TAMPA, Fla. -- They cheered, ever so slightly, as running back Doug Martin and wide receiver Vincent Jackson walked off the field at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday. They did the same as defensive tackle Gerald McCoy walked into the tunnel to the locker room.
And, then, there was coach Greg Schiano.
The venom directed at him by a large group of fans in the southeast corner of the stadium was loud. The language was so vicious, the only way to summarize it was that the crowd was telling Schiano he needs to go back to being a college coach.
"I didn't hear anything," Schiano said a few moments after his team lost, 31-20, to the Philadelphia Eagles.
It's a good thing Schiano has thick skin because patience is running thing among the fans. And it's time to start wondering whether ownership's patience is wearing thin as well.
The Bucs have lost their first five games of this season and 10 of 11 dating back to last year. There were no real signs of progress against the Eagles. In fact, you could make a case that the Bucs' revamped defensive secondary regressed. Rookie quarterback Mike Glennon played well enough to lead the Bucs to a 17-14 halftime lead, but didn't do much of anything positive in the second half.
Glennon wasn't alone. Instead of blowing a late lead as they've done several times already this season, the Bucs took a shortcut and simply got blown out.
"We need to get it figured out quickly," Schiano said.
That's a huge understatement. On top of the losing, the Bucs seem to be in disarray in every way. Former franchise quarterback Josh Freeman was run out of town after a public feud with the team. According to a USA Today report, the NFL Players Association pointed to Schiano as the culprit for leaking a story that Freeman was in the league's drug program.
Then, there's the whole MRSA situation. Three players (guard Carl Nicks, kicker Lawrence Tynes and cornerback Johnthan Banks) have been diagnosed with MRSA since the preseason started. Nicks recovered enough to play in two games before he was diagnosed with a recurrence last week.
Has there ever been a crazier time for this franchise? The expansion days of John McKay come to mind. So do the Sam Wyche days and the final days of Raheem Morris.
But I'll make the case that what's happening now deserves more of a big top than anything in franchise history. Unlike McKay, Wyche and Morris, Schiano has plenty of talent with which to work. (The Bucs have eight guys who have been to the Pro Bowl.)
Unlike McKay, Wyche and Morris, circus acts weren't expected from Schiano. The guy came from Rutgers, where he had a reputation as a builder and disciplinarian.
Yet, even with all that discipline, the Bucs seem to be running amok. How does Schiano reverse the fortunes of this team?
"You stand to your convictions without being stubborn and you move forward," Schiano said. "We've got a good group of people in that locker room and coaches and they're going to stick together and we're going to get it turned. As long as you know that, you're going to do it."
The part about sticking to your convictions makes me think of that scene in "Hoosiers" when Gene Hackman's character, coach Norman Dale, says "My team is on the court" as a way of sending a message to his team. That stuff works in movies.
Real life can be another story. I'm not sure that continuing to play cornerback Darrelle Revis in zone coverage is going to lead to a turnaround for the Bucs.
The next three weeks or so are critical for Schiano and the Bucs. They play division rivals Atlanta and Carolina and travel to Seattle. An 0-8 start is looking possible.
Again, I have no idea if ownership is growing as impatient as the fans. But I do know that the Glazer family, which owns the team, does not like to be embarrassed.
The Bucs have been an embarrassment recently. If that doesn't change, the Glazers also might have some unkind words for Schiano.