Monday was a busy day at One Buc Place — between players cleaning out their lockers and reflecting on a disappointing 4-12 season and the dismissals of coach Greg Schiano and general manager Mark Dominik.
Here is a recap of the day’s events, along with reflections from players about what went wrong this season:
10:00 a.m. Players assembled for a team meeting, in which Schiano reflected on the season, thanked them for their contributions and effort. Players then met with position coaches. After the meetings, Schiano and Dominik learned of their fate.
10:30 a.m. Several players spoke to the media as they cleaned out their lockers.
Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy spoke about the impact Schiano had on him as a player and as a person. “I can honestly say I [learned] more about football in the last two years than I have my entire life.”
Linebacker Lavonte David talked about Schiano fostering a family atmosphere.
Linebacker Dekoda Watson talked about his upcoming status as an unrestricted free agent, the need to get healthy again. “Rest and invest,” is what Schiano told the team during the meeting, according to Watson’s account. “Not just physically but emotionally. I think that was one of the most stressful seasons I’ve ever been a part of.”
Linebacker Mason Foster talked about how the team stuck together through turmoil. “Nobody pointed fingers at each other and you’ve got to love the guys on this team for that.”
Linebacker Jonathan Casillas said he didn’t feel the defense was far off from becoming something special. “Our defense here is absolutely amazing. We have our pieces here, in part, we have the scheme, we’ve just got to go out there and do it consistently. I think this year we showed glimpses of how good our defense was but we never really consistently showed how we really are on a day-to-day basis.”
11:38 a.m. Rumors began to swirl that Schiano and Dominik had been fired, beginning with a tweet from Jay Glazer of FOX Sports.
Greg Schiano and Mark Dominik have been fired!
— Jay Glazer (@JayGlazer) December 30, 2013
11:45 a.m. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers confirmed the firings. Schiano finished his season in Tampa 11-21 while Dominik was axed too after just one winning season in his five-year tenure as G.M.
Approximately 12:30 p.m. Because players were not informed during the meeting that neither Schiano nor Dominik would be returning, many of them either found out through social media or from others as they were leaving the building.
“I haven’t had any consistency in my career,” a frustrated McCoy said to reporters outside the building. “Who do I learn from? What do I keep?”
4:00 p.m. Greg Schiano held a press conference at the Renaissance Hotel, where he spent over 20 minutes reflecting on his two seasons in Tampa Bay in which he took full responsibility for the losses.
“We didn’t get it done, and I accept full responsibility for that. I’m the head football coach and it didn’t work. But having said that, I’m really, really proud of our coaches and players and the way they hung together, fought through adversity.
Adversity, there was plenty of, and never was there any finger pointing and never was there that stuff that goes along with it sometimes. I’m proud of that. I’m proud of the culture that we’ve developed here. In two years, I’m really proud of that.”
Schiano also wanted to clear the air about what he believed were misconceptions about him as a coach. “[The players] know how I feel. There’s a lot of stuff out there about the discipline and the ‘toes on the line’ and all that nonsense — but the reality is, they know I care about them as people and as football players. Sometimes maybe I can be a ‘pain-in-the-rear-end’ because I want them to be the best they can be in everything they do, not just lining up to play football.”
5:45 p.m. Mark Dominik issued a statement reflecting on his 19 years with the organization.
“I have appreciated my 19 seasons as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. During that time, Tampa has become home for me and my family. We have developed great relationships with many friends and fans. I am especially proud of the strong connection that now has been built between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers organization and our military.”
“I have been blessed over the years here to work with some of the brightest minds of the game. All told, I have worked with seven men who have served as general managers and 10 who have been head coaches in the National Football League. Winning SB XXXVII under the direction of head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Rich McKay was an experience I will never forget. I believe that this team is well positioned for success in the future and I would like to express my gratitude to the Glazer family for the opportunity they provided me nearly 20 years ago to grow and succeed in the NFL.”