Bucs fire coach Greg Schiano, GM Mark Dominik

Greg Schiano believes he changed the Tampa Buccaneers for the

better, though not enough to save his job.

The embattled Bucs coach was fired Monday after two losing years

extended the franchise’s playoff drought to six seasons. General

manager Mark Dominik was also ousted, ending an unsuccessful

five-year stint that produced flashes of hope but far more

disappointment than ownership felt was acceptable.

”The results over the past two years have not lived up to our

standards and we believe the time has come to find a new

direction,” Bucs co-chairman Bryan Glazer said in a brief

statement released a day after a season-ending 42-17 loss to the

New Orleans dropped Schiano’s record to 11-21.

”Mark has been a valued member of our organization for two

decades and we respect the passion he showed for the Buccaneers

during his time here,” Glazer added. ”We thank Greg for his hard

work and effort the past two seasons, but we feel these moves are

necessary in order to achieve our goals.”

In typical Bucs fashion, the reclusive owners of the team

announced the third coaching change in five years with a one

paragraph statement and did not schedule a news conference to

discuss the situation. Schiano had three years and $9 million

remaining on his contract.

Schiano thanked the Glazer family for the opportunity to coach

the Bucs, and also expressed gratitude to his players, coaching

staff and fans.

His biggest regret simply was not winning enough games to

reflect the progress he feels the Bucs made under him.

”I think we’re leaving behind a football team that is better

than when we got here,” Schiano told reporters at a hotel near the

team’s training facility.

”It was quite an honor and I enjoyed every day of it,” the

coach added. ”We didn’t get it done. I accept responsibility for

that.”

Word of the firing broke less than 30 minutes after the team

closed the locker room, where players were sorting through

equipment and belongings before scattering for the offseason. They

met with the coaching and medical staff for exit interviews and

physicals. They had not been informed of the dismissals before

media was allowed into the room.

Many, including Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, had

hoped Schiano would keep his job.

”It’s tough for the players to see your coaches go. You never

want to see anybody get fired,” McCoy said after the announcement.

”Me personally, I haven’t had any consistency in my career. Third

head coach, going on my fifth year and three head coaches. Add up

everybody, it’ll be six d-line coaches.”

The Bucs went 7-9 in their first season under Schiano,

collapsing after a 6-4 start that had the team in playoff

contention.

After trading for three-time All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis

and signing safety Dashon Goldson in free agency to bolster a

porous defense, the team entered training camp this season with

heightened expectations.

But a messy split with former quarterback Josh Freeman, an

outbreak of MRSA infections in the locker room and reports that

Schiano was losing the support of players tiring of his rules and

coaching style dogged the team during an 0-8 start that put the

coach’s job in jeopardy.

Despite having a rookie quarterback and finishing with 16

players on injured reserve, including running back Doug Martin and

receiver Mike Williams, the Bucs went 4-4 over the second half of

the season. That hardly seemed like progress, though, because the

offense got progressively worse and finished last in the NFL in

passing and total yardage.

Still, players seemed impressed with the way Schiano held the

team together, insisting right up until the end that the coach

never lost the locker room.

”In times like that you see a lot of guys crumble, a lot of

guys break. You never saw a different attitude with him,” McCoy

said. ”… He’s the most consistent thing in the building, I will

give him that.”

Schiano was hired in January 2012, leaving Rutgers to take over

a team that ended its final 10 games under Raheem Morris on a

10-game losing streak. He inherited one the NFL’s worst defenses,

but also a young quarterback in Freeman, who won 10 games in his

first full season as a starter and became the franchise’s first

4,000-yard passer in Schiano’s first year in Tampa Bay.

But Freeman’s relationship with Schiano soured when the Bucs

dropped five of the final six games of 2012, with Freeman’s

inconsistency contributing to the slide. The fifth-year quarterback

was benched and subsequently released after an 0-3 start this

season, replaced by rookie Mike Glennon, a third-round draft pick

who went 4-9 in 13 starts.

The Bucs have not made the playoffs since 2007 under former

coach Jon Gruden. They haven’t won a postseason game since their

2002 run that produced the franchise’s only Super Bowl title.

Part of the blame for the poor performance rests with Dominik,

who was named general manager in 2009 – the year Morris was

promoted from defensive coordinator to replace Gruden.

Dominik survived Morris’ firing after a 4-12 finish two years

ago. But in the end, a spotty draft record, the mishandling of

Freeman’s situation, and the team’s 28-52 mark during a five-season

tenure as GM became impossible to overlook.

Schiano said whoever follows him as coach will take over a good

team.

”I’m proud of the culture we developed here,” Schiano said.

”On the field, I think we’re closer than people think.”

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org