Buccaneers fans are fed up with head coach Greg Schiano.
Once known as the aggressive recruiter responsible for posting Rutgers football billboards in South Florida, Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano can now drive past a less inviting type of billboard in the Sunshine State. It reads: “Fire Schiano.”
It didn’t get any better Thursday night in Tampa for Schiano, now coaching a team that fell to 0-7 after a 31-13 drubbing by the Carolina Panthers.
An efficient Cam Newton threw two touchdown passes and ran for another score as Carolina (4-3) won for the fourth time in five games following an 0-2 start. They’ve won three straight, with Newton throwing for 667 yards, six TDs and no interceptions.
In dropping their first seven games for the seventh time in franchise history — they’ve lost 12 of 13 overall — the Bucs had some fans show up at Raymond James Stadium carrying signs and wearing paper bags over their heads urging that the second-year coach be fired.
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Under Greg Schiano, the Bucs have lost 12 of their last 13 games dating back to last season.
“We got licked,” Schiano said, adding that calls for his dismissal haven’t become a distraction for him or his players. “It doesn’t affect me. People are certainly entitled to their opinion. … You sit there and cry about it, but that’s not going to help.”
Former players have fueled the flames further by calling attention to his taskmaster image.
“How bad is it there? It’s worse than you can imagine,” former Buccaneer Michael Bennett told NFL.com earlier in the week. “It’s like being in Cuba.”
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Michael Bennett, formerly of the Tampa Bay Buccaners, says Greg Schiano ‘just wants to flex his muscle’ and adds that ‘there’s not much respect for him in that locker room.’
There has been no shortage of issues surrounding Schiano in his 23 games as an NFL coach. He was upbraided by Giants counterpart Tom Coughlin after Schiano’s second game in the league for what Coughlin deemed a reckless defensive approach at the end of the game when quarterback Eli Manning took a knee to run out the clock.
Bennett told NFL.com that Manning’s brother, Peyton, was also exasperated by the defense’s decision to torpedo the victory formation in December.
Schiano also was involved with the sloppy handling of quarterback Josh Freeman. He released Freeman — who signed with the Vikings two weeks ago and made his first start against the Giants on Monday night — after a contentious stretch; Freeman was stripped of his captaincy and benched before being cut. It was also revealed that Freeman was a participant in Stage One of the league’s drug program.
Schiano also tried to have Dexter Jackson, the MVP of Tampa’s lone Super Bowl win, tossed from practice. Jackson routinely brings kids to practices to reward them for doing well in school.
“I think he just wants to flex his power,” said Bennett, who is now with the Seattle Seahawks. “He has small (man’s) syndrome. I still talk to guys who are there, and trust me, there’s not much respect for him in that locker room.”
“He’s trying to be (Bill) Belichick,” Bennett explained. “Yeah, some people think Belichick’s an (expletive), but he’s a legend. When this guy acts that way, it’s a whole different deal.”
— With The Associated Press