After a heartbreaking, 37-31 loss at New Orleans in overtime, the Buccaneers are 1-4 on the season heading into a Week 6 clash at Raymond James Stadium against Baltimore. PewterReport.com begins a new weekly series called The State of the Buccaneers to inform fans about what is going right and what is going wrong in Tampa Bay.
WHAT’S RIGHT WITH THE BUCCANEERS
Offensive Point Production
After scoring just 38 points on offense through the first three games of the season, Tampa Bay’s offense has ignited under the leadership of quarterback Mike Glennon over the past two games. Glennon has thrown four touchdowns in the last two games and helped the offense score 27 points in a win at Pittsburgh and 24 points in the overtime loss at New Orleans. After averaging just 12.6 points per game over the first three contests, the Buccaneers offense has averaged 25.5 points per game over the last two outings and is now averaging 17.8 points per game through Week 5.
Mike Glennon’s Play At QB
With the Bucs offense moving the chains and putting points on the board with Glennon at the helm, Lovie Smith would be foolish to reinsert Josh McCown as the team’s starting quarterback right now. Glennon has completed 58.2 percent of his passes for 672 yards with five touchdowns and just two interceptions this season. More importantly, Glennon has shown he can rally a team for a win (Pittsburgh) and make some improvisational plays on the move (a 36-yard pass to Vincent Jackson at New Orleans).
The Play Of LBs Lavonte David, Danny Lansanah
David had a season-high 14 tackles with two tackles for loss in Atlanta, while Lansanah had a career-high 10 tackles, two pass breakups and a 33-yard interception return for a touchdown. David has a team-leading 51 tackles, which ranks fourth in the NFC and 10 tackles for loss, which leads the NFL, in addition to two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. Lansanah has wrestled the starting strongside linebacker job away from Jonathan Casillas and has 19 tackles, a team-high four pass breakups and two interceptions that he’s returned for touchdowns.
Better Pass Defense From The Secondary – Finally
Although Saints QB Drew Brees threw for 371 yards and two touchdowns against the Bucs defensive backs, at least the secondary is finally contesting passes – and picking them off. Through the first four games of the season, the Tampa Bay secondary had just three of the team’s seven pass breakups and no interceptions. Against New Orleans, the secondary woke up and had a season-high seven of the team’s 11 pass breakups. More importantly, cornerbacks Johnthan Banks and Alterraun Verner intercepted a pass apiece for their first picks of the season.
WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE BUCCANEERS
Buccaneers Running Game
Tampa Bay has amassed just 452 rushing yards through the first five weeks of the season, an average of only 90.4 yards per game. The Bucs offensive line hasn’t been physical enough to open holes on a consistent basis, but Doug Martin hasn’t done much to create on his own, either, and has yet to reach 100 yards rushing for the season in his three starts. Martin has just 94 yards rushing and one touchdown on 37 carries (2.5 avg.). Bobby Rainey’s 220 yards and one touchdown on 47 carries (4.7 avg.) lead the team.
Tampa Bay’s Third Down Defense
The Buccaneers defense helped the team win the turnover battle in New Orleans on Sunday, but it didn’t win on third downs, allowing the Saints to convert 6-of-13 opportunities (46 percent). When it mattered in the fourth quarter and in overtime in New Orleans, the Bucs defense couldn’t get off the field. Tampa Bay’s third down defense has been dreadful all season, allowing a 48.4 percent conversion rate, and that has led to the Bucs losing the time of possession in every game this year.
Michael Koenen’s Punting
The veteran punter and special teams captain has had two bad games back-to-back. In his last seven punts against the Steelers and Saints combined, Koenen is averaging just 38.3 yards per punt without a kick past 48 yards. Although Koenen hasn’t allowed a return over the past two games and doesn’t have any touchbacks this season, he has only nailed one punt inside the 20 over the last two games and hasn’t done much to flip the field position with short punts.
NFC South Division Title Getting Out Of Reach
Tampa Bay’s 37-31 overtime loss at New Orleans really stung the team’s hopes of winning the NFC South title – or at least getting back into contention to win the division. The 1-4 Bucs are now essentially three games behind Carolina (3-2), because they lose the tiebreaker with their 0-3 record in the NFC South. The fact that Tampa Bay is 0-4 in the NFC hurts their chances at a Wild Card berth should the team rally late in the season because they would lose most tiebreakers with other NFC teams because of their conference record.
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]
Nice write up and nice addition to the regular articles in rotation.
Nice article Scott – the one area that I really think is Wrong With The Bucs, is the area I was excepting to be our strength (and the particular flavor of Koolaid that I drank heavily)…pass rush…I get that Michael Johnson has a bum ankle, and GMC has a broken hand, and Clayborn was lost for the year…all good excuses…but still, we do not put anything like consistent pressure on QBs like the Koolaid I drank said we were going to…
I like this!
Add no consistent pass rush, they had the one good half against the Steelers and the rest has been lackluster even though there are some pressures and hurries, it is not enough. Also if a team puts up over 500 all purpose yards, it says that the defense hasn’t come together as a unit and/or the talent is not there to run it. The defense is the main challenge for the Bucs right now. If the Bucs were a top 20 defense, then they would get a win here and there, as the offense, although not super is at least scoring some points which would be enough.
I like this also, great job PR!! In regards to our dreadful D (I, too, got drunk on kool aid in the offseason about how our D under Lovie would be one of the league best….haha). I have to wonder if Leslie Frazier knows Tampa 2 like Lovie, Kiffin, etc. We don’t seem to be getting better either, at least our offense can say that. They have played against backups and injury depleted teams (Saints lost Graham and their Center before halftime) and look silly doing it. 11 point lead in the 4th quarter in this town has meant a sure WIN for as long as I can remember. I am frustrated but had us at 2-3 on my preseason projection so there is still time including this weekend which I had as a WIN…..
In my view, and not being a big fan of Free Agency, one of the things wrong with our Bucs is the lack of production of the Jason Licht Free Agent signings. On offense TE Brandon Myers is nearly invisible and OC Evan Dietrich Smith is all too obvious. LT Anthony Collins has been adequate at best and we all know about OG Oniel Cousins. QB Josh McCown has been well…………I’ll wait a little longer on that one to see if Glennon keeps him on the sideline as a very costly back-up journeyman QB.
On the defensive side both DE Michael Johnson and DT Clinton McDonald have been nothing special. CB Alteron Verner seems to be coming along while CB Mike Jenkins is on IR. Point is, couldn’t we be 1-4 with promising rookies for less $ or with better evaluation of available free agents have a better record?
Perhaps the PR staff could do a mid-season thumbnail sketch on the 2014 additions to the roster.
Best posting of the week right there. Like you, I have been sadly disappointed in most all the acquisitions so far and you were kind and only noted the additions…..we also waived Davin Joseph (now starting for the Rams), and traded Zuttah (started and played 46 of his last 47 games before trade) to the Ravens and has started each of their 5 games. Guard was not a major weakness until those moves, but all of us were drunk on koolaid so these moves seemed lost in the shuffle except to me. I really liked Zuttah’s flexibility & durability. Finally, the draft was also on GM Licht, admitting we are a run first team, why did we draft a WR so high? Mike Evans will be very good, hopefully great, but a QB, LB, DE, OL would have made much more sense. Just saying…..
I think this is a fine list. I would emphasize the role the offensive line has played in the “Offensive Point Production” section. The pass protection from the O-line and the RB’s has been stellar. I expected them to improve throughout the year because when it comes to the O-line I believe chemistry can trump talent and you get chemistry by playing the same 5 guys over and over again. But to go from the performance against the Falcons when they hadn’t had a sack all year to the job they did against the Steelers and Saints…well, I’m astonished. Do the O-line and RB’s feel they have to block better for Glennon because he can’t move as well? The change at QB was the only real difference I can make out so far.
Great article!!! Other than Koenen, special teams were not mentioned. Coach Lovie Smith made several mistakes with special teams. He did not sign Hester from Chicago and look what he is doing for Atlanta. There was room within the cap and Lovie let him go. Several special team members were let go and the BUCS are paying the price with special teams performance and that results in poor field position. What happened to the “Great” defense? Lovie has made a lot of personnel mistakes. Why wasn’t Glennon starting in game one? Lovie has been a hugh disappointment!!!
Pinkstob: to your point, the one damning comment I’ve heard out of Lovie this year was when he downplayed the chemistry aspect of the O-line. It may be a real contributor to his Offensive hurdles through the years. Maybe this is the moment he figures it out. A combination of Scubog & Circa’s idea of a PR mid-season free agent review would be very interesting. Across the board, were the cuts and additions net gains or losses in terms of performance and salary cap. Was there a need to blow it up all at once & enter the season w/a practice squad rotation @ the G spot on the O-line? Was EDS a quality Center in Green Bay? Did he constantly try to hike the ball over his QB’s head…etc? He has certainly made me miss Zuttah.
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