TAMPA, Fla. — The losses are mounting and the winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers are running out of explanations for why their season has gone sour and what they can to do to turn it around.
A 31-20 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles dropped the Bucs to 0-5, and the team has lost 10 of 11 dating to last year. Tampa Bay travels to Atlanta on Sunday.
The offense has struggled to score points, and an improved defense has been unable to protect second-half leads in four of the team’s five losses.
Coach Greg Schiano was jeered as he left the field at Raymond James Stadium. He says he understands fans are frustrated, but remains confident he can get the Bucs headed in the right direction – soon.
“It doesn’t matter if you lose by one or you lose by 21, a loss is a loss,” Schiano said Monday.
“But when you say, ‘What makes you feel like you’re going to win?’ it is that we had plenty of opportunities to win every football game we’ve been in this year and we have found ways to lose them,” the second-year coach added. “I am accustomed to being on the team that finds ways to win them. So, I’m not doing my job – and I’ve done it before and need to do it again, where we expect it and we go do those little things that allow you to win.”
Schiano is 7-14 since leaving Rutgers to take over a team that lost the final 10 games of 2011. The Bucs have spent generously to upgrade talent, bringing in Darrelle Revis and Dashon Goldson on defense and Vincent Jackson and Carl Nicks on offense, but have gotten little for their investment.
Players say it’s a time to stick together instead of pointing fingers. And Schiano said the team cannot allow distractions on- and off-the-field to disrupt its focus.
In addition to dealing with a messy split with quarterback Josh Freeman, who was benched and later released, the Bucs have also been coping with three members of the team being diagnosed with MRSA, a staph infection that’s difficult to treat because it is resistant to many common antibiotics.
“This is the most competitive sports league in the world and we have to find a way to win,” Schiano said.
While he remains confident he can get the Bucs turned around, Schiano declined to discuss specifics of the message he gave to players when they gathered Monday.
“My belief, just in general, is to keep it real. This is where we are. This is what we did. Not they or us, we. And this is what we need to do,” Schiano said.
“Knute Rockne stuff. There’s a time and a place for it, but they’re grown men that are busting their guts to win,” Schiano added. “They’re as disappointed as I am. Our job as coaches is to decipher, look at and then give them constructive feedback, and help them move forward.”