Cardinals 13, Buccaneers 10: Postgame takeaways & observations
TAMPA, Fla. -- The Mike Glennon Era began. The result was the same.
Wow, how did this happen? The Bucs appeared primed to salvage one victory before the bye, after a wild week that included the benching of quarterback Josh Freeman. But the Arizona Cardinals rallied for 13 points in the fourth, including a go-ahead 27-yard field goal by Jay Feely with 1:29 left.
Here are a few thoughts from a day when the Bucs fell 13-10 to go to 0-4 ...
1. Until a late collapse, Glennon did better than expected.
Who knew what we'd see Sunday from the third-round pick? But the rookie showed some poise, as early as the first half, in leading Tampa Bay to 10 points.
It's obvious Glennon still has a lot to learn, and there's plenty of room for improvement. He struggled when it mattered most Sunday, and his play won't win many games against, say, rivals in the NFC South.
Let's wait until Glennon plays a few more before we complete our judgment of him. But his line -- 24-of-43 passing for 248 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions -- was a mixed bag.
2. Let's get this out of the way: The Cardinals are bad.
Carson Palmer looked average at best, and Arizona had no rushing threat to speak of. For the most part, though, the defense was strong, at least good enough to win through three quarters.
Palmer finished 21-of-38 passing for 248 yards. Meanwhile, Andre Ellington was the Cardinals' leading rusher with 29 yards on four carries. Aside from two last-drive blunders against the New York Jets and New Orleans Saints, the Bucs' defense has played well enough to earn three victories so far.
3. Doug Martin had a rough day.
The struggle wasn't totally unexpected, given Glennon's debut. Arizona was smart to stack the box and force the rookie to beat them.
The Cardinals' game plan, and the execution of it, looked similar to what the Jets accomplished against the Bucs in Week 1, when Martin had 24 carries for 65 yards. The Cards established their defensive identity early: Martin was limited to 16 carries for 27 yards in the first half, and 12 of those yards came on one run.
He finished with 45 yards on 27 carries. The running game has been spotty through the season's first month, but what happened Sunday wasn't much of a surprise.
4. Jeff Demps could add an interesting element.
The Bucs activated the track star last Monday, and he had one carry for 14 yards Sunday, and he also received work as a kick returner. Martin will remain a centerpiece of the unit, but Demps' speed is undeniable.
Look for offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan to develop creative ways to use Demps' skill in the coming weeks. Tampa Bay appears more than fine with Martin, Brian Leonard and Mike James at running back. But don't be surprised to see Demps become a valuable addition.
5. The Bucs should want Freeman gone as soon as possible.
It's surreal to consider how fast the spiral has gone for the fifth-year veteran. From the obvious No. 1 choice behind center out of training camp to a struggling starter to someone whose relationship with his team has declined so much that he was reportedly told to avoid the sideline Sunday, there's not much left for Freeman here.
There's blame to go around: From Schiano's staff not placing Freeman in the best chance to succeed to Freeman airing his displeasure in a national television interview instead of taking the high road.
A parting of ways, however it comes, will be best for all involved.
You can follow Andrew Astleford on Twitter @aastleford or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.