The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' issues under head coach Greg Schiano are glaringly apparent on the field, where they've started 0-6 in 2013, rank dead last in total offense and are second to last in scoring offense. According to an article by NFL.com's Michael Silver, however, it is the issues that the Schiano is producing off the field -- namely his autocratic style and disrespectful treatment of players and coaches -- that is threatening a mutiny aboard the Buc's listing ship.
In his article, Silver quotes multiple sources within the Tampa Bay organization and around the league who claim that Schiano's totalitarian approach to leadership makes working or playing under him an unbearable experience. Since his days at Rutgers, where he led the Scarlet Knight's to one of the more impressive turnarounds in recent college football history, he has been known as a controlling figure, and several players, including one that likened playing under Schiano to "being in Cuba," told Silver his my-way-or-the-highway approach has alienated him from the locker room.
"I think he just wants to flex his power," said former Bucs defensive end Michael Bennett, who played under Schiano in 2012 before signing with the Seahawks in the offseason. "He has small (man's) syndrome. I still talk to guys who are there, and trust me, there's not much respect for him in that locker room."
This alienation reportedly escalated during the well-noted Josh Freeman debacle, in which the head coach and franchise quarterback went through an ugly public spat -- including rumors of a rigged vote to strip Freeman of his team captaincy and allegations of intentionally leaked reports of the quarterback's rumored drug use -- that eventually led to Freeman's release.
Schiano's reputation around the league began taking hits in a game against the Giants in 2012, when he ordered his defensive lineman to crash the line of scrimmage and attempt to strip the ball from Eli Manning as he went to kneel out the clock. The incident led to a post-game scolding from Tom Coughlin and a hefty dose of bad press. After the order was repeated again at the end of a loss against Peyton Manning and the Broncos later that season, Eli's usually reserved older brother reportedly cursed Schiano out on the field.
Silver reports another incident late in the 2012 season in which Schiano threatened to fire assistant coach Bob Ligashesky in an angry tirade after Ligashesky accidentally wandered onto the wrong area of the field during practice. When the Bucs held a joint practice session with the Patriots during the summer of 2012, some players were turned off by Schiano's child-like reverence for Bill Belicheck.
"He gathered us before we practiced and told us that if Belichick said something to us on the field, we should listen," one current Bucs player told Silver. "He said, 'Treat their coaches like they're your coaches.' We were like, 'Huh?' When we practiced together, whatever Belichick wanted, he did. It was hilarious -- here (Schiano) is, acting like Mr. Tough Guy all the time, and when Belichick wanted something, he was like, 'Yes, Bill.' "
Success in the NFL is determined by wins and losses, not by whether your players want to have a beer with you. There is a long list of hard-nosed coaches that have thrived in the NFL (including Coughlin, for what it's worth). Yet in the absence of wins, behavior such as Schiano's is certain to become an issue.
Clearly his autocratic style is not working in Tampa, and barring a historic turnaround, it will almost certainly cost him his job at the end of, if not during, this season.