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After losing out on Kelly, Bucs go back to college ranks and hire Rutgers’ Schiano

Lose out on one prominent college football head coach? No problem, just hire another.

Just days after Chip Kelly spurned them by deciding to stay at the University of Oregon, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have hired Rutgers’ Greg Schiano to be their next head coach. He takes over for Raheem Morris, who was fired after a disastrous 2011 season in which the Bucs lost their final 10 games while stumbling to a 4-12 record.

The three finalists to take over as coach of the Bucs were apparently Panthers’ offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski, fired Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman, and Schiano. Just 45 years old, Schiano gained the respect of his peers and media members after impressively transforming Rutgers into a Big East power. Since 2001, the Scarlet Knights have gone to six bowl games, winning their last five. Schiano led them to a win in their most recent bowl game, a 27-13 victory over Iowa State in the 2011 Pinstripe Bowl.

What’s interesting is that Kelly and Schiano couldn’t be more different in terms of offensive philosophies. Oregon has had one of the most dynamic offenses in college football under Kelly, who runs a zone-read scheme that is unlike any system currently in the NFL. Schiano, meanwhile, has always run a “smashmouth,” run-first offense that uses a heavy dose of running back committees.

The contrast in styles makes you wonder whether or not the Bucs knew what they wanted in their next head coach. Did the Glazers just want to make a splash hire following their Morris tenure? Were they focused on a disciplinarian? Did they want to use the same blueprint as the 49ers, who obviously just had a ton of success following the hiring of former Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh last year?

Schiano is a great football coach and appears to be less of a gamble than Kelly, whose offense may not have survived in the pros. But it’s odd that in the end, the Bucs’ top two choices had such contrasting styles (at least offensively).

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @TheScoresReport. You can also follow TSR editor Gerardo Orlando @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom, and you can follow TSR editor Anthony Stalter @AnthonyStalter.

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2011 NFL Week 15 Primer

New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan works on the sideline during the first half of their NFL football game against the Washington Redskins in Landover, Maryland, December 4, 2011. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

MARQUE MATCHUP: Patriots vs. Broncos, 4:15PM ET, Sunday
For the Broncos, this matchup with the Patriots is more than just about this game. It’s about seeing how well they stack up against one of the best in the AFC. Granted, during the Broncos’ current six-game winning streak they’ve beaten the Raiders, Jets, and Chargers, who are three teams still vying for a playoff berth in the conference. But Tom Brady and Co. is obviously a different animal. If Denver’s defense can’t keep guys like Brady and Rob Gronkowski in check, will Tim Tebow and the Bronco offense step up? Will Tebow be able to make plays through the air? Will his receivers win their individual matchups and actually catch the ball? Even though Denver now has the inside track to a playoff berth, doubts still remain about Tebow’s ability to win when he usually doesn’t even warm up until the fourth quarter. This will be a great test for a Denver team that still has plenty to prove.

THE POTENITAL (NOTEWORTHY) UPSET: Redskins over Giants, 1:00PM ET, Sunday
While the victory did come at home, Washington has already beaten New York once this season. Eli Manning threw one interception and no touchdowns while Rex Grossman completed 21-of-34 passes for 305 yards and two scores in the Redskins’ 28-14 victory in Week 1. The Skins have lost two in a row and eight of their last nine but they’re clearly a more competitive team with Grossman under center than John Beck. The Giants are currently the owners of first place in the NFC East by virtue of their win over the Cowboys last Sunday night. But the Giants have made a habit out of playing down to their competition all season. Even with a playoff berth on the line, Tom Coughlin’s squad always seems primed for an upset.

THE GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY: DALLAS COWBOYS
The Cowboys have a chance to beat the Bucs on Saturday night and then sit back on Sunday and hope the Redskins can upset the Giants to give them a one-game lead again in the NFC East. There’s simply no excuse for Dallas to lose to Tampa Bay. The Bucs have lost seven in a row and are coming off a defeat in which they allowed 41 points to a horrendous Jacksonville offense. Raheem Morris is now on the hot seat and the Bucs don’t have the weapons to slow the Cowboys down on either side of the ball. True, Tampa will have home field advantage but how many Bucs fans will show up to Raymond James on Saturday night to root on a 4-9 team? The Bucs have a hard enough time filling their stadium when the team is good, nevertheless spiraling out of control. If Dallas can win, it puts all the pressure on New York to produce a victory at home the following day against a Washington team that’s slightly better than its record would indicate.

PUT UP OR SHUT UP: NEW YORK JETS
Some were ready to write the Jets off when they lost 17-13 to the Broncos back on that Thursday night in mid-November. But they’ve quietly rattled off three straight wins against inferior opponents in Buffalo, Washington and Kansas City, respectively. Their latest victory (a 37-10 shellacking of the Chiefs) has allowed them to take control of their own destiny in the AFC. If the playoffs were to start today, the Jets would own the sixth and final seed in the conference. But with Tennessee (7-6), Cincinnati (7-6), Oakland (7-6) and even San Diego (6-7) still very much alive, New York can ill-afford to suffer any losses. They’ll travel to Philadelphia this Sunday to take on an Eagles team that has been a mixed bag all season. You don’t know whether or not they’ll come out completely flat and disinterested or focused and inspired. That’s why if Rex Ryan wants people to start believing in “Gang Green” again, the Jets better come out this Sunday and beat a Philadelphia squad that for all intents and purposes is just riding out the rest of its schedule. Given how poorly the Eagles have defended the run this year, this is a great opportunity for Shonn Greene and the Jets to establish the run, play great defense and walk out of Philly with a victory.

Quick-Hit Reactions from Week 14 in the NFL

Every Sunday throughout the 2011 NFL season I’ll compile quick-hit reactions from the day that was in football. I vow to always overreact, side with sensationalism over rationalism, and draw conclusions based on small sample sizes instead of cold, hard facts. It’s the only way I know how to write…

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Joe Webb celebrates his touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles during the third quarter of their NFL football game in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, December 28, 2010. REUTERS/Tim Shaffer (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

- Holy facemask, Batman – why wasn’t a penalty called on linebacker DeAndre Levy when he grabbed Joe Webb’s facemask on that crazy final play in Detroit today? Granted, the game should have never come down to that play for the Lions, who were up 31-14 at one point. But how do you miss that if you’re the refs?

- Speaking of Webb – dude was fun to watch today. The Lions didn’t prepare for a running quarterback in practice this week so it’s not surprising that Webb was able to burn Detroit with his legs. But he nearly led Minnesota to the most improbable win of the day. I feel like I’m back in 2010 when Webb was starting for that perv Brett Favre.

- It’s hard to criticize the effort that Jake Locker put in today while replacing the injured Matt Hasselbeck (calf). For three and a half quarters Locker went toe-to-toe with Drew Brees and nearly willed the Titans to a huge come-from-behind victory. He flashed his athletic ability on a 6-yard touchdown run that gave the Titans a brief lead in the second half, and threw a couple beautiful passes in the fourth quarter to put his team into scoring range. That said, THROW THE BALL, KID! Anything but take a sack in that situation.

- Tim Tebow: Five fourth-quarter or overtime wins this season. That’s amazing. The guy won’t complete a pass for the first quarter and a half (although his receivers didn’t help him today), will look completely horrendous until the fourth quarter and then pull some miraculous victory out of his backside. He’s a mixture of luck, clutch play and pure disaster but Denver now owns the AFC West with three games remaining. Think about that for a second.

- What’s the big deal? So Tom Brady got yelled at. Stop the presses. He threw an ugly interception midway through the fourth quarter and it pissed off offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien. Even Super Bowl MVPs deserve a tongue-lashing from time to time. Neither Brady nor O’Brien will let this dustup affect their relationship moving forward.

- Rob Gronkowski is essentially uncoverable one-one-one. Washington’s defensive backs were draped all over him on several of his catches and he/Brady still made plays. Gronk has some big-time mitts.

- I’m done doubting the Texans. That’s the grittiest team I’ve seen play in a long time. Without its top two quarterbacks, its top defensive player and its top offensive weapon, Houston just keeps plugging along. I keep waiting for the Texans to eventually come up short and it looked like they would today in Cincinnati. Then all of a sudden T.J. Yates is throwing a game-winning touchdown pass as time expires. Tim Tebow lovers may disagree but Houston is the best story of the season.

- That’s a blow that I don’t think the Bengals will be able to come back from. Wowzers. Talk about snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

- If Shonn Greene continues to run as hard as he did today, the Jets will be dangerous again if/when they make the playoffs. New York’s entire success offensively revolves around its running game. It has to with Mark Sanchez at the helm.

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) calls out the play against the Carolina Panthers during their NFL football game in Charlotte, North Carolina December 12, 2010. REUTERS/Chris Keane (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

- Down 23-7 at halftime, the Falcons looked like a team that didn’t deserve to be a playoff team. They had zero urgency or energy, their offensive line looked like a complete mess and the defense couldn’t tackle a soul. Then they came out in the second half and played like the team people thought they would at the beginning of the season. Matt Ryan threw four touchdown passes, including two to Julio Jones (who had a case of the drops earlier in the game) and one beautiful rainbow to rookie Jacquizz Rodgers. It appears as though the Saints will win the NFC South but the Falcons are in great shape assuming they don’t crap the bed from here on out. They have a very winnable home game against the Jaguars this week before heading to New Orleans for a rematch with the Saints and hosting the Bucs in Week 17. There’s no reason Atlanta shouldn’t get to 10 wins and secure the fifth seed in the NFC (assuming the Saints keep winning, that is). Had the Falcons lost today in Carolina, they would have been on the outside looking in. Good thing they woke up.

- All that crap the Bears talked about this week regarding the Broncos’ style of play and they go out and cough up a potential victory. That soft Tampa 2 the Bears run on defense makes it awfully easy for even a guy like Tim Tebow to complete passes with the game on the line.

- Was today’s loss to the Cardinals the product of their division-clinching win last Sunday against the Rams, or are the Niners starting to show some cracks? I think a little bit of both. Clearly San Francisco was out of whack and it wasn’t surprising that the Niners came out flat after securing a playoff berth last weekend. But they’re susceptible to the deep pass defensively, which isn’t a good sign considering San Fran could eventually play Green Bay or New Orleans in the playoffs. Starting left tackle Joe Staley was also hurt, which is a huge problem considering Alex Boone is his replacement. Hopefully for San Fran’s sake, this loss will serve as a wakeup call for the Niners.

- The Cardinals have six wins on the year and John Skelton is essentially responsible for four of them. (He didn’t start today but he essentially won the game for Arizona once Kevin Kolb was forced to leave with a head injury.) Oh those scrappy John Skelton-led Cardinals…

- I truly didn’t expect the Raiders to beat the Packers today at Lambeau but what an ugly performance by Oaktown. For entertainment sake, here’s hoping Tebowmania keeps rolling and the Broncos make the playoffs over the Raiders, who have looked completely lethargic the past two weeks.

- Whistlegate? Titans’ offensive linemen Jake Scott and Michael Roos said that a whistle was being blown in the area of the Saints’ bench late in New Orleans’ 22-17 victory in Tennessee. My question is, wouldn’t the ref on the New Orleans’ sideline hear the whistle? This story ranks right up there with “Tripgate” from last year.

- It’s amazing how Raheem Morris has gone from being one of the league’s brightest young coaches to being on the hot seat. The organization will have to figure out whether or not it wants Morris to be a lame duck in 2012 or fire him this offseason, because clearly the Bucs can’t give this guy an extension. That was an ugly performance by Morris’ Bucs in Jacksonville today.

- Somehow, the Chargers are still alive…

Green Bay Packers’ Greg Jennings fails to catch a pass while playing against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the second half during their NFL football game in Green Bay, Wisconsin November 20, 2011. REUTERS/Darren Hauck (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

- While watching the Packers absolutely destroy the Raiders today at Lambeau, I thought to myself, “Why even have a playoff? Just hand the ‘Discount Double-Check’s’ the Lombardi.” Then Greg Jennings left the field on a cart after suffering a leg injury that obviously left him in a ton of pain. Green Bay overcame a slew of injuries to win the Super Bowl last year and the Pack certainly have enough weapons to keep terrorizing opponents on a weekly basis. But losing Jennings would be a massive blow.

- Santana Moss won’t sleep well tonight. With the Skins knocking on the door of a potential game-tying score against the Patriots in the closing minutes, he was flagged for offensive pass interference, which moved Washington back to the 15-yard-line. Then he had a Rex Grossman pass bounce off his hands and into those of linebacker Jerod Mayo, which ended the Skins’ comeback attempt. You have to hand it to Washington though. They keep fighting no matter who the opponent is.

- Just think if the Philadelphia defense played that well every week. Given how shaky the rest of the NFC East is, they’d probably be closing in on a playoff spot right now.

Morris shoots down report that Talib is out in Tampa

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Head Coach Raheem Morris talks to the coaches overhead during play against the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park in San Francisco on November 21, 2010. The Bucs defeated the 49ers 21-0. UPI/Terry Schmitt

Bucs’ head coach Raheem Morris refuted a St. Petersburg Times report that the team has already decided to move on from troubled cornerback Aqib Talib.

“Just to say that we’ve come out and made a decision about what’s going to happen with Aqib Talib’s future is completely false and bad information,” Morris said.

“The NFL has a discipline policy for our players that is also part of the collective bargaining agreement. Discipline throughout the league and off-the-field issues are always handled through the league office,” Morris said. “There are extra things internally that we do. We might fine people, we may take money, we may sit you out of practice, we may sit you out of games, we may not allow you to participate in certain things.

“The public stuff and the public knowledge is always handed down by the NFL, usually. Right now, the guy has not been judged. Once he gets judged, I’m sure the NFL, or whatever happens there, will step into play. Then we will step into play also.”

This is smart on Morris’ part. You don’t want to even suggest that you’re going to cut a guy that hasn’t been proven guilty of anything (even though the odds are clearly stacked against Talib). If Morris and the Bucs did, they would be inviting the media and fans to scrutinize their decision-making.

If or when Talib is found guilty and the NFL makes a decision on his future, then Morris and the Bucs can get involved. Until then, Morris has it right: We (Bucs) haven’t made a decision about anything regarding Aqib Talib.

NFL Week 17 COY power rankings

It’s best to do this now, because surely our opinions will be skewed watching the playoffs.

1. Bill Belichick, New England Patriots—The Pats just kept getting better as the season wore on, save for that hiccup against Cleveland. This is actually one of Bill’s best coaching jobs.

2. Raheem Morris, Tampa Bay Bucs—From 3-13 to 10-6. But what might be most impressive is that Morris told everyone this team would win 10 games when he may have been the only one who believed it.

3. Todd Haley, Kansas City Chiefs—The AFC West winner has a home game Sunday. Did anyone pick KC to finish above third?

4. Lovie Smith, Chicago Bears—Kudos to Lovie for sending his A-team out there last Sunday, and either way it’s surely been quite a year for his Bears, especially with that defense.

5. Andy Reid, Philadelphia Eagles—He hasn’t hung around the city of Philadelphia for 11 years for no reason. The man just knows how to win with the talent he’s given.

6. Steve Spagnuolo, St. Louis Rams—So close to grabbing that last playoff spot, but regardless, this is a team that will be reckoned with, maybe as soon as next year.

7. Mike Smith, Atlanta Falcons—The 13-3 Falcons are sharp heading into the big dance.

8. Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers/John Harbaugh, Baltimore Ravens—Without Big Ben for four games, and still grabbed the 2-seed in the tough AFC. The Ravens, meanwhile, snuck up on everyone by winning 12 games too.

9. Mike McCarthy, Green Bay Packers—His team was in every single game and could just as easily be 16-0 than 10-6. Keep an eye on these guys, they could win it all as a 6-seed.

10. Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints—You just can’t forget about the defending champs and that win in Atlanta a few weeks ago proved it.

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