TAMPA, Fla. -- They took a big, expensive layer of insulation Thursday out of One Buccaneer Place. Now head coach Greg Schiano will face the consequences alone for a season gone wrong.
After being unable to find any takers on a trade, the winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers simply released Josh Freeman. It's a sad ending for a guy I believe had a chance to be the first true franchise quarterback in Bucs history.
But the move was inevitable. From the day Schiano was hired, he and the quarterback were on a collision course. Schiano likes rah-rah leaders with fires in their bellies. Freeman is laid-back and not a vocal leader. Despite Freeman's enormous talent, he and Schiano couldn't find a common ground. That's because Schiano stood his ground so firmly.
Any time a football team struggles, two people automatically get the blame: the head coach and the quarterback. Freeman shouldered more than his share of the blame for Tampa Bay's 0-4 start. He was publicly humiliated when he was benched in favor of rookie Mike Glennon. There were numerous reports of Freeman missing the team photo, being late to meetings and being in the league's drug program.
Freeman took the fall, but now he's gone. That means Schiano has lost his insulation. It's all on the head coach now.
Schiano made that the case when he and general manager Mark Dominik went to ownership and said they wanted to bench Freeman and go with Glennon. The Glazer sons, who run the franchise, aren't the type to meddle much in football matters.
I'm sure the Glazers gave this one plenty of thought. Ultimately, they decided to side with their head coach. That makes sense because Schiano has three more years on his contract and Freeman was in the last year of his rookie deal.
But contrary to public belief in Tampa, the Glazers aren't just about money. They love football and they desperately want to win. More than that, they hate to be embarrassed.
Things are very embarrassing in Tampa Bay with the Bucs in their bye week. Maybe unloading Freeman clears up some of the problems.
But maybe it doesn't. Glennon didn't look great in his first start, and that means opposing teams are going to focus on running back Doug Martin. The defense has played reasonably well but has collapsed when it mattered most.
Schiano is supposed to be all about order and discipline, but his team is in disarray. He's made his power play by running off Freeman.
Now, more than ever, the coach has to get the rest of the team to buy into his ways. Good luck with that, because there have been persistent rumblings that the players don't like Schiano's militaristic manner.
I think the next four weeks will determine Schiano's future. If the Bucs win a few games, Glennon plays well and there are other signs of life, Schiano could have a shot at sticking around.
If the Bucs keep losing and there are signs that players aren't putting forth full effort, Schiano will be gone.
For now, the insulation is gone, and that means Schiano is officially on the hot seat.