Before we get into this, I wanted to let you all know that I'm going to be putting some new content which doesn't quite fit anywhere else (due to schedule, time and other things) over at a personal website called, shockingly, AndrewGarda.com.
Right now there's very little going on there. I had set it up as a touchstone so people could find my sportswriting but it could be so much more.
And it will be.
I plan on dumping all of my NFL Draft stuff (both written and video) as well as general NFL content there isn't room for here.
Follow me on Twitter for updates, if you don't already. That will be where I notify everyone of whatever I am up to.
Expect things to start popping up there next week.
Now, let's talk Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
By the time you read this, will Greg Schiano have a job? Should he?
All signs point to "maybe" and "absolutely not" as Schiano has pretty much alienated his team to the point where they are now publicly questioning if they privately believe in him.
File this under "When Keeping it Real Goes Wrong."
Schiano has some attachments to Bill Belichick and the Belichick "coaching tree" which shouldn't surprise anyone once you find out. How many coaches who know, worked with or have otherwise been mentored by Belichick have gone on to success?
If you answer "none" you'd be right.
And what's the thread between most of these guys? Napoleon complex. Bullying, really.
Now, you need discipline. But there's discipline and there's discipline. Eric Mangini imploded in New York because he threw his weight around with dumb things like forcing rookies on a long bus ride to go to his camp. Josh McDaniels famously blew up the Broncos and ran off players with his "in your face" attitude. Jim Schwartz doesn't bully his players, but we've seen him try it with other coaches.
Now is Belichick a bit of a Napoleon himself? Sure and it hurt him in his first job with the Cleveland Browns. However, he learned from that. You need to earn the right to lay down the law in the way he does it. You can't be Mangini or Schwartz or McDaniels and walk into the building and throw your weight around like Belichick and get away with it.
You haven't won anything. You haven't earned anything either.
Enter Greg Schiano, fresh off a successful tenure at Rutgers and brought in to turn around a Raheem Morris led team which had become a bit too loose. Schiano is definitely an acolyte of Belichick and walked into the Buccaneers' facility as if he was Belichick.
Owen Zeigler of NESN.com wrote a great piece on how Schiano's attitude is playing in the locker room, including a hilariously damning story about what happened when he hero come to town with the Patriots to share practice with the Buccaneers.
Former Buccaneer Michael Bennett put it best:
“He’s trying to be Belichick. Yeah, some people think Belichick’s an [expletive], but he’s a legend. When this guy [Schiano] acts that way, it’s a whole different deal.”
Players will run through a wall for some coaches. For all the grief Rex Ryan gets, most of his players respect him and will do whatever he wants. Same with Pete Carroll. These guys can be tough on their players, but they're not unreasonable and have earned their trust that way.
Guys like Belichick have earned the trust of players by winning on the field and leading them to little things like playoff wins and Super Bowls.
Schiano has seven wins. That's all. And like McDaniels and Mangini, he's going to find out that it's not enough to earn him the right to act like a despot.
He may find that out as early as today. Whether he learns from it like his mentor is anyone's guess.
Thursday Night Lights
Having spent 500 words on Lil Belichick and the Bucs, we won't belabor this game much.
The Carolina Panthers are legit. I said this on the radio yesterday but they can very well be on the path to a Wild Card berth. You can lock down one spot to either Seattle or San Francisco. There's nobody else who is a sure lock for that second spot though.
Detroit hasn't convinced m yet, though they are the most likely. Chicago is about to fall to pieces without Jay Cutler or Lance Briggs. I don't see a second playoff team out of the NFC East.
Watching Cam Newton and the Panthers play last night, you get the sense that while they aren't dominant in any one facet of the game, they are very dangerous in most of them.
Of course, the Buccaneers were so bad last night, it's hard to get a real read.
Newton is playing fantastic ball right now, and his post-game interview was proof he "gets" it in a way he didn't previously. Normally he comes on very late in the season, but this year he's put together a great run in the middle of the season and the Panthers are contending because of it.
Meanwhile, as much as I am not a fan of Bucs quarterback Mike Glennon, it doesn't seem like he's been put in a position to succeed. And Darrelle Revis, what can you say about him?
Why spend the money (and draft picks) on a guy who has one set of skills, only to use him in another way?
My way or the highway.
Revis isn't happy and he shouldn't be, though he has nobody to blame but himself.
Another case of "when keeping it real goes wrong."
One More Note
Brett Favre? REALLY?
I get that the Rams think they can contend (come back when you stop giggling) but a 44-year-old quarterback who has been out of football for three years?
That's your solution?
You know what I see? The same laziness that rotates the same tired names year after year for head coach openings. The same laziness which insists on giving Matt Flynn yet another chance despite all evidence to the contrary. The same laziness which falls into the same traps during the draft that teams fall for every year.
I know the state of quarterbacks in the NFL isn't great. It's the "have's and have not's" and there are maybe 16 sure-fire solid starting quarterbacks in the NFL. But Brett Favre?
Thank goodness he said no. At least someone's thinking clearly.
And now I type a sentence I never thought I would type: how the heck is Tim Tebow unemployed when you're reduced to calling Favre?
Since I missed last week, we've got to catch up. Over the last two weeks I have gone 19-11 in my picks, which isn't bad. That gives me a 61-46 record picking games straight up.
I'm off to a good start because I picked Carolina, which of course I did because I wasn't insane. Here are the rest, which I have arranged from the games I am most confident about to least confident.
New Orleans over Buffalo: Thad Lewis didn't look half as bad as I expected but the Bills just don't have the weapons to keep up with Drew Brees and the Saints, especially now that Rob Ryan has put together a great defense.
San Francisco over Jacksonville: Have you seen the Jaguars lately? That said, Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon should have solid games. It just won't be nearly enough. Also, in case you were asleep the Blaine Gabbert era is over.
Kansas City over Cleveland: I'm still not sold on the Chiefs as a power or Super Bowl contender because the offense isn't all that great, but they can beat the Browns. Jason Campbell is the quarterback for the Factory of Sadness team which reminds me:
What a blessing for the community.
Denver over Washington: Robert Griffin III has been playing much better and the front seven plays well but the secondary isn't good and the Fighting Mannings will be ready to destroy someone after being beaten by the Colts last week.
New York Jets over Cincinnati: Maybe I'm a homer in this case, but I really think the Jets can beat this team. I like the Bengals, mind you. This is just a very winnable game if Geno Smith can protect the football. It's a game which will be won in the trenches. The Jts have a tremendous defensive line but the Bengals are good at protecting Dalton. Meanwhile Cincy has a solid pass rush and the Jets offensive line can collapse. It should be fun to watch but I think the Jets win two in a row for the first time this year.
Seattle over St. Louis: I can give the Rams crap for going after Favre but I can see the panic because: Kellen Clemons. Seattle is going to destroy him.
Dallas over Detroit: The Lions have a good team but this is a game which Romo will win, since it's not critical or in a national spotlight. Also, the Lions' secondary is bad and Dez Bryant and rookie Terrance Williams are good.
New England over Miami: I don't know quite what happened in Miami, but they are bad right now. Maybe it's the putrid offensive line. Maybe it's Mike Wallace dropping half his passes. Maybe the defense isn't as good as we thought. But they're bad and Tom Brady & company are angry after losing to the Jets. Miami has it's moments though and the Pats continue to be banged up.
New York Giants over Philadelphia: The Giants won a game! I still don't trust them. The Eagles are horrible as well, but have Vick back. I think the Giants hold their momentum and win this week and then we have to deal with "they can still make the playoffs" for another week here in New Jersey.
Pittsburgh over Oakland: Pittsburgh has played better of late and getting Heath Miller back healthy has made a huge difference for Ben Roethlisberger but like the Giants I can't trust them, which is why they aren't higher on this list. Terrelle Pryor is actually pretty solid and Denarius Moore and Pryor hook up regularly. This is a toss-up, but I will take the Steelers here.
Atlanta over Arizona: Why isn't Atlanta higher on this list? Well, they've got a lot of injuries at wide receiver and that's actually a portion of the game the Cardinals play well. Ultimately Carson Palmer is a train wreck and the offensive line is a mess so I lean Atlanta. But it won't shock me if they lose.
Andrew Garda is a member of the Pro Football Writers Association. He is also a member of the fantasy football staff at FootballGuys.com and a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report. You can follow him at @andrew_garda on Twitter.
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