The Buccaneers are playing like a lost cause right now after dropping their third straight game on Sunday in overtime to Minnesota, 19-13. Tampa Bay is now 1-6 on the season as it heads to Cleveland. What’s going right in Tampa Bay and what is going wrong for the pewter and red-clad players? Find out in this week’s edition of State of the Buccaneers.
WHAT’S RIGHT WITH THE BUCCANEERS
McCoy Is A Buc For Life
The re-signing of Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy to a seven-year contract extension is the most significant thing that’s happened in Tampa Bay’s dreadful 2014 season. McCoy, who is playing with a broken hand, rewarded the team’s faith in him by recording his third sack of the season in the team’s 19-13 overtime loss to Minnesota. McCoy’s re-signing takes a lot of pressure of general manager Jason Licht in the 2015 offseason as the two-time Pro Bowler was slated to be a free agent. Head coach Lovie Smith indicated that McCoy’s re-signing was critical due to the importance of the three-technique defensive tackle in the Tampa 2 defense.
David Is Playing His Butt Off
According to the Buccaneers, linebacker Lavonte David became the first player in Tampa Bay history to record at least 12 tackles in four straight games. David has notched 14 tackles in each of the last three games, and had three tackles for loss, which tied a career-high. David has 80 tackles on the year and is averaging just under 12 per game this season. He’s on pace to record 182 stops this year, which would surpass his career-high 145 tackles from a year ago. David also has two forced fumbles and 15 tackles for loss, which is just six TFLs away from a new career-high.
Sims Is Ready To Run
Doug Martin had his chance at being the Buccaneers’ workhorse back this season and has been a huge disappointment. In five starts, Martin has rushed for less than 200 yards and has yet to crack 50 yards rushing in any game. He’s currently sidelined with an ankle injury he suffered last week, and that will give the Bucs all the more reason to play 6-foot, 214-pound rookie Charles Sims, who is coming off a torn ankle tendon and will see his first NFL action at Cleveland. Sims has exceptional hands, more speed and better vision than Martin does and it will only be a matter of time before he becomes the starting running back in Tampa Bay. The Bucs love his potential.
Evans Has Emerged As Go-To WR
Despite missing the Saints game with a groin injury, rookie Mike Evans, the team’s first-round draft pick this year, has developed quickly into Mike Glennon’s go-to receiver. With 25 catches for 336 yards and two touchdowns in six games, Evans is right behind Vincent Jackson, who has 26 receptions for 357 yards and two scores in seven games, for the team lead in receptions and yards. Evans had his best game as a pro against Minnesota last Sunday, catching four passes for 65 yards, including a career-long 40-yard gain, while Jackson was held to just one catch for 13 yards. Look for Evans to continue to receiver more looks in the passing game down the stretch.
WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE BUCCANEERS
Bucs Offense Going Nowhere Fast
Despite having a bye week to fix some issues, the Buccaneers offense regressed against the Vikings last Sunday. Despite winning the coin toss and electing to receive the ball first, Tampa Bay was held without a single point through the first three quarters. At one point in the middle of the game, the Bucs suffered through five straight three-and-outs, and only wound up scoring 13 points against a 2-5 Minnesota team in Tampa Bay’s 19-13 overtime loss, which was pathetic.
Tampa Bay Is Terrible In Pass Protection
For the second straight game, the Buccaneers offensive line looked like a sieve while surrendering five more sacks – this time to Minnesota. Left tackle Anthony Collins looked like a turnstile against defensive end Everson Griffen, and reserve right guard Garrett Gilkey somehow managed to get two holding calls in the four snaps he played against the Vikings. The Bucs have given up 10 sacks over the past two contests, and 19 sacks through seven games, which is almost three per game.
Uninspired QB Play From Glennon
Mike Glennon has a golden opportunity to seize the starting quarterback job in Tampa Bay – not just this year, but also in 2015. But throwing a bad interception in the first quarter, presiding over five straight three-and-out series and not putting up a single point until the fourth quarter is not inspiring much confidence in the second-year passer. The fact that Glennon chose to run out of bounds a yard short on a key third-and-6 instead of diving for a first down was a passive move that caused some groans in the Bucs’ film room. Glennon needs more of a take-charge attitude and needs to complete more than just 58 percent of his passes to take his game to another level.
No Takeaways Means No Wins For Bucs
Against Minnesota, and for the third time this season, the Buccaneers defense did not record a takeaway, and that has always meant a loss in 2014. Tampa Bay’s defense didn’t force a fumble or pick off a pass against Carolina in Week 1 and lost 20-14. In a 48-17 defeat at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens, the Bucs also failed to record a takeaway on defense. It was the same old story last week for a defense that is supposedly getting better, according to Smith. But it’s not.