Greg Schiano's Buccaneers fell short on Sunday, and in doing so, they likely cost the head coach his job.
Following Sunday's loss to the Rams, it's clear that Schiano's team is far from on the rise and that the second-year head coach for Tampa Bay missed his chance to save his job.
No one can be sure of what the Glazer family, owners of the Buccaneers, will do this offseason with their head coach. But as Gil Arcia of The Bay Cave said on Twitter during the game against the Rams, Greg Schiano had a lot to coach for over the final two games of the season.
These last six quarters of the season could be VERY important for Schiano.— Gil Arcia (@GilArciaTBC) December 22, 2013
If the second half against St. Louis was the first test for Schiano in an attempt to save his own job, he failed it in fantastic fashion because he missed a golden opportunity to defeat a very similar team and make a big statement.
Greg Schiano's Team Fell Short Against a Team on Its Level
The Buccaneers and Rams came into Sunday's game in very similar situations.
Both teams were starting backup quarterbacks, both teams were missing young star receivers and both teams had solid defenses with disappointing offenses.
But it was the Rams, sans Sam Bradford and Tavon Austin, who emerged victorious on the day. So unlike earlier losses to the 49ers and Panthers, the Buccaneers lost a game they legitimately had a chance to win.
Earlier in the season, Greg Schiano told the NFL Network that the Buccaneers were going to "win their share" of games this year. Sunday's game was proof that Schiano promised more than he could deliver.
Schiano is 2-7 in games decided by fewer than five points in his two seasons in charge, and he has struggled to beat mediocre opponents like the Rams, Jets and Falcons this year. Nothing about that resume signals improvement over a 7-9 debut in 2012.
If It's Not One Thing, It's Another...
The Buccaneers are the most penalized team in the NFL. They were also the 32nd-ranked offense entering Sunday's game.
In other words, there is more than just one hole in this ship in Tampa Bay.
On Sunday, it was missed assignments on defense, fumbles on offense and poor play from the quarterback and offensive line, which led to seven sacks that doomed the Buccaneers.
One of the missed assignments led directly to a St. Louis touchdown, which would prove to be the final touchdown the Rams would need to keep the Buccaneers at bay.
#Bucs Schiano said the reverse touchdown by Rams' Bailey was a missed assignment.— Gil Arcia (@GilArciaTBC) December 22, 2013
Schiano's Buccaneers have found a new way to lose a football game in seemingly each of their 11 losses, which is a sign that he and his coaches fail to prepare the team properly. From boneheaded personal fouls to poor snaps leading to sacks and fumbles, there has been too much practice time this season to still make these crucial mistakes.
The Roster Is Too Talented to Be 4-11
As Bleacher Report's Ty Schalter wrote earlier in the season, there is far too much talent on the Tampa Bay roster to be losing as frequently as this team is this year.
When Schalter wrote his article, the Bucs were only 1-8. Now that they sit at 4-11, the sentiment is even more true.
The Buccaneers won seven games in 2012 with less talent on the roster. They did not have safety Dashon Goldson, nor did they have All-Pro corner Darrelle Revis.
2013 also saw the rise of Lavonte David, adding even more talent to a Tampa Bay defense that has the players needed to win a handful of games on its own.
Should Greg Schiano be fired?
But Schiano ran his team's franchise quarterback out of town, and the offense fell into shambles. Mike Glennon has avoided mistakes, but the rookie from NC State hasn't been productive, and the running game stalls out against tough opponents.
Even the New York Jets, who have a similarly good defense and similarly poor offense, have managed to win seven games this season. Greg Schiano has no excuses for his team's record, and his job should be on the line as a result.
There are no more chances. The NFL is a "win now" league, and Schiano has failed to deliver the wins he promised when the team was 0-6.
There's no way around it—4-11 is not an acceptable progression for a team that was 7-9 in 2012. Greg Schiano's time in Tampa Bay must come to an end after the final week of the season.