So Greg Schiano has his scapegoat: A beleaguered, beaten down Josh Freeman who we've been led to believe is a druggie, tardy, fined, uncaring deadbeat who can't roll his lazy bottom out of the bed and make picture day on time.
Freeman has been buried under a mountain of anonymous leaks that may or may not have come from his own team. Huggies don't spring so many holes. I was expecting the next series of leaks to blame Freeman for the end of Breaking Bad. "Sources: Freeman caused the government shutdown."
Freeman deserves his share of blame for this divorce, but the Bucs are the biggest reason this became one of the most poorly-handled personnel situations in recent NFL history. In dealing with Freeman so clumsily, the Buccaneers returned to the pre-Tony Dungy "Yuccaneers" era.
The blame goes to one person: Schiano. When you look up control freak in the dictionary, there is a picture of Schiano, telling you to put the damn dictionary down. Even Bob Knight thinks Schiano is too controlling.
The release of Freeman, announced Thursday by the Buccaneers, leads to one indisputable fact: The focus is now all on Schiano.
Schiano doesn't have Freeman to kick around any more, meaning it's only a matter of time before he's gone. Schiano's been mostly a disaster, and my thought that he will fail as an NFL head coach is not a second guess. Now that Freeman is no longer around to bash (anonymously or otherwise), the focus turns to Schiano.
Schiano is too damaged following his 0-4 start and handling of Freeman. Does anyone really believe that Schiano is trusted in that locker room? Sources told me there was a players' only meeting in the first few weeks of the season. That type of meeting so early in a year is almost unheard of. Things have gotten far worse since.
The problem with Schiano is that he hasn't adapted to the modern NFL. Schiano isn't at Rutgers anymore. Players don't care that he turned the Scarlet Knights into winners. In general, they don't respect a college coach, unless they played for him, or the coach has a great deal of professional experience.
Some coaches (and fans) refuse to acknowledge that in 21st-century professional sports, the players have power and say. A coach either adapts to this fact or perishes. This is the protocol. This is how it works. The only exceptions are the coaches with rings. Bill Belichick still controls every aspect of his players' professional lives, but he's Bill Belichick. He has rings and a place in football history. Schiano has...well...um...I'll think of something.
When Tom Coughlin started coaching in Jacksonville, he was known for his utterly ridiculous controlling ways. He fined players for failing to wear socks. They couldn't wear shirts or shorts from other teams. He pushed players until they broke. Some revolted.
When he came to New York to coach the Giants, he was still militaristic, but even Coughlin, the man who used to punish players for showing up to team meetings on time instead of minutes early, relaxed his ways.
I don't think Schiano has, or will, relax, and for that he'll be gone. Maybe at the end of the season if Tampa Bay continues to slide.
If that happens you'll see anonymous quotes from the locker room about Schiano instead of anonymous ones about Freeman. It will turn on Schiano. I think it's already started. He's 1-9 in his last 10 games and the more the losing commences, the more he sticks to his unbending style, the more potent those anonymous quotes will be.
Freeman is gone. He wasn't great in Tampa Bay. He made his mistakes and he paid for those errors with his release.
Now, it's on Schiano. And he'll be the next to go.