After starting the season 4-2, the Bucs lost 10 games in a row, seven by double digits. Heads rolled, including then-head coach Raheem Morris, and the fanbase suffered through an offseason of uncertainty.
That is, until new head coach Greg Schiano was hired to overhaul the franchise and general manager Mark Dominik masterfully pieced together a top-notch draft.
Now, players such as Donald Penn can’t wait to hit the field (via Tampa Tribune):
Last year was real tough, and that's why I can't wait to get going. That's why I wish the season was starting right now, because we all know that what we put on the field last year wasn't as good as it should have been.
However, even though camp started Thursday, several players will have to wait until a later date to hit the field.
Stephen Holder of the Tampa Bay Times sent out a tweet Thursday saying that several players failed a conditioning test. Until they pass, they’re on the sidelines:
Some players who failed #Bucs conditioning test will be held out of practice until they're appropriately conditioned, per Schiano.
— Stephen Holder (@HolderStephen) July 26, 2012
The conditioning test included 16 110-yard runs with only a short 45-second break in between. Schiano wouldn’t go into specifics, but he said in a press conference that each player would be dealt with on a case-by-case basis and that the required times to pass the test were based on body type.
Schiano called the conditioning test tough but fair.
That seems to be the general consensus on the Schiano era in Tampa Bay thus far too: tough but fair. If a player wasn’t willing to step in line and handle business in what Schiano felt was the new “Buccaneer way,” that player was removed from the equation.
Examples are safety Tanard Jackson and tight end Kellen Winslow. Both gone after failing to show Schiano that they had bought into his new system.
Schiano has also pushed his players this offseason both mentally and physically, and he set up rules and guidelines with very little room for error. Schiano is trying to set a franchise back on course after it went painfully awry last season—a task that’s not going to be an easy job for the new hard-nosed head coach.
Schiano seems to be the micro-managing type—from the rules, tight guidelines and exact temperature of meeting rooms to these most recent failed conditioning tests. But instead of his players rebelling, the 90 that stuck around are embracing Schiano's “Buccaneer Way.”
Both quarterback Josh Freeman and safety Ronde Barber talked to Holder about a sense of optimism, one that wasn’t there before. They praised the head coach and said Schiano was here to win.
For a group of guys that suffered through an epic losing streak in 2011 and watched their team crumble in front of them, for a fanbase that couldn’t quite understand how a young team looked great on paper but couldn’t put anything remotely resembling a win together, being "here to win" means everything.
Hard-nosed or not, Schiano is a welcome addition to Buccaneer Nation.