The Buccaneers hired disciplinarian Greg Schiano in January 2012 to change the "player's coach" culture that had been cultivated under Raheem Morris. And while the faces atop the org chart changed, the results remained the same; Schiano was 7-9 and 4-12 in two seasons before he was fired on December 30, 2013.
But for defensive end Da'Quan Bowers, Schiano's departure -- along with kindler, gentler Lovie Smith's arrival -- is welcome news.
“It's not all about the injuries,” Bowers said regarding his poor play last season, via the Lakeland Ledger. “I let other reasons get to me mentally. It was Schiano. He got to me mentally, and I couldn't bounce back for some reason. I blame myself though. I couldn't push through it mentally. It taught me something and I'm a better person and a better player because of that.”
The former 2011 second-round pick won't sit around and make excuses for his play, however. The plan is to perform up to the pre-draft expectations that at one time pegged him as a possible top-overall pick.
"I'm at a point in my career where it's time to make plays," said Bowers, who enters the final year of his rookie deal. "It's time to shine. I've been mediocre my whole life here. It's time for me to take that spotlight and just play to the best of my ability and stop selling myself short and this organization short."
Smith likes Bowers' versatility, which could be critical when it comes to reducing the roster.
"You would like that seventh (lineman) to be able to do both," the first-year coach said. "That's what you have in a player like Da'Quan. He's right in between being big enough to possibly rush inside on third down and a good anchor outside on first down playing the end position. He gives us some flexibility. He's been injured a lot I know that, but he hasn't missed a beat since I've been here."
For now, all Bowers can do is continue to work hard.
"I think this has been my most consistent camp since I've been part of this organization," he said. "I feel good. I'm doing a lot of good things. There are a lot of things I need to work on but overall I feel pretty good."