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Sunday, Sep 24, 2017
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Martin Fennelly Columns

Bucs learning they'd better toe Schiano's line

TAMPA - There was much clapping, a lot of rah-rah. There was only one Rah missing. The Bucs, all of them, hauled butt Tuesday for head coach Greg Schiano. They ran everywhere they were told, like high schoolers, as if the state final was next week, and when running in the end zone, heeded the order "AROUND THE PYLONS!" Media viewed only the first half hour of Schiano's first workout of this voluntary minicamp, but if how you stretch matters, these guys are going to be world-beaters. At one point, Bucs return men were fairly inexplicably fielding punts while already holding two balls.
"Wait 'til you see them holding six," Schiano said with a smile. I'll admit it: I had the Bucs down for four, five wins in 2012. But after seeing all those young Bucs toe the line during stretching, I'm thinking seven, maybe eight wins. And they did toe the line. "FOOTBALL IS A GAME OF DETAILS!" Schiano yelled, his jaw and the head it rode in on hatless under the sun, his voice audible all over the field. Actually, it would have been audible even if Schiano had been standing next to a parked, running 737. "TOES ON THE EDGE!" The new man didn't mean an inch in front of the yard line, or a centimeter behind it. I had all 10 toes on the edge. Not that I can see my toes anymore, but they felt the edge. Toto, I don't think they're going to be playing rap music at Bucs practices anymore. We have no idea if it was better than Tony Dungy's first day, when Dungy immediately forgave all players who weren't on the edge. Jon Gruden's first day? He made up new edges every day. And there was Raheem Morris, everyone's best friend, who'd be glad to stand on the edge for you. Now comes Greg Schiano, stalking and talking. I mean, how did Connecticut ever beat him? Part of me wondered what was going through Ronde Barber's mind as he dashed around the field. I bet No. 20 loved most of it. Something was missing on this team late last season: accountability. Tanard Jackson isn't here. He apparently wasn't with the new Bucs way, at least not enough. So he's gone. He won't be the last one out the door. We hardly know the new head coach. Well, this is how he works, and how he expects his team to work, too. "Football players are football players, and they're competitive," Schiano said. "So when you challenge them, they rise up to the challenge. If they're the right guys they do, at least. I believe, from what I've seen and getting to know these guys, that we do." This is the new Buc way and this is the man who'll take it from there. He was everywhere Tuesday, his message as clear as day, as all over it as the sun. He's trying to build relationships on the run, scribbling ideas and reminders as he goes. "I'm writing like a maniac, taking notes, because we've got to get it right," Schiano said. I have no idea what all this will mean when the other team is picking on the Bucs linebackers or closing off Josh Freeman's run lanes. But at least now we know where the edge is. The new coach is standing on it. And he's waiting -- or not -- for you to get in line.
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