TAMPA, Fla. (AP) When Lovie Smith thinks about what he can do to try to get the struggling Tampa Bay Buccaneers on track, a quarterback change is not high on the coach’s list.
The Bucs (1-6) are last in the NFL in total offense and 27th in scoring, however they’ve been even worst on defense, where they’re 32nd in yards allowed and also dead last in points allowed.
Mike Glennon has started the past four games, filling in for the injured Josh McCown. The second-year pro led Tampa Bay to its only victory at Pittsburgh last month, however he’s done little in the past three games to prove he’s the team’s clear-cut quarterback of the future.
McCown was active last Sunday for the first time since injuring the thumb on his throwing hand during a 56-14 loss at Atlanta on Sept. 18, but remained on the sideline while the Bucs sputtered during a 19-13 overtime loss to the Minnesota Vikings, managing just 97 yards total offense through three quarters and finishing with 225.
When the travel to Cleveland to face the Browns (4-3) on Sunday, Glennon likely will remain the starting quarterback – not that coach Lovie Smith will confirm that.
Like most coaches, Smith is reluctant to discuss injuries and possible lineup changes early in the week. In this case, though, he did say he doesn’t necessarily fill that switching quarterbacks is the answer for getting the Buccaneers turned around.
”We stand exactly where we stood last week. We have two quarterbacks we feel good about playing,” Smith said.
”I never kind of go over starting lineups or anything like that until the end of the week. I wouldn’t talk about it an awful lot,” the coach added. ”The plan isn’t for that. … The first thing I thought about as far as improving our ball club wasn’t: `We’ve got to make a change at the quarterback position.”’
For the record, Tampa Bay’s depth chart still lists McCown, a career backup who signed with the Bucs as a free agent after having his best pro season in Chicago last season, No. 1.
But after throwing for 13 touchdowns and just one interception a year ago while filling in part-time for an injured Jay Cutler with the Bears, McCown was intercepted four times while throwing just two TD passes in losses to Carolina, St. Louis and Atlanta to begin this season.
Glennon, who led a game-winning drive in the closing minutes to beat the Steelers, has thrown for 1,157 yards, eight TDs and four interceptions. He was 19 of 28 for 171 yards, one TD and one interception in last week’s loss to Minnesota, which sacked him five times and limited the Bucs to 66 yards rushing.
Despite losing six of the first seven games, Smith notes that the last-place Bucs still are very much alive in the NFC South race, where none of the other team – Carolina, New Orleans and Atlanta – have a winning record, either.
The message he’s conveyed to the team this week is ”keep fighting and keeping pounding the rock, and eventually we’ll see a crack and we’ll be able to get over the hump.”
Glennon said that’s what the players intend to do.
”We’re going to continue to stay our course. Amp everything up a little bit, but we’re going to stay the way we’re taught, the way we’re trained because we’re close,” the quarterback said.
”Close isn’t good enough, obviously, but we’re getting there,” Glennon added. ”We just need to really start faster and finish better. If we can do those two things, then our season … can be a lot different going forward.”
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