TAMPA, Fla. – One time might have been an exception. Two times might have been a fluke.
But string three shaky performances by a rookie quarterback together and it sure looks like a trend.
No matter how the Tampa Bay Buccaneers spin it – and they certainly tried – Mike Glennon took several steps backward in Sunday’s 33-14 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Following back-to-back rough outings against Carolina and Buffalo, Glennon on Sunday completed 18 of 34 passes for 179 yards and two touchdowns, with one interception.
The numbers don’t do justice to how pedestrian Glennon and the offense looked while falling behind 17-0 before finally stringing together a scoring drive at the end of the first half. That’s where the postgame spin came in.
"I don’t think he took steps back today," coach Greg Schiano said of Glennon. "The only way we moved the ball was when we went to two-minute and no-huddle, and Mike’s the one who controlled the whole operation, moving it down the field against arguably one of the top three defenses in the league. We didn’t perform in some areas. But I think Mike gave us the spark."
Yeah, the drive at the end of the first half was nice. So was a lengthy drive at the end of the third quarter that wound up with Glennon throwing a touchdown pass to Tim Wright on the first play of the fourth quarter to cut San Francisco’s lead to 20-14.
But the NFL plays a 60-minute game, and the most telling statistic of the day might have been that the 49ers held the ball for 39:50, while the Bucs had it for 20:10. Glennon wasn’t getting any help from the running game.
While the Bucs were going three-and-out on most of their early possessions, Glennon, whose strength is supposed to be the deep ball, was throwing mostly dump-offs.
"I just go through my progression," Glennon said. "If my progression takes me there, that’s where I’m going to go. With the style of defense they play, we just had to get completions and kind of play that kind of game. We knew it was going to be tough to throw the ball down the field."
Virtually all of Glennon’s success came when the Bucs went with a hurry-up offense. That makes it fair to question whether the Bucs should be putting more on Glennon’s plate.
"I don’t think we’re playing around him," Schiano said. "I think he’s got the full playbook. Can we do more? We have done some. What we went to today was true no-huddle because we felt that was one thing we had some success with at the end of the half and we said, 'Let’s be ready to jump into it.' We did it all but one series in the third and fourth quarters. The problem is they had a 10-minute drive in the fourth quarter. They played keep-away, which is what you worry about with that offensive football team because they’re capable."
But, for most of the day, Tampa Bay’s offense wasn’t capable of doing its job.