The Tampa Bay Buccaneers unfortunately sit at 1-2, but have Schiano's late game antics regarding his defense become dirty sportsmanship?
On some level, yes. However, it does not entirely make Schiano a dirty coach.
"It’s usually just an honor system. If the game’s over, there’s no point in really doing anything," defensive end Stephen Bowen said. "That makes you actually start not liking a person. I really don’t understand it."
With that said, let's dive in and try to make sense of Schiano's decision making.
Schiano certainly took advantage of the replacement referees.
Coaches all over the NFL tried everything possible to gain a competitive advantage, so why not do the same here? As we saw throughout the preseason and during the regular season, the replacement referees missed a lot of minuscule details that occur in pro football.
Whether it be a misplaced spot, numerous penalties or too many flags, bulldozing offensive linemen on a kneel-down simply adds to that list. These referees certainly weren't expecting it against the Giants and what if Big Blue retaliates?
A flag then gets thrown and the clock stops. Within seconds, the complexion of the game changes and the Bucs are in business. Here, Schiano was just capitalizing on weak officiating and it's more surprising that other coaches didn't attempt this.
Anything can happen on any play.
And if we've learned one thing from each "Miracle in the Meadowlands," it's that late game miscues are capable of occurring. Now yes, the odds of something crazy happening on a kneel-down are slim to none.
However, there's always that small possibility of the quarterback tripping, then fumbling as the offensive line gets pushed backward. Even if the offense is expecting penetration from the defensive line, a quick enough burst could certainly mess up the snap.
Maybe the center doesn't snap the ball quick enough or the transition to the quarterback slips. In short, this is about playing through the whistle which then becomes the officials' responsibility.
Therefore, if the referees want to avoid a confrontation a quicker whistle on a kneel-down must happen.
Because the Buccaneers are such a young team a new coach like Schiano must have a consistent philosophy.
Every coach, regardless of sport, at every level obviously wants their players to go 100 percent between the whistle. Well, that includes plays even when the contest is seemingly over.
This is also a tricky situation, though. On one hand, everyone knows the game is over but the players are taught to never give up. On the other hand, telling the players to sit back when a freak turnover remains a possibility sends a mixed message.
And for a team with inexperience across the board compared to other NFL squads, telling them to back off from a kneel-down may seep its way into earlier game situations. So even if Tampa Bay doesn't have issues when facing a kneel-down, the young players may interpret that as being okay to relax on other plays.
There's a fine line between playing through the whistle when it comes to a specific game situation. If this becomes a weekly occurrence from Tampa Bay then "dirty play" is a reasonable perspective.
But, we still must take into consideration that Schiano is a first-year NFL head coach in control of a young team.
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