Things aren't going well for the Fire Schiano, draft Bridgewater fans. The Bucs won yet another "meaningless" game, the quarterback of the present set another record and the owner beamed about how the team continues to rally around their embattled coach.
Ruh roh. This is becoming a big habit - this winning thing. The first team to win three games in a row after starting the season 0-8 since the 1978 St. Louis Cardinals. That team would finish the season 6-10...and promptly go 5-11 the next season.
But let's not go there just yet.
We all were off the Schiano bandwagon - yours truly included. I was ready to press the dump button on his tenure. Yet, Schiano changed in himself and as a result the team stopped looking at him with a skeptical eye and probably unknowingly to them began to believe in him.
If the team can finish 3-2 in their last five games - there's a strong possibility ownership will write this season off to a comedy of bad luck with the MRSA non-sense and place the scapegoat on a disinterested starting quarterback who was banished from the franchise.
Schiano would return, Glennon would be his guy and a segment of the fanbase will cry, moan and wonder what could have been. Jimmy Johnson was coming out of retirement and trading Doug Martin for a Herschel Walker type deal. Then the Bucs would have used all those extra picks to trade up and get Teddy Bridgewater who will break all records while leading the Bucs to the Super Bowl baby!
Now we're going to be stuck with Stalin and Captain Check-down. Boo!
But what else did we learn?
1. I don't think Schiano is safe yet, even with the glowing remarks from Joel Glazer. No, if the Bucs dump the bed the rest of the way, Schiano is easily fired. Let's face it, last season there was a mid-year surge, too. Then Josh Freeman went in the tank, the team dropped five of their last six and the doubts were seeded then. I don't think Schiano can survive another December swoon. I still believe he needs to finish 6-2 to retain his job. Three down, three to go.
2. Am I ready to anoint Glennon as my starter for 2014? I'm very close. What I've loved about Glennon is he has shown consistency week in and week out while improving every week. The deep ball to Tiquan Underwood was a middle finger to all those who said he couldn't do it. Glennon, in fact, has completed 6 of 6 on passes over 15 yards the last two ball games.
Tell me Buc Fans: Had Glennon been drafted in the first round instead of the third - would you be excited about his play? Would you look at his 62.5% completion percentage, his 13 TDs to 4 interceptions ratio and 91.6 QB rating and be wonder where this guy will be in two or three years when he actually knows what he's doing?
For all the accolades Andrew Luck gets - he completed just 54.3% of his passes with 23 touchdowns and 18 interceptions, 9 fumbles and a QB rating of 76.5.
He hasn't been much better this season, still under 60% completions with a 15-7 TD to INT ratio.
Yet there isn't a Colts fan looking at the draft and hoping Johnny Football drops them.
Instead of picking apart every little piece of his game because we've heard of his flaws and by golly, we have to make sure they're still there, there's this: Glennon has thrown a touchdown pass in eight straight games. No rookie quarterback has achieved this since the 1970 merger. Not Manning, not Brady, not Montana - NO ONE.
Even NFL Films Greg Cosell has said he's FAR ADVANCED by RG III, last year's darling.
There are five games left for Glennon to firmly state his case as being the quarterback of the present and the future for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers - so all the returns aren't in yet.
He could have a Freeman-styled tank in the final month of the season. There's still plenty of things for him to work on. That's the exciting thing about the kid - he's consistent, yet still not refined.
Consistency is not a word I would have ever used with Freeman but it is a word I use with some of the better quarterbacks in the NFL. Maybe...just maybe...the Coach was right on this one.
3. Okay...am I the only one getting a little worried about Revis? Now, I don't think Revis has played poorly - he's played pretty darn well, in fact. Yet Sunday was when we were supposed to see why Revis is a Buccaneer. Why Tampa Bay chose to devote a million dollars a game and a significant chunk of their salary cap to him. Yet, I saw Revis in zone against Megatron. I saw him play off most of the game. He always seemed have help over the top. Then I saw him tap out at half-time with a groin injury - leaving the kids to handle that awesome Lions passing game.
Now, you can't fault a guy for an injury. It's the NFL, it happens. But here's the thing: Calvin Johnson with Revis on the field: 6 targets, 4 receptions, 61 yards. Megatron with Revis not there: 8 targets, 3 receptions, 54 yards.
Revis Rules? I think not. Revis is good. He's not $1 million dollars a game and two premium draft picks good. At least not right now.
4. Without their big money off-season acquisitions Darrelle Revis and Dashon Goldson, the depleted Buccaneers secondary had to face Megatron with a boatload of kids. They certainly had their ups and their downs, but man did the kiddies make some plays. Four picks of Pro Bowl QB Matt Stafford was impressive enough - but where it happened was even more impressive.
The Lions really could have blown the doors off the Bucs but it seemed every time they'd move into striking distance, Tampa Bay would make a play.
When you win the turnover margin by 5 but only win by 3, some will say that's a fluke. Maybe it is but so many times the Lions could have taken this game by the throat and the youngsters said no.
That's something to be encouraged about, Buc fans. The defense may finally be learning how to close out games.
5. I'll fully admit when it was reported by Fox Reporter Laura Okim that Revis was down for the second half, my heart sunk. The thought of Johnthan Banks or Leonard Johnson covering Megatron was akin to watching a nasty car wreck. I didn't want to look, but I had to.
Yet credit goes to the rookie Banks, who drew the unenviable assignment. Megatron is Megatron - he's going to make some acrobatic catches on even the best - but Banks stayed in his hip pocket most of the second half. On the big pass play in the waning moments of the game, Banks was right there when his safety help, Kelsey McCray came over and tattooed the Great One, popping the ball into the air and into the waiting hands of Banks, sealing the game.
Nice game, Banksy.
6. The Bucs got a little of their own medicine in the kneel down attack by the Lions. It was an ugly, awkward ending to the game. While the Bucs certainly deserve no sympathy after employing the kneel down attack, to me it look more like the Lions were trying to be dirty about it. Start fights. Just be their nasty selves.
I guess its just perspective. If you're the team behind - you're just trying to do whatever you can to win the game. If you're the team ahead, it just looks dirty.
7. So the Legend of Bobby Rainey got shelved for a week. Look, the Bucs o-line has dominated opponents the last three games. Going in, everyone knew this week would be a challenge. You don't dominate a line with Suh and Fairley. It just doesn't happen. Rainey had little room to run and it was a pretty long day for the Tampa Bay rushers.
8. It was said in the Bucs' locker room after the game that before the ballgame, Greg Schiano told his defense they needed to force 5 turnovers for them to have a chance to win this game. It was almost prophecy - because the Bucs needed every single one of those five turnovers to secure the win over the NFC North leaders.
Just another example of the players beginning to believe in Schiano?
9. Here's the crazy thing about the offensive resurgence under Glennon. He's doing it without a second wide receiver (Tiquan Underwood was bagging groceries at the start of the season), his pro bowl running back (and his backup), his Pro Bowl left guard and with a converted tight end.
10. No one can say the Bucs' can't beat a team with a winning record on the road under Schiano. Coach S has won his last two games decided by 3 points or less as well. These games might be meaningless to a fanbase looking forward to May...but if the Bucs keep winning perhaps it sets up the building blocks for a team ready to challenge next season. Perhaps they don't need another quarterback, stick with the guy they got - address other needs (like say...defensive line)?
You start the season with a guy the players believe in and with a method that proved successful down the stretch this year, with all the injured super starts returning.
Maybe they don't have to blow it up and start over - but be patient, give it a little more time and see where it goes.
You may not like Coach Schiano. You may think he's a college guy or just a jerk or mediocre. But you're on the outside. You're couch GM'ing just like the rest of us. You don't know the X's and O's from the Jimmy's and Joe's. It took a while for his football team to start buying in - especially after the September from hell.
The damage was done with the 0-8 start and let's face it, Schiano hasn't crossed the finish line to a return yet. But if his football team is playing hard for him, winning for him, if they believe in him - maybe we should hit the pause button for a moment.
I was leading the pitch fork brigade a few weeks ago. Losing does that. But the more you think of how the Bucs lost games at the beginning of the season and they may have finally figured it out in the second half of the season perhaps gives you a little hope.
I know, you still want to nuke it from orbit - it's the only way to be sure, right?
Say the Bucs finish 6-2. You want to fire coach S anyway...for who? Another college guy? A coordinator? A re-tread like Lovie? They'll want their own quarterback. So you'll cast away Mike Glennon for say...Brett Hundley or Johnny Football and start over again with a rookie quarterback. Since we're starting over - time to trade away the talent. After all, if we're building for two or three years down the line - no point in keeping this current team together - they won't be around when the winning starts.
Fire that GM, too. He assembled a lot of high priced guys who couldn't win. Let's bring in someone Lovie is comfortable with...like Jerry Angelo.
Then cross your fingers that Johnny Football doesn't discover Ybor.
Or stay the course, write this season off as being infected by MRSA and see if Glennon can continue to improve. Continue working on the defense in the draft and free agency - maybe finally get a tight end for Glennon (although the Wright kid might not be half bad).
Keep the team together one more season and maybe...just maybe this is the start of something.
It all depends on these last five games, now. Glennon has to continue to improve, the Bucs have to continue to win. You can say he lost 13 of 14 while ignoring his winning his first six of 10. But if he wins 6 of 8 down the stretch with several games against teams vying for playoff spots then yes, that matters just as much and is tougher to ignore.
No one is saying it's good enough. That 6-10 or 5-11 or 3-13 is acceptable for this franchise. But I've been through the history of this team when it changed coaches and quarterbacks every couple of years. It never works.
Until the Glazers bought this team and gave Tony Dungy the chance to prove himself to his team and turn around this franchise. Until they showed that patience to let the young team mature and believe in their coach. It didn't change.
Sometimes you have to take a step back before you can make that giant leap forward.