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