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Bucs - Bills: 10 Things We Think We Learned

The Bucs won again but...

Scott Cunningham

Only the Bucs could make a blowout victory feel ugly. It was a weird feeling for Bucs fans leaving Raymond James Stadium on Sunday. They wanted to be happy their team had a dominant victory over the hapless Buffalo Bills but there were just so many trouble things about the ballgame it was difficult to enjoy.

Now, the Bucs certainly haven't won enough in 2013 to be picky about a victory. No game in the NFL is easy - even against a team that has more problems than the Bucs' have.

The scary truth is had it not been for a dominant performance by the Bucs defense, Tampa Bay could have easily lost to THAT team.

Then again, had Lavonte David not pushed Geno Smith out of bounds, if Rian Lindell could make a fourth quarter field goal and if the defense could have protected double digit leads second half leads against Arizona and Seattle this team would be 8-5 instead of 4-9 and we'd all be feeling a lot different.

But it didn't go down that way. The Bucs defense bludgeoned a rookie QB into submission and really just needed their offense to get out of the way.

For the most part, they did.

What else did we learn this week?

1. The Pro Bowl voting is gal-darn joke. Anyone with two eyeballs and half sense can clearly see Lavonte David is one of the best linebackers in the NFL. The dude is second IN THE LEAGUE in interceptions. If he were a CB, he'd be a lock. But that's not all - David has also added 117 tackles, six sacks and a forced fumble to his resume. He's only the fourth player (and only linebacker) in NFL history to have six sacks and five interceptions in a season.  Think about that for a second, Buc fans. What we've seen this season from David - the great Derrick Brooks never achieved.

If Lavonte David is snubbed from the Pro Bowl, they should do away with the whole damn thing.

2. Here's a frightening stat for the Buccaneers' offense: The Bucs got 80 yards on the second play from scrimmage by mercurial running back Bobby Rainey. The other 61 plays? 166 yds - a 2.72 yards per play average. That is embarrassing on any level.

The Bucs started offensive possessions inside Buffalo's 35 yard line a remarkable six times. Tampa Bay managed just two touchdowns, two field goals, two turnovers and a bevy of missed opportunities.  Any competent offense would have had 40 points on the board at half-time.

Yet the Bucs sputtered and puttered, not able to get out of it's own way.

Now, Buffalo is no slouch on defense - they lead the league in sacks and came into the game a respectable 17th but they aren't the 2002 Bucs defense here, folks.

3. Mike Glennon was terrible - just terrible on Sunday. Even his 38 yard touchdown pass to Vincent Jackson was a wobbly duck that looked like it was thrown by a shot putter. Glennon's final tally was terrifying to look at - 9 of 25, 90 yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 ints. Yeesh. Considering the quarterback completed 36% of his passes, it was a miracle the Bucs were in this game - none the less blew out their opponent. That's two stinkers by Glennon in a row and the doubt begins to creep in (or provides confirmation for those who made up their minds some time ago). Can he be the guy? How can any quarterback who played this poorly ever be any good?

Well, Drew Brees, during his second full season as a starter in San Diego once had a game where he completed just 46.7% of his passes for 49 yards.

In his first season as a starter, Tom Brady had a game where he completed just 50% of his passes and managed 86 yds passing.

Even the great Peyton Manning had games in his rookie season where he completed 45% of his passes, threw for just 137 yds and had 2 interceptions.

Look, I'm not making excuses for Glennon. He was beyond horrible. It's a shame Gur Samuel is travelling this week because he'd have a field day with the Glennon All-22. What I'm trying to illustrate that yes - in today's social media instant news society we expected everything now and immediate.

We've lost the perspective that these guys aren't robots - they're human beings. They learn, they grow, they get better. Drew Brees didn't become Drew Bress instantly out of the box. Hell, San Diego dumped him for Phillip Rivers (although to be fair, Brees did get injured late in his final season with the Chargers).

Tom Brady sat the bench his rookie season. Andrew Luck threw 18 interceptions his rookie season. Peyton threw 28!

Aaron Rodgers didn't get his first start until his fourth season.

To expect Mike Glennon to be a Top 5 "franchise QB" instantly is sheer stupidity. He's going to have games like this. He's going to have a string of games like this. Every rookie does - even the great ones.

Some rookies come in, light the world on fire and then fizzle out (see RG III and Colin Kaepernick). Others have a steady progression to greatness. There's a process with young QBs that you have to go through some tough times to get to the good ones.

Tampa Bay has always had an affinity for the possibility of the next guy at QB. It's the ghost of the draftable quarterback. What if we keep Glennon and Teddy becomes a Hall of Famer? What if we keep Glennon and Johnny Manziel is Russell Wilson II?

But what if they're not?  What if they come in and do exactly what Mike Glennon and most other rookies in the league do - struggle?

Do you toss that guy out and go for the next hot prospect? No, you give the kid a chance to learn how to play the game. Glennon has shown enough play making ability and decision making to be a winner in the NFL.  Will he ever be Dan Marino? No. Can he be Tom Brady or Drew Brees or Peyton Manning? Highly unlikely.

But those guys are Hall of Famers. They don't come around that often. If you get one, you count yourself lucky and ride the hell out of him for a decade. Most other teams will settle for Matt Ryan. A good, not great QB that can win you games and not get you beat.

Can Glennon be a Matt Ryan? I think so. He has the skillset to do it. He just needs to learn the NFL game and put the time in the film room.

Right now he's late on delivering the football because its too fast for him right now. He's thinking to much, double clutching and second guessing himself.  He's had it ingrained in his noggin not to turn the football over and hurt his team.

By all reports, the kid loves football, has a high I.Q. and he's a film junkie. Once he gets it figured out, he has the arm to get it there.

Right now, it's hard to see the forest through the trees but there's enough there in Napoleon Quarterback that tells me if Tampa Bay needed to go with him next season - they can still win football games.

I wouldn't mind seeing a veteran backup with some starting experience coming in and helping (ala Steve DeBerg) the kid out.

4. So the meaningless win crowd has been crowing again. Yes, Buffalo is a beyond putrid football team. Yet look at the first half of the Bucs' know...where the season was lost -

Tampa Bay faced just two teams with a losing record.  Two of the teams they beat, Miami and Detroit still have playoff aspirations - but their losses to the Bucs have severely hurt their cause.

In all, Tampa Bay has played just four of their 13 games against teams with a losing record, going 2-2 in those games.

In the other 9 games, they are 2-7. No one is questioning Kansas City for beating up on sub-par competition.

In the end, they don't ask how you got them, just how many.

Had the Bucs found a way to lose to Buffalo - it truly would have been curtains for Greg Schiano.  That, in itself, made this game meaningful at least to the current regime.

If Schiano is going to make it, he needs to win two more times (in my opinion). That means they'll need to beat either New Orleans or San Francisco along with St. Louis.

You finish the season 6-2, that's something to build on. You finish the season 6-2 and you've set a foundation of success that can carry over into 2014.

4-12 doesn't give you that warm and fuzzy. 5-11 is meh, it might buy him a little time but I personally wouldn't keep him. 6-10 - it isn't acceptable but after the way this season started, you'd have to give Schiano credit for keeping the team together and on a roll in the second half of the year.

I think the Bucs need a signature victory for Schiano to point to and say - hey look, even through all our adversity and injuries, we still beat THAT team and they're playing for the Super Bowl.

He'll get a shot this week against a Niners team riding high after knocking off Seattle.

5. William Gholston - where have you been? The young Bucs defensive lineman has slowly been taking more and more reps from Teo-What'sHisFace. Sunday Gholston had his coming out party, making his best Michael Bennett impression. The rookie out of Michigan State celebrated Sparty's victory over the Ohio State University by wreaking havoc on Buffalo, finishing with four tackles, 1.5 sacks, a batted down pass and a ton of pressure.

We need to see much more of this kid and a lot less of DTN.

6. After getting goose-egged last week, Gerald McCoy was a man on fire against the Bills. Tampa Bay's defensive leader dominated the line of scrimmage, finishing with a sack, six tackles and three big hits on EJ Manuel. It's been a while since we've seen the defensive line eat like that.

McCoy should be an easy Pro Bowl selection. He has dominant numbers and name recognition.

7. So I've been critical of one Darrelle Revis the last couple of weeks but man did he lay a lick on an unsuspecting Bill on Sunday. Revis crunched the intended receiver Robert Woods, popping the ball into the air and to the waiting arms of the always around the ball Lavonte David. Revis also got his first sack as a Buc on a corner blitz that saw him fly into the picture and legally drill QB EJ Manuel.

Revis, playing with an upper body injury and a sore groin, had one of his most impactful games as a Buc. While he didn't shadow Buffalo number one Stevie Johnson the entire game, the Bucs had some interesting new wrinkles on using Revis that we hadn't seen before.

8. The final numbers for the defense were pretty impressive. Only 214 total yards surrendered, 7 sacks and 4 interceptions. They held the powerful Bills rushing attack to just 67 yards, most of which came on 10 yd scramble by Manuel. Buffalo pounded at the Bucs' front seven but averaged just 3 yards a carry.

Manuel was just as bad as Glennon throwing the ball - worse if you account for the turnovers.  While he completed 18 of 34 passes for 184 yards, he had no touchdown drives and threw the four picks.

Buffalo only had two drives for more than 50 yards.

9. The Buccaneers will have an interesting predicament in 2014 in regards to their running game. Doug Martin will be back, Mike James (assuming things go well) could be a factor and then there's the Legend of Bobby Rainey. Rainey has so much of Darren Sproles in him it will be hard to keep him off the football field. We all know Schiano doesn't like the running back by committee approach so if the coaching staff is retained - how does Martin and Rainey work together in the same backfield?

Its safe to assume Rainey would be a change of pace back and maybe a third down guy - but he hasn't been used in either role to this point. Can he pick up a blitz? He's had to a couple times with mixed results.

Both Martin and Rainey give the Bucs home run capability and that's a quality not easy to find.

Then there's Mike James, who was running pretty well himself before going down to injury. Where does he fit in the scheme of things?

10. Speaking of the future - the Bucs tumbled to 9th in the 2014 draft order due to their strength of schedule. Yes fans, the Bucs have failed at being terrible. Unfortunately for Tampa Bay, it's a bad year to be bad because you're in a lot of company.  I honestly can't remember a final month of a season where nine teams came into the final three weeks with four wins or less.

It won't finish that way, of course. Some of the bad teams will face each other and someone's got to win, right? Still, it goes to show you that chasing the draft pick or "tanking" doesn't really guarantee you much.

At 9th, barring a trade up the Bucs are out of range for Teddy Bridgewater or Jadeveon Clowney.  Anthony Barr will be long gone, as will some of those moose offensive linemen that could help if the Bucs change General Managers or Mark Dominik re-thinks his "don't draft o-linemen" philosophy.

Maybe Eric Ebron, the big TE out of North Carolina could be an option.

Of course, the Bucs could trade up. Would you trade a 1st, a 2nd and next year's one to move up to number two and steal Clowney from the Falcons?

The Falcons made a bold move a couple years ago for Julio Jones - perhaps it's time the Bucs did the same.

Should be an interesting final three weeks.