Schiano Sought Unlikely Punt ScenarioDecember 10th, 2012
Greg Schiano was grilled by a Bucs-fan caller to his radio show tonight about the now infamous 3rd-and-8 run up the middle for no gain yesterday – on the Bucs’ 33 yard line with 2:55 remaining and the Bucs leading the Eagles 21-16.
The fan hated the playcall and wanted to know what Schiano was thinking.
The leader of the New Schiano Order explained that he ran up the middle to lessen the chance of a turnover and he was looking for a subsequent punt from Michael Koenen that would pin the Eagles inside their 20 yard line. Schiano said he had confidence his defense could stop a timeout-free Nick Foles to close out the game and that confidence was the driving force of his decision.
Well, the punt part of the equation didn’t sit well with Joe.
Essentially, Schiano was looking for a net punt from Koenen of 47 yards or better — from the Bucs’ 33 to the Eagles’ 20 or less. But the problem is the Bucs’ net average on punts is only 37 yards this season and, statistically, the Bucs have one of the worst punt-cover units in the NFL.
So given those numbers, Joe finds Schiano’s goal of a booming punt to be unrealistic. (Koenen’s eventual punt was 31 yards with no return.)
And if Schiano expected such a booming punt, then surely he expected it to be returned, which is what happens to long punts. That would have been a far more dangerous scenario than calling a safe pass for Josh Freeman to throw on third down. The Bucs have such safe playcalls in their playbook — Schiano admitted that on the air — perhaps something like sprinting Freeman right and giving him a run or throw-to-the-right-sideline option.
Joe understands Schiano believed more in his league-worst pass defense than in Freeman to win the game for him, but the big-punt fantasy never should have been part of the thought process.