When an NFL team faces a setback on Sunday, the coach calls it a "team loss." Thursday's release of quarterback Josh Freeman by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was a complete organizational loss.
Coach Greg Schiano's tenure in Tampa has reached a crossroads. The last few weeks turned into an ugly public back-and-forth that only served to make the Buccaneers look petty. NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported on NFL Network's "NFL Total Access Kickoff", per a team source, that the Buccaneers welcome "any and all investigations into where the leaks were coming from."
Ownership can live with losses during a rebuilding program. It's harder to swallow dysfunction and public embarrassment.
Schiano came to the NFL with a reputation for discipline. But his team is the second-most penalized group in the league. He tries to tightly control the media message in Tampa, yet the Freeman situation completely spun out of control.
Schiano never fully embraced Freeman, who was drafted by general manager Mark Dominik. The common thread between the Raheem Morris and the Schiano eras in Tampa is Dominik. It's worth wondering if ownership will choose between Schiano and Dominik after the season, and where those loyalties would reside. The Buccaneers have not acted like a team that is necessarily building a program from the ground up. Dominik spent huge money in free agency in an effort to compete now. Instead, the Buccaneers are 0-4.
The good news is Schiano's defense is playing well. The Buccaneers have lost three games at the last minute, and it's not hard to imagine them turning things around.
The recent history of the NFL suggests that will need to happen for Schiano and Dominik both to return next season.