After spending 11 years at Rutgers, it’s hard to fault coach Greg Schiano for wanting to establish a tough reputation for his Tampa Bay Buccaneers in his first season in the NFL. A much maligned franchise, the Bucs hadn’t made the playoffs since 2007, so in came the no-nonsense guy who was going to have his players follow his lead.
That’s all well and good, but when Schiano surprised the New York Giants in Week 2 by crashing their victory formation as quarterback Eli Manning knelt to run out the clock at the end of the game, he broke commonly accepted football etiquette and more than ticked off a few people. Giants coach Tom Coughlin spewed anger in the minutes after the incident, and many around the NFL have criticized Schiano for deploying the tactic after a game is decided.
“It’s usually just an honor system. If the game’s over, there’s no point in really doing anything,” defensive end Stephen Bowen said. “That makes you actually start not liking a person. I really don’t understand it. After you play football, a lot of these guys are friends around the league. If you do stuff like that, it kind of takes that away.”
Schiano doesn’t seem to much care about opponents disliking him. He did the same thing Week 3 to the Dallas Cowboys and hasn’t backed down from the possibility of doing it every game when his team is trailing by one score.
Some, like Redskins linebacker Chris Wilson and defensive coordinator Jim Haslett, did not argue with the practice. Wilson acknowledged “it’s not going to stop anything,” but Haslett said if there’s a chance to get the ball back, defenses need to consider anything.
“I give him credit: I wouldn’t even think about something like that, to do it and get it knocked out,” Haslett said. “But that’s his way: He’s a tough, hard-nosed guy, and he believes in playing good defense and being physical and tough and running the ball and all that. That’s kind of his style.”
Said Wilson: “You see how big those O-linemen are? They can take that pounding all day. They’ve been taking it all day. A couple more hits is not going to do anything to Will Montgomery and those guys.”
Right guard Chris Chester said it wasn’t a very smart play that “borders on a cheap shot.” Left tackle Jordan Black decried Tampa Bay going against an “unwritten rule.”
Defensive lineman Kedric Golston conceded that a center and quarterback can fumble the exchange, but added that crashing the line when the offense is in victory formation presents injury concern.
“I think it’s knowing without a shadow of a doubt that it’s going to happen,” left guard Kory Lichtensteiger said. “Treat it like a goal line play, basically.”
That means taking the beating for one more play after an already grueling afternoon.
“It’s as simple as you’re going to have to fire off and meet them with some force instead of what’s mostly been done for the last 20 years where everyone is smart about the play and does what’s right,” Chester said. “But if that’s the way they’re going to do it, we’re going to have to protect our quarterback and ourselves.”