As I’ve been reading up on new Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano, I’ve been paying close attention to coaches that have worked with him and players that have played with him.
There was one name that jumped out at me because he’s one of the people I respect most in the entire NFL world. Besides, he’s now a scout, so who is better than a scout to provide a scouting report on Schiano.
I called Dan Morgan, who now is a scout with the Seattle Seahawks. I had the pleasure of covering Morgan during his career as a linebacker with the Carolina Panthers. Morgan also played linebacker for the University of Miami when Schiano was the defensive coordinator there for two years. Schiano was there for Morgan’s junior and senior seasons.
“Greg was my coach, but, in later years, he’s become a very good friend,’’ Morgan said. “We’ve stayed in touch through the years and I couldn’t be happier for him. The fans in Tampa Bay might not fully realize it just yet, but they just got themselves a heck of a coach.’’
Morgan credits Schiano for helping make him an All-American and a first-round pick by the Panthers in 2001.
“Playing under him, I learned a ton,’’ Morgan said. “I give him most of the credit for really developing my football intelligence. From my junior year to my senior year, I started really seeing the game and anticipating things and that’s all due to Greg’s influence.’’
I know a lot of fans are questioning Schiano because he has spent most of his time as a college coach, aside from a three-year stint with the Chicago Bears. That’s why I asked Morgan if he thinks Schiano can make a successful transition to the NFL.
“A good football coach is a good football coach,’’ Morgan said. “Sure, there may be some minor adjustments to the NFL, but Greg’s a smart guy and he’ll make those without any problem. The biggest thing is that he’s a great leader of men. He has the football knowledge and he knows how to bring the whole locker room together and get people on the same page and buying in.’’
Morgan said Schiano doesn’t fit any certain stereotype and flexibility is one of his strengths.
“He’s very intense and he’s great with Xs and Os," Morgan said. “But he also makes the game fun. He’s one of those guys that will yell when the situation calls for it. But he also can be a real encouraging guy when the situation calls for that.
“He’s going to bring discipline on and off the field,’’ Morgan said. “He’s not a true drill-sergeant type. But he knows how to handle players and people. He’ll respect his players and he’ll expect it back from them. He’ll get it, too, because he’s just a guy that kind of commands respect and you want to play hard for him and you never want to let him down."