Commentary | Bucs trying to write second chorus of The Ballad of Bobby Rainey

adell@bradenton.comNovember 24, 2013 

TAMPA

The Ballad of Bobby Rainey gets a second chorus.

It's a reason to turn on the television Sunday when the shipwrecked Tampa Bay Buccaneers sail into the Lions Den to take on Detroit.

Did you get your Bobby bobblehead doll?

It's a two-for-one bargain.

You get Bucs head coach Greg Schiano hanging by a noose while Bobby comes to the rescue on his white horse.

But there is no ending.

Does Bobby really want to save his coach?

If Schiano returns next season, Doug Martin is likely to be the feature back, and Mike James, if healthy, is the backup.

The Ballad of Bobby doesn't like that ending.

Love doesn't matter.

It's all about wins for Schiano and stats for everyone else.

Rainey ran for 163 yards last week, and Detroit hasn't allowed a 100-yard rusher all season.

That's what makes this game must-watch television.

There is a quintet of soap operas hanging in the balance.

Schiano and Bobby are fighting for their jobs along with quarterback Mike Glennon.

If Darrelle Revis can have a solid day against Detroit's mercurial receiver, Calvin Johnson, the Bucs cornerback greatly enhances his chances of getting another $16 million next season.

A lot of people want the Bucs to tank their last six games. It means one of next year's NFL draft sweethearts could be calling Tampa home.

This is the most important game to date for the Save Schiano Mission.

The Bucs are 2-8 after breaking their eight-game losing streak, but they came against the Miami conspiracy theorists and the sorry-we-are-closed-for-the-holiday Falcons.

Tampa Bay faced two piñata quarterbacks in Ryan Tannehill and Matt Ryan. Today, they face Matthew Stafford, who is the least-sacked starting quarterback in the NFL.

Detroit is 6-4 and leading the NFC North.

They got the big names in Megatron, Stafford, Reggie Bush and Nate Burleson.

On defense, they have a nasty pass rusher in Ndamukong Suh, who eats quarterbacks for lunch. He has a ruthless Mafioso henchman in Nick Fairley.

But here is the good part for Schiano.

He could pull off a win because last week against Pittsburgh, the Detroit defense played like paper tigers.

It was no mistake.

The Lions rank 30th in sacks with 16 and allowed the 2013 version of Ben Roethlisberger to stand upright as he torched Detroit's pass defense.

Schiano went into his election day rhetoric last week, warning the Lions are ferocious as a pack of wild wolves, sacks or no sacks.

The Lions' lack of a rush should give Glennon time to throw and the 6-foot-7 giant has a lot at stake. If Schiano gets fired, Glennon wants to show the new coach he is NFL worthy.

The Bucs have a built-in excuse to lose. Starting safety Dashon Goldson has been suspended, starting linebacker Mason Foster is out with a concussion, and rookie cornerback Johnthan Banks' health chart has seen better days.

The Glennon Mob has been raving about its erstwhile hero in much the same way people hoisted champagne glasses for a guy named Josh Freeman not so long ago.

The warning here is to be careful what you wish for because you might get it.

The Lions are 30th in the league in pass defense, and the Bucs are 30th in pass offense. The intriguing part is that the Bucs run game has picked up dramatically in the last three games. But the Lions are ranked fifth in run defense.

Detroit is hungry to make amends for its ghastly performance against Pittsburgh and has a chance to win a division title for the first time in two decades.

The Bucs have an opportunity to add a new version to the Ballad of Bobby Rainey and perhaps save their coach's job, if that matters to anyone not named Gerald McCoy or Goldson.

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

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