Buccaneers vs Seahawks: Takeaways from Tampa Bay's 27-24 Loss to Seattle
The Buccaneers scored 21 unanswered points in the second quarter of the game, including a jump pass from running back Mike James to tight end Tom Crabtree. But they would allow Seattle to score 27 of the next 30 points to storm back to a victory.
Apart from the depressing reality of suffering such a letdown against a formidable opponent, there are both positives and negatives to be learned from Sunday's performance.
Let's start with the man under center for Tampa Bay as we consider the things we learned from this game.
Mike Glennon May Have a Future as a Starting Quarterback
Considering that he was playing in a hostile environment as a rookie with a depleted offense, it would have been easy to excuse a poor game from Mike Glennon.
But after completing 17 of 23 passes for 168 yards and two touchdowns, there's a different discussion to be had about the first-year signal-caller. Can he become a franchise quarterback?
Sunday's game leaves the answer to that question squarely at "maybe." He has still yet to prove he's reliable on deep throws, and he showed a lack of decisiveness against Seattle, but he was composed and extended plays to find open receivers and make good decisions.
The Buccaneers will have a lot of tough decisions to make in the offseason, and Glennon wants to give them yet another tough choice. With a potentially talented draft class at quarterback on the horizon, can Glennon force the hand of the Tampa Bay front office and keep his job for another season?
At this point, he probably hasn't done enough. But Sunday's game was a step in the right direction.
Mike James Is a Worthy Replacement for Doug Martin
After Mike James' impressive display against the Seahawks, Martin may want to relax and take his time.
The sixth-round rookie from the University of Miami carried the ball 28 times for 158 yards against a strong Seattle defense, threw a touchdown pass on a trick play and hauled in two receptions of his own.
James has the same sort of running style as his predecessor, Martin. He's a hard runner with good burst, and he's always falling forward and gaining the extra yard at the end of the play.
The Buccaneers will have plenty of depth at running back over the next few seasons as the young duo of Martin and James combine to chew up the clock and set up the passing game for Tampa Bay.
Tim Wright Is a Rising Star at Tight End
Most Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans were puzzled by the decision to keep Tim Wright on the roster when the season began. The converted wide receiver from Rutgers seemed to be a project player more suited for the practice squad than the active roster.
But after losing multiple tight ends to injuries, Wright was pressed into action and has learned on the fly. He's now become a viable receiving threat on an offense that badly needed a secondary option to Vincent Jackson.
Wright hauled in four passes for 58 yards and a touchdown against Seattle, showing a good rapport with his quarterback when he caught a back-shoulder throw in the end zone for a score. He has a wide receiver skill set and is a nightmare to cover for linebackers.
If he can continue to improve as a blocker, he will be a key fixture in the Tampa Bay lineup moving forward.
Offensive Line Was Improved Against a Talented Front Seven
According to Football Outsiders' DVOA statistics (which measure the impact an offense or defense has while taking into consideration down, distance, and other key factors), the Seattle defensive line was ranked 13th against the run and sixth against the pass entering Sunday's game.
Considering those statistics, the Tampa Bay offensive line performed better than expected and deserves recognition.
There were huge running lanes for Mike James throughout the game, and Mike Glennon usually had sufficient time to throw. He was sacked three times, but otherwise found himself in a relatively clean pocket, or with an option to get outside the pocket and extend the play.
The Bucs were without All-Pro guard Carl Nicks once again and have been dealing with other injuries on the line all season. But the group of linemen who were active for Sunday's game gave a valiant effort that showed a lot of guts against a talented defense.
Mark Barron Had a Career Game
With Dashon Goldson sitting out due to a knee injury, the safety position was lacking depth and talent. Only former first-round draft choice Mark Barron remained as a bastion of hope that the deepest players in the Tampa Bay defense could make plays against Seattle.
Barron did just that on Sunday.
The Alabama product registered 10 tackles, one assisted tackle, two passes defensed and an interception against the Seahawks. He was active and disruptive to the Seattle offense, making plays at or near the line of scrimmage on multiple occasions.
Barron is still getting acclimated to life in the NFL, and it's fair to say his pass coverage skills still need some work. But Sunday's performance showed that he's a talented player who is fully capable of getting up the field to stop the run and make plays against short to intermediate passes.
Defensive Line Got No Pressure on Russell Wilson
Not a single member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers recorded a sack on Sunday, and that allowed Russell Wilson and company to eventually settle into the game and move the ball down the field.
Wilson was forced to run out of the pocket from time to time, but never was there a play where it seemed like the Seattle quarterback was truly at risk of taking a sack. And even when he did face pressure, it was often on blitzes, and never on plays where the defensive line was rushing alone.
Part of that is due to Wilson's incredible poise in the pocket, but the rest can be attributed to a lack of talent and poor scheming defensively for Tampa Bay. The defensive linemen just aren't creating sufficient pressure to disrupt opposing offenses.
The Buccaneers started off the season with a flurry of sacks and pressures on the quarterback, but as teams studied the defensive game plan for the Bucs, they learned how to neutralize the pass rush.
Defensive Breakdowns Cost the Buccaneers
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers missed tackles, failed to break contain and committed costly penalties on their way to a depressing defeat despite an early lead.
There are talented players at every level of the Tampa Bay defense, but talent can be trumped by poor execution. That's what happened to the Buccaneers on Sunday.
Early in the game, the Bucs allowed drives to extend due to costly personal foul and pass interference penalties. On the first scoring drive of the game for Seattle, the Seahawks benefited from 44 yards from flags on an 80-yard drive and then an extra 15 on the ensuing kickoff.
Later in the game, it was missed tackles and poor containment of Russell Wilson that let the Bucs down. On the game-tying drive in the fourth quarter, both Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin made potential tacklers miss on key red-zone passing plays.
The Buccaneers are far too talented to be let down by poor fundamentals, but that's exactly what happened on Sunday.
The Buccaneers Were Outcoached in the Second Half
In the first half, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers seemed to have it all figured out.
They were being creative with their play-calling, mixing in fake (and real) reverses and a halfback jump pass on offense, and the defense was containing Russell Wilson and keeping Golden Tate out of the game.
There was a pleasant mix of aggressive decisions, like a surprise onside kick, and smart football, like Mike James' 17 carries for 82 yards as a part of a balanced offense.
Then, the second half happened.
The play-calling on offense reverted to poor route combinations that left Mike Glennon as a sitting duck in the pocket, and the running game was largely abandoned, as James would carry the ball 11 more times despite holding a lead.
The team would be forced to punt late in the game after failing to convert on a 3rd-and-short on which they elected to throw (and run deep routes) rather then stick with their proven running attack.
The Seahawks would tie the game on their ensuing possession.
Greg Schiano and his crew of coaches have proven one thing during their time in the NFL: They're capable of wasting some of the best talent the league has to offer.
This team is too good to be 0-8.