Bucs vs. Falcons: 10 Things We Think We Learned

Al Messerschmidt

One thing we learned - The Bucs can still open up a can of whupass.

Well, it was a fun one at Ray Jay wasn't it Buc fans? It's been a while since the Bucs took another team to the woodshed and lets face it, its always a great thing to see Matt Ryan put on his backside is it not?

No, the Bucs aren't headed to the playoffs. The two teams they beat probably aren't either. But look at it this way, Tampa Bay: after the horrible start to this season, the calls for the head coach's head on a pike, MRSA, the Freeman fiasco, losing Doug Martin AND Mike James - this team had every reason to as the Atlanta Failcons have apparently done. Pack it in.

Yet, this team has stayed resilient, is actually still got some dog in their fight and are actually trying to get better.

To me, that's a positive sign.

Let's see what else we think we learned.

1. The bossman Sander is going to write how Mike Glennon didn't put the ball 3 centimeters to the left of Vincent Jackson. How his stats are Lies! Bald face Lies, damn you!

Gur Samuel will do his breakdown of the film and show you everything the kid is doing wrong.

Look, I remember when Bernie Kosar was with the Browns. He was a statue. He threw some the ugliest ducklings you'll ever see. Yet he got the ball where it needed to be, put the ball in the endzone and won games.

While I don't disagree with their assessments, sometimes we get paralysis by analysis.

There are four things I want from my quarterback:

  1. Make some plays downfield.
  2. Move the chains by making the plays that are there to be made.
  3. Get points on the board.
  4. Manage the game and don't get your team beat.
Mike Glennon did all four on Sunday and looked pretty darned good in doing it. I was mocked last week when I said that Glennon is a capable starter in this league. Is he ever going to be Drew Brees? I don't believe so. Can he be the Bucs quarterback of the present and future? I admit, I'm beginning to believe he can.

Sure, it would be nice to have the sexy pick. See Johnny Football or Mariotta or Bridgewater running around like chickens with their heads cut off and making crazy Russell Wilson-type plays. But are any of those guys guaranteed superstardom?  Do you truly toss Glennon aside for a guy who very well could be Akili Smith?  Think the Niners are regretting tossing Alex Smith aside so quickly?

If Glennon continues to improve and the Bucs keep winning games, the point may be moot.

2. The Legend of Bobby Rainey is in full force now. Monday night I saw some special things from Rainey. Some wiggle, great vision and a burst. I picked him up in my fantasy league because I fully expected him to get the balk of the carries. Unfortunately - as my fantasy season from hell continues - Bobby Rainey scored a ton of points on my bench. A lot of the credit should go to the offensive line, who has been killing it in the run game the last three weeks. Still, Rainey has some Warrick Dunn in him, doesn't he? His petite size makes him hard to see, he's got shiftiness and make you miss moves that had a few Falcons grasping for air.

Rainey is small but put together solidly. I honestly think 20-22 carries should be his max and the Bucs overused him a bit.

Some are saying the Bucs should trade Doug Martin and go with Mike James and Bobby Rainey. To me, this is absurd. Both James and Rainey are making peanuts. Why not keep all three? Then the Bucs won't have to run Doug Martin into the ground.

Look, Rainey is a brilliant find by the pro personnel department and GM Mark Dominik. I think he's proven he has a role on this football team. When Martin returns - he will be the number one guy. It will be a sight to see to have both guys carrying the rock for your Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

3. Lost in the glory of the Legend of Bobby Rainey was the phenomenal game by Vincent Jackson. V-Jax must love playing against the Failcans - because he's caught 20 balls for 303 yds and 3 touchdowns this season. Jackson's unbelievable one-handed catch over Asante Samuel can't be done by many humans in the world.

4. So do you still want to fire Schiano? 2-8 is nothing to write home about. Beating a dysfunctional Miami team and an Atlanta team that's quit doesn't make you a world beater, either. Yet since that trip to Seattle, things certainly seem different for the Bucs, doesn't it? The dark cloud that has hovered over One Buc Place since late August seems to have finally moved on. Perhaps this is why:

"It was tough here for a while, what with the whole Josh Freeman thing and guys getting hurt, but through all of that Coach Schiano was like, "Forget that, get your pads on and keep working,' '' Bucs guard Davin Joseph told the Tampa Tribune, "And now we're finally getting a sense to where the guys in this locker room really do believe him and believe in him. And I can say now that this is first time I can say that we're a family now.

"He's been preaching that since he walked in the door and sometimes you don't know where they're coming from with that. ... It was family, family, family and it makes sense now. I can say we really are like a family now because guys really trust him, guys really believe in him because all that stuff he's been saying about just keep your head down and keep working, it's all coming true now."

Belief is a powerful thing.  There's been a quite noticeable change in Schiano's demeanor, his sideline composure and his play calling. Schiano's letting his offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan be creative. He's taking shots with surprise onside kicks, fake field goals and halfback passes. On defense, the Bucs did more one-on-one battles and less stunting on the defensive line and it resulted in a tremendous amount of pressure on Matt Ryan.

It took a little while for the guys at Rutgers to get Schiano, too. His career started out like most other Rutgers coaches, winning just 12 times in his first 46 games. But eventually, Schiano recruited his guys. He reached his team and they loved him. Once they had that breakthrough, Rutgers would have winning seasons in five of their next six years under Schiano. A feat for a school that had just two winning seasons since 1988.

I think it says a lot that the Bucs haven't quit on him and are starting to come out in support of their coach.

Obviously, the NFL is a Not For Long league if you don't win ballgames. I think the Bucs need to remain competitive and Schiano may need to win three of the last six for the Glazers to be able to sell his return for 2014.

5. They let Gerald McCoy eat and he had a Sapp-like dominant ballgame. Three sacks from Geraldini was certainly impressive but McCoy was in the backfield all day long. With the Bucs stunting less, McCoy took on single guards one-on-one and he was unblockable. Eventually, they began to double-team and even triple team him.

Gerald should be making his return to the Pro Bowl. It's almost laughable now that folks used to label him as a bust.

6. So I know there's a segment of Buccaneer fans out there who are upset that Tampa Bay won a "meaningless game" and hurt their draft position. I approach it this way. I believe in finishing a season strong. I think winning is as contagious as losing and if you can get that winning feeling each week - you begin to perform better, give more effort.

The Bucs had the makings of a good team in 1996 but weren't quite ready yet. Things hadn't jelled and they started the season 1-8. But they finished strong, winning five of their last seven.

Sure, the Bucs fell from a sure-fire top 5 pick to 8th and lost out on drafting Orlando Pace, Darrell Russell, Shawn Springs, Peter Boulware, or Bryant Westbrook. After trading up to the 6th pick, the could have had Walter Jones but traded down in the draft to 12th and eventually settled for Warrick Dunn.

The next season, Tampa Bay started the season 5-0 and went to the playoffs. It ushered in a run of 9 winning seasons in 14 years, multiple playoff appearances and a Super Bowl Championship.

I don't know...maybe it's just me but that little run at the end seemed to give the players enough confidence to believe in their coach and set themselves up for a good season the next year.

7. What to do about the personal foul penalties? I don't think you can really do anything about them this year. Right now Schiano is in job preservation mode. He can't really win by benching Dashon Goldson for Keith Tandy. Of course, the NFL may take care of it for Schiano. Still, the personal fouls are bordering on ridiculous. The Buccaneers just have to know they have the reputation of a dirty team. Think Raiders, who get personal fouls for breathing near a quarterback. It is what it is...and until the Bucs can be more discipline in their approach, these things are going to happen. To be honest, I didn't have a problem with any of the PF calls - they were right. In today's league, they're penalties, whether we think it's namby pamby or nit picking.

8. Things were going so well in the second half. The Bucs had dominated their way to a 41-13 lead, there was about six minutes left in the game and Schiano decided to empty his bench, as any coach would, to protect his starters. On defense, that meant putting Lavonte David on the sideline. Folks, that's a sight I don't want to see again for a decade. David's absence was felt as Tampa Bay, who had surrendered just 64 yds on the ground to that point - gave up 88 yards and a touchdown in two runs by Antone Smith.

It got so bad, Schiano had to put the defensive starters back out there to ensure the Falcons didn't make an epic comeback. While the offense has been snake bit by injuries, defensively Tampa Bay has been pretty lucky until Sunday, when they lost Mason Foster with a concussion. Hopefully he'll be ready for a tough test in Detroit. Lord knows the Bucs depth on D is razor thin.

9. Tim Wright has disappeared from the offense. Early on, he was Glennon's favorite weapon not named Jackson - but Wright was targeted just twice on Sunday. He had one reception for 13 yards. Folks, the Bucs still need a tight end.

10. So if the Bucs do finish strong and the Bucs brass retain Greg Schiano for another season - what needs to change? Let Sullivan continue to be creative and try different things. Sheridan should be sent packing and Dave Wannstedt should be moved over to become the Bucs defensive coordinator and Schiano needs to leave him the hell alone.

The Bucs would likely be too far down the draft boards to get one of the elite quarterbacks so Glennon may be the better answer. Tampa Bay could focus on the offensive or defensive line.  I admit Clowney certainly was impressive against Florida despite playing injured. Visioning him next to Gerald McCoy sent shivers down me timbers.

If the Bucs get out of range for Clowney, there's some prime offensive linemen and some other guys who could definitely help out.
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