Buccaneers vs. Panthers: Takeaways from Tampa Bay's 27-6 Loss to Carolina
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers fell to 3-9 after Sunday's loss to the Carolina Panthers, and it marked the second time this season that the Panthers controlled the game against their division rivals, winning by another large margin.
The final score was 27-6 in favor of Carolina, and it was indicative of the way the game was played. Carolina allowed an early field goal to the Buccaneers and fell behind 3-0, but the Panthers then charged into the lead and never looked back.
So what can fans of the Buccaneers takeaway from the team's ninth loss of the season? Read on to find out.
Signs of Life in the Running Game
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers did not fare well on the ground in the first half, as they were limited to only 16 rushing yards at halftime.
However, Bobby Rainey was able to break free on a few runs in the second half against the tough Carolina defense and show that the Tampa Bay running game still has signs of life.
The Buccaneers must run the ball more consistently in the future, but it's still an encouraging sign to have a series of good plays against the third-best rushing defense in the NFL.
In fact, when the Buccaneers have been successful this season, it has usually been the result of a strong running game. Wins over Miami and Atlanta were keyed by big days from Bobby Rainey, and Mike James was the driving force behind a near-upset of the Seattle Seahawks.
If Greg Schiano wants to win another game this season, it will have to come with a heavy dose of the ground game.
Mike Glennon Not Showing Consistency
During the four games prior to Sunday's defeat, Mike Glennon had his three best games as a professional quarterback. His tape against the Seahawks, Falcons, and Lions showed a quarterback with the tools to become a franchise player.
As Bleacher Report's Knox Bardeen pointed out, Glennon's statistics improved after his first four games as a pro, and that led to more success for his team. On Sunday, he had a chance to prove that he was the future of the franchise against Carolina.
Instead, he caved under the pressure of an early deficit, making some poor throws and poor decisions, as the Tampa Bay offense floundered in the second half. Glennon finished with a QB rating of 73.5, which is more in line with his early performances of the season, when he struggled to adjust to life as an NFL quarterback.
There were still positive moments for the rookie from N.C. State, but there weren't enough to help his team to victory.
The team converted only one of their 10 third downs on the day, and Glennon turned the ball over twice. The rookie still has much to prove before he can be crowned a franchise quarterback.
Tiquan Underwood Proving Doubters Wrong
As Sander Philipse of Bucs Nation pointed out when Tiquan Underwood was released at the beginning of the season, the former Rutgers wide receiver was not very consistent, and he struggled to catch easy passes earlier in his career with the Buccaneers.
But since then, he's rejoined the team and has worked to prove his doubters wrong over the last two weeks. Underwood followed up his impressive performance against the Detroit Lions with a strong showing against Carolina, hauling in three passes for 51 yards.
It's not a dominant performance, by any means, but the fact that Underwood has surpassed all of the other receivers in Tampa Bay and has risen from street free agent to starting wide receiver is a credit to his work ethic and athletic ability.
Underwood will have competition again next season when Mike Williams returns from injury, so he has the remainder of this season to show that he's improved as a receiver and is worthy of a roster spot.
Lavonte David Is an All-Pro
On Sunday, Lavonte David reached a milestone that no player in Tampa Bay history had ever reached.
According to Scott Smith of Buccaneers.com, David became the first player in franchise history to record five sacks and three interceptions in a single season. And considering that the Buccaneers were once the home of players like Ronde Barber, Derrick Brooks, and John Lynch, that's an impressive feat.
His interception, combined with a pass defended, tackle for loss, and nine total tackles on Sunday, further propels David into the discussion for best outside linebacker in the NFL. His tackle totals rival those of the leading middle linebackers in the NFL, and his impact in the passing game has been felt with his interceptions and sacks.
David is a rising star at linebacker, and he should clearly be considered for an All-Pro spot at his position.
Gerald McCoy Silenced by Carolina Offensive Line
While Lavonte David was dominant, Gerald McCoy was silent on Sunday.
The usually disruptive defensive tackle met his match against the Carolina offensive line, as he was held without a sack and did not hear his named called very often on the afternoon.
Cam Newton was given plenty of time to throw, and he was also allowed space to run and escape the pocket. This helped to neutralize McCoy, who did break through the offensive line on occasion, only to see Newton scramble away or a screen pass sail over his head.
Sometimes, star players have bad games, and on Sunday, McCoy certainly fell short of his standards. He'll look to bounce back when the Buccaneers seek their fourth win of the season against the Bills in Week 14.
Darrelle Revis Wasn’t the Real Darrelle Revis
Darrelle Revis suffered a groin injury during a Week 12 win against the Detroit Lions, yet he was cleared to play on Sunday against Carolina.
And while he might have been healthy enough to play, he wasn't healthy enough to be Darrelle Revis.
Revis was faked out by Ted Ginn Jr. for a deep touchdown and would later leave the game with a chest injury. He even allowed an easy catch over the middle to Steve Smith before his departure, something he didn't do in the previous matchup between the two teams. He just didn't seem to be himself when he was on the field.
Darrelle Revis is a valuable asset for the Buccaneers, and he must be treated with care over the final few weeks of the season. If he's not healthy, he shouldn't play. It's as simple as that.
Buccaneers Have Too Many Breakdowns on Defense
Greg Schiano has been instrumental in the improvement of the Tampa Bay defense since his arrival, as they've become formidable against the run and have tackled better over the past two seasons.
But there have still been far too many mistakes and breakdowns on defense, which demonstrates that Schiano might not have the schematic side of coaching defense under control just yet.
If you believe Sander Philipse of Bucs Nation, who blames the aforementioned Ted Ginn touchdown on a defensive miscommunication rather than on Darrelle Revis, then it would mark the second time in Sunday's game that a touchdown was allowed due to a breakdown between safety Dashon Goldson and a cornerback.
Far too often this season, the Buccaneers have allowed big plays on defense due to poor scheme. On Sunday alone, multiple screen passes torched the Buccaneers, Cam Newton was allowed to scramble for a big gain, and receivers were left wide open for two easy touchdown throws.
That reflects poorly on the head coach, who is certainly still under fire.
Greg Schiano Is Not Cut out to Be an NFL Head Coach
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have lost 15 of their last 19 games. That is unacceptable for a roster that is as talented as the one general manager Mark Dominik and his team in the front office have assembled.
And considering the team's anemic offensive display on Sunday, combined with the defensive breakdowns mentioned earlier, the Buccaneers would be wise to demand a massive turnaround from Greg Schiano before considering bringing him back for a third season in 2014.
Setting aside any other rumors or allegations against the head coach, his record since taking over the team has not been good enough to justify his employment in the future.
The Buccaneers forced two turnovers on Sunday and failed to turn them into touchdowns. Apart from an interception returned for a touchdown against the Lions, the Buccaneers have not turned any of their last seven turnovers into touchdowns.
Schiano's offense has been lackluster, his defense has been prone to letdowns, and his record speaks for itself. He's not a winning coach in the NFL, and he doesn't deserve a third chance to waste the talent on the Tampa Bay roster.