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Future For Bucs Is Bright If They Play Their Cards Right

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TAMPA, FL - DECEMBER 15: Greg Schiano, head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, watches the action during a game against the San Francisco 49ers at Raymond James Stadium on December 15, 2013 in Tampa, Florida. San Francisco won the game 33-14. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Credit, Stacy Revere/Getty Images

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By Max Luckan

Sunday, after another crushing loss to the New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Head Coach Greg Schiano said, “See you tomorrow,” to the media gathered at the New Orleans Superdome. On Monday, Schiano was right, except his next press conference was far from typical. At around noon, the Glazer family, the team’s owners, announced the decision to fire him and general manager Mark Dominik.

It’s hard to say why Greg Schiano didn’t succeed as head coach, and there is plenty to be said in his defense: Josh Freeman was never Schiano’s guy, the MRSA scare was a distraction and the injuries  piled up. Schiano inherited a bad situation. All are valid excuses

The problem is that when Schiano was hired, he was brought in as a disciplinarian who would get this team back under control. Although he did that, he went too far. The players were never going to love him and, although they certainly respected him, they could never really connect with him. They considered his collegiate disciplinary mentality unideal for an NFL locker room. Most won’t say that publicly but that is what they were thinking.

Schiano got rid of the troublemakers, including Aqib Talib, Tanard Jackson, Kellen Winslow and LeGarrette Blount. That’s what he was supposed to do. But it seems like Schiano forgot about the other part of his job: winning football games. In his two seasons as the Bucs head coach, Schiano finished with a record of 11-21.

Spending money in free agency and on cornerback Darrelle Revis, the Glazers were expecting at least a decent return on their hefty investments. Ultimately, that never happened Schiano and Dominik’s watch.

In fact, the Glazers saw Sunday’s 42-17 loss to the Saints as a microcosm of the team’s entire regular season. The underlying theme was a lack of improvement and even regression. Sunday night, the owners had almost seen enough.

Bryan Glazer did not even take the team plane back to Tampa, something he usually does. He had a lot of thinking to do. But the Glazers weren’t going to make a rash decision, so they planned another meeting for Monday morning. It was then that they showed Schiano and Dominik the door.

Bucs players were certainly not expecting Schiano to be fired, that’s for sure. Captain and Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy even said that he would be upset if Schiano were to be fired.

“Yeah, me and Coach are actually friends,” McCoy said. “We have a really good relationship outside of football. He’s a great guy. [He’s] more than just a good guy. He’s a great coach. I can honestly say I’ve known more about football in the past two years than I have in my entire life.”

There’s no question Schiano was all about the game all the time. His meticulous nature was a key sign that he was always focused, always willing to talk about football. And you would be hard pressed to find a time when Schiano wasn’t wearing a whistle around his neck. A lack of desire and passion was not Schiano’s problem.

It just appeared as if Schiano was overwhelmed with the situation the Bucs threw him into. He had spent the last 11 years at Rutgers, where he was around college kids and in the process of building a football program from the ground up. The circus that Raheem Morris left in Tampa was a whole other beast. Maybe Schiano could have steered the ship in the right direction in Tampa had he had more time, but the NFL is a tough, performance-based business and the Glazers  could not afford to wait. Schiano, being a pure football guy, will understand that.

Mark Dominik has been a member of the Bucs organization for more than a decade, but even he was not sacred this time. Dominik had much longer than Schiano and still could not produce a winning football team. He also was the one who hired Morris and Schiano and missed both times.

Then there’s the issue with drafting Josh Freeman. Freeman was Dominik’s pick and the Glazers, in the end, put a lot of the team’s failures in the first couple of games of the season, on Freeman.

Dominik did add a lot of talent to this Bucs roster and is responsible for key draft picks Mark Barron, Lavonte David and Johnthan Banks. However, his overall record as general manager was simply unacceptable and since the Glazers are going in a new direction, Dominik had to go along with Schiano.

The future can still be very bright for this Bucs team. If they hire the right people, the Bucs could easily find themselves in the playoffs next season. Lovie Smith is one option for the next head coach position. Smith has coached in Tampa before and is very well-respected in NFL circles. However, many other teams will also pursue Smith. Another potential option is current Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase.

Either way, the team’s owners will do their due diligence in their search for the next head coach and general manager. The Bucs have too much talent on the roster to waste and the urgency to win now is there.

The Glazers have shown that they are willing to spend money and they are committed to winning, but now, they need the right people to steer this struggling franchise back in the right direction.

For more Bucs news and updates, visit Bucs Central.

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.

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