The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have made a huge change heading into Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals, and it’s brought up more questions than it has answers.
The Bucs seem to be a team on the brink of disaster, as 0-4 heading into the bye week after a loss to a less-than-stellar Cardinals team sounds exponentially worse than 1-3 with a winnable game against the Philadelphia Eagles on deck at home after the bye.
So what questions need to be answered on Sunday for the Bucs to come out ahead of the Cards?
Can Mike Glennon run whatever variety of offense is called for him?
Mike Glennon will almost certainly struggle if he’s thrown out to the wolves in the same offensive scheme Josh Freeman previously floundered in. He just simply does not have the velocity on his throws to make the deep, timed throws that Freeman was called upon to make.
One of the things Glennon is praised for is his ability to go through his progressions and his willingness to check down. But in an offense that runs two or three-man routes more often than most other NFL offenses, what progressions are there to read? Glennon’s slow drop back and lack of athleticism will make him a sitting duck against the blitz in the max protect, deep pass situations this offense called for Josh Freeman.
So will the offense be adapted for Glennon? Or can he find a way to overcome the shortcomings of the offense anyways? These are the most important questions that will dictate the amount of success the Bucs can have on offense.
As Sander at BucsNation points out, the Bucs’ defensive staff maintains that their plan is to use Darrelle Revis in a variety of ways, rather than having him shadow the other team’s best receiver in an ISO matchup and allow him to do what he does best.
But against the Arizona Cardinals, that’s maybe the most foolish thing the team could do. Because unlike the New York Jets and New England Patriots, the Cardinals have a dominant receiver who will command a majority of the targets on his offense, especially if he isn’t being covered by the other team’s best corner.
Larry Fitzgerald will win a one-on-one matchup against Leonard Johnson or Johnthan Banks almost every time, and he’ll find a way to get open against zone coverage as well. And Carson Palmer knows that, and he’ll find Fitzgerald and make the Buccaneers pay for not locking him down with Revis.
Can the Buccaneers find any other receiving options?
Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams are both hurt and questionable to play on Sunday. That likely means that even if they do play, they’ll be less than 100 percent. This is an opportunity for another Bucs’ receiving option to step into the spotlight.
Eric Page has done fairly well with his few opportunities, but none of the other tight ends or receivers have done anything yet this season. Perhaps we’ll get a chance to see Russell Shepard for the first time this year, since the Buccaneers clearly need to motivate Kevin Ogletree to do better rather than simply giving him snaps as the third receiver by default.
Mike Glennon is going to need all the help he can get in his first NFL start, so having more options to throw the ball to increases his chances of success.