ATLANTA -- The evidence and a lot of Tampa Bay fans say coach Greg Schiano should be fired immediately.
I say it's not that time. At least not yet.
"It's been a long time since a team I coached had that same issue," Schiano said. "Put it on me to get that fixed. We had 11 penalties, six of them in Atlanta territory and four in the red zone. I think we do all the right things and it's worked over the years, yet it's not working right now. We've got to re-examine that."
There's a lot the Bucs need to re-examine and there's no doubt Schiano is running short on time. The Bucs are 0-6 and they've lost 11 of their last 12 games, dating back to last season.
"When teams are having penalties, that's a collective coaching and playing issue," Schiano said. "We've got to get it fixed. I'm frustrated because I've said that standing at this [microphone] before."
The Bucs are making the same mistakes over and over. That doesn't bode well for any coach and this season is on the verge of spiraling out of control. Quarterback Josh Freeman is gone, so Schiano is left to take all of the blame.
And he deserves every bit of it. I'm not giving Schiano a ringing endorsement, because that simply is not possible at this time.
But the alternative that so many fans want -- an interim coach -- isn't the answer. Sure, the Bucs could make special teams coordinator Dave Wannstedt their interim coach. He has been an NFL head coach before. Or the Bucs could turn to Butch Davis, who is a special adviser to Schiano. Davis also has been an NFL head coach.
What good would either of those moves do the Bucs, who have to turn around and play a Thursday night game against Carolina? Firing Schiano and replacing him with Wannstedt or Davis would only throw this team into more disarray -- and, yes, that is possible.
Going the interim route never is the answer. You only do that when things are totally out of control and you're only prolonging the inevitable -- the arrival of a new coach.
Things are dangerously close to being totally out of control for the Bucs, but they're not completely there yet.
Give Schiano, who ironically had a reputation as a builder and perfectionist at Rutgers, just a little more time to try to get things straightened out. He's had only three games with his quarterback, rookie Mike Glennon. Amid the rubble of three losses, Glennon has shown some improvement.
Get the penalties to stop and get the defensive backfield to stop watching balls go over its head. Maybe the Bucs can win five or six games down the stretch. If that happens, maybe Schiano, who has three more years on his contract, sticks around and maybe the Bucs turn the corner next season.
Yeah, all that's a long shot. But there really is one reason why I don't think the time has come to fire Schiano.
The Bucs aren't playing well, but they still are playing hard. Tampa Bay has seen teams quit before. (Remember 2011 under Raheem Morris or the end of the Sam Wyche days?)
From the time Schiano first arrived, there have been rumblings that the players don't like his methods. I think there's some truth to that, but the fact is the Bucs haven't packed it in -- yet.
Maybe that happens in Thursday night's nationally televised game. Or maybe it happens the following week when the Bucs go across the country to play Seattle.
If there ever are signs that this team has quit, then go ahead and fire Schiano immediately. But, as long as there is effort, don't make any moves this season.
Things aren't good under Schiano, but he still has the attention of his team. If you fire him and go with an interim coach, that's the equivalent of bringing in a substitute teacher, who will get plowed over by a class that's out of control.