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Tuesday, Jun 19, 2018
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Fennelly: Last six weeks matter for Bucs

TAMPA — Did these guys win a playoff game when I wasn’t looking or something?

It’s downright light and airy at Bucs Central — amazing what two victories, over an average Dolphins team and the mailing-it-in Falcons, will do.

It’s as if 0-8 has been scrubbed away like the MRSA for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Greg Schiano’s grin is spreading. He is joking with media. Two of his leaders, defensive lineman Gerald McCoy and offensive lineman Davin Joseph, have publicly supported him. Schiano is looser, as are his game plans, heavy on the What The Heck? Guess the next rabbit out of his hat is being that way when the season isn’t already lost.

Upset of the year: Could this guy somehow save his job?

I still don’t think he has earned the chance to try again next season.

I’m still not sold on Schiano and his hand-picked quarterback, Mike Glennon.

How do you sell a 2-14 team and this coach to this community?

Or 3-13? Or 4-12?

I still lean toward turning the page, a new regime.

It comes down to whether you can picture Schiano and the Bucs a playoff combination.

I still can’t.

And if ownership doesn’t see it, clear as day, then they’re putting this franchise in the same situation it was when Schiano, not sure about Josh Freeman late last season, rode 5 into this one, with disastrous results.

This team has work to do. You can’t really put a number on it — it’s more of a trajectory thing, and it has to keep going up.

Schiano knows it. This team has to tunnel in, a week at a time.

“The analogy we use in sports all the time is that it’s like crossing a brook,” Schiano said. “Those rocks are slippery and if you look up for one minute to see the other end you’re going to fall on your rear end. So you just watch one stone at a time and step stone to stone and that’s kind of how we have to do it around here.”

Stone to stone. Watch for rock slides.

Right now, with those two wins, this team can put a positive spin on the game that preceded those wins — that blown game at Seattle has become the game where the Bucs were beating the best team in their conference 24-7 in the second half, and in their raucous house.

It makes the last six weeks interesting, because you can see the case Schiano and his club will try to lay out: overcoming injuries, quarterback change, improvement from veterans, rookies, guys from nowhere, like Bobby Rainey — and Mike Glennon.

Glennon is the key. I still say his deep balls hang up there like weather balloons, saved only by the odd Vincent Jackson circus grab. But Glennon’s recent ratings and performances — he threw only three incompletions against Atlanta — are a life line for Schiano. Like he doesn’t know it.

Look, if the Glazers buy Glennon, they buy Schiano for another year — because a new coach would probably want his own QB.

These last six weeks matter.

The Bucs can’t roll over and die today at Detroit or Thanksgiving weekend in Carolina. They need to win more games, preferably over good teams.

The Bucs need to do more than hang in against better teams.

They need to beat the Bills. They need to play with the 49ers. They need to do some damage on the road, real damage, like beat St. Louis. They need to go back to the old days, when they played the Saints tough in New Orleans. They finish this season at the Superdome. The Bucs were ghastly there last season, 41-0 losers.

They’ve won twice.

Two wins. That’s it.

There is work to do, and it had better be good work, above and beyond, more than the head coach or his team has produced to this point.

Six stones left.

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