Greg Schiano was hired as the ninth head coach in Tampa Bay Buccaneers history last Friday after a very thorough search by the team. Now that he’s in position to put together his first full NFL staff, he plans to take the same approach.
“I’m not worried about being quick,” said Schiano on Friday, shortly after his introductory press conference at One Buccaneer Place. “I’m going to work with [General Manager] Mark [Dominik] to put together the best staff we can put together. To me, putting together a staff is a lot like a flow chart, in that, ‘If we can get him, then it’s the if-then, then we’ll go to here. But if we can’t get him, then we’d better go over here.’ It’s chemistry, diversity, all those things that go into making up a staff. You’re not going to even deal with people that aren’t competent teachers and communicators, but then [there is] fitting it all together. There are a lot of moving parts.”
Obviously, Schiano has already started that process, and he will continue to lead the way until his staff is fully intact. Dominik will offer input if needed, and finalize contracts once selections have been made, but putting together a team of assistants that can operate efficiently together is necessarily the work of a head coach, as has always been the case in Tampa and around the NFL.
“We found the right person to coach our team in Greg Schiano, and we trust him to find the right people to make his program work,” said Dominik. “We talked at length about the subject of his staff during this process, obviously, and it’s clear that we share a philosophy when it comes to finding good coaches. We want coaches who are teachers and communicators, first and foremost, men who can get the most out of our young players. I’m here to offer Coach Schiano any help he needs during the search, but as always it will be the head coach’s final call on who he wants. In the end, he is going to build a staff that he is comfortable with.”
Schiano, who was a defensive coordinator at the University of Miami before taking over the Rutgers program in 2001, and who previously coached the secondary for the Chicago Bears, is known as a “defensive” coach. Most NFL head coaches are described as being primarily offensive or defensive, and on occasion they will also serve as their own coordinators in the area their expertise lies. That was the case with Raheem Morris and the Bucs’ defense the past two seasons, and essentially with Jon Gruden and the offense before that. However, Schiano has made it clear that he will have a coordinator on both sides of the ball on his staff.
“I plan on hiring an offensive coordinator and a defensive coordinator,” he said on Friday. “I’m going to be involved in all three phases, deeply. I love offense, I love defense and I love the kicking game equally; I just happened to come up on one side of the ball. So I’ll have coordinators but I’ll be involved in all three phases. As a ‘CEO’ type of coach, that doesn’t mean you can’t be hands-on and involved. I think you can be both.”
Schiano is clearly going to be looking for hard-workers in addition to good communicators, though of course that’s a common trait in the NFL coaching fraternity. Schiano sees the NFL system as one that inherently promotes parity, with teams rising above .500 due to the diligence of their efforts.
“If you can out-work, out-coach, out-think, out-organize, then you can win more games, and that’s what we plan on doing,” he said, noting that coaches have much more time with and access to their players in the NFL than in college. “I’m looking forward to it, actually, I really am, to be able to just throw myself into the football part of things and the personnel part of things. The thing that I’m going to have to acclimate myself to is the different schedule. I can’t wait to be able to work with the players all day.”
Schiano’s search will likely draw from both the NCAA and NFL ranks. Despite spending the last dozen years on the college level, he maintains significant pro contacts and had the public backing of some prominent NFL men, including New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick, in his interview process with the Buccaneers. Schiano will get the full support of team management as he attempts to assemble the best staff possible to create the environment he described as ‘The Buccaneer Way’ on Friday. He will focus on those who can effectively teach the game, because the fundamentals of football are the same everywhere.
“I think the key is this: Football is football, players and coaches are players and coaches,” said Schiano. “We’ve got to communicate. Game day, we have to operate efficiently and do the things that we practiced and prepared to do.”