An 85-yard touchdown pass from Mike Glennon to Tiquan Underwood in the opening minute of the fourth quarter put the Tampa Bay Buccaneers up 24-21 over the Detroit Lions and eventually gave the Bucs their third victory of the season.
Don’t look now, but the Buccaneers are on fire.
OK, at 3-8, “on fire” probably isn’t the best word for the current situation. But there are two huge ramifications from Tampa Bay’s three-game winning streak that has this team in a much better spot than it was 21 days earlier.
When Tampa Bay was winless at 0-8 and flying home from Seattle after the Bucs blew a 21-0 first-half lead against the Seahawks, just about everyone on the planet not named Greg Schiano was counting the days left on Schiano's employment as head coach.
But after three consecutive wins, including Sunday’s over what was a division-leading team before kickoff, there is growing sentiment that Schiano might be able to save his job. The odds still aren’t great that Schiano makes it to training camp next season, but as Jim Carrey’s character Lloyd Christmas famously said in Dumb & Dumber, “So, you’re telling me there’s a chance.”
What’s it going to take for Schiano to keep his job? No one really knows. There might not even be an answer for that question yet because it seemed so unlikely a few weeks ago. With games against the Carolina Panthers, San Francisco 49ers and New Orleans Saints still on the schedule among Tampa Bay’s remaining five games, it may only take two to three wins to get him off the hot seat.
Then again, there may not be a way for Schiano to stay with Tampa Bay.
The incredible thing here—and this is why there’s got to be a shot—is Schiano’s Buccaneers never gave up throughout their eight-loss streak. And now they’re on a three-game winning streak.
Another item of import, and this is the second upshot from Tampa Bay’s winning streak, is the development of Mike Glennon at quarterback.
Glennon completed 14 of 21 passes against the Lions and threw for 247 yards and two touchdowns. His passer rating of 138.4 was a career high and the third time in four games he’s been well above 100.
Pro Football Reference
Better than Glennon’s passer rating is the fact that the rookie passer isn’t making crucial, game-changing mistakes. Have there been questionable sacks or occurrences of forcing the football where it didn’t belong? Absolutely.
But Glennon’s zero-interception Sunday in Detroit was the second consecutive game where he didn’t throw a pick and the fifth instance of interception-free football in eight starts. With five games left to play, extrapolating Glennon’s numbers out to the end of the season, a pleasant storyline reveals itself.
Will Greg Schiano and Mike Glennon be with Tampa Bay in 2014 in their current roles?
At his current pace of 13 touchdown passes and four interceptions, Glennon will finish his rookie campaign with 21 touchdown throws and only six picks. That sounds remarkably similar to Josh Freeman’s 25-touchdown, six-interception season in 2010 that earned him some breathing room from doubters.
And Freeman posted his numbers with three more games than Glennon will play.
It’s also eerily similar to Freeman's six-game stretch last year when he threw 16 touchdowns and only three interceptions.
Both of those hot streaks from Freeman earned him extra starts, even when his head coach Schiano wasn’t a fan. Why shouldn’t Glennon’s hot streak, if it does play out that way, do the same for him?
At the minimum, Mike Glennon’s play has erased any doubt that ditching Freeman for the rookie out of NC State was a smart move. If he does indeed finish the season in the same high standing he occupies right now, he’ll likely play his way into a starting role next season—not the stopgap option many labeled him to be.
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes and statements were obtained firsthand.