Commentary | Winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers lack direction

September 30, 2013 

Cardinals Buccaneers Football

Arizona Cardinals kicker Jay Feely (4) kicks what proved to be a game-winning 27-yard field goal against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game on Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013, in Tampa, Fla. The Cardinals won the game 13-10. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)



The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 0-4 and going nowhere.

Head coach Greg Schiano tried to change the team's direction by giving quarterback Mike Glennon his first NFL start.

Unfortunately for the Bucs, it looked like a re-run of a season-long nightmare.

Glennon threw two interceptions in the fourth quarter, which led to the Bucs' 13-10 loss to Arizona on Sunday.

Some of his mistakes were similar to those made by deposed Josh Freeman fueling more speculation that the team's problems go way beyond the quarterback.

So what is the problem?

Patrick Peterson, who picked off both of Glennon's interceptions, might have provided the answer.

The Bucs were leading 10-3 and had a second and six from their own 11-yard line with 3:23 left in the game. They were having their way with quarterback Carson Palmer and could've played it safe, run the

ball twice and punted with not a lot of time left on the clock.

They called for Glennon to a throw a short pass in the middle, and Peterson picked it off. On the next play, Arizona tied the game on a 13-yard pass to Larry Fitzgerald.

Glennon said it was a good call, and Schiano typically wouldn't second guess himself.

You can debate the merits of the decision to throw, but Peterson added a new dimension, which might explain why the Bucs have lost three close games.

A two-time Pro Bowl and All-Pro selection last year in his second season, Peterson said he recognized the play from practice.

"I saw the quarterback looking my way. He's a young quarterback, so he's going to telegraph his throws, and once Vincent Jackson made his break, I kind of undercut it, and I became the receiver and made a play on the ball," Peterson said. "We saw that route almost every day of the week (last week), and it finally paid off. He (Glennon) was looking at Vincent pretty much the whole time."

With a rookie quarterback, you play it safe, especially when the game appears to be in hand.

Poor decisions late in the game have haunted the Bucs.

The Bucs' defense played well for nearly all game for the third time this season and held Arizona to one third-down conversion in 10 attempts.

There is a fine line between winning and losing in the NFL, but too many losses will tear a team apart, and right now the Bucs' locker room is fragile.

"We can't turn on each other. It's times like this where you see teams start to crumble because internally they start to implode," Bucs Pro Bowl defensive lineman Gerald McCoy said. "We can't do that. We have to get stronger, look in the mirror, see what we did as individuals wrong, what we can do better and then lift each other up."

In benching Freeman, Schiano continued to say it's not just the quarterback, and he is right.

"Certainly we're being tested, but we've got to stick together, and we'll win," said a despondent-looking Schiano after the game. "We did a lot of things very well, but just did too many things wrong. It starts with me."

With a rookie making his first start at quarterback, the Bucs' game plan was to rely on Doug Martin. Arizona knew it, and the second-year running back had his worse day as a pro, averaging 1.7 yards per carry with 45 yards rushing on 27 attempts.

The Bucs head into a much-needed bye week, and there is frustration. They have lost three games by a combined six points.

Glennon did as well as might be expected.

But he still didn't seem to understand what happened on his first interception that turned the game around.

"I just had to put the ball about a foot in front of Vincent, and that's the difference. He was open. The read took me there," Glennon said. "It was a great play call, and I just have to put the ball one foot in front."

Schiano shrugged off the call.

"When it works, you're happy, and you win the game, and when it doesn't, you say 'I wish we would've done something different.' But again, I'll say it over and over, at the time we make decisions, we go with them," he said.

Alan Dell, Herald sports writer, can be reached at 941-745-7080, ext. 7056. Follow him on Twitter at @ADellSports.

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