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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Players think Schiano is right guy for Bucs' job

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Published:   |   Updated: March 19, 2013 at 12:37 PM
TAMPA -

Quarterback Josh Freeman was a man on the move Thursday when he reacted to the big move of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"To be honest, I think he's a great fit," Freeman said after the Bucs made Greg Schiano the ninth head coach in franchise history.

"I'm rushing to the airport right now to catch a flight to Tampa, and I'm excited about the news. From everything I hear about him, he's the right guy. I can't wait to meet him."

Freeman is one of several prominent Bucs players eager to meet Schiano, who will be introduced today at an afternoon news conference at team headquarters.

Fifth-year guard Jeremy Zuttah, who played for Schiano at Rutgers, spent much of the day responding to text messages from Tampa Bay teammates curious to gather information about their new 45-year-old boss.

"He's a great coach," said Zuttah, who started 40 games for the Scarlet Knights before the Bucs selected him in the third round of the 2008 draft.

"Coach Schiano believes in doing everything the right way, and the man's very energetic. More than that, he knows how to instill energy to his players. This is his first time as a head coach at the NFL level, and I'm confident he'll get the job done."

Schiano spent three years with the Chicago Bears as an assistant coach, moving up to secondary coach in 1998.

That was Terry Cousin's second pro season, and he started 12 games at cornerback in '98, working closely with Schiano on a staff led by coach Dave Wannstedt.

"Being with coach Schiano definitely contributed quite a bit to my long career," said Cousin, who played 12 NFL seasons. "Everything that man does has a purpose behind it.

"He's going to be transparent, and he's going to change the dynamics of the Tampa Bay locker room, that I can assure you. He's going to create an atmosphere of guys wanting to work for each other. Bucs players will have structure and they will like going to work."

In his 11 years at Rutgers, Schiano developed a reputation as a coach who demanded physical play, stressing a power running game.

Ravens Pro Bowl back Ray Rice averaged 28 carries per game in his final two years (2006-07) at Rutgers before entering the NFL as a second-round draft pick.

"We certainly ran the ball a lot in college," Zuttah said. "I'm not absolutely certain that will carry over at the NFL level, we'll have to see, but it's what we did at Rutgers. I can remember when he recruited me. Coach Schiano didn't make false promises. He had a vision for the program and he made you believe he would get the job done."

Speaking by phone from the University of South Carolina, where he mentors student-athletes at his alma mater, Cousin described Schiano as "lively," with a good sense of humor.

"You're going to get some good sound bites from him," Cousin said. "What you see is what you get from coach Schiano. I don't think he'll have a problem at the next level. I know one thing for sure — the man is going to find some leaders on that Buccaneer team. If they are there, he'll bring it out of them. You guys down there just got yourselves a great football coach."


ikaufman@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7833

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