Should Mike Glennon Be the Bucs’ Starting QB?

Now that we’ve had time to bask in the euphoria of Tampa Bay’s stunning victory over the Steelers in Pittsburgh, it’s time to address what is arguably the biggest decision facing Lovie Smith.

Has Mike Glennon wrestled the starting job away from the injured Josh McCown?

Obviously, Glennon will continue to play as long as McCown’s thumb is still bothersome. But what happens when McCown is healthy? Smith has said McCown is his quarterback. But, what Glennon did in the second half against Pittsburgh may have created some doubt in his mind, and it definitely did among us, the fans.

Don’t get me wrong. This is not about comparing Glennon to the best QB’s in the league. Not even close. Heck, Glennon only completed exactly 50% (21-of-42) of his passes. And the Bucs are still ranked 30th overall in total offense (dead last in passing yards.) This is about whether he’s better than McCown. From what we’ve seen through the first quarter of the season, I think the answer is yes.

Glennon threw a great ball to Mike Evans in the corner of the end zone to open the scoring. After a rough first half offensively, Glennon led the Bucs on an 80-yard drive to open the second half. Then there was the drama of the final drive, where Glennon hit Louis Murphy on a 41-yard catch-and-run that set up the game-winning scoring pass to Vincent Jackson. He did throw an interception on the play on which Evans got hurt (hopefully he’s not out for too long.)

You know that awful cliché that coaches always use: the one about going with the guy that gives the team the best chance to win. From what we’ve seen so far, Mike Glennon needs to be the starter in the Superdome next Sunday.

Photo Courtesy: AP

 

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Bucs Rally to Beat Steelers

Here are some thoughts on the Buccaneers’ amazing, 27-24 victory over the Steelers on Sunday.

 

THE GOOD

For a change, there’s plenty to write about in the “good” department.

 

The Bucs got the ball back in Pittsburgh territory with less than a minute remaining, thanks to a defensive stop and a short punt. Mike Glennon had no timeouts to work with.  No problem.   He drove Tampa Bay right down the field with a huge 41-yard completion to Louis Murphy, followed by a 5-yard touchdown pass to Vincent Jackson with seven seconds left on the clock.  It was an incredible rally by a team that gave up 56 points to the Falcons the last time out.  Glennon threw for over 300 yards while completing just half of his passes.  But with the game on the line, he came up big.  Murphy finished with 99 yards receiving, as he stepped up in a big way after Mike Evans left the game with an injury.

 

Defensively, the Bucs limited the Steelers to just one touchdown in the second half. They sacked Ben Roethlisberger a season-high five times, and forced a fumble that led to Tampa Bay’s first score, a Glennon-to-Evans TD pass.  We need to see more of that in the weeks to come.

 

THE BAD

Even with the sacks, the Buccaneers allowed Big Ben to throw for over 300 yards and three touchdowns. And they continue to struggle to cover tight ends.  Heath Miller had 10 catches for 85 yards and a score.  Next week, they’re playing a tight end named Jimmy Graham.  I suggest they do some homework on him.  Antonio Brown also had a field day, catching seven balls for 131 yards and two TD’s.  And who knows what the outcome might have been had Brown not dropped a flea flicker that could’ve gone for another six points.

 

Penalties continue to be a problem. The Bucs were flagged nine times for 50 yards.  But they were outdone by the Steelers in that category.  Pittsburgh had 13 penalties, including more than a few 15-yarders that helped Tampa Bay’s cause.

 

THE UGLY

The Bucs were down in the red zone on their second-to-last possession. They decided it would be a good idea to let Bobby Rainey throw a pass into the end zone.  If that play works, you look like a genius.  If it doesn’t, you look like a fool.  It didn’t work.  But fortunately, it didn’t end up costing Tampa Bay the game.

 

How Do The Bucs Turn Things Around?

For the second year in a row, the Buccaneers are off to an 0-3 start. Last year’s team began 0-8, and if Lovie Smith’s players aren’t careful, they could be heading for that same fate in 2014.

First, they lost to a backup Carolina quarterback. Then they let a third-string QB from the Rams beat them. That was followed by the debacle in Atlanta on Thursday night against Matt Ryan (“debacle” is putting it nicely, actually.)

After three games, Tampa Bay is 30th in total offense (including dead last in passing yards) and 27th in total defense.

So, how does Tampa Bay turn this mess around?

Let’s start with the offense. Josh McCown, who injured his hand against Atlanta, may not play against the Steelers in Pittsburgh. If he’s out, then this becomes Mike Glennon’s team. He has a chance to seize the starting job if he’s effective, despite Smith’s insistence that McCown is his guy. But this team needs a spark, and Glennon needs to provide it. Hopefully Doug Martin can return to action. Bucs fans would love to see the Martin of two years ago. And when the Bucs took Mike Evans with their first-round pick, wasn’t the goal to make him and Vincent Jackson a formidable deep threat in the passing game? We haven’t seen that yet, either.

Oh, and please stop turning the ball over. That would help.

Defensively, it’s time to switch things up. The Tampa 2 is not working. The defensive line is getting no pressure on the quarterback whatsoever (four sacks in three games.) When that’s the case, the opposing quarterback will complete passes against this defense all game long. They need Gerald McCoy and Michael Johnson back in a hurry. There’s no way any single player could’ve stopped the onslaught that took place at the Georgia Dome. But McCoy is the leader of the defensive front, and he needs to take charge once he’s healthy.

On special teams, I thought all eyes would be on rookie kicker Patrick Murray when he won the starting job. But the Bucs have had both punts and field goals blocked through the first three games. And the kick return coverage has been abysmal, punctuated by Devin Hester’s performance last Thursday.

Last year, the Carolina Panthers started out slow, and then rallied to win 11 of 12. Wouldn’t it be great if Tampa Bay could pull off a similar feat, as bleak as things may look right now?

Photo courtesy: USA Today

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Bucs Shredded by Falcons

Here are some thoughts on the Buccaneers’ humiliating 56-14 loss to the Falcons on Thursday night.

 

THE GOOD
Absolutely nothing. Actually, the Bucs won’t be playing on Sunday this week. That’s good.

 

THE BAD AND THE UGLY
Everything. Where to start….

The defense, supposedly the strength of the team, allowed 56 points. Matt Ryan and company were marching up and down the field at will. Receivers were wide open all over the field, including the end zone. Atlanta had nearly 500 yards of total offense (488.) Yes, Gerald McCoy, their star defensive lineman, was out with an injury. But could one player have made that much of a difference? They did force four turnovers. Normally that would be outstanding, but it didn’t make any difference on this night, because…

The Bucs’ offense turned it over five times. One of them was a pick-six thrown by Josh McCown, who left the game with a hand injury. Bobby Rainey, who had an excellent game last week against the Rams, lost two fumbles. Then there was the shotgun snap that went right over Mike Glennon’s head. The offense had 217 total yards, and 110 yards in penalties. There’s more, but you get the idea.

And finally, we have the abysmal special teams. You would think, after all the years Devin Hester has been in the league, that teams would avoid kicking the ball to him. Heck, Lovie Smith had him on his roster in Chicago. But you’d never know it from last night. Hester had long returns all night, including a 62-yard sprint for a touchdown. Even in the second half, long after I had turned off the game, Tampa Bay was still kicking it to Hester. I just don’t get it.

Let this sink in: the score was 35-0 at halftime. After three quarters, it was 56-0. What makes this even worse was that the game was on national TV. Thankfully, Tampa Bay doesn’t have any more nationally-televised games scheduled, barring a miraculous turnaround.

 

My goodness.

 

Photo Courtesy: Getty Images

 

Dear Bucs: What’s With the Play-Calling?

Now that I’ve had time to sleep on Sunday’s bitter defeat, it’s time to take a look back and dissect the biggest issues surrounding the Buccaneers right now. There are many, but one seems to stand out among fans more than the rest.

What about that play-calling in the red zone?

On two different occasions in the second half, the Bucs were in scoring position. Yet all they did was hand the ball off to Bobby Rainey. Rainey had a terrific day running the ball, no doubt about that. But the play-calling was far too conservative. Don’t you have to take a shot to the end zone? Or, at least put the ball in the air on third-and-seven to pick up the first down? If you don’t trust Josh McCown to throw it in that situation, then why is he your starting quarterback?

In those two red zone opportunities, the Bucs ended up with three points. The other attempt ended in a blocked field goal that led to three points for the Rams.

Sure, this team has other problems. The defense let a third-string quarterback pick them apart. Special teams had two kicks blocked. But let’s start at the top: coaching. Jeff Tedford, it was learned after the game, was not calling the plays for the second straight week. Tampa Bay’s offense was awful last year, and they have yet to put 20 points on the board in 2014. They’re 0-2, and playing three straight on the road, starting in Atlanta on Thursday night. This could get ugly in a hurry.

I hope I’m wrong.

Photo Courtesy: AP

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Bucs Lose To Rams

Here are some thoughts on the Buccaneers’ 19-17 loss to the Rams on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium. When the Bucs lose, there is usually more in the “bad” and “ugly” category. But I’ll always put the “good” first because, well, that’s how the saying goes.

 

THE GOOD
This award goes to running back Bobby Rainey. Filling in for the injured Doug Martin, he rushed for 144 yards on 22 carries. The play of Logan Mankins was definitely a factor in a much-improved running game.

 

THE BAD
The Bucs lost to third-string quarterback Austin Davis. They let him lead a game-winning drive in the final minutes. And they lost to a backup QB last week, too. Both losses have come at home. Let that sink in for a moment.

Special teams were atrocious. The Bucs had two kicks (a punt and a field goal) blocked. Both led to St. Louis field goals.

What’s with the conservative play-calling down in the red zone. The Bucs were inside the 20 on two separate occasions, facing third down, and didn’t take a shot into the end zone. The first occasion ended with the aforementioned blocked field goal. The other ended with three points. I’m confused: don’t you have to take a shot? I’m looking at you, Lovie Smith and Jeff Tedford.

 

THE UGLY
It has to be that awful interception thrown by McCown down near the goal line in the second quarter. The Bucs had first and goal from the 9, and McCown forced the throw, and was picked off by Rodney McLeod. McCown did have two rushing touchdowns in this game, but his mistake was a costly one.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE CRAZY ENDING
What a crummy way to have the game end. Mike Evans made a great catch on a long pass in the closing seconds, but was clobbered on the play. He was clearly hurt, and the trainers had to help him. The Bucs didn’t have any timeouts. There were eight seconds on the clock, but the injury to Evans required a ten-second runoff. The game was over.

When Evans was hit, there were about 14-15 seconds, and the Bucs would’ve had time to rush down the field, spike the ball, and set up a game-winning field goal attempt. What a lousy rule. I know why it’s there, but I don’t think anyone felt Evans was faking an injury, given the hit he took.

Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Times

 

Bri Breaks Down the 2014 Buccaneers

On Sunday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers kick off a new season against the Carolina Panthers at Ray-Jay. What’s new about this year’s team? Well, just about everything. Here’s a breakdown of what to keep an eye on this weekend, and all season long.

 

THE OFFENSE
This is Josh McCown’s team now. He’s 35, and coming off his best season while filling in for Jay Cutler in Chicago. Still, he’s playing in a division where the other quarterbacks are named Brees, Ryan and Newton. So he has to prove himself almost right off the bat, otherwise Mike Glennon, who started most of last year, is waiting in the wings.

The Bucs spent their entire draft this year on upgrading the offense. That was a wise move, given that the offense last year was nothing short of awful. They also brought in a new offensive coordinator in Jeff Tedford, who may not even be around for the opener due to an undisclosed medical condition. It would be sweet if rookie Mike Evans became a formidable duo in the passing game along with veteran Vincent Jackson. The same holds true for rookie tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, especially now that Tim Wright is in New England.

The offensive line is probably the biggest thing to pay close attention to. But this group got a boost with the addition of Logan Mankins. Mankins was a proven leader with the Pats who made multiple trips to the Pro Bowl. Still, this area is a huge question mark. The o-line must step it up in both the running game and in pass protection.

 

THE DEFENSE
This group showed improvement last year. And if the preseason is any indication, this could be a breakthrough year for Leslie Frazier’s squad. Players like Gerald McCoy and Lavonte David are poised to have pro bowl seasons. In the secondary, Revis Island is no longer there, but Mark Barron, Dashon Goldson and newcomer Alterraun Verner are. As far as Goldson is concerned, can he make the necessary adjustments to stop costing his team 15 yards every time he clocks a receiver?

Lovie Smith prides his team on forcing turnovers. It won’t be enough to just shut down the opposing offense. The defense needs to take the ball away.

 

THE KICKER
This will be another intriguing area to watch. Rookie Patrick Murray will handle the kicking duties, having beaten out Connor Barth for the starting job. Barth was the most accurate kicker in team history, but missed all of last year due to an injury he suffered playing basketball. If Murray struggled in the first game or two, how much will Bucs fans be clamoring for Connor?

I’m really looking forward to writing about the Bucs this season. The addition of Lovie Smith as head coach brought Tampa Bay instant credibility at least in the eyes of public opinion. It would be great to see the off-field excitement translated into wins on the field.

 

Go Bucs!

 

One final note: I will not be doing any breakdown of the Carolina game because I will be on vacation. My coverage will continue with the Week 2 game against the Rams.

Photo Courtesy: USA Today