Commentary | Tampa Bay Buccaneers approach mediocrity, but is that enough?

December 11, 2013 

If only winning were so simple.

After beating the NCAA look-alike Buffalo Bills on Sunday, Tampa Bay's beloved Bucs plummeted down Roger Goodell's totem pole.

The Bucs had the fifth overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft when the crows awoke Sunday. Now they have the ninth.

The problem for the Bucs is that quarterback Mike Glennon is sliding down the slope faster than you can say "please come back, Greg."

The Bucs are 4-1 in their last five games, but let's put that into perspective.

This is in the NFL and teams win games no matter how bad they are: Since 2009, only one team finished with one victory, six finished with two wins and one with three. Everyone else had at least four.

Glennon has gotten worse: The guy who was supposed to make it all right to win and not worry about selecting a Teddy (Bridgewater) or a Johnny Football (Manziel) has regressed.

Things are so bad that Bucs head coach Greg Schiano sent him home and told him not to return for a couple of days.

Maybe Schiano wanted Glennon to get the cobwebs out of his head or sneak a look at the draft without hurting his quarterback's feelings.

Better-than-average rookie quarterbacks usually suffer a downturn in their sophomore year after defensive coordinators have an offseason to decipher their skill set.

NFL teams might already have figured out Glennon.

Glennon has faced some pretty good defenses in recent weeks in the Detroit Lions, Carolina Panthers and even the broken Bills, who love to blitz so much they often don't check to see if the back door is locked.

Schiano has done his best to provide cover for Glennon. "Rookies do this; rookies do that. He played a like rookie," the New Jersey tough guy has chirped.

But he couldn't hide Glennon's woeful numbers from the Buffalo game.

Schiano does not know how to maximize his talent: Among the teams that have four wins or fewer, the Bucs have the

most talent. Their defense is among the best and has been relatively healthy. They lead the league with 21 interceptions and in takeaways (29), but are one of only two teams that have losing records among the top 10 in takeaways.

It is similar to last year, when the Bucs were one of two teams among the top seven in takeaways that had a losing record.

History has shown turnovers come and go season by season and if this team manages only four victories with all these breaks, what's going to happen next year; only Seattle has been in the top five in takeaways the past three years.

Opponents have significantly helped the Bucs get turnovers: This is a simple truth, especially with Buffalo quarterback E.J. Manuel and Detroit's Matthew Stafford.

Stafford has proven to be one of the most reckless quarterbacks in the league, and the Bucs caught him at the right time. Give the Bucs defense credit, but Stafford and Manuel account for eight of Tampa's interceptions.

Stafford has lost three out of his past four games, including the defeat against the Bucs and is 31st in completion percentage. In the fourth quarter of this four-game stretch, he has completed just 11 of 44 passes with two touchdowns and three interceptions.

To their credit, the Bucs are approaching mediocrity and can beat mediocre teams, albeit sometimes with a little luck.

The Bucs have yet to get a signature win under Schiano -- sorry, last year's game against Atlanta, which had nothing to play for, does not qualify.

They get their chance Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers.

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

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