This was what the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were supposed to do last year. After narrowly missing the playoffs in 2010, the Raheem Morris-led Bucs were sure to gain at least a wild-card berth.
Obviously, that never happened and the Greg Schiano era was born from the ashes. This is one of those situations where you can say that everything worked out for the best.
Well, at least for Tampa Bay. Not so much for the rest of the league.
Schiano has completely remade the Bucs in his image. Which, it turns out, is a feisty winner that cannot be counted out.
The Bucs Look Like They're Having Fun
I know what you're thinking.
"Greg Schiano is not about fun. He's about discipline, hard work and strict adherence to his principles. This 'writer' has lost his marbles."
The last sentence has some validity. However, just because Schiano is a hard-liner, it doesn't mean that his team doesn't have fun.
There's a freedom that comes from discipline. The confidence that the man next to you is going to get the job done forces you to do so too.
This approach creates an environment that promotes a certain pride in your job. The simple things like laying a block, finishing a play or running hard mean more.
You can't quantify it, except in the wins column.
Pounding the Rock has Created a Wide-Open Offense
It seems counter-intuitive. How has the renewed emphasis to running the ball opened up the offense?
Simple (a key theme in Tampa this year). By being so dedicated to the run, the Bucs have relaxed the entire offense.
Josh Freeman knows that the running game will be prominently featured.
Not only does it keep the defense stacked near the line of scrimmage, but the constant positive rushing plays lead to the same relaxed and positive attitude that Schiano has instilled throughout the program.
Thus, when Freeman drops back, he isn't being asked to carry the offense. Positive plays beget more positive plays.
I understand that the themes expressed here seem simple. It's because they are. Don't complicate it. That's the Schiano way. And it works.