SR’s Fab 5 is a collection of inside scoop, analysis and insight from yours truly, Pewter Report publisher and Bucs beat writer Scott Reynolds. Here are a few things that caught my attention this week at One Buc Place:
FAB 1. THE MOTIVATION BEHIND RAINEY’S BIG DAYTampa Bay Buccaneers running back Bobby Rainey didn’t just have help from mammoth offensive linemen on Sunday while rushing for a career-high 163 yards and two touchdowns on 30 carries. The 5-foot-8, 212-pound dynamo received help from the smallest person in Rainey’s life.
Call it fate. Call it Divine intervention. Call it God’s plan.
Call it what you will, but for every team that Rainey could have gone to after being released by Cleveland, he was claimed by Tampa Bay off waivers on October 21. That’s very important to Rainey’s story – not just for Rainey the Buccaneer that would quickly become an unsung hero nearly three weeks after being acquired, but for Rainey the man.
Rainey arrived in Tampa Bay knowing that he would soon be a father for the first time. The 26-year old product of Western Kentucky University met his fiancée, Kareema Roach, while in school and they were expecting their first child near the end of October.
As it turns out, Rainey would go to a team in the Buccaneers that would play on Thursday Night Football during that fateful week, and that cleared the way for Rainey to see the birth of his daughter, Kyvee Jolie Rainey on Sunday, October 27. Had a different team claimed Rainey, he might have missed his daughter’s birth or the chance to show the NFL what he could do as a feature back if he would have skipped a game to witness the birth.
“The 26th of October I left to go back to Kentucky,” Rainey said. “I talked to Coach [Greg] Schiano and he had given me that Monday off. We have Tuesdays off and this was right after the Carolina game on Thursday night. She didn’t want me to be out of town and miss the birth of my baby. I had to be there for my first child. She told me that she was going to have the baby that weekend. She could just feel it. I told her if that was the case I could be there.
“She told me she was going to have it on the weekend and to just come. So I left that Saturday morning to go up to Nashville and then flew into Bowling Green, Kentucky. I got a car and drove to Paducah, Kentucky. I got there at the house and she wasn’t there. She had admitted herself to the hospital because she was having bad contractions. I run to the hospital and her contractions aren’t too far apart so they induced labor and I got there just in time.”
Rainey made it to the hospital in time that afternoon, just hours before his daughter was born.
“She was born that morning of the 27th of October – I got so excited,” Rainey said.
The thrill of living his boyhood dream as an NFL running back, rushing for 163 yards and accounting for three touchdowns (two rushing and one receiving), actually paled in comparison to becoming a father.
“There’s nothing that could compare to it,” Rainey said. “There’s nothing that can be compared to the birth of your first child. I was just overjoyed when they said it was time. I was in there and I saw the head of my baby come out and I was so full of joy. I started crying. I was like, ‘Wow! I helped create that! That’s my child!’ It was a girl, Kyvee Jolie Rainey.”
Rainey, who had only been a Buccaneer for a week at that time, momentarily forgot about holding the pigskin. All he wanted to do was hold his little girl.
“After the nurses clean her up, I grab her and I’m holding her,” Rainey said. “I put her back in the little crib and took her back to the room so Momma could hold her. I stayed with her the whole time. I didn’t want to leave.”
For the next 48 hours, Rainey spent every minute at the hospital with the two ladies in his life. But duty called and he had to return to One Buccaneer Place by Wednesday to prepare for the Miami Dolphins, who were coming in town on Monday night. Having to wait a week to see Kareema and Kyvee again was torture for the new daddy.
“All I could think about was her,” Rainey said of his newborn daughter. “Even in practice, I was supposed to be tuned in, but I couldn’t help think about her. I was tuned in, but as soon as I got a break in practice I would think about her. I would Facetime her in the mornings when I got to One Buc Place. I would Facetime her before I went out to practice so I could see her.”
Rainey entered the Miami game as the third-string running back behind rookie Mike James, who was fresh off a 158-yard performance a week earlier at Seattle, and Brian Leonard. But Rainey would leave the game as a hero as James suffered a season-ending ankle injury in the first quarter. Rainey rushed for 45 yards on eight carries, including a 31-yard jaunt to the Miami 1-yard line that would set up his 1-yard, game-winning touchdown run for Tampa Bay on the next play.
Because he went to Tampa Bay, Kareema and Kyvee could watch Rainey play in his first NFL game with the Buccaneers because the game was on national television. Knowing that his little girl was watching him for the first time gave him some added inspiration on his big, 31-yard run in the fourth quarter that helped Tampa Bay beat Miami, 22-19, as did the fact that he would see Kyvee the next day.
“Oh yeah,” Rainey said. “On that Monday night game they were watching me. They were coming down the next day. I already knew that and that helped me on Monday night. She did the follow up with the doctor and then she could come down on Tuesday. She stayed up there because newborns can’t fly until they get a follow-up with the doctor, and she had to get cleared to fly.”
With Rainey having to take on a bigger role on offense with the loss of James, he was saddled with having to pick up even more of the playbook and more work in practice. But after work was over, Rainey would race home to see Kyvee.
On Sunday, Kyvee and Kareema watched their first Buccaneers game, and watched Rainey do his thing against the Falcons.
“Knowing that she was in the stands on Sunday – it was just amazing,” Rainey said. “She inspired me.”
Rainey also admits that he has plenty of motivation from all 32 NFL teams that bypassed him in the 2012 draft. Despite rushing for a school-record 4,523 yards and 34 touchdowns on 888 carries (5.1 avg.) at Western Kentucky, Rainey was deemed to be too slow and too short to be a feature back in the NFL.
“Well that’s my motivation – when people tell me what I can and cannot do,” Rainey said. “No man can tell you what you can’t do. If you believe in God, you can do anything and that’s what I do. I owe fate a favor. I know I can accomplish whatever I put my mind to, no matter if I’m tall, short or whatever it is.”
Not only did Rainey’s big day help the Bucs beat the Falcons, 41-28, for the team’s second win this season, his 163-yard rushing performance also earned him the NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors. It’s amazing what a little inspiration will do.
“True story – we’re in the huddle in the third quarter and I said to myself, ‘I wonder what Kyvee’s doing? Is she acting up or is she just cooling?’” Rainey said. “That’s what I was thinking in the huddle – swear to God! And then I went out there and ran the ball. That little girl is always on my mind – always.”
On Sunday, Rainey’s big day in Tampa Bay was made possible by the presences of his little girl. Sometimes big things come in small packages.
FAB 2. HARD-RUNNING RAINEY IS ROLLING IN TAMPA BAY’S OFFENSEThe reason why Buccaneers running back Bobby Rainey was able to scamper for two touchdowns and 163 yards, which was the most by a Tampa Bay running back this year, is twofold.
First, the offensive line, which has been on a roll in the running game with Jamon Meredith at left guard, did a good job moving the line of scrimmage on Sunday against Atlanta.
Second, Rainey is a perfect fit for Tampa Bay’s offense, which runs a lot of similar plays that his alma mater ran.
“The thing that Bobby has the benefit of is when he played at Western Kentucky, this is the stuff that he ran,” Bucs head coach Greg Schiano said. “Power, inside zone, those [are] plays that we run. So he was very comfortable seeing them, feeling them. But to answer your question, I don’t think anybody thinks that a guy’s going to come out and rush for, whatever he did, 163 yards. But we are very proud of him.”
At Western Kentucky, Rainey left as the school’s all-time leading rusher with 4,523 yards and 34 touchdowns on 888 carries (5.1 avg.) and the Hilltoppers’ all-purpose yardage leader with 6,742 yards, including kickoff return (1,494 yards), receiving (681 yards and five touchdowns on 79 catches) and punt return (44 yards) yardage. In college, Rainey even completed 3-of-5 passes for 53 yards and two touchdowns on halfback throws like the one he attempted on Sunday against Atlanta.
“[Rainey] runs the inside zone plays so well,” said Bucs right guard Davin Joseph, whose play is improving as he is getting healthier each week. “It’s reading the defense, understanding the defense, and understanding the blocking scheme and going out there and executing. He’s been able to run in some tough looks. We’ve been able to give him some premium looks and he’s been able to capitalize on them. He’s a smart player and he really, really fits our offense.
“The guy just knows how to run power plays. It’s crazy how he reads so well and he’s able to get up in the holes. He rarely takes any negative runs or has losses on runs. He has the strength to keep the drive going, but also has that big-play factor about him.”
Rainey set a franchise record on Sunday by becoming the first Tampa Bay player to have two rushing touchdowns and one receiving touchdown in the same game.
“Well, I expect to go out and do my job,” Rainey said. “If those stats come with it, I will take it. But all the credit goes to the offensive line. They did a great job of blocking and I did a decent job of finding the hole, finding the lanes, and getting it.”
Tampa Bay linebackers Lavonte David and Dekoda Watson marveled at how hard he ran during practice in the week leading up to his debut against Miami.
“He runs to daylight,” David said. “That’s what he does. It starts in practice and that’s what he does all the time in practice. He’s smart and he knows how to read defenses and read his blocks. He’s a very patient runner. That’s the type of back you have to be in this league. He’s had two great outings the past two weeks and hopefully he’ll keep this up.”
“He was always going hard,” Watson said. “He was out there playing with a purpose. He wanted to show the coaches that he was playing. He definitely showed quickness – whether it was on offense, or showing us a great look for the defense by running scout team with the practice squad.”
Tampa Bay defensive tackle Gerald McCoy recalled being juked by Rainey prior to the Atlanta game in practice.
“He shook me so bad one time in practice, I was like, ‘Man, if they ever put him in the game, he’s going to kill it,” McCoy said. “It hurt, I tried to keep up with him, I was like, ‘Man, that’s not a scout team running back, whatsoever.’ I told those guys if he ever gets in a game I think he’s going to play well and he just plays hard. He’s shorter than [running back] Doug [Martin], he’s just a tiny guy, he’s real stout and strong and he just runs hard.”
Rainey wears the No. 43, and according to Watson, reminds him of a short, quick running back that he sees twice a year when the Bucs play the Saints.
“He reminds me a lot of Darren Sproles,” Watson said. “Rainey’s a very dynamic player. He just continues to stay hungry and stay humble. It’s funny that a few weeks ago nobody knew his name, now everybody is yelling it and wanting to be all about it. I just want him to make sure that he balls hard and that he doesn’t let this go to his head. The first time that you mess up everybody comes down on you. But he’s been proving himself week in and week out and now he has this opportunity.”
Rainey has watched plenty of small backs during his life from Sproles to former Buccaneer and Falcon running back Warrick Dunn, who he grew up watching in Georgia.
“My idol is Barry Sanders,” Rainey said. “I like all the small running backs – Warrick Dunn, all those type of guys. And the one we just played [Atlanta running back Jacquizz Rodgers], he’s small, too. He told me, ‘We got to represent for the short guys.’ And I told him, ‘Most definitely – we got to stick together.’” Imagine Tampa Bay’s running game next year when Martin returns from his shoulder injury and James returns from his broken ankle and they join Rainey on the roster. Talk about pounding the rock.
FAB 3. GLENNON AND THE GREAT ROOKIE SEASONPewterReport.com has chronicled Mike Glennon’s intelligence and how that has accelerated the learning curve during his rookie season. PewterReport.com has also listed eight great attributes about Glennon’s game.
To his credit, Glennon has already shattered several rookie records. His 191 pass attempts in his first four contests were the most in NFL history for a rookie QB over that many games.
Glennon’s 11 touchdown passes were the most in Tampa Bay history in a rookie season. The North Carolina State product posted a 137.5 quarterback rating on Sunday against Atlanta, which is the highest QB rating for a Bucs rookie quarterback in team history.
“The guy can make every throw,” Bucs wide receiver Vincent Jackson said. “He’s very decisive. He puts the ball in places where usually you can make a play on it. If it’s not catchable he’s going to throw it away and he’s not going to take a lot of chances. That just helps us as an offense when we’re taking care of the ball and not giving them the ball in good field position.”
Of all of Glennon’s statistics, Bucs head coach Greg Schiano likes the fact that the rookie quarterback has 11 touchdowns and just four interceptions, which is nearly a 3:1 ratio.
“It is rare,” Schiano said. “He’s a guy that was trained well in college. Mike Sullivan and John McNulty are doing a fine job of training him here in the National Football League. It’s all about trusting your eyes. Staying away from bad plays is everything for a quarterback. We talk about that each week when we sit down for our quarterback-head coach meeting. The game really boils down to about seven or eight plays offensively. You’ve just got to be able to wait for those plays to come to you. If you chase too hard, that’s where you throw interceptions. That’s where you say, ‘Why did you do that?’
“I think he’s learned to just sit on the game and let it come to him, and when it does, good things happen. He has a great receiver in Vincent Jackson. He trusts that guy and he knows that. He puts it up there and Vincent goes and gets it. If you look at it each week he reads out his progressions, and when a quarterback does that he keeps himself out of trouble. He trusts what his eyes see.”
Jackson is coming off a 10-catch, season-high 165-yard game against Atlanta in which he caught a 53-yard pass and a 3-yard touchdown.
“Mike continues to get better each and every week,” Jackson said. “You can see his confidence soaring. Our offensive coaches are doing a great job of getting him more confident in his calls and his defensive recognitions. I think we will as an offense as a whole continue to improve.”
Tampa Bay’s offense scored a season-high 34 points on Sunday against Atlanta with Glennon’s tremendous game nearly getting overshadowed by the stellar performance of running back Bobby Rainey.
Glennon completed 20-of-23 passes for 231 yards and two touchdowns against the Falcons. His 87 percent completion percentage was not only the second highest in Tampa Bay history (Vinny Testaverde was 22-of-25 (88 percent) against Green Bay on September 13, 1992), it is also the highest completion percentage of the year, surpassing Peyton Manning’s mark of 32-of-37 (86.5 percent) against Oakland on September 23.
“You talk about a really elite performance, 20-of-23, two touchdowns,” Schiano said. “I always listen to at least the quarterback’s press conference the next day, and he made a statement that I was really proud of. He said ‘The O-line did a great job. I took a couple of sacks because of the situation of the game. Why am I going to risk it?’ That’s a mature outlook on a football game, that’s understanding the game, being an unselfish player because the number one goal is to win and it isn’t about throwing for another 300 or 200 yards chucking it up.
“I was really pleased with his response. I knew he thinks like that but it’s nice to hear him verbalize it to everybody, that’s what’s going to help this guy keep. It’s that he understands situational football and he goes and executes his job. We just have to keep putting him in situations where he can make plays and I think he’s just going to continue to get better.”
If Glennon’s play continues to ascend the Bucs definitely won’t be spending a first-round draft pick on a quarterback in 2014. Glennon is showing signs that he can be a franchise quarterback.
FAB 4. SCHIANO LISTENED TO McCOY ABOUT STRAIGHT AHEAD RUSHINGIt’s one of the worst kept secrets around One Buccaneer Place. Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy is not a huge fan of all the stunting and twisting that Bucs defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan likes to deploy.
Prior to the Bucs’ Monday night game against Miami, McCoy, who had three sacks in the first eight games of the season, went to Greg Schiano and pleaded with his head coach to allow him and the defensive line to do more straight ahead rushing. After the defensive line registered just one sack over a three-game span that included contests against Atlanta, Carolina and Seattle, McCoy got his way.
After defensive ends William Gholston and Da’Quan Bowers split a sack of Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill on the Dolphins’ final drive in Tampa Bay’s 22-19 victory, McCoy rushed straight ahead and sacked Tannehill for a big, 10-yard sack.
Last week against Atlanta, McCoy dominated in the first half, registering a career-high three sacks – all of which came on straight ahead rushes.
“I just called him and say, ‘Coach, we need to meet.’ He says, ‘Come and see me,’” McCoy said. “He’s never opposed to it. He’s open-minded, and he’s not always, ‘No, it’s my way.’ He’s open-minded to any ideas we have because this is just his second year as an NFL head coach. He said he’s learned more from the players than he’s learned from any coach he’s been around because we’re the ones out there. His door being open, we went up there, sat down and discussed it.”
So what did McCoy and Schiano discuss exactly?
“Should I tell you that?” McCoy said. “That’s why it’s a private meeting.”
I asked what is the fastest way to get to the quarterback.
“Straight line.” McCoy said. “Fheew! Let me go! Yeah.”
Did being able to do more straight ahead rushing help him get three sacks on Sunday?
“A little,” McCoy said with a coy smile.
When was the last time McCoy recorded three sacks in a game?
“In high school,” McCoy replied.
But not in Tampa. Not until Sunday.
“Not until Sunday,” McCoy said.
His meeting with the open-minded Schiano is proof that things can change for the better.
“It happened,” McCoy said with a smile.
Schiano recalled the meeting, and admits that he’s not opposed to changing what may not be working if the players believe there is a better way. That’s a big reason why the players like playing for their head coach and are growing closer to him.
“I think what we’ve tried to do all year is visit with Gerald, visit with the defensive line, and take their ideas,” Schiano said. “They’re the ones doing it; they’ve got to feel good doing it. That’s my whole point is you learn most from the players and what we’re always trying to do for Gerald because he’s a dominant player, if you watch the game tape from [Sunday] there’s times where he’s virtually unblockable. There’s a double team and he just splits the double team and gets a sack. We just keep trying to – like that time we didn’t find the single block for him, because teams are going to adjust, they know where 93 is and they’re going to adjust protections.
“Now you can’t just start sliding protections without having everything being coordinated. We try to work to get him the one-on-ones and whether that’s on the center, whether it’s on either guard, we’ll move him around. We’ve even lined him up at [defensive] end once this year. Those are all of our attempts, but at the end of the day Gerald does it because he’s a great player and like I said he had a double-team, he split and made the sack.”
This season, Tampa Bay’s pass rush has been so inconsistent that strongside linebacker Dekoda Watson was being used as a pass-rushing defensive end on Sunday against the Falcons. Watson, who pressured quarterback Matt Ryan into throwing a pick-six to middle linebacker Mason Foster, said that it’s only fitting for Tampa Bay’s defensive leader to be leading the team in sacks with six after Sunday.
“Gerald just creates so much energy for our whole team,” Watson said. “He’s being that dynamic player that we need him to be, and that leader that we need him to be. Shoot, I can’t think of anyone in the league that can go in there during the first 15 minutes and get three sacks.
“It says a lot about his character. He’s faced so much adversity when he came in the league, but he’s such a leader and such a positive person. It spreads. It definitely spreads. I’m definitely proud of him. He’s inspired me. If he keeps on leading the way, we’re going to keep on following.”
FAB 5. Here are a few things to hold you over until the next edition of SR’s Fab 5:
• The Buccaneers have been penalized 85 times for 827 yards this year compared to their opponents, who have only been flagged 62 times for 593 yards. That means that Tampa Bay has been guilty of penalties 23 more times than their foes for 234 more yards in 2013. Tampa Bay is on pace to record 136 penalties for 1,323 yards this season.
• Tampa Bay raced out to a 38-6 lead over Atlanta before being outscored 22-3 over the last quarter and a half. That helps the Bucs’ first half scoring statistics. The Bucs are outscoring opponents 43-33 in the first quarter and 84-78 in the second quarter. But Tampa Bay is getting outscored 46-24 in the third quarter and 77-36 in the fourth quarter.
• Buccaneers linebacker Dekoda Watson blocked his first punt of the season against Atlanta on Sunday. That block was his third in the past year and a half, which is more than any other NFL player. After the win over the Falcons, Watson shared what part of his motivation is.
“It does help me when Florida State does well,” said Watson, a former Seminole. “I do sleep better at night. I haven’t slept this well since I’ve been in the NFL knowing that my team is going to work every week helps me out. It makes me sleep better at night.”
Undefeated Florida State is in the middle of a dream season, ranked No. 2 behind Alabama and featuring a Heisman Trophy favorite in quarterback Jameis Winston.
“Shout out to Florida State University,” Watson said. “They are doing their thing and I’m proud of those guys. [Head coach] Jimbo [Fisher] is doing a great job with the team. I’m already looking forward to the BCS Bowl. Shoot, I’ve already got my ticket!”
• New Tampa Bay running back Bobby Rainey was a model of consistency in college with 1,649 yards and 15 touchdowns on 340 carries (4.9 avg.) as a junior at Western Kentucky and 1,695 yards and 13 rushing touchdowns on 369 carries (4.6 avg.) as a senior. Rainey was a workhorse back for the Hilltoppers, averaging 27 carries per game.
That’s why Rainey didn’t get fatigued on Sunday when he carried the ball 30 times for 163 yards with a total of three touchdowns.
“That’s just what he does,” Bucs linebacker Lavonte David said. “He gets his hands on the ball and he tries to find the sidelines and get into the end zone. He comes in every day to work and get better. He got his time to shine. Mike James and Doug Martin went down and it was his turn. He just stepped right up. Our coach [Earnest Byner] does a great job with our backs. The next guy just steps in and steps up. Now it’s his turn.”
• The holiday season is fast approaching, and if you are looking for the perfect gift make it some delicious wine from Keel & Curley Winery, celebrating its 10th year as Plant City, Florida’s winery. Visit the Keel & Curley website where you can shop online for their special fruit-infusion wine.
I highly recommend the Sweet Blackberry, Tangerine Tango, Wild Berry and the Sangria. Keel & Curley ships anywhere in the country, and you can place your order online by clicking here.
• And finally, if you need catering for a family function or corporate event this holiday season, please call Holy Hog Barbecue. Growing up in Kansas City, I’ve become quite the barbecue connoisseur, and I can tell you that in my 18 years of living in Florida, Holy Hog is the best I’ve had in this state and reminds me of growing up in the Midwest.
Whether it is savory ribs, moist pulled pork, smoked sausage, brisket or a smoked turkey you’re after, you will find it all, plus some delicious side dishes at Holy Hog that will make your family get-together or company holiday party the best. Whether it is carry out or catering with an onsite smoker and fire pit, Holy Hog Barbecue is dedicated to serving up hot, home-cooked meals for any occasion.
Visit their two Tampa locations at 3501 N. Armenia Avenue (just five minutes away from One Buccaneer Place) or at 4004 Henderson Boulevard. For more information or to place your order online visit HolyHogBBQ.com or call 813-846-7476.
Scott Reynolds is in his 23rd year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR’s Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds enjoys giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons’ Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]
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