In the first four games of the season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers found a new way to lose each week. Penalties, poor offense, poor defense and special teams play. On Sunday, just to spice things up, the Buccaneers mixed things up a bit and used a little bit of each of those prior combinations to log another one in the loss column. Tampa now sits at 0-5 after being shredded by the Philadelphia Eagles 31-20.
The Buccaneers entered Sunday’s game after coming off their bye week. Fans were hoping that some adjustments had been made after the sluggish start to the season and for the first half of the game, Tampa didn’t look too bad. Tampa took a 17-14 lead into the locker room (hopefully while wearing gloves) with both sides of the ball playing well.
In just his second start, QB Mike Glennon had connected with WR Vincent Jackson twice and the defense was flying all over the field, pressuring Eagles back up quarterback Nick Foles. Unfortunately for the Buccaneers, the game has two halves, and it looked as if a different team emerged from the locker room to start the third quarter.
The Buccaneers received the opening kickoff of the second half and Glennon had the Tampa offense rolling early with a deep completion on the outside. Then the wheels fell off as Glennon threw his only interception of the game. The pick was not completely his fault. His intended receiver, Tiquan Underwood, broke off his route when he should have continued running.
Philadelphia moved quickly, with Riley Cooper smoking rookie corner Johnthan Banks for a 47 yard score. The Eagles would not relinquish the lead for the remainder of the game. Banks would be burned by Cooper once again, later in the game.
Sitting at 0-5, some serious questions surround this Buccaneers team, and they all start and stop with the head coach Greg Schiano. I heard the calls for Schiano to be fired after the Buccaneers started the season 0-2. I am not as flippant as many fans and realize the seriousness of firing a head coach in mid season. I realize what bringing in another head coach means. Another new scheme. Another new coaching staff, A change of personnel in order to fit the new offensive and defensive scheme. Another rebuilding. Again.
That being said, Greg Schiano is likely facing the most important two weeks of his coaching career. Tampa travels to Atlanta next Sunday to face a Falcons team that will be without WR Julio Jones and RB Steven Jackson and some some reports suggest that Atlanta could be without WR Roddy White as well. Atlanta has opened as a 7.5 point favorite in that game.
In the next two weeks, Tampa faces the Falcons and then the entire circus known as the Buccaneers this season will be on national display hosting the Carolina Panthers on a Thursday night game. By midnight, October 25th, the Buccaneers could be 0-7 and Greg Schiano could find himself packing up his office. Looming in week 9, a trip to Seattle.
I wanted success for Schiano and company. I wanted some stability after the days of Raheem Morris. Instead, we have more chaos. The MRSA outbreak and the start of the season has re-surfaced. The debacle with Josh Freeman and the he said, she said, back and forth leading up to his eventual release. All issues that have put the spotlight on the Buccaneers organization for the wrong reasons.
Tampa has now lost 10 of their last 11 games The last time the Buccaneers won a home game, we were days removed from the last Presidential election. That was also the last time the Buccaneers offense scored more than 23 points.
Let’s look at some of the more pressing questions associated with the Buccaneers after five game.
Why did the Buccaneers trade for CB Darrelle Revis? The move cost the Buccaneers two draft picks and $16 million a year. He was billed as the best cover corner in the league. He takes away one half of the field. Well, in the last two games, all Revis does is give up touchdowns. He allowed Larry Fitzgerald to get behind him and he scored a 13-yard touchdown, while fueling a 13-point fourth quarter and an eventual Cardinal victory.
On Sunday he lost DeSean Jackson in the endzone for another 12-yard touchdown. Revis appeared to be looking for help on Jackson from S Mark Barron, but wasn’t Revis billed as the best at his position? He needs safety hlp on a 12-yard route?
Then there is the use of Revis. He usually lines up on the other team’s best receiver for the entire game. This coaching staff is rotating him all over the field. If that is the coaching scheme, why didn’t the Buccaneers simply retain their first-round draft choice and draft one of the top corners in this year’s draft while adding a veteran corner through free agency for well less than $16 million.
Better yet, why didn’t the team retain Aqib Talib? Desperate to find work this past offseason, Talib inked a one year deal with the Patriots for less than $5 million. And by the way, he’s tied for the lead for the most interceptions so far this season and held Saints TE Jimmy Graham without a catch yesterday.
Why didn’t Mike Glennon simply start the season at quarterback? If the plan all along was to get Glennon into the fold, why not trade Freeman at the start of the season and give Glennon all the reps in the preseason. Tampa mismanaged the entire situation and were left paying Freeman’s salary for the remainder of the year and got nothing in return of value for a former first-round selection who has started 60 NFL games.
Who is responsible for the poor play of the offensive line? Holding and false start flags have killed many drives for the Buccaneers this season. Tampa was flagged another eight times on Sunday and holding called negated several nice runs. Look at the Buccaneers second possession of the second half. Jeff Demps on the right side for a nice gain, holding on Erik Lorig. Demps injured, Buccaneers facing 1-20. RB Mike James runs for 12 yards, Zuttah flagged for holding, 2nd and 24. 3rd and 24. Punt.
The offense faces far too many third and long situations as a result of very predictable play calling, the addition of the penalties aren’t helping.
Coach Schiano likes to stress the fundamentals, but that is exactly what this team is lacking, strong fundamental techniques. Too many penalties, too many missed tackles, the inability to hold a lead, the overall lack of execution.
Two more losses and Greg Schiano’s short career could be over. There is too much talent on this team to be winless at this point. Eight players on the current roster have made trips to the Pro Bowl.
We’ve seen interim head coaches before in Tampa, Butch Davis or Dave Wannstedt better get ready to come out of the bullpen and lead the team down the stretch if this futility continues much longer.