Greg Schiano, the future of NFL kneel-downs: Why he was right
It may sound crazy but Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano had his team in the right state of mind when he told them to play until the end despite the New York Giants being lined up in the victory formation and taking a knee. In one of the most controversial plays in the early part of the 2012 season, the Buccaneers trailed the Giants in the closing moments of the fourth quarter with no timeouts. The Giants were clearly lined up to take knee in what would be the final snap of the game, but the Bucs defensive front broke through the unsuspecting Giants offensive line and gave Eli Manning a good shove backwards.
The actions of the Greg Schiano led Bucs outraged Giants head coach Tom Coughlin who gave his rookie counterpart a piece of his mind as the two exchanged pleasantries after the game. At the post game press conference a still irate Coughlin went on to say this.
“You don’t do that in this league,” Coughlin, who was clearly furious, said after the game. “You jeopardize the offensive line, you jeopardize the quarterback. Thank goodness we didn’t get anybody hurt – that I know of.”
Greg Schiano was equally unsympathetic to his team’s actions as Coughlin was angered. Schiano had this to say when asked about his team’s actions following the game.
“I don’t know if that’s not something that’s done in the National Football League,’’ an unapologetic Schiano said. “What I do with our football team is that we fight until they tell us ‘Game over.’ There’s nothing dirty about it. There’s nothing illegal about it. We crowd the ball like a sneak defense and try to knock it loose.”
The incident has sparked a league wide debate in the NFL. Was it right? Was it wrong? Does it violate league etiquette? Was Greg Schiano out of line? Should the NFL do away with knee-downs?
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones recently chimed in with his two cents and said that he thinks that kneel-down plays are a wasted play for NFL fans and should therefore be banned.
No matter what side of the coin you fall in this scenario the truth of the matter is that Greg Schiano did the right thing in here is why.
As former New York Jets and ESPN analyst Herm Edwards once famously said, “You play to win the game.” And that’s exactly what Greg Schiano was doing; playing to win.
Remember this. In 1987 with time running out the Philadelphia Eagles led the Dallas Cowboys by 10 and had the ball with time expiring. Then Eagles head coach, Buddy Ryan, ordered his quarterback, Randall Cunningham, to execute a fake kneel-down. The play caught the Cowboys defense off guard and resulted in a pass interference call in the end zone. The Eagles went on to score a touchdown on the next play and win the game by 17 points.
Of course there were different motivating factors behind the 1987 Eagles than the 2012 Giants. The Eagles were in a revenge game against the Cowboys and the Giants were truly attempting to run out the clock against the Bucs with the game out of reach. However, what happens if a team later this season attempts to fake a kneel-down against Tampa in hopes of getting a quick score and shifting momentum before the half. Well, they’ll now think twice before doing so. What Greg Schiano is trying to do in Tampa is build a culture, and that starts with attitude. It starts with playing 60 minutes of football each and every Sunday. It starts by sending a message to the rest of the league. No, the Buccaneers were not going to beat the Giants that Sunday but what they did was set a tone for the rest of the season. Job well-done Greg Schiano.
Follow Aaron on Twitter @Da_Bear_Truth.