By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — If you’ve ever heard Aqib Talib speak for even one second, then you know that he’s not afraid to speak his mind. And on Wednesday morning, he revealed how that attitude ended up getting him shipped off the Buccaneers and sent to the Patriots back in 2013.
Talib, during his weekly interview on Toucher & Rich, was asked if he’s ever spoken up to call out a coach’s game plan or strategy in front of the team. Unsurprisingly, Talib immediately thought of Greg Schiano.
“He’s got a different style of coaching, man,” Talib said of Schiano. “He had a different style of coaching that I didn’t necessarily agree with, man. It was super strict, man.”
Talib talked about a game from the 2012 season when he had to cover Hakeem Nicks in man coverage. Talib said he remembers Nicks running something like nine fade routes against him, with the corner and the receiver splitting the wins. Nicks finished the game with 10 catches for 199 yards and a touchdown.
As Talib remembers it, Schiano called out Talib in front of the whole team. And Talib didn’t feel like taking it.
“He threw me nine fades. So I thought I had a pretty good game because I broke up five of them, right” Talib said. “But he caught four of them, and had like a hundred-plus yards. And I got called out in the team meeting, and he kind of put up a play, ‘You did it in practice, and then you did it in the game.’ So I’m like hold on, wait, wait, wait, wait, bro. So I stopped the meeting right there, like, ‘Bro, you’re calling man on every play. Like I’m saying, you come guard Hakeem Nicks with Eli Manning at the quarterback. When you look for the back shoulder, he throws it deep. When you look deep, he throws the back shoulder.’ And I kind of told him like, ‘This ain’t no easy job. You up here in front of this crowd like this is an easy job.’ And I kind of called him out on it, and four weeks later I was gone. I was a Patriot.”
Talib further explained his beef.
“If a guy throws a fade and I’m in good position, and the quarterback just back-shoulders the fade and he catches it, then that’s not a mistake! You know what I’m saying? That’s just an NFL guy playing an NFL guy with a future Hall of Fame quarterback who made a great play. That’s not a mistake,” Talib said. “So I would say just correct mistakes if you did the wrong thing on the coverage, if you’re using the wrong technique, like, correct mistakes. Don’t just embarrass guys because they got balls caught on them because they didn’t make as many plays. Don’t embarrass guys, just correct mistakes. Don’t just be angry that you lost and call guys out.”
Sure enough, just six weeks later, while he was in the middle of serving a PED suspension, Talib was shipped out of Tampa Bay, traded to New England. Talib said the meeting confrontation wasn’t the only reason for his departure, but it likely played a significant role.
“I always felt like Schiano, he had it out for me, because I don’t know. Whatever. Whatever he heard in the past,” Talib explained. “He came there, it was already my fourth year in Tampa. I done been in trouble with the law every year, I done been in a fight at the [rookie] symposium. So he had the rundown on me, so I feel like he was on me from the beginning. So that wasn’t the first straw, that was just the last straw.”
Talib added: “I don’t know if he’s ignorant or what. To me, he just had it out for a few guys. So when them guys did anything wrong, he made sure it was known that those guys were doing things wrong. Whereas if other guys were doing things wrong on the field, he kind of swept it under the rug. So I think he just had his guys he wanted to make his mark with, and I was one of those guys.”
The head coach in Foxboro obviously has a bit of a reputation for not being a whole lot of fun, but Talib said he very much enjoyed playing for Bill Belichick.
“I felt like [Schiano] thought he was being like Bill. But he wasn’t being like Bill. He’s not really like that,” Talib said. “He’s strict but he’s not like guys think he is. And I think Schiano was being like the guy who people think Bill is. But if you get to know Bill, he’s not really like that.”
Sciano didn’t end up lasting much longer in the NFL. He was fired by the Bucs at the end of the 2013 season, after compiling an 11-21 record. After a hiatus of a few years, he worked as the defensive coordinator and assistant head coach at Ohio State from 2016-18. He was set to join the Patriots’ staff as the defensive coordinator for the 2019 season but he resigned from the position in late March, before formally beginning the job. He ended up returning to Rutgers to once again be the head coach of the Scarlet Knights.