Reporting Kirk McEwen
Well, Week 1 of the NFL season is in the books and there are 16 cities trying to shake off a loss. It’s safe to say that no defeat stung more this past weekend than the Buccaneers face-plant at the hands of the Jets and, fair or not, that falls squarely at the feet of the head coach. Thirteen penalties for 102 yards (vs. 6 for 46 yards for New York) is Greg Schiano’s problem, as is the game’s miserable start, lack of discipline and vanilla play-calling. The Bucs let a rookie QB and a beleaguered coach in Geno Smith and Rex Ryan hang around and steal one. This weekend a 1-0 New Orleans Saints team marches in with a renewed head coach and an undisputed leader in Sean Payton and Drew Brees. This isn’t just an early season battle between inter-division rivals. No, this is so much more especially where Greg Schiano and his fledgling NFL head coaching career are concerned.
The first game of the season is so important, not just in the win-loss column but in the psyche of the football team. Lose that first game and it makes things much more difficult going forward. This is why the odds get increasingly stacked against a team with early season losses reaching the playoffs. Which leads us to this year’s edition of the Pewter Pirates. As with winning, losing is contagious, too. You can bet Schiano’s team will be looking to him this week to back this car out of the ditch, so to speak. After losing a game most people had penciled in as a win, coming up on a game many expect you to lose compounds the problem. A loss to New Orleans after a victory over the Jets would have been easier to swallow. Losing to the Saints in the home opener could be catastrophic, especially with a trip to Foxboro and the Patriots next on the schedule. Start the year 0-3 and Schiano’s problems multiply like wet Gremlins! To get out of the gate 0-3 would doom this season and mute Schiano’s message to those who he needs most: those 53 men in that locker room. I can’t put it any plainer when I say the Bucs must win game 2.
Follow Kirk on Twitter @KirkMcEwen