The NFL season hasn't truly started until one team melts down, revealing locker room divisions via anonymous leaks. And who better than the underachieving Buccaneers, with a hardass college coach and a disappointing young QB with a notoriously bad relationship?
If this report from Pro Football Talk is accurate, I can't oversell how amazing it is: The Bucs reportedly held a players-only meeting before Week 1 was even played. Tampa players had grievances to air and issues to file even before a sloppy, stupid loss to the Jets. The full agenda of the meeting isn't known, but the one leaked discussion is fascinating: Bucs players reportedly questioned the validity of the vote that stripped Josh Freeman of his captaincy.
Freeman had been offensive captain for the past three seasons, but in a shock, he lost out to Vincent Jackson, who is in only his second year with the team. It's a position of no real importance beyond the symbolic, but NFL players almost never lose the "C" until they leave the team. Which might be exactly what the Bucs front office wants—they pointedly didn't offer Freeman a long-term contract, then drafted Mike Glennon and gave him plenty of playing time in the preseason.
Bucs players reportedly didn't trust that their votes were fairly counted. It was a secret ballot, with the votes tabulated by coach Greg Schiano. And whatever trust the Bucs may have had in Schiano apparently evaporated long ago.
"There’s a lot of disarray in Tampa," former Buc Shaun King told PFT. "Greg Schiano is a micromanager, and it’s starting to wear thin with some of their veteran players."
Schiano denied vote-rigging yesterday, saying, "it's 100 percent false. If there was such a thing as a 102 percent, this would be it.’’
Which might be true! And wouldn't change the level of dysfunction one bit. That Bucs players would even entertain the possibility that their head coach is out to get their quarterback is not a sign of a healthy locker room. Then there's this report in today's Tampa Tribune. "Multiple sources" claim Freeman did not show up for the team's photo day last week. Don't bet against this leak only coming out now as a way for the front office to sway public opinion: See, Freeman doesn't deserve to be captain.
The Buccaneers have a brutal first-half schedule and could easily be 1-7 at the halfway point. It seems certain that either Freeman or Schiano won't be back next year. The more immediate question is whether they will even finish the season.