themselves right now. A promising season is in the toilet due to a major rash of injuries to skill position players, and losing to (cough) Missouri, at home no less. Missouri! Joe really feels for Mark Richt.
5) Maybe Joe hasn’t seen enough of Oregon (with many of the Ducks games hidden on the PAC-12 Network) but Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota seems to be more of a runner than a thrower. In the NFL, if you can’t throw, you are SOL (why, hello Tim Tebow!). Joe would take Johnny Football and/or Jameis Winston over Mariota, unless Joe is overwhelmed with Mariota’s arm, which he is not (yet).
6) Joe cannot take credit for this, but it came from former Bucs great running back Warrick Dunn, who Twittered Oklahoma might have lost on purpose to Texas Saturday in an effort to save Mack Brown’s job, that it was some major, well-thought out, well-planned, serious long-term trolling there.
7) If somehow Jameis Winston beats Clemson on the road, beats undefeated Miami (Canes are back?) and later Florida on the road, there is no question he should be in the conversation for Heisman Trophy just like Manziel and Mariota. That’s a helluva set of hurdles, though.
8) As of this writing, the Cardinals lead the Dodgers 2-0 in the NLCS. Joe is not resting easy, however. No team has choked away more big leads in a playoff series than the Cardinals. Joe has seen enough 3-1 series leads vanish.
9) People talk about how the Rays develop pitchers, but what about the Cardinals? That team is filthy with young pitchers. They have two rookies in their rotation, a second-year guy in the rotation, two rookies playing significant relief roles, and a second-year pitcher as closer. And that team is two wins from a World Series. That is insane.
10) How huge is the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry in the Midwest? Major. Florida-Florida State major. Joe was back in the land of cornfields recently and went to a Circuit Clerk’s office to get a copy of his birth certificate. The office was adorned with Cardinals regalia and a couple in front of Joe appeared to be obtaining a marriage license. Among the questions was birthplace. When the clerk asked the groom-to-be his birthplace, he replied, “Chicago.”
The clerk’s face dropped open; she quickly turned away from her computer, faced the gentleman and asked in a hushed tone, “You are not a Cubs fan, are you?”