Perception versus reality in Tampa Bay

How much of the Buccaneers' winless season is based on coach Greg Schiano? Rich Schultz /Getty Images

There's blood in the Tampa Bay water five games into the Buccaneers' second season under coach Greg Schiano. Sworn enemies might not have scripted a beginning this sinister. The Josh Freeman debacle was damaging enough on its own to doom a head coach. Multiple MRSA infections and an inexplicable run of fourth-quarter disasters have wrested from Schiano any control of the public narrative. Only winning can save Schiano from being portrayed as a coach whose authoritarian style ran a capable team into the ground.

Perception is always a few wins or losses from becoming reality in the NFL, but that doesn't make it the truth. And, in the Buccaneers' case, verifiable football reasons explain their 1-9 record in their past 10 games (0-5 this season) much more credibly than vague implications that the coach has "lost the locker room" or the team is in disarray. The Bucs' quarterback play in this 1-9 stretch mirrors what it was when former coach Rahim Morris lost his final 10 games. Back then, popular belief held that Morris was too much the players' coach. But then, as now, a tempting narrative can obscure the important truths.