Alan Dell

Commentary | Suggestion for Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano: Learn the rules


Greg Schiano has a problem with the NFL rules, both written and unwritten.

What the Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach needs to do is brush up on rule No. 1: Know the rules.

If you don't take care of rule No. 1, you will be embarrassed and lose games and credibility with your players.

If you want to give Schiano a pass because he is a rookie coach, feel free. But if you want to excuse Bucs GM Mark Dominik, forget it. He has used up all his get-out-of-purgatory cards.

When he hired a guy who spent the last 11 years trying to make Rutgers a respectable program, he put what little was left of his reputation on the line.

Schiano could make it is easier on himself if he admitted some of his rulebook gaffes, written and unwritten. But we have learned he can be stubborn, though he claims to be the opposite.

Al Capone and John Dillinger also said they were model citizens and broke a lot more rules than Schiano.

The big, booming voice from NFL headquarters said Schiano broke Rule 12, Section 3, Article I of Roger Goodell's Bible against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday in a crucial play.

Instead of going for a 51-yard field goal, it gave Drew Brees a new life, and that usually means certain death to the opposition.

The Saints used the second opportunity to score a critical touchdown in their 35-28 victory.

The scenario contributed to a disturbing pattern.

Schiano already broke the unwritten rule about head-hunting quarterbacks who are taking a kneel-down to complete games they've won.

He obviously didn't know that it is illegal to use "disconcerting signals" when the Saints were getting ready to snap the ball. The rule states teams can

not use acts or words designed to disconcert an offensive team at the snap.

Bucs middle linebacker Mason Foster was the guilty party for blurting out a few muddled sounds prior to the snap.

After the game, Foster claimed he was baffled about the penalty.

He sounded a little bit like Jonathan Vilma trying to explain away Bountygate. But regardless of Foster's innocence or guilt, this one is on Schiano.

The coach still insists the play was legal, but says he won't take it up the NFL food chain.

"Quite frankly, it is a legal play. We did it in the Washington game. Exact same thing," Schiano said.

"I know what we do, and I feel comfortable with it. Now, the fact of the matter is it got called Sunday so I don't know if you should be looking for that anymore. ... But as far as I'm concerned it was a legal play."

Several Saints players warned the officials before the play about the tactic after seeing film of the Bucs-Redskins game.

"I played Division II ball, and they didn't even do that," Saints guard Jahri Evans said.

Schiano could've said it was a mistake. With the hope he has brought to what was NFL's wild bunch of misfits last year, he would've gotten a pass from most fans.

But he is hanging on to Rule 1.5, which says when you are wrong, make up a new rule or change the interpretation.

Rule No. 1.5 has gotten lots of people in trouble. Our jails are filled with them.

Schiano broke another rule, this one from the Bill Parcells/Vince Lombardi Institute of Football Sensibility.

Faced with a first and goal at the Saints 1, Schiano tried to get the ball in the end zone on three straight LeGarrette Blount runs.

This could be more egregious than breaking Rule 1.5 because all Schiano had to do was watch film of Blount's history in goal-line offense and know once is enough.

He alluded to the fact that Blount is running under a different scheme now, which increases the probability of him scoring. That is taking stubbornness to a new height.

As for Dominik, he has a bigger problem justifying why he poured all that money into acquiring cornerback Eric Wright, who has never had good coverage skills.

He was abused Sunday by Brees, who targeted Wright nine times and completed seven passes for 147 yards, including a 47-yard TD to Joe Morgan on a play in which Wright missed a tackle.

Wright looked like a lost shepherd trying to find his flock, falling victim to Brees' pump fakes on numerous occasions.

Alan Dell, Herald sports writer, can be reached at 941-745-7080, ext. 2112. Follow him on Twitter at @ADellSports.