Posted October 25, 2013

Panthers thrash winless Buccaneers as calls for Schiano’s job increase in volume

Carolina Panthers, NFC South, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Greg Schiano

Thursday night wasn’t Greg Schiano’s or the Bucs’ best outing, as they lost 31-13 to Carolina. (Gary Bogdon/SI)

For the 2013 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the only thing more dangerous than the games might be the days away from the games. In the four days since the 31-23 loss to the Atlanta Falcons that dropped his team to 0-6, head coach Greg Schiano has been pummeled by local billboards calling for his firing, and stories from NFL insiders detailing nightmare scenarios from players both current and former. NFL.com’s Mike Silver quoted one player who spent 2012 with the team who said that Schiano had created an environment that was “like Cuba,” and it’s fairly obvious that he’s lost the locker room full of his current players. Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported before Thursday’s home game against the Carolina Panthers that Schiano could be very close to a in-season firing if the Bucs “suffer a string of embarrassing losses, show a lack of effort, and if there is an ‘obvious loss of the locker room’ including current players speaking out against Schiano.”

It’s tough to question effort unless you know what players are thinking, but there’s no questioning the toxicity of the situation Schiano has created — both literally and figuratively. As for the embarrassing losses, Tampa Bay has been within a touchdown in just two of their seven losses this season, and the Bucs’ 31-13 loss to the Panthers continued that trend.

Those fans who stayed to the bitter end at Raymond James Stadium entertained themselves by booing (quite frequently, starting early in the second quarter), while two observers attended the game in hazmat suits bearing the names “Schiano” and “Sheridan” — the second suit a clear dig at defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan, and an obvious reference to the recent outbreaks of MRSA in the locker room. It may be telling that stadium security seemed to have no problem with it.

“That doesn’t affect me,” Schiano said in his postgame press conference. “People are certainly entitled to their opinions. Here’s the thing — my whole career, player and a coach, you work as hard and as smart as you can. It usually puts you to bed tired, and you get up and do it again.”

People are tired of that particular orbit, and it’s not just Schiano under fire. Offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan has been bashed for his predictable passing concepts, and Sheridan, blasted by fans for playing high-priced cornerback Darrelle Revis in zone mismatches, recently invited those same aggrieved fans to come to One Buc Place and help him draw stuff up. After the loss to the Falcons, some fans did show up and were denied entry.

After one third-down catch in the first quarter where Smith navigated through the zone, Sheridan wisely flipped the script to have Revis follow Smith wherever he went, and Revis was able to limit Smith to four catches for 42 yards on the night.

Cam Newton

Can Newton was unstoppable most of the night — and through most of the last three games. (Greg Bogdon/SI)

That didn’t matter, though, because Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was on his game from start to finish. After his dynamite rookie season in 2011, former offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski put too much of the passing game on Newton’s shoulders, but replacement Mike Shula has gradually implemented a rushing attack that rivals the one Newton had two seasons ago in multiplicity and effectiveness. And out of that selection of run schemes, Newton has been especially good, completing 23 on 32 passes for 221 yards for two touchdowns through the air, and 55 yards and another score on the ground.

In his last three games, Newton has completed 58 of 75 passes for 667 yards, six touchdowns, and no interceptions. More than ever before, he’s been composed in the pocket, dynamic on the move, and able to run a complicated offense in all its facets.

“Our guys have been very good professionals,” Newton told NFL Network after the win. “Little things — having a good week of practice, a good week of preparation, being in tune, and it’s been carrying over into the games.”

Newton credited Shula, backup quarterback Derek Anderson and quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey for his recent development, and said the quarterback group “has been staying after [practice] as long I needed them to. Just to get somewhat of a look, and the throws that are going in this particular week. It’s been carrying over, and it’s helped a lot.”

Carolina started slow-rolling the Bucs from the start, going 70 yards in 15 plays and taking 8:52 off the clock. Newton threw a one-yard touchdown pass to tight end Greg Olsen at the end of that drive, and Olsen was wide open on the left side of the end zone, despite heading there from the right side of the formation on a drag route. Tampa Bay’s defense was too busy over-focusing on Newton to realize it, and that’s the way things went from start to finish for the Bucs.

To be fair to the players on the losing side, there were a few fine individual efforts. Rookie quarterback Mike Glennon showed a good deep ball and excellent touch on some difficult throws, though he was vulnerable to pressure too often. He had to throw too often in the second half, and his 275 passing yards were empty calories to a point, because they came on 51 attempts. Linebacker Lavonte David continued a string of highlight plays that had him in the 2012 Defensive Rookie of the Year discussion. Receiver Vincent Jackson exhibited good awareness on a comeback route in the first quarter when Glennon escaped pressure, and Revis was effective when the schemes allowed him to be.

Lost in the Tampa Bay debacle is the simple fact the Panthers, who moved to 4-3 with the win and have a winning record for the first time since 2008 — and the first time since Cam Newton became the QB — proved to be a worthy contender against any team. Newton has been a relative revelation this season, but the Panthers’ front seven has been just as impressive throughout this year. The receivers are inconsistent outside of Smith, but running back DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert both saw opportunities to shine. It will be devalued because they won this game against a franchise that has become an embarrassment, but they’ve won four out of their last five games, and that’s the kind of momentum that can carry them along.

“It was big,” Williams told NFL Network’s Alex Flanagan. “That’s what you play for all year — you play for touchdowns and wins. I think we found our identity. We try to be balanced, and we try not to be one-dimensional. We try to do what we do better than they do what they do.”

That was an easy task on this night, but there seems to be more to the story for the Panthers.

At the end of his postgame interview, Newton talked about how the Carolina players and coaches are “rankless and tagless” — that anybody can confront, or seek help from, anybody else in the building. It’s just as clearly working on the Carolina side as Schiano’s insistence on total control is eating his team away from the inside out — and very soon, his job with it.

32 comments
playemball
playemball

Cam with the 1st down hand gestures..and the superman escapade shows he's an arrogant jerk!  Has a lot of growing up to do..

bustinbeats1
bustinbeats1

Tampa's ownership is trying to avoid a mid-season coaching change for very obvious reasons....this is pro ball , and you aren't supposed to screw up this badly on ANY personnel decisions , especially when it comes to the stuff that isn't subject to on-field variables like injuries . This looks more like a GM (and ownership group) trying to ride out a bad storm instead of making a hard and embarrassing change in the middle of a campaign.  Schiano is gone , but I understand the reluctance to do it mid-season .  As a Seahawk homer, I don't need Tampa trying to "win one for the new coach" when   they come up here next week , not that I am particularly worried about the Bucs in the first place. 

I feel sorry for the college program that picks up this jerk.....good luck with your recruiting efforts , after this high-profile NFL exposure of Schiano's coaching style ...... what high school kid is going to want to play for this guy ?  Only the kids without ANY other decent options, for sure.    

Fifilo
Fifilo

The lousy Dolphins account for all of Florida's NFL wins.

j7apple
j7apple

At best the Panthers win 3 of their next 9

Rickapolis
Rickapolis

"...you work as hard and as smart as you can..."

Well, that pretty much explains it, doesn't it. As hard and as smart as he can is not nearly good enough. Not nearly.

ngk11
ngk11

I dont have any feelings towards Tampa either way, But is there a bigger D- Bag in the NFL than schiano? I mean how can you respect a guy that encourages his players to dive at another teams knees when they are just ending a game? I hope he has to go to a soup kitchen to feed his family soon

YuckDaFankees
YuckDaFankees

Honestly the Glazers aren't going to fire him until they can weasel out of his contract for leaking drug testing info.  Never underestimate cheap b_stard owners.

DSM
DSM

Schiano's biggest media booster before this year--Peter King of SI--has been uncharacteristically silent during this debacle.  And Schiano's bigest (some say only) NFL booster was Bellicheck, which is surprising.

laurielynn78
laurielynn78

Panthers are the dark horse team of the NFC. Watch out for them.

JohnHillman
JohnHillman

Has Sciano ever heard of Tom Coughlan? He USED to be a "total control" coach. He changed and has won 2 Super Bowls. The Giants play in New Jersey where Rutgers is. Sciano is the Homer Simpson of football coaches DOH

joeshine730
joeshine730

And throw that snake liar Butch Davis off the staff also.

joeshine730
joeshine730

Just fire this bum Schiano for lying to the players and to the press and to ownership. screw the contract just boot this trud out of the NFL.

bartleby'sdog
bartleby'sdog

As soon as that joker started attacking the Kneel Down I knew he was doomed. He's just another wayward ego adrift in the sports world. Bring up his name next year and you're likely to get a "Who?" in response.

ki.nazir72
ki.nazir72

Terrible hire, took one look at that coach and knew he wasn't going to last long!  Being viewed as a dictator and moose brain doesn't work anywhere.  You can be tough and disciplined, but if you make the rule, you had better not be the first person to break that rule or you are finished.  You hire a moose brained defensive coordinator who challenges fans to come down, but deny them access to that challenge, they should have allowed him to keep his cowardly words...

Travis R
Travis R

Is this the NFL coverage we're to expect anymore?  Even over on ESPN they're praising Cam and the Panthers for being "on a roll" and over .500 for the first time since 2008.  I'm sorry but they've won 4 games over 4 teams with a combined record of 5-22!  Yes, they've won 3 in a row and 4 out of 5 with their only loss in that span coming to the woeful Cardinals but even including the Cardinals, the combined record of those 5 teams was only 8-26!  What's the headline going to be when the Panthers lose the next 4 to the Falcons, 49ers, Patriots and Dolphins, Cam is playing, well, the way Cam usually plays, aka mediocre, and is pouting with a towel over his head?  We'll probably be saying "at least the Bucs are coming to town!"

HarshRealities
HarshRealities

Who are the Bucs going to get to be HC when they fire Schiano? A little history lesson. Why did the Bucs promote Rah Rah Morris from position coach to defensive coordinator to HC in a span of 2 weeks? It is because no decent prospective HC would even return phone calls to the Bucs. Why did the Bucs hire Schiano? Again, no decent prospective head coach wanted anything to do with Bucs ownership and management. Who would want to become HC of a team with glaring holes in the offensive and defensive lines and the team has a bunch of whiners as leaders. These whiners were use to going out and partying with Rah Rah Morris after practice and games, going to bars or strip joints. They don't like to be told to start acting as professionals. There is no Sapp or Brooks or Barber on this team to provide leadership. The players have no pride. Bunch of pathetic cry babies on this team.

NoQNoSuperBowl
NoQNoSuperBowl

John Wooden was also what we would now call a control freak. Difference was he knew his game and there was a reason for his rules besides just to prove he was "'the man." 

This was a very bad hire. Time to put a period on it and move on.


keelaar
keelaar

I haven't followed the Buc's closely however when I saw them fire off on the kneel down I knew they were in trouble big time. It was a stupid move by a stupid coach. Gave everyone in the league a reason to want to beat the buc's. They can't win a game with a weak sched. There is too much talent on that team to be losing every week. 


help4mac1
help4mac1

We should have realized since Barber retired after last year.

Travis R
Travis R

@laurielynn78 Please let us know if you still feel that way in four weeks when they're 4-7.

ncedwomack
ncedwomack

@Travis R Why would you assume the Panthers are going to lose to all 4 of the next teams? They have a top defense and the last time they played the Falcons the Panthers won by 10. This team is better than the team last year. It's not like they are barely winning against bad teams. They are thrashing bad teams....badly. Hating for the sake of being a hater is kinda pointless. The Bucs have a top ten rushing defense and the Panthers still put 130 yards on 'em on the ground. The Falcons are falling apart. The Patriots are not as good as they used to be and their lucky streak will end in a few weeks. The game that is scariest in the next four weeks is the 49ers. The question is, if the Panthers beat the Falcons and the 49ers will everybody stop hating? Probably not...

The Dude
The Dude

@HarshRealities yeah, but Tampa has great strip clubs. Low priced hand jabs and just a little more for a blow.

Rickapolis
Rickapolis

@HarshRealities There are plenty of coaches that would accept their first head coaching job in hell if it was offered, just to get the opportunity. 

yummypeaches
yummypeaches

@HarshRealities LOL . What football coach would want to be a HC in Florida ? Tampa has some good pieces in place and will get a top pick in loaded draft class . The Bucs could get a top coach or HC prospect easily . Schiano was a swing for the fences move that backfired . No need to get reckless . They can get there pick of the litter .

bustinbeats1
bustinbeats1

@Travis R @laurielynn78   I hope Laurie is right, and the Panthers somehow sneak in as a wildcard, then somehow manage to win a road game against a weak Dallas , Chicago or G.B.  squad  .... We could have fun up here in Seattle , dismantling the Panthers while killin' time waiting for the Saints to come back for a repeat of the butt-kickin' they're gonna get up here in December. 

Bottomline : The Panthers are actually playing slightly better football right now than most of the NFC's frontrunners, at this particular point in the season..... which ain't really saying much when it comes to the Cowgirls or the Packers. The Saints are going to win the NFC South easily, unless Brees goes down , so anything Carolina does will be as a wildcard on the road.  




Travis R
Travis R

@ncedwomack It's not "hating" to point out that they've only played one team that is currently over .500 all year (Seattle) in the first game of the season.  I also question the validity of your "thrashing bad teams" statement when two of their losses are to the Bills and Cardinals, who both certainly qualify as "bad teams".  All I was saying is lets not start popping champagne bottles when the Panthers have only played one team that could even be considered decent to this point and they're barely over .500, especially when the meat of their schedule is now right in front of them.  In fact, they'll be lucky to finish the season 7-9, I think 6-10 is more realistic, if they can beat either the Jets or Dolphins, 7-9 if they beat both.