Schiano thrilled to finally be working with team

Schiano thrilled to finally be working with team

Published Apr. 2, 2012 4:52 p.m. ET

TAMPA — Greg Schiano couldn’t wait to head into work
Monday morning.

After months of building a coaching staff, the new Tampa Bay Bucs head coach
finally had a chance to address his players as a team at the kickoff of their
offseason conditioning program.

“I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t fly out of bed this morning,” Schiano told
the media at One Buc Place.

“I’m excited — today marks the beginning of something,” he added. “It’s great
to have a football team to be able to stand in front of. Our coaching staff has
worked incredibly hard as they’ve trickled in here to Tampa, trying to put
together the beginning stages of who we’re going to be.”

Part of Schiano’s initial message to the team Monday hinged on this being a
fresh start — for himself as an NFL head coach, and for the players themselves —
with a chance to build something new together.

“I don’t want in the years to come to be bringing in a lot of people from the
outside,” he said. “I want to draft and develop and for the ‘Buccaneer Way’ to
be something that we understand in this building.

“As I explained to the guys, we’re all new right now, and everybody’s got an
opportunity. So if I’m a player, I like that. If I’m good and I’ve been good,
we’ll I’m going to be good again. If for whatever reason I’ve had some issues,
well here’s a fresh start and I’ve got a chance with this guy. But they’ll
figure out very quickly, and I shared (this) with them, there’s a right way and
a wrong way as far as I’m concerned, and we’re going to do it the right way.”

The conditioning program lasts two weeks and isn’t mandatory, but Schiano
stressed how encouraged he was by the turnout. Most of the players showed up,
he said, and the ones who didn’t let him know in advance of their previous

“Certainly this is a voluntary activity, but I was very impressed by the
commitment level of our guys — being here, being on time, ready to go,” he
said. “We’re not allowed to be on the field with them, but we are allowed to be
in the meeting room with them.”

Labeled a Phase One segment by the NFL, Schiano and his staff can teach from
the meeting rooms while strength and conditioning coach Jay Butler and his
assistants work with the players in the weight room. This gives Schiano and his
coaches a chance to start sharing their philosophical beliefs with the team,
while continuing their work on the new Bucs playbook.

“Getting the staff together (took) certainly a little longer than I would have
liked,” Schiano said. “So that kind of slowed down some processes. From the
standpoint of putting the book together, putting the schemes together, we’re
not done. We’re chasing it as we go. There are parts of it that are done and
parts of it that we can implement with the guys, but that’ll be an ongoing
process, probably all the way up to when we take a vacation this summer.”

The building of the playbook will result, he explained, from a “combination of
the people we hired, my philosophical beliefs — I hired people who agree (with
them). Now how we carry out the X's and O's; there’s a thousand ways to skin a
cat. That’s what they’re hired to do. And I’m going to kind of stand over it
and watch, but I’m not going to micromanage exactly how we’re going to block
the 3-Technique and things like that. But philosophically, it’s going to be there
– and that’s what I’m excited about: We’ve got a bunch of guys who believe in
the same things from a football standpoint. Now it’s just trying to figure out
the best way to do this or that.”

His core beliefs include running the football first, while taking timely shots
down the field. But Schiano also stresses the importance of good special teams

“Punting is OK — we’ve got a great punter (Michael Koenen),” he said. “Scoring
drives may be one series. They may be two series. They may be three series. If
you punt the ball and you get the ball back at a better position, the drive
just continues and you put it in the end zone — that’s the way we play the

“So marrying those three phases (offense, defense and special teams) is going
to be critical. I’m really confident in the leadership in all three phases, and
I think it all comes down to leadership. We have very good assistant coaches,
but most important, we have guys who are going to lead those three units (offensive
coordinator Mike Sullivan, defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan, special teams coordinator
Bob Ligashesky). And then to have Butch (Davis) and Jimmy Raye here as well (as
advisers) to help me, I feel good about that.”

The Bucs have a long way to go to get back on their feet after the 4-12 finish
of last season, with a young and inexperienced team that unraveled under
third-year head coach Raheem Morris. The team that finished 10-6 in 2010
stopped responding under Morris, and a lack of discipline appeared to be an

Asked about his own approach on discipline, Schiano responded, “It’s not so
much how I’m going to discipline this team. What I’ve shared with the public is
we have to regain or re-earn their trust. And we’ll do that. Not only trust on
the field, but trust in the community.

“I think part of that is becoming more a part of the community. As I’ve learned
and said several times, Tampa and the Bay Area . . . is more of a town. People
know each other. There’s a feel to it. And we have to become part of that. I
used to say to our college team when I coached at Rutgers, ‘Look, we’re part of
something much bigger than just this football team. We’re part of this
university community.’ Well here, we’re part of this Bay Area community, and we
have to become responsible members of that community. And that’s what we’ll

For Schiano and his new team, that shared journey started Monday.