The Tampa Bay Buccaneers get a little jump on the rest of the NFC South on Monday.
The Bucs get to start their offseason program -- two weeks before the Falcons, Panthers and Saints are allowed to start. That’s because league rules allow teams with a new coach a head start on their offseason programs early. Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano and his staff have been allowed only limited contact with their players up until now and this will represent their first chance to teach what will be new schemes on offense and defense.
“There are tremendous challenges when you implement new systems,’’ Schiano said during last week’s owners meetings. “It’s a game of reps, so the more times we can install, the better we’ll be. You just keep teaching. It’s like the old saying, 'it’s not what you know, it’s what they know.' You can have things in a playbook, but if they can’t do it on the field, on demand, it’s wasted knowledge. We’ll certainly challenge them mentally, but we’re not going to paralyze them mentally.’’
Schiano and his assistants have spent the past few months reviewing a 2011 season in which the Bucs lost their final 10 games and former coach Raheem Morris was fired.
“Other than to evaluate personnel and steal whatever scheme things we like, I didn’t try to over-analyze,’’ Schiano said. “Things kind of got going in the wrong direction and, when that happens, you can try to over-analyze everything. A lot of guys I think are excited about having a fresh start. A lot of people in the organization are looking to start over. The old saying is 'adversity reveals character, it doesn’t build it.' We’ll have our share of adversity. One of the things you train for and prepare is that adversity. To me, that’s mental toughness and there’s certain ways you can build mental toughness. We’ll approach that as a staff. Until you’re in the fire, you don’t know how guys will react. We’ll see.’’
Here’s the bright side: This is probably the start of a healing process for the Buccaneers. It’s hard to imagine things getting much worse than they were late last season. Schiano is known for his organizational skills and ability to build. Morris ran a very loose ship and some players seemed to give limited effort as the losing streak dragged on. Some of those players might already be gone. The ones who return have a lot to prove to Schiano. There’s really nowhere to go but up for the Buccaneers and their new coach.