Bills vs. Buccaneers: Takeaways from Tampa Bay's 27-6 Win Against Buffalo
Tampa Bay improved to 4-9 on the season after the win, which came as a result of incredible opportunistic play on defense. The Bills gave the Buccaneers every chance to make the lead even bigger than it was, but the offense for the Buccaneers was simply poor all day.
So what can the Buccaneers take away from this sloppy win over a struggling Buffalo team?
Here are my takeaways, starting with the truth about the final score.
The Buccaneers Did Not Play a Good Game
The final score may indicate that the Buccaneers won in a dominant display, but the fact remains that they were the lesser of two evils on Sunday against Buffalo.
The Buccaneers turned the ball over on interceptions, committed costly penalties and were inefficient on offense. They also missed tackles on defense and allowed big plays, but most of them were called back due to even worse mistakes by the Bills.
Similar to the win over the Lions, the Tampa Bay victory over Buffalo was more about the failure of the opponent than the success of the Bucs. Greg Schiano’s team was handed a ton of opportunities to put the game out of reach but could not take advantage.
A win is a win, and the team should take pride in that. But there are so many opportunities to improve based on the performance of most of the Buccaneers from Sunday's game.
Mike Glennon’s Worst Performance Yet
Mike Glennon has been drawing praise from media members around the league and earned more during Sunday’s game, as former quarterback and current CBS analyst Steve Beuerlein said during the game that Glennon has earned the right to start for the Buccaneers next season.
But based on the way Glennon played against the Bills Sunday, I don’t believe he should be given any free rides to a starting job in the future.
Glennon was inaccurate all day (he completed only nine passes on 25 attempts), throwing some seriously questionable passes, including two interceptions. He missed open receivers, was hesitant in the pocket and was inaccurate on some very easy throws.
The rookie from NC State doesn’t do well under pressure and still has a lot to show to earn the role of starter in the future. Wins alone don’t dictate a quarterback’s ability. He has to put together tape that shows repeatable skills that will help his team win. Glennon has yet to do that.
Bobby Rainey’s Big-Play Ability Made the Difference
The Buccaneers put the Bills on the back foot from the start thanks to a huge play from Bobby Rainey, and that set the table for a Tampa Bay victory.
Rainey broke off an 80-yard run on the second play from scrimmage, which goes down as the longest run in team history, according to Scott Smith of the team’s official website.
Rainey was largely bottled up apart from that play, gaining only 47 yards on his other 21 carries. But his ability to get to the second level and use speed to break away from defenders meant the Buccaneers could take an early lead and put the pressure on the Bills.
Vincent Jackson Makes Mike Glennon Look Better Than He Is
Vincent Jackson was on the receiving end for 70 of Mike Glennon's 90 passing yards, including hauling in a wobbling duck for a 38-yard touchdown. In doing so, he proved that he's by far the best receiving option the Buccaneers have and made his rookie signal-caller look better than he was.
Jackson's ability to go up and catch any pass thrown his way was seemingly the game plan for Glennon on the day, as he chucked up some ugly passes in the direction of the 6'5" receiver, including both of his interceptions.
But Jackson proved on his three receptions that he's nearly impossible to defend and that his blend of size and speed make him a nightmare for defensive coordinators. Without Jackson, it's possible that Mike Glennon would not have gained 40 or 50 yards on the day.
Tiquan Underwood Is Not the Answer as Third Receiver
The Tampa Bay front office is likely looking ahead to next season as the team plays out its final games of this year, and management will be evaluating talent to see who belongs on the roster in 2014.
One player on the bubble is wide receiver Tiquan Underwood, and on Sunday, he showed why he's not the answer as the third receiver for the Buccaneers.
Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams are a fantastic duo of receivers, but the Buccaneers need a third option to play in the slot and provide an intermediate to short option on passing plays.
Underwood dropped multiple passes on the day and had a bit of miscommunication with Mike Glennon on a hot-route situation, further proving why he's not a reliable option at wide receiver.
Gerald McCoy and the Defensive Line Can Make Plays Without Stunts
This season, the Buccaneers have drawn the ire of former player Stephen White (and others) for their poor usage of defensive line stunts. Allow White to explain his issue himself, from a recent article for SB Nation.
Here's the deal: I actually like smart line stunts, and there is definitely a place for them in your playbook. They are especially useful when a team wants to spread a defense out and make the linebacker cover down on the slot wide receiver then run the ball in the gap the linebacker left from. But just calling them just to call them is stupid. That's probably why Sheridan does it.
Sheridan (Bill, the Tampa Bay defensive coordinator) seemed to take note of this complaint and allowed his pass-rushers to get up the field on their own, without unneeded stunts.
The results? Seven sacks on E.J. Manuel and constant pressure from defensive tackle Gerald McCoy.
The Buccaneers have talent in their front seven, and they showed it Sunday by constantly pressuring the Buffalo quarterback.
If the coaching staff simply allows them to do what they do best—rather than calling for line stunts, which don't work—they may see a much different team than the one that went 0-8 to start the season.
Lavonte David Is the Best All-Around Linebacker in the NFL
Von Miller is the best pass-rushing linebacker in the NFL, and his value to the Denver defense is off the charts. But when it comes to all-around linebacker play, no one in the NFL is better than Lavonte David.
The second-year defender from Nebraska intercepted two passes Sunday while also recording a sack, two tackles for loss and a total of nine tackles, as he helped keep the Buccaneers ahead of the Bills despite an awful performance by the Tampa Bay offense.
According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), David entered the day as the second-highest rated 4-3 outside linebacker, behind only the aforementioned Miller. But digging deeper into their advanced statistics, we learn more about David's fantastic performances this season.
David leads 4-3 outside linebackers in pass-rush productivity and run-stop percentage. In other words, he's the most efficient linebacker in a 4-3 defense against the run and in terms of rushing the passer.
He's dominant in all phases of the game, and that puts him in rare company in NFL history. According to Scott Smith of the Buccaneers' official website, David is one of only seven players in league history with five interceptions and sacks in the same season.
The Buccaneers Still Have a Lot to Prove
For many fans of the Buccaneers, four wins in five games is enough to win back the trust lost during an eight-game losing streak.
But the truth about this Tampa Bay franchise at the moment is that there is a long way left before it can be considered a contender.
The Buccaneers wasted an assortment of chances Sunday, and as Sander Philipse of Bucs Nation pointed out during the game, Tampa Bay was getting great field position on a regular basis and could not turn any drives into points.
So much like the victory over the Detroit Lions, the Buccaneers benefited from a comedy of errors and barely held on to secure a win. The offense is stagnant at best, and the team continues to make mental errors and commit costly penalty at the wrong times.
Greg Schiano and Mike Glennon both have quite a bit to prove before I can say they're deserving of keeping their roles in 2014. Schiano's teams have been outcoached on far too many occasions to allow the thumping of a struggling team to sway my opinion.
And likewise for Glennon, the inability to move the football against a middle-of-the-road passing defense does not inspire confidence.
The Buccaneers can be happy with the final score, but they cannot be proud of the way they played nor the way the season has unfolded.