TAMPA — Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Darrelle Revis walked into One Buc Place last Wednesday hoping to spend the next three days focusing solely on a way to end the team’s season-long winless streak.
He never got his wish.
After only a day of preparation for their next game, the Bucs were struck by the news of yet another MRSA diagnosis, and Revis believes that news played a part in the team’s 31-20 loss to the Eagles on Sunday.
“It was a big distraction because our minds were on starting fresh and getting back into football mode, but then we had to deal with this thing the whole week and it trickled into the game a little bit,’’ Revis said.
That trickle is one leak Bucs coach Greg Schiano will take responsibility for.
Though he has denied claims he leaked confidential information about former quarterback Josh Freeman’s presence in the NFL’s substance-abuse program, Schiano said any failure to keep outside distractions from affecting his team’s play is definitely on him.
“If that’s the case, then I need to lead better, because nobody cares,’’ Schiano said Monday. “This is the most competitive sports league in the world and we have to find a way to win. So, whatever the distractions are, we have to collectively push them to the side.
“That doesn’t mean you don’t care about them. It doesn’t mean you don’t do the things that need to be done. But we’re here for a reason and that is to win football games, and we need to do that. We haven’t yet but we’re going to, so limiting the distractions, not allowing them to affect you, that’s what we need to do.’’
Limiting distractions figures to be a challenge yet again this week. Left guard Carl Nicks and cornerback Johnthan Banks are still fighting MRSA infections, and Revis says there is concern for both players inside the locker room.
“This is a totally different thing where guys lives are in jeopardy with those types of infections,” Revis said. “So, I think, as players, all we can do is be there and support them and try to help them.”
Banks played in Sunday’s game after he was cleared on Saturday by Dr. Deverick Anderson, an infectious disease specialist who said Banks poses no threat to other players.
Nicks’ situation appears more serious. He is fighting a recurrence of a MRSA infection first diagnosed in August and might need surgery. As of Monday, though, a decision on taking that step had apparently not been made.
“He’s getting further evaluation as we speak and I think we’re just going to make sure that we use every resource available to do what’s ultimately best for Carl and try to get this thing licked,’’ Schiano said.
While Nicks is being re-evaluated, Schiano plans to turn his and his team’s attention back to the business of football and correcting the areas of play that have prevented them from winning.
Schiano said consistency is the key to breaking the losing streak. And to the growing number of fans who are frustrated with an 0-5 team that has lost 10 of its past 11 games dating to last season, he all but promised the Bucs will break that streak.
“I understand we’re disappointing a lot of people,’’ Schiano said. “This is a community, an area, that is very passionate about their team and had high expectations, as I did. So far it hasn’t come to fruition.
“But the only thing I can say to the fans, and I know (how) this sounds, but if they can hang in there, we’re going to be good. If they can’t, we’re still going to be good and then we’ll welcome them back.
“I’m not trying to be smart here, because I think our fans are great. At the end of the game, I’m disappointed just like they are. But when we get it turned, it’s going to be really special.’’
Asked what he saw from the Bucs during their loss to the Eagles that made him believe the Bucs were close to turning their season around, Schiano said it was the presence of winning attributes and habits.
“I’ve seen us do the things that we need to do to win — in pieces,’’ he said. “When you look at yesterday’s performance, defensively we just didn’t play to the level that we’ve played (in previous weeks). Some of the stuff where we didn’t execute, we’re capable of doing it. When you can’t do it, that’s a different story. But when you can and you don’t, that frustrates you.
“So when you ask, ‘What makes you feel like you’re going to win?’ it is that we have had plenty of opportunities to win every football game that we’ve been in this year and we have found ways to lose them.
“Now, I’m accustomed to being on the team that finds ways to win them. So, I’m not doing my job. But I’ve done it before and I need to do it again to where we expect it and we go do those little things that allow you to win.”