TAMPA — After spending a rare weekend off searching for the reasons behind his team’s dreadful 0-7 start, Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano came back to work on Monday planning to make some changes.
What Schiano didn’t plan on was being forced into a change.
That is precisely what happened, though, when the Bucs announced fourth-year starting wide receiver Mike Williams will miss the rest of the season with a right hamstring injury that will require surgery to repair.
“He tried to play through it, but he just wasn’t effective doing it,’’ Schiano said of Williams, who was placed on injured reserve. “He wasn’t really himself. He couldn’t do the things he needs to do to be effective.’’
That became glaringly apparent during a 31-13 loss to the Panthers on Thursday, when Williams was unable to run or leap well enough to make several catches he might have otherwise secured.
Williams caught only three passes for 20 yards in that game, giving him just five catches for 52 yards since he first injured the hamstring during the Week 4 loss to Arizona on Sept. 29.
“He’s been banged up for the better part of the year,’’ Schiano said of Williams, who sat out the Oct. 13 game following their bye week because of the injury.
Williams still ranks second on the team with 22 catches, but his minimal contribution in recent weeks will make it easier for the Bucs to adjust to life without him, Schiano said. Schiano strongly suggested Tiquan Underwood would take his place in the starting lineup.
“He’s the next guy up as far as experience,’’ Schiano said. “Then you start talking about, ‘Who’s the third receiver in the game?’ Well, Chris (Owusu) certainly has shown great promise.’’
Owusu was arguably the Bucs’ best player during training camp, but has been hobbled ever since by a nagging ankle injury that has limited him to six catches for 55 yards. And he still might not be quite right.
Owusu said Monday he sat out the Carolina game because he suffered “a setback’’ with the ankle injury during practice last week, but is hopeful he will be ready to play Sunday at Seattle. Schiano is counting on it.
Owusu “will be up’’ for this week’s game, he said, though the Bucs probably won’t lean as much on receivers such as Owusu against the Seahawks as in previous games.
Though the Bucs are pleased with the way rookie quarterback Mike Glennon has been playing and throwing the ball, Schiano plans to have Glennon throw less in coming weeks.
That’s one of the changes that came out of Schiano’s weekend search for ways to break the team’s losing streak, and not even the expected absence of starting running back Doug Martin for a second straight game will alter that plan.
“He’s throwing too many passes,’’ Schiano said of Glennon, who has thrown 181 passes, an average of 45.2 per game, since taking over as the starter four games ago. “I think we’ve put Mike in a bad spot.
“Even the last game, you can say we had to throw at the end there, but within the first three quarters we should have run the ball more. And I’m disappointed in myself for not making sure that happened.
“And I’m not being judgmental on anybody, but we shouldn’t have put him in that spot as coaches. So, we’ve re-evaluated that, and we’re going to try to play a little more balanced.’’
The Bucs have thrown the ball almost twice as much as they’ve run it with Glennon at quarterback: 181 passes to 94 runs. That they have mostly played from behind in the score is one reason, but it’s not the only reason, Schiano said.
“I think what happens is we are so comfortable with the way Mike reads things out that it gets you excited and you want to do things, and so it’s kind of like having a new toy,’’ Schiano said. “But it’s not the best thing for us winning football games.’’
Glennon has completed 106 of the 181 attempts (58.6 percent) for 997 yards and six touchdowns. He’s also thrown three interceptions, but he has not thrown a pick in either of his past two games, a span covering 95 passes.
“I’m impressed with Mike,’’ Schiano said. “I’m impressed as I’ve said before with his work ethic, his preparation, the way he reads things out in games and his cool demeanor.’’
Glennon’s demeanor will be put to the test again this week, when the Bucs travel to Seattle without Williams to face the Seahawks in what many consider to be the loudest stadium in the league.
“This is a tremendous test for him,’’ Schiano said. “And thank goodness we have (receiver) Vincent Jackson, who is an ultra-pro. But then we have a bunch of young kids who are going to need to grow up, so we’ve got kind of a mixed bag there on offense right now. But that’s our bag.”