Yesterday, Today And TomorrowOctober 21st, 2013
In three days the Bucs host the Stinking Panthers. Does anyone expect the Bucs to win?
Last Sunday, immediately following the Bucs’ loss to the Beagles, Joe went on the field to get a sense of how the crowd reacted to Bucs coach Greg Schiano as he left the field. Joe was shocked by the brutality. The crowd was somewhat quiet until a guy barked at Schiano and then the mob joined in.
Last year Joe did the same to see how the crowd reacted to then-Bucs franchise quarterback Josh Freeman after one of his worst games of his career, when the Bucs lost to the brutal Beagles (again) and rookie quarterback Nick Foles. Oh, it was nasty, no question. But it paled in comparison to the response Schiano got a little over a week ago.
This could get worse. Since it is a night game, you just know the fans will be well-lubricated. It could get ugly. If Team Glazer is not embarrassed enough now, this potential debacle will be on NFL Network, who has a makeshift studio desk on field level. They will get to hear the crowd up close and personal.
Quarterbacking: Joe has nothing against Mike Glennon. Great guy. Has some talent at quarterback. But if you think Glennon can get the Bucs to the Promised Land, either you are looking at the world through pewter and red glasses or you are a card-carrying member of the Mike Glennon Mob.
Glennon is a nice quarterback. A backup quarterback right now. With so many stud quarterbacks coming out of the draft next year, Joe would be a little surprised if the Bucs did not draft another QB to groom as the franchise guy next year. Imagine the possibilities if you are the new Bucs coach. You get to pick the quarterback you want to grow with. Not too many teams will afford a coach that opportunity.
Schiano may not have lost Bucs publicly: The Bucs are still playing hard. Still in games. But Schiano said a few things yesterday that made Joe believe the players have, for the most part, tuned him out. He talked about how he keeps repeating the same things week after week in order to stop the sloppy play and the penalties. Yet they continue to happen week after week.
That tells Joe Schiano and his 73 1/2 assistants are either talking to a bunch of wooden heads and/or they aren’t listening. If they intentionally are not listening, then Schiano’s words go in one ear and out the other.
Listless endorsement: Reporters approached candid Mike Williams, asking about Schiano’s decision to go for a field goal with five minutes left in the game and the Bucs down 14 points. It was controversial at the time. Rather than saying, “Yeah, I was good with what coach did,” Williams said in so many words, he doesn’t make those decisions and that is why Team Glazer hires coaches.
Williams routinely is quick to defend his teammates. So Williams’ less than giddy endorsement of Schiano kicking the field goal made Joe’s eyebrows raise.
Implosion: Former Bucs guard Jorge Diaz called the Bucs’ sloppy playyesterday a “total implosion.” It’s hard to argue.
This is what drives Joe crazy about the New Schiano Order. He is supposed to be such a disciplinarian yet his team plays so ill-disciplined. To Joe, that is another sign the Bucs aren’t exactly giving Schiano and his 69 coaches their full attention. In other words, they are starting to check out.
Another back: Some Bucs fans believe Schiano is running stud running back Doug Martin into the ground. That’s not an absurd theory. Running backs have limited tread on the tires.
So when Martin hurt his shoulder trying to haul in a pass near the goal line, Joe, and likely many Bucs fans, were pleasantly surprised to see backup Mike James run with some authority and speed and a little shiftiness. If anything else, it makes one wonder why James doesn’t get the ball more in order to spell Martin a few times a game to keep him fresh.
What was also neat was James locking up a blitzing defender in order for Glennon to make a key completion. Perhaps if and when Martin comes back (no, he should not play Thursday night with a bum shoulder), James will still earn more snaps, thus keeping some tread on Martin’s tires.
Going for three: Initially, Joe was beside himself when Schiano, with five minutes left and down by 14, decided to go for a field goal. Sure, players with their heads up their arses committing penalties pushed the Bucs to a 4th-and-23 corner, but at the time, Joe was lobbying for a Hail Mary. The Bucs needed seven.
But Schiano’s reasoning was sound on second thought. He noted that the Bucs had a 10 percent chance of getting six. So kick the field goal, hold the Dixie Chicks, score and recover an onside kick. It nearly played out the way Schiano envisioned. Except for recovering the onside kick — another field goal and the late touchdown.
Doing it right: Schiano said after the game he believes he and his coaching staff do things right. Well, if that is the case, how do losses mount week after week after week after week for nearly a full three months of NFL play?
The definition of insanity is going the same thing over and over while expecting a different result.
No return: The way a No. 3 receiver burned the Bucs, and how the Bucs (with a week to prepare) facing an injury-ravaged Dixie Chicks, got completely taken out of the game in the first half. It was as if the Bucs were playing the 1978 Steelers. Joe would have thought without Julio Jones and without Roddy White, the Dixie Chicks would be stymied offensively. Instead, the Dixie Chicks offense sliced through the Bucs defense like a butcher.
If ever the Bucs were facing a winnable game, it was yesterday. Instead of winning, they got spanked. Joe’s going to guess that game sealed the fate of Schiano.
What’s up with the penalties?: Joe will ask again, how can a man like Schiano, who preaches discipline like a priest trumpets abstinence, lead a team that plays so sloppy and undisciplined? Yesterday, the Bucs committed 11 penalties. That simply is unacceptable and suggests to Joe some Bucs are tuning out Coach Toes-On-The-Line.
Sackless: The Dixie Chicks had a makeshift offensive line as well. What can Joe say when a team is so desperate, human turnstile Jeremy Trueblood started? And how many sacks did the Bucs defensive linemen tally yesterday? Big fat goose egg. None. The Bucs’ defensive line has a grand total of six sacks through six games. That is inexcusable, especially playing what the Dixie Chicks called an offensive line yesterday.
It is high time someone issues an Amber Alert for Da’Quan Bowers.
Around the NFL
Colts: Well, well, well. In a big game, Peyton Manning watched his opposing quarterback win. This time it was rising star Andrew Luck and his ugly neckbeard. Luck really is the complete package. He’s almost as good as Aaron Rodgers. Almost.
Seahawks: They just keep on rolling. If it isn’t Russell Wilson it is Marshawn Lynch or Richard Sherman. Studs all up and down the lineup. Is there a better team in the NFC? The Bucs head to Seattle in two weeks.
Carolina: Simply crushed a lesser team in the Rams. That’s what good team do. Steve Smith isn’t yet over the hill, and damn those linebackers. If Cam Newton gets rolling Thursday night against the Bucs, look out.
Bengals: Mock Andy Dalton all you want. He is in the process of leading the Bengals to the playoffs for the third time in his three-year career. Meanwhile Josh Freeman will be playoff-less as he finishes his fifth year as a pro.
Chargers: No surprise the Bolts beat the lowly Jags, but man, Ken Whisenhunt has really turned around Philip Rivers’ career.
Bills: Could Buffalo, with a rookie quarterback, make a run at the playoffs? Still pretty early but still pretty impressive what the Bills are doing.
Jets: Man, there just is no figuring out the Jets. A strong team one week, a weak kitten the next. Joe had to laugh how the Jets beat Belicheat in overtime and the gall Belicheat had to scream his team was hosed by the zebras. The nerve!
Cowboys: So Tony Romo has the Cowboys in first place in perhaps the worst division in the NFL? Color Joe unimpressed.
Redskins: You can tell Rod Marinelli is nowhere near Chicago any longer if the beat up Redskins can hang 45 on the Bears. RGIII just had a lights out day.
49ers: After a hiccup earlier this season, they are rolling again. This despite Colin Kaepernick really have a few pedestrian games of late. Wonder if Jim Harbaugh allows Kaepernick to kiss his biceps if he doesn’t throw for 200 yards?
Packers: The team to beat in the NFC North, it really is that simple, especially now that the Packers offense is a more diverse. Oh, and the Packers are winning despite not having Clay Matthews available with an injury. Impressive.
Chiefs: Local guy Dexter McCluster (former Largo High teammate of Leonard Johnson’s) had a great game and the Chiefs’ strong defense came up big when they needed it. The Bucs could very well be the 2014 version of the Chiefs with the right coach.
Steelers: The demise of the Steelers was greatly exaggerated. The Men of Steel disposed of Joe Flacco and the Crows yesterday. The Steelers won’t make the playoffs, but Joe loves how a hardarse like Mike Tomlin knows how to push the right buttons unlike some other self-professed disciplinarian locally.
1) Not sure how Bucs rock star general manager Mark Dominik or anyone could pull this off, but Joe would be willing to do whatever it takes to get the first pick in the 2015 draft to land Jameis Winston. This guy is unreal. Imagine Dominik crafting a savvy plan to start loading up on draft picks to build up ammunition to make such a move. Pull a Mike Ditka if you have to.
2) Speaking of quarterbacks in the draft, there will be loads of them in 2014. Joe can see the Bucs, if a new head coach gives his blessing, drafting, say, Jake Matthews in the first round (the Bucs’ offensive line truly needs an upgrade) and then trading back into late in the first round (i.e. Doug Martin) and nabbing Johnny Football.
3) Joe had recently stated Florida State’s defense is overrated. Mea culpa. They are not. How they thrashed Clemson Saturday was a thing of beauty. It was like the old Florida State when Derrick Brooks and Chris Weinke and Deion Sanders played.
4) Before the season if someone would have told Joe that Missouri would beat Florida and Vandy would beat Georgia on the same day, Joe would have thought that person was on drugs.
5) Johnny Football damned near pulled off another miracle. Had to leave the game with a banged up shoulder but came back to run in the go-ahead touchdown for the Aggies. Then that sieve of a defense allowed Auburn to win the game. Damn, Johnny Football is fun to watch.
6) Remember the name “Jordan Lynch.”
7) OK you draftniks, Joe has a homework assignment for you. Study up on a guy named Jimmy Garoppolo. Google is your friend. Now go!
8) Joe is simply exhausted more than happy that the Cardinals advanced to yet another World Series. As much as Joe hates the BlowSux and this nonsense of stepping out of the batter’s box each and every pitch, Joe isn’t sure he can bear watching the Fall Classic.
9) Joe promises he will never make fun of Lance Lynn again. Joe’s target of wrath and scorn, Lynn may have pitched the game of his life in winning Game 3 of the NLCS. He (finally) did something to advance the Redbirds to four wins from a title. So Joe will shut up about the guy. For good.
10) Casual baseball fans, in about a week, there is a 25 percent chance Michael Wacha will be a household name.