Commentary | The winner of Sunday's Bucs-Bills game might be the loser

adell@bradenton.comDecember 8, 2013 


It's the 3-9 Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the 4-8 Buffalo Bills.

Insomniacs desperate for a few hours sleep are expected to be in abundance, hoping the game will do for them what their doctors couldn't.

Conspiracy theorists will be there to look into the eyes of each general manager and ask, "Didn't you really want to lose?"

Herm Edwards will be present to admit we don't always play to win the game.

If the NFL season shut down Sunday morning, the Bucs would have the No. 5 pick in the 2014 NFL draft, and the Bills would get the ninth.

The maligned Jacksonville North Floridians (aka Jaguars) would be picking after the Bucs.

Do you really want to upset this apple cart?

Finishing 5-11 is not much prettier than 3-13, and 3-13 gets a better prize.

But Bucs head coach Greg Schiano and his adopted son, Mike Glennon, have a lot at stake. So does Buffalo's E.J. Manuel.

Manuel was the first quarterback drafted last spring out of Florida State and a first-round pick. Glennon is a third-round pick and the third quarterback chosen.

Glennon is the best rookie quarterback in the NFL this year, which is like saying Rosie O'Donnell is the best contestant in your local beauty pageant.

This matchup means a lot to Schiano because it gives him the chance to show he is a genius at evaluating talent.

Manuel has been inconsistent and reminds people of the Jets' Geno Smith, the second quarterback chosen. Smith has yet to learn at which color uniform he is supposed to throw.

Glennon had his worst game last week against Carolina, and those who were drinking his Kool-Aid have put down their cups.

He is the third most-pressured quarterback in the league and rightly so. After the Bucs ran the ball down the throats of their

opponents with a Wal-Mart trio of running backs during their three-game winning streak, defenses loaded the box. They are daring the Joe Flacco look-alike to throw.

The Bills lead the league with 43 sacks, but they are allowing 25.6 points per game, which ranks 24th. It makes them look like a paper tiger.

The Bills could be very accommodating to Glennon. They are 1-4 on the road and rank 24th in run defense, which feeds into Schiano's run-till-you-die mantra.

In their last two games, the Jets (5.8 yards per carry) and Falcons (5.0) chewed up the Bills as if they were running against ghosts.

The Bills rank 30th in time of possession, keeping the ball for fewer than 28 minutes per game. It puts a lot of stress on a defense that is already stressed out.

The Bucs' Bobby Rainey looked like the second coming of Barry Sanders when he ran for 163 yards against Atlanta, but in his two games since, against Detroit and Carolina, he has totaled 98 yards on 35 carries.

The Bills rank second in rushing attempts and are fourth with 1,458 yards rushing, led by their duo of C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson.

Schiano likes to run and take shots down the field with long passes. He will likely have to adjust with quicker, shorter passes because the Bills don't give quarterbacks time to sneeze.

The Bucs have picked off 17 passes. The Bills have 16 interceptions and have allowed 5.7 yards per pass attempt, which ranks ninth.

"You are not going to stand back there very long with the football," Schiano said. "We need to get rid of the ball and that comes down to reading it out, which Mike has been very good at. The accuracy is going to allow your receivers to run after the catch."

Against Atlanta last week, the more time Manuel had to throw the less effective he was. He completed just 4 of 12 passes when he had 2.6 seconds or more to throw, but 70 percent of his passes when he had 2.5 seconds or less to throw. It's been a season-long trend.

But here is the most intriguing story line of the day.

Schiano sent out a plea to fans to rev up their vocal chords in an attempt to disrupt Buffalo's no-huddle offense.

It could mean Raymond James Stadium will be a chamber of silence if those reports of rampant fan discontent are true. It's their opportunity to send Schiano back to Rutgers or anyplace that will grant him asylum.

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

Bradenton Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service