EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- It’s only one loss and that doesn’t make a season. But, goodness, when did Raheem Morris return as coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers?
The Bucs, of course, are coached by Greg Schiano, who often is compared to the likes of Bill Belichick and Tom Coughlin for his disciplined approach. The man made “toes on the line’’ a catch phrase in his first season and seemed to clean up the mess of Morris’ loosey-goosey regime.
On Sunday, the Bucs played like it was 2011 all over again in an 18-17 loss to the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium.
One play summed up the day quite succinctly. It came with 15 seconds left and the Bucs holding onto a 17-15 lead. Jets quarterback Geno Smith scrambled for a 10-yard gain and linebacker Lavonte David, who had played an excellent game to that point, hit Smith after he went out of bounds.
The 15-yard penalty moved the Jets into position for Nick Folk to kick a 48-yard field goal to win the game.
“[David] made a lot of plays to keep us in the game,’’ middle linebacker Mason Foster said.
“That wasn’t the only penalty,’’ Schiano said.
No, it wasn’t. David’s play was pretty much the norm for the Bucs. They were called for 13 penalties, which handed the Jets 102 yards. Safeties Mark Barron and Dashon Goldson also were called for 15-yard penalties. Some of the penalties were penalties of aggression, which aren't necessarily a bad thing. But some of them were just plain stupid, which is a terrible thing for a team that's supposed to be disciplined.
“We had nine penalties in the first nine minutes,’’ Schiano said. “We could go two weeks and not have nine penalties.’’
That might have been true last season. But, against the Jets, the Bucs were in disarray from the start. They were called for four penalties (one of them declined) and had to burn a timeout because of problems with the radio that carries offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan’s play calls to the helmet of quarterback Josh Freeman on their first possession.
The technical difficulties were unfortunate. But guess what? Things like that happen. A truly disciplined and well-coached team falls back on hand signals. A truly well-coached and experienced quarterback knows how to get a play off under any circumstances.
Freeman wasn’t able to do that and you can go ahead and start wondering about his future. It’s fair game now because he lost. Smith was far from perfect, but he was better than Freeman. That doesn’t bode well for Freeman, who is in a contract season and has third-round draft pick Mike Glennon looking over his shoulder.
"[Schiano] breaks the season down very simply -- 16 one-game seasons,'' said Freeman, who completed 15 of 31 passes for 210 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
What happened Sunday doesn’t bode well for Schiano if the next 15 games look anything like this one. New York’s Rex Ryan was supposed to be the coach entering the season on the hot seat with a team that’s preseason made it look like things were in disarray.
Instead, it was the Bucs that looked totally off kilter. That cannot continue.
If the Bucs don’t get things cleaned up in a hurry, Freeman, Schiano and a lot of other people are going to be on the hot seat in Tampa Bay.