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. GLENNON MAY NOT BE A STAR, BUT HE CAN GET THE JOB DONE
Tampa Bay fans look around the NFC South with quarterback envy.
All three of the starting quarterbacks of the Buccaneers’ division rivals have been to the playoffs and the Pro Bowl. One QB has even won a Super Bowl and was named the MVP.
That would be Drew Brees, who will square off against Tampa Bay in New Orleans on Sunday. Brees has the quickest release in the league, and perhaps an even quicker mind when it comes to locating open receivers. He’s a record-setter that has thrown for over 4,000 yards an astonishing eight times – including an NFL record four times with at least 5,000 passing yards.
In Atlanta, Matt Ryan is a two-time Pro Bowler with the cool nickname “Matty Ice.” He’s thrown for over 4,000 yards in each of the last three seasons and took the Falcons to the NFC Championship Game in 2012, which earned Ryan, a previous first-round pick, a five-year contract extension worth $104 million.
Carolina has Cam Newton, the first overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, and one of the league’s most dynamic quarterbacks. A two-time Pro Bowler that is a threat to run or pass on any play, Newton has averaged 3,766 passing yards and 677 rushing yards per season over the past three, and accounted for 92 total touchdowns since entering the league. Newton led the Panthers to an NFC South division title and the playoffs last year.
The Saints invested big money in Brees in 2006 when he was a prized free agent, and the Falcons and Panthers each have a first-round pick invested in their quarterbacks. For decades the Buccaneers’ first-round quarterback hasn’t gotten the job done.
Vinny Testaverde, the number one overall pick in 1987, didn’t record a winning season in his six seasons in Tampa Bay. Trent Dilfer, the Bucs’ first-rounder in 1993, led the Bucs to just one winning season as a full-time starter and that was in 1997. Josh Freeman, a first-round pick in 2009 and the team’s latest attempt to develop a franchise quarterback, flamed out of the NFL after last season at the age of 25.
Until the Buccaneers find a franchise quarterback that can go toe-to-toe with Brees, Ryan and Newton twice a year, it seems like Tampa Bay is going to continue to be the cellar dweller in the NFC South for years to come.
The Bucs’ latest hope in nearly 40 years of quarterback futility is Mike Glennon, the team’s third-round pick last year and author of the winning script in Pittsburgh last week – a 5-yard touchdown toss to Vincent Jackson to lift the Bucs to their first victory of the season, 27-24, with seven seconds left.
In a season that was quickly spiraling out of control in Tampa Bay, Glennon saved the day in Pittsburgh and provided a glimmer of hope that shockingly has the Bucs just two games out of first place in the NFC South as they head to New Orleans on Sunday. Although he needs to complete more than 50 percent of his passes, Glennon looked more poised than McCown in the first three games of the season and has been more productive.
In two and a half games this season, McCown has thrown for 420 yards with two passing touchdowns, two rushing touchdowns, four interceptions, including a pick-six and two fumbles while going 0-3 in his starts with a 65.8 QB rating. Over the past six quarters, Glennon has thrown for 423 yards with three touchdowns and just one interception for a QB rating of 85.6 while winning his lone start at Pittsburgh.
With Glennon playing so well against the Steelers, Bucs fans have begun to wonder if starting him from the beginning of the season would have made the difference in the Carolina and St. Louis games. The fact that Glennon wasn’t truly given the opportunity to compete for the starting quarterback job with McCown wasn’t right, especially if Lovie Smith and general manager Jason Licht honestly believe Glennon is the franchise’s quarterback of the future.
Why not see if Glennon could pick up where he left off in 2013? After all, the second-year QB showed some promise in his rookie season, completing 247-of-416 passes (59.4 percent) for 2,608 yards with 19 touchdowns and just nine interceptions in 13 starts.
It’s hard to fault Smith’s logic in starting the veteran, though. He had personal experience with McCown in Chicago, and knew his leadership qualities would serve the team well. There’s nothing wrong with Smith’s premise about getting the entire team to rally around McCown from the first day of offseason conditioning, and not having the distraction that a true, open quarterback competition could bring.
The fact that McCown was signed to a two-year, $10 million contract and is earning $5 million this year also played a big part in the team wanting to start McCown out of the gate. The truth is that McCown was better in the OTAs, the mini-camps and training camp than Glennon was. He was more accurate with his passes and showed more mobility.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the Bucs’ 2014 season opener. Glennon fully grasped the offense and caught up to McCown behind the scenes. Keep in mind that the designated backup quarterback’s talents were masked a bit by throwing to Tampa Bay’s second-string wide receivers and tight ends behind a second-string offensive line in the preseason. Glennon never received a rep with the starters during the month of August, which is something that Smith doesn’t second guess.
“I don’t have any regrets, we let things play out and I tell guys – you start off with a group and eventually if you deserve, wherever you belong, that’s where you’ll end up,” Smith said. “No regrets at all and as far as [Sunday’s] game it was good to see – I saw the same guy that I’ve seen with everything else that we’ve asked him to do, a poised and confident player that can play football. When you’re labeled the ‘Quarterback of the Future’ that’s what you’re supposed to do when you come out. The future was in front of us a little bit earlier than the initial plan, but you need to be ready at all times and again, how he handled it there right at the end, having to make that final throw kind of said it all.”
Is Glennon the long-awaited franchise quarterback that Bucs fans have been dying for? We’ll know by the end of 2014 – if he gets the chance to start the remaining 12 games, which he should because McCown isn’t the future.
“You need an elite quarterback to win in this league, man,” former Bucs head coach Jon Gruden once told me.
Is Glennon elite? Why not find out now?
Glennon doesn’t have Tom Brady’s movie star looks, nor does he have Colin Kaepernick’s chiseled, athletic body. Glennon doesn’t have Peyton Manning’s presence at the line of scrimmage, nor does he have Philip Rivers’ swagger.
The 6-foot-6 Glennon looks a little gangly at times in the pocket, and like a young giraffe when he scrambles, but he sure can throw a beautiful spiral and has a ton of poise under pressure. Glennon is more like Robert Carradine’s Lewis Skolnick character in Revenge of the Nerds movie than he is Stan Gable. But we all know who wound up with Betty Childs at the end of the movie.
He may not be everything Bucs fans have dreamed about in their ideal franchise quarterback, but if Glennon can win, who cares?
Think about Tampa Bay’s Super Bowl roster and rank the most popular Buccaneers. Let me know when you get to quarterback Brad Johnson.
Johnson is probably around number 12 on the list, alongside the likes of Michael Pittman and Ken Dilger.
Prior to winning the Super Bowl, Joe Flacco was likely buried in the Baltimore popularity contest behind Ray Lewis, Ray Rice, Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs, Haloti Ngata, and alongside the likes of Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones and Dennis Pitta.
No one will confuse Glennon with Johnny Manziel, especially when it comes to improvisational ability. But if Glennon can develop into a smart, efficient football player like Johnson did and Flacco has done, he may indeed become the franchise quarterback the Tampa Bay fan base has wanted for decades.
FAB 2. IF GLENNON ISN’T THE GUY, QB HELP COULD BE ON THE WAY IN 2015
With 13 starts as a rookie in 2013 and the possibility of 13 more starts in 2014 if he can wrest the starting job away from veteran Josh McCown for the rest of the season, Mike Glennon will have 26 games worth of film to be evaluated by Bucs general manager Jason Licht and head coach Lovie Smith. The biggest question in Tampa Bay heading into next season could be the quarterback position if Glennon doesn’t assert himself and live up to his “Quarterback of the Future” moniker.
For those Bucs fans that like to do some in-season scouting, here is a look at the top seven quarterbacks that are likely to be selected in the first three rounds of the 2015 NFL Draft.
PROJECTED FIRST-ROUND QUARTERBACKS
1. Oregon QB Marcus Mariota – 6-4, 215 – Junior
Mariota burst onto the scene as a redshirt freshman, throwing for 2,677 yards and throwing 32 touchdowns and just six interceptions, while rushing for 752 yards and five TDs. Last year, Mariota threw for 3,665 yards with 31 scores and only four picks, while gaining 715 yards on the ground with eight touchdowns. In 2014, Mariota is completing 74 percent of his passes for 1,135 yards with 15 touchdowns and no interceptions to go along with 215 rushing yards and three touchdowns, but he has had inadequate offensive line play thus far, which played a role in Oregon’s loss to Arizona on Thursday night. Mariota has ideal NFL size, supreme athleticism and speed, amazing accuracy and a great football I.Q. He is poised to be the first overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.
2. Florida State QB Jameis Winston – 6-4, 235 – Redshirt Sophomore
The athletic Winston won the Heisman Trophy last year while leading Florida State to a national championship, throwing for 4,057 yards with 40 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Winston also rushed for four touchdowns last year and has one this year. Scouts believe Winston has first-round talent, but a series of off-field character concerns have created serious questions for NFL teams. Winston has seven touchdowns this season for the undefeated Seminoles, but he has already thrown four interceptions and would be considered a top 15 pick at this point in time – despite his character concerns.
3. UCLA QB Brett Hundley – 6-3, 227 – Junior
Hundley made a wise decision to return for his junior season after back-to-back seasons in which he threw for over 3,000 yards and at least 24 touchdowns. Hundley is almost as fast and as athletic as Mariota is, and has touchdown runs of 72 yards and 86 yards to his credit, while racking up almost 1,100 yards and 20 rushing touchdowns. As a junior, Hundley is completing 74 percent of his passes and lit up Arizona State for 355 yards and four touchdowns through the air, and 72 yards and a touchdown on the ground. If Hundley can find consistency this year he’ll likely be a top 20 pick next spring.
4. Michigan State QB Connor Cook – 6-4, 220 – Junior
Cook had a breakout sophomore campaign in 2013 while leading the Spartans to a Rose Bowl victory over Stanford and throwing for 2,755 yards with 22 touchdowns and just six interceptions. Cook is a pocket passer with enough mobility to elude pass rushers and throw downfield, but is not considered to be a scrambler. Cook, who has NFL size and arm strength, has raised his completion percentage from 58.7 percent to 69.2 percent while throwing for 837 yards with nine touchdowns and just two picks. Cook’s profile with NFL scouts is on the rise and he’s a low first-round prospect right now.
5. Stanford QB Kevin Hogan – 6-4, 228 – Junior
Hogan became a starter midway through his freshman year, completing 71.7 percent of his throws for 1,096 yards with nine touchdowns and three interceptions. As a full-time starter in 2013, Hogan led the Cardinal to the Rose Bowl while completing 61 percent of his passes for 2,630 yards with 20 TDs and 10 picks. Hogan is off to a solid start this year, raising his completion percentage to 71 percent and throwing eight touchdowns and two INTs. With ideal size, good arm strength and above average intelligence, Hogan is considered to be a solid NFL QB prospect and carries a second- or third-round grade at the present time.
6. Baylor QB Bryce Petty – 6-3, 230 – Senior
Petty had a breakout junior season with 4,200 yards, 32 touchdowns and just three interceptions while leading Baylor to the Big XII title and a BCS bowl. Petty is a good athlete and also scored 14 touchdowns on the ground. While he is in a prolific passing system, Petty has good arm strength, nice size and sound decision-making that could translate well in the NFL. A back injury caused him to miss the third game of the season, but Petty has still completed 65.3 percent of his passes for 913 yards with seven touchdowns and one pick and is considered to be a second- or third-rounder right now.
7. Oregon State QB Sean Mannion – 6-5, 220 – Senior
What you see is what you get with Mannion, a four-year starter who has completed no less than 64.5 percent of his passes in each of his first three seasons, but no more than 66.3 percent, either. It took Mannion three years to throw more touchdowns than interceptions as he started off with 31 TDs and 31 INTs during his first two years combined. As a junior, Mannion threw for 4,662 yards with 37 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. But without star receiver Brandin Cooks, who was a first-round pick by New Orleans in May, Mannion has struggled as a senior, evidenced by four touchdowns and four picks. NFL teams love his size, arm strength and experience, but question his decision-making, which has caused him to throw too many picks. Mannion will likely rise no further than the third round in the 2015 NFL Draft.
If you are looking for a sleeper quarterback in the 2015 NFL Draft, look no further than East Carolina’s prolific passer, Shane Carden, who has the Pirates off to a hot, 3-1 start. Carden, a three-year starter, began his ECU career completing 66.1 percent of his passes for 3,116 yards with 23 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, in addition to eight touchdowns on the ground as a sophomore in 2012.
During his breakout junior season, he completed 70.5 percent of his throws for 4,139 yards with 33 TDs and 10 INTs, in addition to 10 rushing scores. Carden showed that his 447-yard, five-touchdown performance against Old Dominion in which he completed 46-of-54 of his passes (85.2 percent) was no fluke when he completed 32-of-47 passes (68.1 percent) for three touchdowns and one interception in a 55-31 upset win at North Carolina. He also rushed eight times for 22 yards and three touchdowns against the Tar Heels.
Against Tulsa, Lovie Smith’s alma mater, he completed 34-of-50 passes (68 percent) for 384 yards and five touchdowns in a 58-24 victory last year. Against in-state rival North Carolina State, Carden completed 23-of-30 passes for 255 yards and three touchdowns in a 42-28 win, while rushing for two touchdowns. In a 55-13 win over Southern Miss, where Bucs QBs coach Marcus Arroyo was the offensive coordinator, Carden completed 30-of-37 throws (81.1 percent) for three touchdowns and one rushing touchdown last year.
Carden is 0-2 against South Carolina, including a 33-23 defeat this year in which he completed 32-of-46 passes for 321 yards with two interceptions and one touchdown, but he engineered two upsets of ACC schools Virginia Tech and North Carolina. He completed 23-of-47 passes (48.9 percent) for 427 yards with three touchdowns and a rushing touchdown in the last 16 seconds of the game to give the Pirates a 28-21 win over the Hokies. The Pirates’ victory shouldn’t have been a surprise. Last year, East Carolina lost at Virginia Tech, 15-10, in a close game as Carden threw three interceptions and just one touchdown.
In a 70-41 thrashing of the Tar Heels two weeks ago, Carden completed 30-of-48 passes (62.5 percent) for 438 yards with four touchdowns and one interception with two rushing scores. Carden and the Pirates should destroy winless SMU on Saturday before coming to Tampa to play South Florida on October 11.
Caden has a well-built, 6-foot-2, 221-pound frame and has good mobility outside of the pocket and down near the goal line. With looks that closely resemble Brett Favre, Carden plays like him too, as he is a bit of a gunslinger. NFL scouts can’t ignore his production and although he’s rated as a fifth-round prospect right now, he could be a player like Jimmy Garoppolo that rises up draft boards at the end of his senior season and in the post-season.
The Bucs don’t know where Glennon’s ceiling is in terms of his development, and if they can’t find out in 2014 – or if they do and it’s lower than the team anticipated – Tampa Bay should have plenty of early-round options at the quarterback position in the 2015 NFL Draft.
FAB 3. GHOLSTON HAS A HUGE UPSIDE FOR BUCCANEERS DEFENSE
After a 56-14 drubbing by Atlanta last Thursday night, there aren’t a lot of bright spots for Tampa Bay’s defense, which is ranked 27th in the league (387 yards per game) and 31st in the league in points allowed (31.7 points per game). But the play of defensive end Will Gholston may be a ray of hope for the future of the defensive end position.
Not only is Gholston a huge defensive end for the Buccaneers at 6-foot-6, 280 pounds. He also has huge upside for Tampa Bay’s defense and is filling in nicely for Adrian Clayborn, who tore his biceps on the last play against Carolina in Week 1 and is out for the season.
Seeing his first action of the year in a 19-17 loss to St. Louis in Week 2, Gholston got the start at right end for the injured Michael Johnson and produced five tackles, a tackle for loss and a sack. Compare that to Da’Quan Bowers, who had just one tackle against the Rams after getting the start at left defensive end and also saw time as a three-technique defensive tackle, and there really is no comparison.
Bowers, the team’s second-round pick in 2011, has been a bust during his four years in Tampa Bay, recording 51 tackles, 6.5 sacks and five pass breakups in the 32 games he has played in with 10 starts. With as much athleticism and talent that Bowers supposedly has, where is the production?
The reason why Gholston was drafted last year was because Bowers showed signs of being a bust in Greg Schiano’s first season in 2012. Gholston came in and quickly passed Bowers on the depth chart as a rookie. Bowers only recorded seven tackles and a sack, while Gholston notched 31 tackles, three tackles for loss, three pass breakups and two sacks. In his brief NFL career, Gholston has played in 14 games with four starts and has nearly caught Bowers statistically.
The Michigan State product has 42 tackles, six tackles for loss, three sacks and three pass breakups in just 16 games. With Tampa Bay needing to generate more of a pass rush to get out of its 1-3 hole, Gholston, who is tied for second on the team with one this season, plans of delivering.
“I feel like my pass rush has developed a lot,” Gholston said. “Last year I was kind of running right down the middle of people. Now I get to the edge. It’s nowhere where I need it to be or want it to be. But that’s what I’ve tried to focus on the most.”
With his tall, muscular frame and huge wingspan, Gholston reminds Bucs head coach Lovie Smith of a similarly built player he coached in Chicago, Bears defensive end Corey Wootten, who is 6-foot-6, 270 pounds and now plays for Minnesota.
“Yes, there are [similar],” Smith said prior to the Rams game. “Both have the size, body type, they’re both very similar players. I haven’t thought of that until now, but yes, they can do a lot of the same things. I would say that both players’ talents are more suited towards being an every down player, rather than just an edge rusher. They’re a combination of the two.
“Corey Wooten is a good football player, and so is Will Gholston. I didn’t know a lot about him before I got here, but he’s stout against the run and a pretty good pass rusher too. It’s a shame [Gholston] got hurt [in the preseason], because he was coming on. I’m anxious to see him [develop].”
With Bowers and Clayborn headed to free agency in 2015, the Bucs will undoubtedly spend a high draft pick on a pass-rushing defensive end. But Gholston will have the rest of this season a chance to build on a successful rookie campaign and a good debut in 2014 to stake claim on the starting left defensive end job for next season. He’s gotten the start at left defensive end over the last three games in Clayborn’s absence although he is not taking his starting role for granted.
“It’s still a competition,” Gholston said. “I wouldn’t say in my head that I’m slated to start. That’s not the case. Every week you have to earn your reps and earn your start. I’m not there yet – but I’m getting there. That’s my mentality.”
FAB 4. EVANS HOLDING HIS OWN AGAINST ROOKIE RECEIVERS
It’s a shame that Tampa Bay’s 2014 first-round draft pick, wide receiver Mike Evans, injured his groin in last week’s 27-24 win at Pittsburgh and is expected to miss a few weeks. The former Texas A&M star had his best game of the season against Pittsburgh with a career-high four catches for 65 yards and his first NFL touchdown.
In that game, Evans’ 7-yard touchdown catch on a fade route gave the Bucs a 7-0 lead and posted a career-long 40-yard reception in the second half that helped set up Tampa Bay’s second touchdown before injuring his groin on a deep pass in the third quarter that was ultimately intercepted when the rookie pulled up lame.
Due to his productive day at Pittsburgh, Evans leads the Bucs with 17 catches for 203 yards (11.9 avg.) and a touchdown this season, and his numbers compare favorably with the four other rookie receivers drafted in the first round this past May.
2014 FIRST-ROUND ROOKIE WR PRODUCTION
Buffalo WR Sammy Watkins (4th) – 17 catches, 197 yards (11.6 avg.), 2 TDs
Tampa Bay WR Mike Evans (7th) – 17 catches, 203 yards (11.9 avg.), 1 TD
NY Giants WR Odell Beckham, Jr. (12th) – has not played due to injury
New Orleans WR Brandin Cooks (20th) – 23 catches, 199 yards (16.3 avg.), 1 TD
Carolina WR Kelvin Benjamin (28th) – 21 catches, 329 yards (15.6 avg.), 3 TDs
Benjamin’s 21 catches for 329 yards with three touchdowns leads all rookies and currently makes him the NFL’s ninth-ranked receiver. Benjamin had six catches for 92 yards and his first NFL touchdown, a 26-yarder at Tampa Bay in Carolina’s 20-14 victory. And in Carolina’s 37-19 loss to Pittsburgh, Benjamin had his first 100-yard game, catching eight passes for 115 yards with one touchdown.
With Evans expected to miss at least two weeks with his groin injury, he will likely fall behind the rest of the 2014 first-round wide receivers, and it’s a shame because it would have been interesting to see if he could catch Benjamin, who is off to a torrid pace and has some Bucs fans (especially Florida State fans) wondering if Tampa Bay picked the right 6-foot-5, 235-pound receiver in the first round. Benjamin was just named the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month, too.
And don’t look now, but rookie tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins is beginning to threaten Evans for the right to be the most productive rookie in Tampa Bay. Seferian-Jenkins, who missed the St. Louis and Atlanta games with a sprained ankle, leads the Bucs with a 17.5-yard average with four catches for 70 yards, including a 26-yarder. With Evans out, Seferian-Jenkins’ role as a pass-catcher will likely increase in the coming weeks.
FAB 5. SR’s BUC SHOTS
• Sources at One Buccaneer Place marveled at how guard Logan Mankins got a neutral zone infraction on Pittsburgh defensive tackle Arthur Moats on third-and-2 in the fourth quarter. Moats entered the neutral zone and before he could get back prior to the snap, Mankins moved, which created the penalty on the Steelers and gave the Bucs a first down. Mankins gets a lot of credit for his toughness, but he deserves credit for his intelligence and his veteran savvy on that play.
• Tampa Bay is woefully off last year’s pace when it comes to pass breakups with just seven in four games. That puts the Bucs on pace to produce just 28 passes defensed when the team had 73 last year.
But Tampa Bay’s defense is on pace to top last year’s mark of 87 tackles for loss as the Bucs already have 24 and are averaging six per game. It’s no surprise that weakside linebacker Lavonte David is in the lead with eight as he led the team last year with a career-high 20. David is on pace to produce a new career-high 32 tackles for loss if he maintains his average of two per game.
“I feel like that’s a part of this defensive scheme up front,” said Bucs defensive end Will Gholston, who has two tackles for loss this year. “We are a penetrating defense – not a read-and-react defense. If you attack and get into the backfield you are being accountable to make those tackles for loss.”
• The vaunted Carolina defense doesn’t look so formidable lately after giving up a total of 75 points in back-to-back losses to Pittsburgh and Baltimore. Part of the reason is the loss of franchise player and defensive end Greg Hardy, who is on the Exempt/Commissioner’s Permission List as he awaits trial for his domestic abuse charges. Hardy, who recorded a sack against the Bucs in the Panthers’ 20-14 season-opening win, should have been suspended for the Tampa Bay game in hindsight.
Without Hardy, the Panthers are a different team, and even bookend Charles Johnson, who had 11 sacks last year, has yet to record a single quarterback capture in 2014 as he is working through a hip flexor injury. Carolina’s defense was looking forward to the return of defensive end Frank Alexander, a fourth-round pick from a year ago to help, but that’s not going to happen.
Alexander was suspended for the first four games of the 2014 campaign due to violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Alexander returned to the Panthers on Monday, but was suspended 10 more games for a different violation of the substance abuse policy on Wednesday. Alexander won’t be eligible to return to the Panthers until after the Bucs play at Carolina in Week 15.
• I spoke with a defensive-minded coach in the NFL this week that had seen Tampa Bay’s 27-24 win at Pittsburgh and asked him what he thought of the Tampa 2 defense that Lovie Smith has deployed with the Buccaneers. That coach said that because there are so many “Cover 2 beaters” – passing plays that have been designed to exploit the Cover 2 defense – NFL teams can only have success with it running that scheme about 20 percent of the time, which is far less than Tampa Bay runs it.
“Louis Murphy’s 41-yard run-and-catch in the last minute of the game? That was a ‘Cover 2 beater’ against the Tampa 2 that Pittsburgh was running as its prevent defense,” the coach told me. “Teams know how to beat it these days and you can’t run it as often as Lovie likes to run it. Mike Tomlin tried to run it at the end and it backfired. That’s not even Pittsburgh’s base defense.”
• As exciting as Tampa Bay’s come-from-behind, 27-24 victory at Pittsburgh was last Sunday, Bucs fans must realize that the Steelers literally gave the game away. To the Bucs’ credit, they took it because a lot of bad teams are handed football games by the other team and they don’t take it and capitalize for the win.
Pittsburgh committed a season-high 13 penalties for 125 yards. The Steelers, which are the league’s top-ranked rushing team, ran the ball just 10 times for 11 yards in the second half after piling up 74 rushing yards in the first half. Punting from the Pittsburgh 17, Brad Wing’s kick went just 29 yards to the Steelers’ 46-yard line, which gave the Bucs great starting field position with just 40 seconds left in regulation.
Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown was crying after the game, saying that Pittsburgh lost to one of the worst teams in the league. With the way the Steelers played in the second half of that game, they were one of the worst teams in the league.
• Behind the scenes, the Bucs are desperately trying to get middle linebacker Mason Foster back into the starting lineup this Sunday at New Orleans for one reason – Pro Bowl tight end Jimmy Graham. Foster suffered a dislocated shoulder against St. Louis in Week 2.
“He’s making progress,” Bucs head coach Lovie Smith said. “I don’t know if he’ll be able to go this week or not, but he’s getting reps now which is a good thing. I know our Mike linebacker is a pretty important position. The Mike linebacker position had an opportunity to make a lot plays last week and it’s like that – our system is set up for the linebackers to be in on the action quite a bit. It will be good when we get him back full-time.”
Last week, Dane Fletcher was fooled too often on play-action passes that allowed Pittsburgh tight end Heath Miller to catch 10 passes for 85 yards and a touchdown. Tampa Bay is frightened at what a faster, bigger and more athletic tight end like Graham can do if it doesn’t get better play from the Mike linebacker spot.
In Tampa Bay’s 16-14 loss to New Orleans in Week 2, Foster had seven tackles, two pass breakups and an 85-yard interception return for a touchdown when he stepped in front of Graham and picked off Drew Brees. The Bucs feel like the combination of Foster and safety Mark Barron can handle Graham a lot better than Barron and Fletcher could.
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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]
Comparing Q.B.’s Glennon reminds me a lot like Matt Ryan. Tall pocket passers, not very athletic, very smart. If Glennon can become as good as Ryan, and Flacco, that’s good enough to win.
I agree that Glennon deserves his chance to show that he can be that guy. But Glennon presents a contradiction in current Bucs offensive philosophy and they both cannot co-exist. As I understand it, Jeff Tedford’s philosophy was an up-tempo offense run by a mobile QB that allows play action with WRs, TEs, and RBs (ala Sims) all in play at the same time as well as the QB moving in space to find the open man – a mobile QB in the vein of Russell Wilson or Colin Kaepernick.
If we are going to use a Tom Brady type pocket QB which I think Glennon is (high praise), we need to re-think our offensive line that is going to give an immobile QB the time needed to choose the open receiver because we don’t have those guys now and didn’t draft for them last year.
The Bucs will need to decide what kind of offense they want to be – speed in space or the more traditional stretch-the-field offense from the pocket. I don’t have a preference for either offense, although the current trend in the NFL appears to be moving toward the mobile QB. As you have seen, either can be successful, but both cannot co-exist at the same time and expect long-term results. If Glennon is the long-term answer, then the Tedford experiment is over!
As talented as Mariota is, I caution against wearing those rose-colored frames and falling in love with his talent. He is a read-option QB and Tedford’s offense is not read option. If we draft Mariota, there’s nothing we’ve seen in this offense yet that will make use of his talents. He is not a natural pocket passer, and a majority of his throws are to wide-open receivers, not receivers in tight windows. This begs into question how good his anticipation is at the next level, because those windows truly do shrink (look at the throws Aaron Rodgers makes and even Mike Glennon). I think he can succeed at the next level, but it needs to be in the right offense.
Very good and interesting Fab 5 SR. Fab 1: I think we’re all at the same place with Glennon. McCown is hurt so we have no alternative so let’s hope Glennon performs well enough to hold on to the job long term. Up until this point it made sense to me to debate whether or not Glennon should be starting, but now only those that don’t want to see the Bucs win could be debating this now. Fab 2: I like this year’s QB class a lot, as much as I liked last years WR class. I haven’t made up my mind about Hogan and Petty and I haven’t seen Mannion or Carden play yet, but I love Mariota and I really like Cook and Hundley. I think Hundley shows more poise and leadership than he is given credit for. As for Winston, even as a FSU fan he’s way to immature to trust, he’s overrated as an athlete and I’m not even crazy about him as a passer. Plus, I don’t think the type of sideline leadership he exhibits will translate well to the NFL. Fab 3: Agreed all the way around. Fab 4: We don’t talk enough about A. Seferian-Jenkins. I think he will be a Pro Bowler in the future and will do wonders for our future QB’s stats. Having him and Murphy in the middle of the field when Evans comes back will make this offense really pop, along with the running game. Fab 5: The only thing I disagree with here is the knock on the Cover 2. The Cowboys are running it well now. The Panthers were running it very well last year before they got a new secondary and their DE’s got suspended. You just have to have the right players playing it together for a long period of time. Let’s not forget that the Cowboys players have been doing this a while now because Kiffin was their DC last year. Our players just need time, along with a rangier FS and MLB that doesn’t fall for play action.
If Glenn does average it will be better than McCown, then my focus would be DE as my first pick. My 2nd pick has to be OL. Third pick could be QB or LB or CB or OL.
Two issues Scott.
First the Bucs are only *1* game out of first place, not two as you mentioned in your article.
Second, Brees was NOT highly sot after nor was he a ‘prized’ free agent when he signed with the Saints. At least not the way I remember it. He was on the market for about a month before going to Miami and was almost signed to a contract before Miami backed out and traded for Culpepper. After another week or two, he signed a modest contract with New Orleans. I remember this because *I* was screaming that we needed to sign this guy! However, too many teams were leery of him after his shoulder surgery.
If only Gruden had signed Brees instead of going with Chris Simms.
What might have been!
The Bucs aren’t two games out. With two teams 2-2 and two teasm 1-3, they are one game out…at this point.
The Bucs didn’t play “last Thursday night” – the Giants thrashed Washington 45-14.
BUcs made a mistake taking Evans in 1st round.He has flashes of brilliance but he is injured all the time. We definitely needed a QB, and there were several that would have looked good in pewter. That being said, Glennon has done a decent job as a fill in for McCown and it would be foolish to go back to McCown now after the team’s first win. I have never been a big supporter of Glennon, but what I saw on Sunday leads me to believe he is our best option for making this season at least a partial success. Let McCown back up Glennon, and lets try to turn this disaster into success. If not, we can expect to pick in the top 10 picks in 2015, and clearly there will be a few QB’s available then.
“In Tampa Bay’s 16-14 loss to New Orleans in Week 2” – when did you write this? We played the Rams in Week 2 this year and lost 19-17.
Week 2 2013
Nitey, I sure would have liked to have Brees and I think Pewter Report is close as to the thought back then.
Am I the only one listening to the coach and GM. Glennon is the quarterback of the future. They will not drafting a quarterback. Give it up. We need to wish that Glennon continues to improve. By the way Scott, how about some affirmation for our GM. They stole Mankins. Wright has done nothing for the Patriots. We need patience with the defense. I don’t expect them to go into New Orleans and win. If they can get a win against the Ravens and go into the bye at 2-4, then I think 8-8/9-7 still is possible. It is important that they not get blown out this week.
Jameis Winston is kind of exciting; but, you know the story on him. Bryce Petty is the only other guy I’d admit it hands down better(probably) than Mike Glennon. I don’t know the Michigan State guy.
Glennon is no Clark Gable, but since I don,t want to date him, I don’t care how handsome he is or what his body looks like. Just win baby.
I am Honestly sickened by the fact that I just learned that Matt Ryan makes over $20mil a year… Are you kidding me? What has this world come to? With all the money that could be paid to Teachers are are
(Cont) It just really makes me step back and take a look at what an atrocity all if this sports entertainment has come to and realize that Matt Freakin Ryan could fund half of My entire Fire Departments budget all by Himself… And those School Bus Drivers stopin at all the Railroad tracks makin sure our Kids get to school in one piece… Nurses workin Midnights to make overtime so their kids can go to school in new shoes… The stay at Home Mom with 4 kids and the Police Officer Husband that hopes Her Man will come home that night to lay next to her… My Dad who has been an Honest Man his entire Life and been VP and Pres of companies yet afraid to retire because he’s gotta pay for a wedding and afford to retire and Live out the rest of His Life… I’m really sorry to be a downer… But after finding out Matt Freaking Ryan’s annual avg salary it just made me realize how ridiculous entertainment has become… Now I am sayin I am a Bucs fan till the day my ashes grace Gods Green Earth and I leave My Mr. Derrick Brooks Jersey to My Grandson… But does anyone else have a comparison story to their Bad A** Family and what they have been through for us to be able to watch Mr. $500k vs Mr $20mil? Just outta curiosity… To put this all into perspective…
I’m sorry to change topic but just for the fun of it… After putting into perspective the ridiculous salary’s the people we concern ourselves of the prople we concern ourselves so muchwith so much… That we take a second to recognize the work and effort that our family… No matter how far back… Has put in to allow us to concern ourselves with Live we have out into our Buvs…
Sorry… Premature post I apparently cannot correct… But I’d just like to see a shout out from everyone to their family that has worked so hard to allow us to be here to comment…
Can Glennon be the guy? Who knows, we need to let him play and see. Yes it was a mistake to hand the starting job to a career back up in McCown without having to compete for it. We should know by end of season if we need to draft a QB. About due to have success I would think at some point drafting a QB? Lol.
I admire the work of our fire fighters, police officers, teachers, military, construction workers (my line of work) and many others in public service jobs Fire. But no one is paying billions of dollars to watch them in action. That’s what a supply and demand free market society is willing to pay one of the 32 people in the world who can play QB in the NFL. Same goes for the actors and singers who make a lot of money. Funny how we see athletes, singers and actors perform and think, “I could do that”. Fact is, we couldn’t. Heck, I’m sure there are those who think they could do my job and make my salary. The guy on the trapeze makes it look easy.
Back to football! OK Mike, you want to make Matt Ryan’s, Drew Brees’ and Cam Newton’s salary someday, much to the chagrin of some; let’s see what you’ve got.
Mac, you keep saying Glennon doesn’t fit the mold to run Tedford’s offense. You mention up tempo, and mobility being a factor. First off, you don’t need to be mobile to run an up tempo offense. You need to be smart, which Glennon is. Second, I’ve seen nothing from this offense that requires a mobile Q.B.. Even when McCown runs it, I see no bootlegs, rollouts, or waggles. I too was fooled into thinking this offense needed a mobile Q.B., but so far I don’t see why. Looks more like it’s suited to a pocket passer. As far as play action, you don’t need to be mobile to pull that off as a Q.B., you need a real running game, which we’ve been lacking. This thought that Glennon isn’t a fit for this offense I believe is more about perception, then reality.
You’re absolutely right, you don’t need to be a mobile QB to run an up-tempo offense, ie, Nick Foles/Eagles. But you do need to be a mobile QB to run Tedford’s offense as advertised.
Problem is, haven’t seen it! (ref my Question in Friday chat). Up-tempo was just said to be one element of several “speed in space” expectations.
Please do not misunderstand. I hope Glennon succeeds. I just don’t think the “zone blocking” lighter, faster O-lineman we were supposedly developing can sustain blocks for a pocket QB. If Glennon is the man and I wouldn’t mind if he was, then the Tedford idea of a speed in space offense is DOA! Just my opinion!
Nitty is correct; Bree’s was NOT a “prized” free agent but only because of concern about his shoulder.
Scott – nice review. On 1), I realized the other day that we’re the only franchise that has never had a legitimate franchise QB (leaving the whole Steve Young thing aside)…the best QB we have ever had, the guy with most of our records, is Josh Freeman…what other franchise can top that. On 2) Glennon may be the QB of the future…but not our future…I’ll take any of those guys please but Mariota would be awesome. On 3) I hope you’re right, but we need a lot more from some DE than potential….we need a sack machine. On 4) I’m happy with Evans…give the guy a chance, he played his first three games with McCown throwing the ball! Go Bucs!
Oh how I wish Tampa Bay fans would go back to being lawyers, cooks, Drivers, Assemblers, mechanics, etc, and leave coaching and GM work to the Bucs
They may make Glennon the Bucs franchise quarterback, but he is not a franchise quarterback on any other team.
PR, no love for Mississippi State Junior QB Dak Prescott? The kid is putting up some good numbers this year and went from a 58% completion rate last year to 64% so far this year.
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