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Monday, Feb 27, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Softer Schiano during Year 2

INDIANAPOLIS - Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano's two primary goals for the 2012 season were to win as many games as possible and change the culture at One Buc Place. Schiano didn't succeed in winning as many games as he thought possible in his first year as Bucs coach, but he believes he succeeded in creating the more structured and demanding culture he sought. "We needed to establish a culture of accountability here, but now I believe the players understand what we want,'' Schiano said. "I think everyone understands now what it is that we expect of them.'' It wasn't an easy task.
Schiano inherited a team from predecessor Raheem Morris that once practiced to the sound of rap music, saw a player openly defy Morris' authority and was accused of quitting late in the 2011 season. To achieve his goal, Schiano believed he needed to focus on the most minute details. So, he opened his first practice by famously ordering his players to keep their "toes on the line'' during calisthenics. He later laid down, and refused to waver from, a set of rules that required players to, among other things, bring two bottles of water to every meeting, check in for meals and dress in business casual attire or better for road trips. Schiano admits he went a little overboard with the rules. With the culture more to his liking now, he intends to relax some of those rules and lighten up a bit on the players. "You have to go overboard one way or another to get that culture established, but I think at this point, our football team understands who I am and how our football program is going to be run,'' Schiano said. "I think that happened as the season went on last year, so we'll change some things for this year, some of the mandatory things, things that I don't necessarily think grown men need.'' The daily monitoring of meals for players who maintain the weight the team assigns them is one of the changes Schiano plans to make, but some things, such as the daily fundamental drill circuits he runs on the field, will remain. "No, that stays,'' Schiano said. "I believe that's critical, especially when you're not hitting (in practice). I believe in fundamentals. But some things can change, because I think they understand what we expect now. "Everyone was a rookie as far as our way of doing things last year, but now only our rookies and our free agents will be rookies, and we can teach them how we do things.'' Schiano's hope is that veteran leaders such as guard Davin Joseph, defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and quarterback Josh Freeman will do much of that teaching, leaving him to focus on his other top objective — winning. "Our leaders will teach the new guys what they need to know, and I'm really looking forward to that because I like coaching football and I like developing relationships with my players,'' he said. "But a lot of times, when you're trying to establish something, that has to take a backseat because of the greater good of the group. So, I'm looking forward to just being a coach again.'' Schiano didn't make the decision independently to scrap some of his old rules. He sought the opinions of members of his staff and even players regarding what did and didn't work and which rules are needed. "I took all their input, did some surveys and that sort of thing because I think that kind of feedback is critical," he said. "Then you just kind of look at it, make some assumptions and move forward." The foundation, however, is in place. "There are some things now that we were doing that I don't think grown men need," Schiano said. "Like the mandatory meals. I don't think we need our staff making sure they check in for breakfast, lunch and dinner. "They are grown men. They are professional athletes.''

rcummings@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7979 Twitter: @RCummingsTBO