• Sputtering Bucs search for answers on offense
    By FRED GOODALL
    The Associated Press | December 03,2013
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    Tampa Bay quarterback Mike Glennon looks to pass during Sunday’s game against the Panthers in Charlotte, N.C.
    TAMPA, Fla. — The growing pains of a rookie quarterback are only partially responsible for what’s ailing the sputtering Tampa Bay Buccaneers on offense.

    Mike Glennon’s first multiple turnover game in eight weeks certainly didn’t help the team’s chances during a lopsided loss to Carolina that stopped a three-game winning streak, however coach Greg Schiano noted Sunday that the lack of a consistent running game and an inability score touchdowns instead of settling for field goals also continue to undermine the Bucs (3-9).

    Despite winning three of four following an 0-8 start, Sunday’s 27-6 loss to Panthers assures Tampa Bay of finishing with a losing record for the third straight year.

    The Bucs, who haven’t made the playoffs since 2007, have posted their two lowest yardage totals of the year the past two weeks — 229 in a victory over Detroit and a season-low 206 against the Panthers, who have the NFL’s No. 1 defense.

    “I’m disappointed in all of us,” Schiano said, bemoaning missed opportunities that might have given his team a chance to keep the game close.

    “They’re playing at a high level right now, yet I thought there were plenty of opportunities, especially early in the game to kind of set the course of the game where we’d be able to make it a fourth-quarter game,” the second-year coach added. “We didn’t take advantage of it.”

    Cam Newton set up one of his two touchdown passes for Carolina with a 56-yard run, and the Panthers’ quarterback also ran for a third TDs as the Panthers routed the Bucs for the second time in six weeks.

    Glennon, meanwhile, was 14 of 21 for 180 yards in his ninth start. The third-round draft pick failed to throw for at least one touchdown for the first time as a pro and, with Tampa Bay trailing 7-6, also lost a fumble that stopped a drive inside the Carolina 10.

    “He did some things (Sunday) that he hasn’t done. I think part of it has to do with the defense. He was trying to make something happen,” Schiano said.

    “He and I have sat down already and discussed that circumstances can never dictate behavior. You have to go out and do your thing. It doesn’t mean that the play calls don’t change based on certain (situations), but our core beliefs on quarterback play don’t change based on circumstance, and a little bit of that happened.”

    For the second straight week, the rookie received little help from a rushing attack that’s bogged down since posting three of the four highest totals of the season during a stretch in which the Bucs lost on the road at Seattle and beat Miami and Atlanta at home.

    A week gaining 22 yards on the ground at Detroit, the Bucs rushed for 66 yards on 20 carries and were 1-of-10 on third-down conversions against the Panthers.

    Schiano doesn’t take solace in the fact that the Lions and Panthers both rank among the league leaders in run defense. He said it on him, and his coaching staff, to take the lead in solving the problem.

    “It’s the NFL, we’ve got to find a way to score points and move the ball against whatever defense we’re playing,” the coach said. “We need to find better ways to help these guys, and then we need to execute better.”

    Schiano reiterated his confidence in Glennon, who’s thrown for a Bucs rookie-record 1,962 yards and 13 touchdowns. He’s thrown just five interceptions in 290 passing attempts.

    “I’m really encouraged with Mike’s development even though yesterday wasn’t one of his finest performances,” Schiano said. “I think he’s a guy who will rebound.”

    Notes: Schiano said LB Jonathan Casillas suffered a knee injury and likely will need season-ending surgery. “We’ll have to see,” the coach said. ... CB Darrelle Revis left Sunday’s game with an “upper torso” injury that Schiano said doesn’t appear to be serious. The three-time All-Pro missed practice time last week with a sore groin.

    ———

    AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org
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