Months ago, when the Glazers chose coach Greg Schiano to inherit the ruins that Raheem Morris left behind, we assumed their selection was based on Schiano’s character and method — a roughshod drill sergeant who was, for all intents and purposes, the exact opposite of Morris.
We weren’t wrong in that assumption. In fact, the opening day victory (the first by a rookie coach in Tampa Bay since 1992) showcased exactly how different Schiano and Morris are in their approaches to coaching. Using roughly the same roster (plus and minus a few players here-and-there), Schiano and staff transformed the league’s worst run-stopping defense into a suffocating iron blanket. He changed the offense — Greg Olson’s parade of disorganization — into an efficient, straightforward punch in the gut. The entire team looked uniform. Energetic. Revitalized. Professional.
Rookies Doug Martin and Mark Barron helped justify their draft statuses with some outstanding opening day performances. Martin carried the ball 24 times and caught four Josh Freeman passes to help carry the offense. His 28 touches are tied for the Week 1 lead league-wide.
When Barron wasn’t deflecting passes or locking down his deep half, he was laying some absolutely skull-shattering hits on his opponents.
Lavonte David finished the game with six tackles, and was part of a swarming hive of Tampa Bay defenders that held Carolina to a franchise-low 10 rushing yards.
It’s a stunning reversal from a season prior, and a wonderful illustration of the power of scheme and coaching. If the Buccaneers build on their win over the Panthers — if they continue to improve on their precision and tenacity and aggressiveness — then we’re looking at the foundation of something big. Something great.
Football’s fun again. Rejoice.