Commentary | Schiano firmly entrenched in job after Tampa Bay Buccaneers win over Buffalo

adell@bradenton.comDecember 9, 2013 

TAMPA

He stood at the podium wearing his familiar stoic demeanor.

That's all Greg Schiano allows most people to see.

If he was beaming inside, he wasn't going to let you know.

You could never tell that Schiano all but guaranteed his return next season as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach with his 27-6 victory over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.

It was the Bucs' fourth victory in their last five games.

It doesn't erase the eight straight Tampa Bay lost to open the season -- and to his credit, Schiano wasn't going to proclaim a turnaround.

When somebody asked the second-year head coach if his team was better now, he side-stepped the question.

"We are finding ways to win the game. Against good teams (earlier in the year), we were in games, but found ways to lose," Schiano said. "Literally, you look at it and say we invented ways to lose

some games. I'm just worried about where we are now."

Where the Bucs are now is firmly in the hands of Schiano, which makes a significant amount of people unhappy.

But Schiano picked up some equity with his win, especially with his defense.

The unit got a helping hand from Bills quarterback EJ Manuel, who made all the Bucs fans glad their team wasn't the one that made him the only quarterback selected in the first round of this year's draft.

Manuel contributed to his own demise.

But Schiano says putting a quarterback in an uncomfortable position is often more effective than getting a sack.

"It all comes down to making the quarterback just a little bit uncomfortable," Schiano said. "It's not always sacks, sometimes it's just getting that hand in the quarterback's face so he has to alter his release just a little. The defensive guys are doing a great job of mixing up coverages. It's the pass rush and pass coverage working together."

Schiano needed this game more than anyone at Raymond James Stadium. The Bucs are a not-so-pretty 4-9 and beat a Buffalo team that has lost five of six road games. But Tampa is sprouting wings of hope.

The Bucs have three games left and will be the underdog in each, starting with San Francisco on Sunday in their home finale.

Quarterback Mike Glennon didn't have a particularly good day, but Bucs fans were glad to have him running their offense instead of the guy on the other side of the field.

Manuel threw four interceptions and was sacked seven times. Glennon threw two picks and was sacked only once by a Bills team that came into the game leading the NFL with 43 sacks.

"To only give up one sack shows how well our offensive line did," Glennon said. "Some of those balls I would like to have back. Our offensive line played great and then to prevent the number one team in the league in sacks to one, that was real important for us. We did what we needed to do as an offense."

The Bucs have beaten only two teams with a winning record, and they are both 7-6 (Miami, Detroit) so you don't know where this is all going.

You can only give defenses so much credit, and this was an ugly football game. With less than four minutes left in the first half, Manuel's quarterback rating was 10.8 and Glennon's 29.4.

In one stretch of the second quarter on three straight possessions, there were two interceptions by the Bucs and one by the Bills.

You could argue this was just the result of two rookie quarterbacks trying to find their way in the middle of the night.

Manuel took responsibility but gave credit to the Bucs.

"They (Bucs) had some twists, and that's what they do," Manuel said. "They have a lot of talent on their D-line. But we just got to get better man, plain and simple. We have to do better at our protections. I have to do a better job first of getting the ball off of my hands to the correct people."

For Schiano, it was as if someone took him off his respirator and canceled the last train out of town.

"It was a good team victory. We've got a huge challenge to try to win four straight at home here to end the season. That's something our players really want to do," he said.

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

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