It’s easy to hate a word like “leadership” and many other similar terms we use when they’re slapped onto players. Oh, there are certainly good leaders and bad leaders and sort of OK leaders. But a player on a football team is always just one man out of 53, and our definition of leadership and how it applies to that one man is always shifting.
It goes like this: if the team is winning, his leadership skills are exemplary. Then suddenly if three straight games are lost, the team is said to need more leaders, or it needs leaders to step up. And then once a few games are won to correct the listing ship, all is well again, and leadership has been restored. It’s all an endless and vague target with ultimately little meaning. What matters is how the players, you know, play. That’s their foremost role.
The defining difference between coach and player is how we view leadership, as conversely it’s a word that is at the foundation of what a coach does. Sure, there’s offensive and defensive scheming too — and plenty of it — along with teaching and talent molding. But eventually, the players have to believe in the man at the top. This principle is where the cliché “buy-in” was born. There has to be an unquestioned belief that, yes, that man’s directions will lead to success, and they must be executed without hesitation.
Right now, that man isn’t Greg Schiano.
His still winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost their seventh straight game last night, getting pumped by the Panthers 31-13, a score made to look a little better than by a meaningless Bucs garbage-time touchdown. In a remarkable feat of consistency, it was the third straight game Tampa’s defense has given up 31 points, which reflects more on the offense’s failure to sustain drives than any defensive deficiency.
Darrelle Revis held Steve Smith to only 42 yards on four catches, which was key in keeping the game very much within reach at halftime, with the score 14-6. But natural fatigue set in over the final two quarters as the Panthers had the ball for just over nine minutes more, and a team that was allowing only 88.6 rushing yards per game then watched Cam Newton, DeAngelo Williams, and Mike Tolbert rush for 129 total yards combined. For Newton, his 50 rushing yards with a touchdown was a new single-game high this season. He had a fine fantasy day with 27 points on three total touchdowns, while Williams somehow scored his first rushing touchdown of the season against a defense that had only allowed one such score over six games. You’re still drunk, NFL.
In a game that didn’t truly reach blowout status until the fourth quarter, Schiano and first-year offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan asked Mike Glennon — a third-round rookie who has not just been thrown to the wolves, but they’ve now severed his limbs — to throw 51 times. That’s the highest single-game attempts total of his young career, but it’s hardly an exception. Glennon has averaged 45.3 attempts per game, and his total of 181 is a record over a rookie’s first four starts.
This is the kind of environment that will shatter a rookie quarterback, and the pieces won’t be put back together again easily. For his part, Glennon is saying peachy things about his coach, and the general toxic he’s now standing in which started piling when the man he replaced — Josh Freeman — was the target of a high school gossip girl level smear campaign.
Glennon if team has confidence in Schiano: Yes we do. He stands for the right things and we’re behind him
— Jonathan Jones (@jjones9) October 25, 2013
But his veteran teammates are saying something different entirely.
JoeBucsFan relayed a revealing little exchange in the Bucs locker room following a question which usually generates another clichéd answer similar to Glennon’s. Revis, Tampa’s marquee offseason acquisition, was asked if collectively the team still believes in Schiano’s scheme and the coaching staff. His response began with the words “I don’t know“.
“I don’t know. I don’t know. You know, we got a game plan every week. We gotta stick to the gameplan. We gotta abide by the gameplan and what we’re trying to do to win. I don’t think guys are literally going out there and trying to do their own thing. You know, in every game there are mistakes up and down the board. You know, the word that we have to get to and we have to focus on is consistency. That’s all. And at this point, that’s a hard word for us to try to do, to try to do that, to be consistent.”
Then Revis was asked directly if Schiano would be fired, and his reply was that it wouldn’t be surprising. Yes, that certainly sounds like a team that has confidence in its bully, dictator jerk of a head coach, and thinks he stands for the right things as Glennon says.
There are logistics to be considered when terminating any head coach, which is likely why both Michael Silver and Ian Rapoport don’t expect the axe to fall swiftly on Schiano, at least not today. But oh, it’ll come, and when it does Schiano will join the graveyard of college coaches who couldn’t differentiate between boys and men while taking his Nicholas Brody approach, and creating an environment that feels “like Cuba” according to one former player. Or better, “pure misery“.
At some point, job enjoyment leads to job success. Schiano may never understand how to create the former in the NFL, so he’ll never get to experience the latter.
More notes, stray thoughts, and other such randomness
A public sign saying how much you suck
I was once told that we’re all human, and therefore we all make mistakes at our various professions. It happens, and when it does you may curse a little, learn from it, and move on.
But what if after you made a mistake, there was a menacing flame-filled billboard asking for your dismissal? Why, then you’d be Greg Schiano…
Oh thanks, this is helpful
So you’re a Doug Martin fantasy owner, and you’ve been given the glorious gift of hope following reports that your top running back — one you possibly selected with the first overall pick — isn’t out for the season due to his labrum tear, and instead he’s just out for…well, a while.
But how long, exactly? Buckle up, kid. You’re in for one helluva ride.
— Alex Marvez (@alexmarvez) October 25, 2013
The Rams calling Favre wasn’t about Favre
Yesterday we all had a jolly good laugh after reports surfaced — and were later confirmed — that the Rams called Brett Favre, casting him a lifeline in their attempt to replace the injured Sam Bradford with someone who isn’t Kellen Clemons.
Instinctively, the football public at large now gets angry and agitated upon even hearing Favre’s name in this context, which is an understandable reaction after all those years when he said yes, then no, and then yes again while contemplating his future. But this time, that reaction made little sense.
Favre is just chillin’ right now while enjoying retirement, and his outlet for post-football competitive urges is, well, football, but this time it’s coaching at the high school level. He also happens to be doing that as he’s staying in better shape at the age of 44 than you’ll be in ever, but hey, good for him I guess.
All Favre did yesterday (or more accurately, all his agent did) was answer a phone. That’s not on him, and as Yahoo’s Dan Wetzel writes, that call being placed says much, much more about the Rams than it does about Favre.
The NFL has a whole host of problems right now – and, mind you, a whole host of profits. Taking nothing from the seriousness of player health and safety, its most pressing concern just might be the dearth of capable quarterbacks.
That there aren’t 32 quality quarterbacks for the NFL’s 32 franchises has been obvious for years now. If you don’t have a good one, you don’t stand a chance at winning. That’s long been true. Now, however, if you don’t have an even OK one, you struggle to not embarrass yourself.
The problem is there may be only 15-20 good quarterbacks in the world. And after that, 20 more who are even remotely capable of handling the position. The job is just that difficult and with injuries and poor roster moves, the inch-deep pool of reserves becomes increasingly obvious.
A Kaepernicking pumpkin
All Internet things ending in “ing” need to DIE DIE DIE, mostly because they are the dumbest way you can ever spend even several seconds of your life. Also, you might actually die…
But I’ll admit this is sort of cool, because it takes real talent. Behold, the Kaepernicking pumpkin.