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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs’ line remains source of offensive woes

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Published:   |   Updated: December 23, 2013 at 11:02 PM

TAMPA — The numbers certainly don’t support his claim, but Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano believes rookie quarterback Mike Glennon has been playing good football of late.

“Not that he’s been perfect,’’ Schiano said Monday. “But he has been pretty good when he’s been able to play the position.’’

There’s the caveat. It’s that little word when, because let’s face it, Glennon’s offensive line hasn’t given him much of a chance to play quarterback lately.

Tag, yes.

Quarterback, no.

On Sunday, for example, Glennon was sacked seven times during a 23-13 loss to the Rams in which the Bucs’ line failed to meet Schiano’s expectations not just as pass protectors but also as run blockers.

“I actually thought going into that game that we were going to move the ball better than we did,’’ Schiano said. “I thought we’d be able to run the ball better than we did.

“But obviously we did not play our best game up front. We actually played one of our lesser games up front this season. And that affected us in the run game as much as it affected us in the pass game.’’

Not counting all the yards Glennon accrued while running sideways and backward in his attempt to avoid the Rams pass rush, the Bucs ran 23 times for 59 yards against the Rams.

Throw in the 111 net passing yards the Bucs were credited with and their 170 total net yards became their season low, erasing the 183 they gained a week earlier during a 33-14 loss to the 49ers.

“Watching the tape, we certainly did struggle offensively and running the football,’’ Schiano said. “We did pop a few runs, but the consistency wasn’t there. And protecting the passer was a big problem.

“I’m telling you the obvious, and as is usually the case, it’s not one single thing. If we were helping (the line by) chipping with the back, we weren’t doing a great job of surgically chipping the defensive end and leaking into our route.

“And there were other instances where (our receivers) couldn’t get off of man-to-man coverage and couldn’t escape, with the exception of Vince (Jackson). So a lot went into it.’’

Including the opponent. The Rams went into Sunday’s game ranked fifth in the league in sacks with 42 and 12th against the run. But the Rams are not the only defense to give the Bucs’ line fits in recent weeks.

Two weeks ago, the 49ers sacked Glennon four times and allowed only 39 rushing yards. Two weeks earlier, the Panthers sacked Glennon five times and allowed just 66 rushing yards. And the week before that, Detroit sacked Glennon four times and allowed just 22 rushing yards.

“Some of it is technique,’’ Schiano said, expounding on the problems that are plaguing his offensive line. “Some of it is execution. Some of it is physical mismatch, where we are mismatched. That happens in this league.

“Some of it is coaching. We’re not immune when there’s issues. It’s everybody. Some of it is the threat or lack thereof of a passing game, because that allows people to take more liberties than they normally might against us.

“So it’s all those things and when you put them together, it’s just not very good. So what do you do? You go back to work. You go back to the fundamentals and teach. That’s what you can do.’’

Even there, the Bucs are limited. The Bucs have used up their allotment of padded practices for the year, so any coaching will have to be limited to things such as hand placement and footwork.

The Bucs, though, are sure to spend some extra time on that this week, because their line is about to face yet another one of the league’s most devastating pass rushing units. The Saints, the opponent in Sunday’s season finale at the Superdome, rank fourth in the league with 47 sacks.

“We can’t go out and do what we did (against the Rams) and think that we’ll win this one,’’ Schiano said. “We have to improve if we’re going to win this game. We have to.’’

Despite the recent results, Schiano remains confident his line will improve between now and Sunday. Though that unit has made it harder for him to not just evaluate his quarterback but also win games, he says he still has faith in them.

“Those guys, I know they can play well,’’ Schiano said, “I believe and trust they’re going to bust their rear ends to get ready for this week.”

rcummings@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7979

Twitter: @RCummingsTBO

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