Here are some thoughts on the Buccaneers’ 27-14 victory over the Bills in their third preseason game.
OFFENSE KEEPS IMPROVING
This unit keeps getting better. After a sloppy start, the offense rebounded for a more-than-respectable first half. Josh McCown had his best performance of the preseason: 13-16, 112 yards and a 24-yard touchdown pass to rookie Mike Evans. Unlike last week, Evans hung onto the ball this time. Doug Martin also found the end zone from one yard out. McCown also led an 82-yard scoring drive, something else the team had been lacking until now. The Bucs scored 24 points in the first half. Let that sink in for a moment.
DEFENSE DOMINANT AGAIN
The defense was stingy once again, holding Buffalo to just 82 yards in the first half. But for first time this preseason, we saw their ability to create turnovers: three of them in fact. Clinton McDonald returned a fumble for a touchdown. Dashon Goldson picked off E.J. Manuel. Lavonte David forced a fumble which set up Martin’s TD run. You know Lovie Smith, who prides himself on forcing takeaways, was pleased with the effort.
The Bucs wrap up the preseason on Thursday night against the Washington Redskins.
Bobby Rainey was terrific. The defense was sensational. The Bucs won again on Sunday, beating the Bills at Ray-Jay, 27-6.
Let’s start with Rainey. On the second play of the game, he sprinted 80 yards for a touchdown. He finished with 127 yards on the day. Who would’ve thought that after losing Doug Martin and Mike James for the season, the running game would start to flourish? Aside from a tough game against a very good Carolina defense, Rainey has been amazing since taking over as Tampa Bay’s primary ball carrier.
But the defense was the real story of this game. They forced five turnovers, including picking off E.J. Manuel four times, two of them by budding star Lavonte David. They sacked him seven times. They kept the Buffalo offense out of the end zone. The Bills were held to 214 yards of total offense. It goes without saying; you’re going to win a lot of games when you do that.
Mike Glennon’s numbers were not very good: 9-of-25 for 90 yards. He did complete two long passes to Vincent Jackson, one of which went for a touchdown. He also threw a TD pass to Tim Wright. But Glennon was also intercepted twice. It was not exactly an awe-inspiring performance. The Bucs only had 246 yards of offense. Fortunately, his performance took a back seat to that of the defense.
So after an 0-8 start, the Buccaneers have won four of their last five. The 49ers visit Ray-Jay next Sunday for the final home game of the season.
The decision that seemed inevitable has finally been made. Quarterback Josh Freeman is walking the plank.
The Bucs, off to an 0-3 start and sputtering badly on offense, have benched Freeman in favor of Mike Glennon. The rookie from North Carolina State will make his first career NFL start on Sunday against the Cardinals at Raymond James Stadium.
After setting passing records last season, Freeman never got his act together through the first three games of 2013. He completed just 45% of his passes (43-of-94) for 571 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. Tampa Bay has only scored 34 points through three games. Only Jacksonville has scored fewer. Yes, his receivers have dropped some passes. But in the NFL, when things are not going well, the quarterback is the first player on the offensive side of the ball to take the fall. And if things continue to go south, how much longer will Greg Schiano be the head coach?
Then there are the off-the-field issues: missing the team photo, not being elected as team captain. Freeman is in the final year of his contract, and you have to wonder if he’s played his final game in Tampa Bay. There are rumblings that the Bucs are willing to trade him.
The Bucs picked Glennon in the third round of this year’s draft. He becomes the third rookie QB to start in the NFL this year. Geno Smith (Jets) and E.J. Manuel (Bills) are the others.
The way things have gone so far, Tampa Bay had to do something to shake things up. We’ll find out if Glennon is the Bucs’ quarterback of the future. He has 13 games to show what he’s got, starting Sunday against Arizona.