The better and more-experienced quarterback hands the Bucs another difficult loss.
Rookie QB Mike Glennon will make just enough mistakes to help Atlanta snap its three-game slide.
You can really sense the frustration building up inside the Bucs locker room. The season is only six weeks old, but there was talk that it seemed like six months. That's what losing will do to you — change your perspective. Especially the way the Bucs have lost. The players' and coaches' frustration, though, stems largely from the belief they are doing a lot of things well, but simply not getting the desired results. So far, no one seems to have lost faith in the methods the Bucs are applying or in the decisions they're making during the week and in games. That's critical, because as long as everyone continues to buy into the program, the Bucs have a chance to turn their season around. There are, after all, 11 more games to be played.
Falcons TE Tony Gonzalez vs. Bucs defensive back seven
Gonzalez is in the twilight of his career, but you wouldn't know it. He still has that knack for finding holes and making big plays. He ranks second on the team in catches with 33, and seven came on third-down conversions for first downs. With WRs Julio Jones and Roddy White out, QB Matt Ryan is likely to lean even more on Gonzalez. That might force the Bucs to do something drastic, such as match CB Darrelle Revis against Gonzalez. The Patriots did something similar last week when they put CB Aqib Talib on Saints TE Jimmy Graham, and Graham was shut out. Don't be surprised if Greg Schiano takes a hint from buddy Bill Belichick and tries to slow Gonzalez in the same way.
5 questions with ... DT Akeem Spence
Q: You grew up in Fort Walton Beach. How do Bay area beaches compare?
A: I haven't been to Clearwater Beach, yet, but I went to Hogan's Beach. So far, from what I've seen, beaches look pretty nice here, but I've got to check it out a little more.
Q: You've been called the strongest man on the Bucs. Have you ever tried to lift up a car?
A: Yes I have. I've tried a small car like a Honda and I had success with it.
Q: What did it feel like sacking Patriots QB Tom Brady in Week 3?
A: That was big, getting my first NFL sack on a Hall of Famer. I couldn't have lined it up any better. That was like something out of a storybook.
Q: What's your favorite TV show and movie?
A: TV show, I'd have to say “Family Guy.” For a movie, I'll go with “Remember the Titans.”
Q: How does your body feel getting out of bed on the morning after an NFL game?
A: It's painful. You've got to just roll yourself out of bed. Once that first foot hits the ground, you're still sore, but you start feeling a little better. You almost have to throw yourself out of bed and crack your back. Then you can start moving around.
-- Ira Kaufman
3 Keys to Victory
WIN THE FOURTH QUARTER
Much like NBA games, NFL games are usually decided in the fourth quarter. Those last 15 minutes, though, are where the Bucs have been at their worst, outscored 35-13. That, as much as anything, explains their 0-5 record. The minus-22 point differential is by far their worst of any quarter. The Bucs have outscored opponents 27-19 in the first quarter, but have been outscored 34-24 in the second and 13-0 in the third. Getting off to a better start in the second half might help, but this is a team that held a fourth-quarter lead and lost three times.
The Bucs have done a pretty good job protecting their passers this year. They've allowed 14 sacks, which is just below the league average. It's imperative they continue to do a good job today, because the difference between rookie quarterback Mike Glennon's effectiveness when he's protected well and when he's not is drastic. According to the numbers crunchers at ProFootballFocus, Glennon completed 22 of 28 passes for 231 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions for a passer rating of 124.9 when he wasn't under pressure last week. When he was under pressure, Glennon was just 4-for-14 for 42 yards, no touchdowns and one critical interception for a passer rating of 11.8.
It was just two weeks ago the Bucs were lauding second-year safety Mark Barron for stellar play in coverage. They might have spoken too soon. Barron has made some big plays in coverage, but he was definitely out of place on at least one of the Eagles' touchdown passes last week. The Bucs aren't necessarily getting Pro Bowl-caliber play out of CB Darrelle Revis, either. Revis has given up a touchdown in each of the past two games and, what's most worrisome, is that both came in the red zone, a short area of the field in which he has always excelled. The Bucs face a much better quarterback today than in either of their past two games, so they have to play sharper on the back end.
-- Roy Cummings