Commentary | Did Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Schiano lose faith in his team with trick play?

December 16, 2013 

Bad teams find ways to lose. Good teams find ways to win.

It could be as simple as that.

But nothing ever seems simple for Greg Schiano and his Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Bucs' 33-14 loss to San Francisco Sunday is a case in point.

It almost makes you think Schiano doesn't know when to leave well enough alone.

Or maybe he just didn't have faith in his team?

We don't know for sure because we need a Bucsonian translator to explain what happened.

We know what we saw and how it deflated the Bucs and destroyed their last chance to win the game.

It's shame.

The Bucs were winning the hearts and minds of their fans less than six seconds into the fourth quarter when they fought back to trail 20-14.

Then San Francisco went on a 13-play drive that took more than 10 minutes off the clock with quarterback Colin Kaepernick converting three third-down attempts.

But the Bucs held the 49ers to a field goal and trailed 23-14 with a little more than four minutes left.

There was hope and a

feeling the future was going to be bright as Schiano promised.

Then the lights went out on the Bucs and maybe in Schiano's office at One Buc Place.

On the ensuing kickoff Eric Page handed the ball to Russell Sheppard. It was fumbled; San Francisco's Kendall Hunter picked it up and dove into the end zone to slam the door on the Bucs. It destroyed a lot of equity that Schiano had painfully built up over. It questioned his judgment and faith he has in his team and quarterback Mike Glennon.

Coaches turn to trickery when they don't believe in their team.

It was a designed call both Paige and Schiano said. Whether it was the right call or a smart call will be debated for as long as Schiano is coach of the Bucs.

Who is the blame seems unclear.

"We executed it in practice. It just didn't work the way we thought it would," Paige said. "We have been working on that play for a few weeks. Yeah, it was called before we went out. I think it was just a handoff issue."

It's heroic for Page to be the fall guy, but this play rests on the shoulders of Schiano even if there was a communication breakdown.

"It was a called play. We were going to run a reverse if the opportunity presented itself the right way. It didn't yet we still ran it, but it's okay. We made a mistake. Guys make mistakes sometimes," Schiano said.

So was there a miscommunication here or is Page being made the sacrificial lamb?

Either way this was de'-ja vu.

This was the New York Jets, New Orleans and Seattle games the Bucs could've, should've won, but didn't. It brought back memories we thought were buried in the tombs of Met Life Stadium and the Drew Brees mausoleum.

Schiano said a few weeks ago that his team had invented ways to lose. He was right, but we thought that was over.

Now those people who wanted the Bucs to invite Schiano back for a third season might want to put things on hold.

But then maybe the coach was right.

The Bucs were getting chewed up all day, but somehow managed to keep it close.

They were 1 for 10 on third down conversions and Bobby Rainey was held to 27 yards on 11 carries. Tampa had negative yards in the fourth quarter.

If you don't believe in your team you go to trickery, but the results can be fatal on and off the field.

Nothing is ever simple for the Bucs.

Alan Dell, Herald sports writer, can be reached at 941-745-7056. Follow him on Twitter at @ADellSports.

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