By Max Luckan
Greg Schiano has been criticized all season long. But now, he deserves some praise.
All of a sudden, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a surprising amount of confidence in their game.
The defense has been playing inspired football recently, and that was really evident in the game against the Seattle Seahawks. The offensive line has performed much better ever since head coach Greg Schiano did some more shuffling and made some adjustments. The play of quarterback Mike Glennon has steadily improved, and the running game has come to life.
Schiano, who has been on the hot seat basically since Week 3, was certainly relieved that the Bucs were finally able to get a win, because for him, it makes life just a tad easier for now.
“It feels better,” Schiano said. “Everything feels better when you win.”
“First, it’s getting that win, right? As the losses mount, that one win gets harder and harder. I hope now our guys can go out and play and not feel that pressure. I know they said there was no pressure, but I think human nature puts that pressure on you.”
For Schiano, that pressure remains. Job security for the coach, at this point, is still basically an oxymoron. Even if the Bucs manage to win two more games this season, which is unlikely given their remaining schedule, the signs still point to Schiano being run out of town.
But regardless of the outcomes of the remaining games, the interesting thing is that talent evaluation seems to be Schiano’s strength, which has gone largely unnoticed.
Schiano has done his job drafting players
The best way to prove that Schiano has an eye for talent is by referencing the recent draft selections the Bucs have made.
For one, it is unlikely that general manager Mark Dominik and former Bucs head coach Raheem Morris would have passed on running back Trent Richardson or cornerback Morris Claiborne in favor of current Bucs safety Mark Barron. Richardson has underperformed for the most part and has been injured often, and Claiborne hasn’t even been a full-time starter for the Dallas Cowboys.
Barron, meanwhile, has emerged as a tough, versatile safety, who is feared by opposing receivers. Barron is one of the top safeties in the league in only his second year in the NFL.
Then there’s linebacker Lavonte David, who already has 217 tackles in his short career. Coming out of college, David was touted as undersized for a linebacker. Again, it is unlikely that Morris and Dominik would have gambled on David. But Schiano saw how effective David’s speed was, and now in his second season, he’s one of the top linebackers in the league.
Finally, there’s Glennon. In six starts this season, Glennon has thrown for 1,304 yards, nine touchdowns, and only four interceptions. His completion percentage is hovering around 60 percent, but he is showing improvement every week. Obviously, Schiano was not a fan of Josh Freeman, as he practically ran him out of town. Dominik and Morris drafted Freeman, so that was definitely not on Schiano. But Glennon is fully Schiano’s guy. If he doesn’t pan out, that’s totally on Schiano. Luckily for Schiano, Glennon has been rather impressive and has surprised us with his above average mobility so far.
In Glennon’s case, we will have to wait until the end of the season to see how he performs the rest of the way. But for Barron and David, they have already proven they are capable of being top players at their respective positions in the NFL.
And for that, Schiano deserves credit.
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Max Luckan lives in Tampa, FL and is a sports writer covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and NFL. Luckan has been covering the Buccaneers for a few years now. Max is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.