Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Lovie Smith

TAMPA, Fla. – When Lovie Smith took over as coach of the Buccaneers, one of the first things he did was overhaul his offensive line.

There were four new starters as left tackle Anthony Collins and center Evan Dietrich-Smith were brought in as free agents and guard Logan Mankins came in a trade. To say that things haven’t worked out as the Bucs envisioned is an understatement.

Just look at the stats that best reflect the play of an offensive line that was terrible in Sunday’s 20-3 loss to the Green Bay Packers. The Bucs gave up seven sacks and rushed for only 16 yards.

Collins
Smith came close Monday to acknowledging the Bucs made some mistakes on the offensive line.

“When you say misjudgments, there were some moves we made that didn’t work out the way we wanted them to,’’ Smith said. “That’s a fair statement. We don’t have any way to combat that statement at all. That’s what you do. You make decisions you think give you the best chance to win. You make improvements where you feel like you need to make improvements. They don’t always work out.’’

Exhibit A of a guy who hasn’t worked out is Collins. A career backup in Cincinnati, he got to play due to injury last year and fared well enough that the Bucs thought he could be a solid starter. It turns out they were wrong.

Collins struggled before suffering an elbow injury. That was a graceful way to take Collins out of the lineup for one game. But he got healthy again and has been inactive the last two games as the Bucs have started former right tackle Demar Dotson on the left side.

What did Collins do to earn the benching? Smith put it in nicer terms, but the short answer is that Collins wasn’t playing well.

“There’s a reason why everybody is in the position that they’re in,’’ Smith said. “The amount of playing time you get, yes, there’s a reason for every decision that we’ve made and I’ll just kind of leave it at that. There was an injury Anthony had earlier. He’s been showing up to practice. We wanted to get looks at other guys. A lot of things have come into play on that decision why he wasn’t active.’’

Collins seems destined to be released in the offseason, and there could be other changes on the offensive line.

“Last year has nothing to do with this year,’’ Smith said. “We’re in a different position right now. We know our roster a little better right now and what we truly do need. Like always, we’ll be as aggressive as possible trying to improve our ball club in any way through any phase – free agency, draft, etc.’’
TAMPA, Fla. – It’s the time of year when coaches get fired, which means it’s fair to at least wonder about Lovie Smith.

In his first season as coach of the Buccaneers, Smith is 2-13. That kind of record in recent years has been enough to get Rob Chudzinski and Mike Mularkey fired after only one season.

Could the Bucs sack Smith after only one season?

Smith
Every indication I’m getting is that Smith is safe. He has a five-year contract. More importantly, ownership still believes Smith is the right man to turn around the franchise. And the thoughts of ownership are really all that matter.

The Glazer family, which owns the Bucs, isn’t all that involved with day-to-day operations on the football side. But the three Glazer sons that run the team (Bryan, Joel and Ed) are more invested than people realize. They’re paying close attention to everything involving the organization and they care deeply about winning.

They can’t be pleased with Smith’s first season, especially after opening the checkbook and being very aggressive in free agency. But the Glazer brothers are smart enough to realize continuity is a must if this team is going to turn the corner. They went through Raheem Morris and Greg Schiano in a very short time.

If they were to fire Smith, the Glazers would be starting over again. Despite the record, Smith’s team has shown some progress, mostly on defense.

It’s the offense that needs work. The Glazers know that and Smith should know that by now. The offense has gone through the season without a coordinator (after Jeff Tedford’s health issues). Tedford has left for the Canadian Football League and Smith needs to bring in a coordinator with some imagination.

Smith also needs to bring in a quarterback, either through the draft or free agency. He needs to overhaul the offensive line and get more out of a talented group of running backs.

Smith doesn’t appear to be on the way out. But he’s going to have to make some changes on the offensive side of the ball to keep the Glazers happy.
TAMPA, Fla. – All season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been downplaying the fact they don’t have an offensive coordinator.

But after Sunday’s 20-3 loss to the Green Bay Packers, quarterback Josh McCown admitted the lack of a coordinator has been detrimental. The Bucs managed only 109 yards of offense and didn’t get near the end zone.

McCown
“There are no excuses," McCown said. “But there’s a reason why 31 other teams have an offensive coordinator. It does matter. It does make a difference. We’ve done the best we could to pull ourselves out of it. Everybody has fought and fought hard, but we just haven’t been good enough to get ourselves out of it."

It’s refreshing that someone finally has spoken out about the coordinator situation. Tampa Bay’s offense has appeared to be in disarray most of the season. It’s no coincidence that Jeff Tedford, who was hired to be the offensive coordinator, has been missing. Tedford had heart surgery at the end of the preseason.

He took a leave of absence and eventually he and the Bucs agreed to part ways in early December. Tedford since has taken a job as a head coach in the Canadian Football League. Quarterbacks coach Marcus Arroyo has called the plays all season with input from the rest of the offensive staff.

“It’s not an excuse, but we lost a coordinator at the start of the season," McCown said. “We’ve fought all through that for 16 weeks now. Just that, in and of itself, can help a team. Just an extra guy working with those guys. We don’t make excuses, but there are things we can point to and say just that alone may help us improve."

Coach Lovie Smith didn’t want to talk about Tedford, saying he was ready to return to coaching two months ago.

“I’m not even going to go down that road anymore," Smith said. “We need help on the offensive side. We have needed help for a while. I’m not talking about coaching; I’m just talking about our play overall."
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TAMPA, Fla. -- Last January, when he was hired to coach the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Lovie Smith shared one of his most basic philosophies of football. He said if you play strong defense and are solid on special teams, you basically are starting out with an 8-8 record.

It sounded good at the time, but Sunday's 20-3 loss to the Green Bay Packers at Raymond James Stadium ran roughshod over Smith's theory.

The Bucs (2-13) played good defense -- like they've done for a good chunk of the season -- and still didn't stand a chance. Even Smith was adjusting his philosophy after the game.

"This just goes to prove you need more than an OK defense," Smith said. "Defensively, when it's a day like that, you've got to do something and try to jump start the offense. A few more takeaways or something with the special teams. When one part is that bad, you need others to step up their game even more."

Against Aaron Rodgers and a high-powered offense, the Bucs held the Packers to 10 points in the first three quarters.

"[The defense] kept us in it," Smith said. "It was a 10-3 game for a long period of time with very little offensive production. This is where we are right now. We're not always going to be down like this."

Smith's optimism is nice. But there is little basis for it from an offensive perspective. And, despite Smith's philosophy, it takes a lot more than good defense.

"To see the defense play the way they played, it's frustrating," quarterback Josh McCown said. "We have to be better than that."

It's hard to be any worse than the Bucs were on offense. They went three-and-out on their first five offensive possessions. They finished with just 109 yards of total offense. They were 4-for-14 (29 percent) on third-down conversions.

"Offensively there was nothing," McCown said.

That's not an understatement. The Bucs finished with 16 yards rushing. Standout receivers Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson were kept in check. McCown was sacked seven times.

"Who is it?" Smith said when asked what's wrong with the offense. "Who's the culprit? It's all of the above."

Smith is right. Tampa Bay's problems can be blamed on the entire offense. The play of the line has been poor all year. The running game rarely has gotten on track. And McCown (12-for-26, 147 yards) has been struggling to complete 50 percent of his passes.

"It's a combination," Smith said. "We're not playing good enough football up front, pass blocking or running. It's tough when you have less than 20 yards rushing. Of course, when you pass and you can't really protect, and quarterback-wise there's some decisions we'd like to have back. It's a combination of all right now. To blame it all on one particular area wouldn't be right."

Aside from Evans and Jackson, the Bucs need to overhaul their offense in the offseason. The defense is fine. But, as Smith has found out this season, it takes a lot more than defense to win.
TAMPA, Fla. -- This might not be what some Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans want to hear.

With the Bucs currently in position to claim the top pick in the 2015 NFL draft more than a few fans have said the team should use its last two games to make sure it ends up No. 1. That may happen, but it’s not going to take place without a fight from the Bucs.

Coach Lovie Smith said Friday his team isn’t about to give up to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday (and the New Orleans Saints in the season finale) in order to assure the No. 1 pick.

“A great friend of mine, Herman Edwards, said you play the game to win," Smith said. “I’m going to leave it at that. Every time you compete, that’s how it goes. Our football team is going out there and they’re going to give it their best shot. If we were 12-2 right now, I would be disappointed if we didn’t get the same effort. That’s what we’re trying to do. What pick we end up, that will work itself out."

Smith said he hasn’t heard that kind of chatter. When informed that it exists, he seemed stunned.

“As a football coach do you believe in telling your guys it’s not important we win, is that what they’re asking?" Smith said.

I wouldn’t expect any other answer from Smith. Despite his team's 2-12 record, the coach and his players are competitors and they’re going to show up. Smith said his team is looking forward to playing the Packers.

“Great opportunity in front of us with who we’re playing," Smith said. “We know all the names. We realize Green Bay is Green Bay and how they travel and all that. What a great opportunity for us."

Last stand for Da'Quan Bowers

December, 18, 2014
Dec 18
1:52
PM ET
TAMPA, Fla. -- When he came here in 2011, there was hope that Da'Quan Bowers would blossom into one of the league’s best defensive ends.

Now, he is auditioning just to prove he belongs in the NFL. The final two games of the season mark Bowers’ last chance to show something. He will be a free agent after this season, and this is his last chance to convince the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to re-sign him. It’s also a chance to show other teams what he can do.

Bowers
Bowers, who moved from defensive end to defensive tackle this season, probably will get more playing time in the final two games than he has all season. That’s because All-Pro defensive tackle Gerald McCoy is out for the rest of the season with a knee injury.

The 2-12 Bucs obviously are out of the playoff picture, but they will be watching Bowers closely, because they have to make a decision on whether or not to keep him around.

"You like to see a guy who can be physical at the point of attack," defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said. "We’ll probably get more runs at that position than we have all season because of Gerald not playing. He’ll have an opportunity to show his teammates and his coaches what he’s able to do in an extended period. We saw a little of that last week when Gerald went down early. [Bowers] got in a few more snaps and he found out the importance of conditioning. We need to see if he can pass rush, we need to see him go down in and down out and really do the things we ask him to do in run defense as well. It’s a great opportunity for him. He’ll be able to showcase that he’s capable of being a quality NFL starter."

Once talked about as the potential No. 1 pick in the 2011 draft, Bowers’ stock slipped because of concerns about his knee. The Bucs took a shot on him in the second round. But Bowers was a non-factor, recording just 5.5 sacks in his first three seasons.

But when coach Lovie Smith arrived this season, the expectations for Bowers weren’t the same as before. Gradually, Bowers was moved from defensive end to defensive tackle, and he’s handled the transition well.

"It’s a totally different position even though you’re playing on the defensive line," Frazier said. "The blocking schemes are a lot different than when you’re a defensive end. Sometimes there are two people blocking you, with a guard and a tackle versus a tight end or a tackle at defensive end. Based on our needs, he fits the situation. He did a good enough job for us a week ago. We’ve been playing him inside throughout the season. We’ve also had him outside. But, at this point, he’s probably exclusively an inside player for us because of the circumstances."

The circumstances are that Tampa Bay is light on healthy defensive tackles. That means Bowers will get a lot of playing time, and he will have a chance to influence whether the Bucs decide to keep him around.
When: 1 p.m. ET Sunday Where: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida TV: Fox

For five straight weeks, the Green Bay Packers looked like they might have been the best team in football.

They seemed to be in cruise control for home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs. Then the Packers went to Buffalo, and a strange thing happened. Playing what might have been their worst game of the season, the Packers lost to the Bills.

Consider that proof that anything is possible in the NFL. Consider that proof that it’s not out of the question that the 2-12 Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a chance against the Packers on Sunday. That may seem like a long shot, but last week showed nothing is guaranteed.

ESPN Buccaneers reporter Pat Yasinskas and ESPN Packers reporter Rob Demovsky break down Sunday's game:

Yasinskas: Rob, what the heck happened to the Packers in Buffalo? I didn't see that one coming.

Demovsky: I don't think anyone did, Pat. But in hindsight, the Bills have just the kind of defense that could give -- and has given -- Aaron Rodgers and Co. trouble. They have a great front four that allows them to drop the maximum number of defenders into coverage. It's the same reason the Seahawks and Lions had been successful against the Packers. But if Rodgers and his receivers had even played an average game, that wouldn't have happened. Sometimes the stats lie, but in this case, they didn't. It was indeed one of the worst games I've ever seen Rodgers play, and I've seen all of them. He was out of sync from the get-go. He would read a play one way and his receivers would read it another. That's a bad recipe for an offense that relies on timing and reading the defense.

With that in mind, Pat, Lovie Smith's defenses gave Rodgers some trouble back in Chicago. Is there any reason to think the Buccaneers can come close to replicating what the Bills did?

Yasinskas: Probably not, especially with defensive tackle Gerald McCoy now out for the rest of the season with a knee injury. But if Tampa Bay does have a bright spot, it's the defense, which has been respectable since the bye week. The pass rush has been decent and the linebackers have played well. The secondary hasn't been great, but it has been better than it was in the first half of the season. This defense is improving steadily, but it still isn't as good as what Smith had in Chicago. The Bucs would have to play a perfect game to stop the Packers, and this defense is far from perfect. I don't think the Bucs have what it takes to pull off what Buffalo did.

Did that one bad game cost Rodgers the MVP award?

Demovsky: It shouldn't, but he probably needs to bounce back with one more of those three-plus-touchdown/no-interception games. It's human nature for the voters to remember what they've seen most recently, and of all the MVP candidates, Rodgers is probably the one whose bad game has come the latest in the season. Nevertheless, his efficiency this season has been off the charts. If 35 touchdowns and only five interceptions isn't an MVP pace, I don't know what is.

I know the Bucs have tried Josh McCown and Mike Glennon at various times this season at quarterback. Have they seen enough to know whether they can count on or rule out either one or both as their starter next season?

Yasinskas: I think the only thing that has been settled is that Glennon is not viewed as the long-term answer by the coaching staff. Although he was referred to as the quarterback of the future, he has been benched in favor of McCown twice -- once upon McCown's arrival and again when McCown returned from a thumb injury. That tells me Glennon has no future here. And McCown is no long-term answer. He's 35 and he hasn't played like the savvy veteran the Bucs expected. He has turned the ball over too much and been inconsistent. Whether it's through the draft or free agency, the Bucs need to make a move at quarterback this offseason.

I read where Packers coach Mike McCarthy was quoted as saying there would be some change on special teams this week. What's that all about?

Demovsky: When you've had six kicks blocked (two punts, two field goals and two extra points), you know you have a problem. And then the Bills returned a punt 75 yards for a touchdown. McCarthy said this week that "the personnel is not right." Fifteen weeks into the season, it was shocking to hear, but it's a sure sign that there will be some new players or old players in different roles on those units this week.

I'm sure plenty of Packers fans are already chalking this one up in the win column, but what's the most likely way the Bucs could pull off an upset Sunday?

Yasinskas: It's a long shot any way you look at it. But the best chance for Tampa Bay would be if the defense plays a great game. That's going to be tough without McCoy, but there still is enough individual talent on this defense to have a good outing. To win, though, the defense has to be more than good. It has to be outstanding, and it would have to produce points, because Tampa Bay's offense isn't explosive enough to stay with the Packers. Like I said, it's a long shot, but you never know what you're going to get with the Bucs.

In last week's Buzz video, I talked about how the Buccaneers need to overhaul their offensive line in the offseason. It turns out the Bucs aren't waiting until the offseason.

The process started in Sunday's 19-17 loss to the Carolina Panthers and it sent a message that no one is safe. Left tackle Anthony Collins, a high-priced signing in free agency, was benched. Demar Dotson, who has played right tackle his entire career, was moved to the left side.

Coach Lovie Smith said the move was a "coach's decision." That's Smith's way of saying that Collins wasn't getting the job done. The handwriting is on the wall and it doesn't look like Collins has a future in Tampa Bay. He still has $3 million in salary guaranteed for 2015, but the Bucs will get a net cap savings if they release him.

That looks like a foregone conclusion. But the overhaul isn't going to stop there. The Bucs may decide Dotson is the future on the left side. Or they may draft a left tackle and move Dotson back to the right side.

It's pretty safe to assume Dotson will have a job somewhere on the offensive line, but he might be the only member of the unit you can say that about. Guard Logan Mankins has a chance to stick around, but he's aging and he hasn't played up to the level he did when he was with New England.

Center Evan Dietrich-Smith, another high-priced free agent, has been inconsistent and isn't a lock to stick around. Neither is guard Patrick Omameh.

This offensive line has been bad in the running game and pass protection all season. It's time to rebuild the offensive line.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Seen and heard in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' locker room after Sunday's 19-17 loss to the Carolina Panthers:
  • McCoy
    McCoy
    Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy suffered a hyperextended knee, coach Lovie Smith said. McCoy left the game in the first quarter and did not return. Smith didn't know how serious the injury was, but it's not too much of a stretch to think that McCoy's season probably is over. The Bucs have only two games left, and there's no sense in exposing their best player to further injury.
  • Smith and quarterback Josh McCown both said they were perplexed by a call by the officials at the start of the fourth quarter. After an initial ruling that McCown had thrown an incomplete pass, the play was reviewed and the ruling was changed to a fumble on a ball that traveled about 15 yards in the air. Smith said the explanation from the officials was that the ball already was out and moving before McCown's arm came through.
  • Smith confirmed that left tackle Anthony Collins was indeed a healthy scratch. Collins was benched as the Bucs moved Demar Dotson from the right side to the left side. Smith said the move was a coach's decision. He also said Dotson is Tampa Bay's best tackle and the coaching staff wanted a look at him on the left side.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith hinted during the week that there could be some lineup changes, and he followed through.

Demar Dotson, who normally starts at right tackle, will start at left tackle Sunday against the Carolina Panthers. Oniel Cousins will start at right tackle. Anthony Collins had been the starting left tackle most of the season, but he missed last week’s game with an elbow injury. Collins, who has not played well, appears to be a healthy scratch from the starting lineup and is listed as inactive Sunday.

The other inactives for Tampa Bay are receiver Robert Herron, receiver Solomon Patton, safety Major Wright, linebacker Mason Foster, tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins and defensive tackle Clinton McDonald.
TAMPA, Fla. -- Toward the end of what usually is a short press conference, Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith got philosophical Friday afternoon.

David
It came as he was discussing linebacker Lavonte David, who was not selected for the Pro Bowl last season. David was passed over for a group of guys who play outside linebacker in 3-4 schemes and had big sack totals.

"One of the injustices out there is how we do that," Smith said. "For us, those aren't outside linebackers. To us, those are defensive ends, those are rush guys. To me, as I talk about a linebacker, I'm talking about a guy that can play in space, that can rush, that can drop [into] man coverage. There's a wide variety of things that we're asking him to do as opposed to, most of the time when those Pro Bowl ballots go in, you look at how many sacks a guy has. That's not what I'm talking about. Thank God they didn't hold that against Derrick Brooks because he didn't have a lot of sacks. But a linebacker that can do it all, that's what we talk about on the outside. He's as good as there is at doing that."

The reality is that David probably is going to get passed over again for this season's Pro Bowl. He simply doesn't have the numbers. He has no sacks or interceptions.

"The quick answer is I have no idea why," Smith said. "When I say he's the best outside linebacker, I'm basing it on coaching the linebackers I've been around and their makeup. I'm basing it on seeing Derrick Brooks every day, seeing Lance Briggs, seeing guys in our system that are Pro Bowlers, Hall of Famers and how he compares to them right now. Then, the rest of the league as I look around at what the linebackers are doing in the league. Luke Kuechly is a heck of a player. He's a Mike linebacker. He has good hands. How many interceptions does he have? Zero.

"As far as sacks are concerned, we haven't rushed him an awful lot. But I would be really disappointed if he dropped a lot of interceptions. He hasn't. Some years, the ball just doesn't bounce that way. There's nothing he can't do. I really liked him before I got here. I just love everything that he does now."

David went through the league's concussion protocol after getting kneed in the back of the head against Detroit last week. David passed all the tests and has been cleared to play Sunday against the Carolina Panthers.
TAMPA, Fla. – Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith made it sound Wednesday like changing quarterbacks never was considered.

There had been some outside speculation that Smith might want to look at second-year pro Mike Glennon instead of veteran Josh McCown in the final three games. After dancing around the question Sunday and Monday, Smith was direct in saying why McCown remains the starter.

McCown
“Josh is our quarterback,’’ Smith said. “He gives us the best chance to win.’’

That’s nice, but you can at least make a case that the Bucs, who are out of the playoff picture, should be looking toward the future. But Smith said that’s not the approach his team is taking.

“We’re not looking at guys,’’ Smith said. “It’s like every other week. The guys that start are the guys that I think give us the best chance to win. That’s not going to change. Week 16 it will be the same way.’’

Smith said playing for the future wouldn’t do his team any good in the present.

“It would be pretty hard to tell the guys “Hey, we’re looking to the 2015 season’’,’’ Smith said. “What I’ve talked to the team about is you come to work, you try win every week. So how could you do it any other way besides that? The future is not here right now. It’s the 2014 season and we feel like we can get some things accomplished. Within the organization, we’re all on board with what we’re going to do in these last games. If we look at someone, we feel like that gives us the best chance to win.’’
TAMPA, Fla. – All indications are that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will start quarterback Josh McCown on Sunday at Carolina.

That’s a pretty strong sign that Mike Glennon’s time as the “quarterback of the future" is over with the Bucs. There had been some speculation that the Bucs might go with Glennon for the final three regular-season games now that they officially are out of the playoff race. But it doesn’t sound like playing the second-year pro was even a discussion.

McCown
“The only discussion that was had was [if] Josh is going to be physically ready to play,’" quarterbacks coach Marcus Arroyo said.

McCown took a pounding in Sunday’s loss to Detroit.

“I did not feel very good Monday," McCown said.

But McCown said he was feeling better Wednesday and he was the quarterback the Bucs trotted out to meet with the media. That’s another indication the Bucs plan to finish the season with McCown, who said he was told things would stay status quo. McCown said he doesn’t want to read too much into the decision to stick with him and the Bucs’ intentions for the future.

“If you look back through my career, I’ve learned to just take it year to year," McCown said. “But I did come here for a reason and I’ve said this before. I had opportunities, but to work with [coach] Lovie [Smith] and to build something with him and to be a part of that is something that I want to do. I’m behind him 100 percent in whatever he decides to do. If that’s to take a look at another player at my position, I’m fine with that because I want to help him build this team. Until they say, 'Hey, you’re no longer a part of that,' then I’m going to do that. That’s kind of my mindset. I understand moving forward, if they’re going to stick with me right now, where that leaves me. Obviously, it’s encouraging to have another opportunity to go at it and kind of build momentum heading into 2015."

I’ve said before I think the Bucs should play Glennon in the last three games and I still believe that. I think the Bucs need to take one more look at Glennon before going out and drafting a quarterback or signing one as a free agent.

But I think this closes the door on Glennon, who Smith once called his quarterback of the future. If the Bucs don’t want to take a look at Glennon now, it is unlikely they ever will.

The coaching staff hasn’t shown a lot of faith in Glennon. The latest slight only confirms that. When you really look at it, this coaching staff has benched Glennon twice already.

He was the starter as a rookie most of last season. But the Bucs went out and brought in McCown to take over as the starter. Glennon did get five starts this season when McCown was sidelined with a thumb injury. Glennon didn’t play great, but he wasn’t horrible. He ended up getting benched once McCown was healthy.

This week, the Bucs had one last shot to play Glennon, but it doesn’t look like they’re going to do it.

QB snapshot: Josh McCown

December, 9, 2014
Dec 9
1:00
PM ET
A quick observation of quarterback Josh McCown and how he played in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 34-17 loss in Week 14:

McCown
McCown took a horrible pounding from one of the league’s best defensive fronts. He was sacked six times and hit a whole bunch of other times.

McCown had no chance because the Bucs were one-dimensional, with almost no running game to speak of. The Lions knew McCown was passing on just about every down and they came after him hard. McCown clearly was hobbling in the locker room after the game.

He completed 20 of 39 passes for 250 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He also lost a fumbled snap, but center Evan Dietrich-Smith took the blame for that. McCown had enjoyed good chemistry with rookie receiver Mike Evans this season. But Evans caught only four passes Sunday.

That’s because Detroit was throwing more coverage at Evans and less at Vincent Jackson. That allowed Jackson to turn in his best game of the season, with 10 catches for 159 yards.

Even if McCown is healthy after all the hits he took, he still might not finish the season as the starter. Coach Lovie Smith has been vague about the possibility of the Bucs taking a look at second-year pro Mike Glennon in the final three games.
TAMPA, Fla. -- In an otherwise dismal season, linebacker Danny Lansanah has been a bright spot for the Buccaneers. He could be an even brighter spot in the future.

Coach Lovie Smith said Monday that Lansanah, who has played all three linebacker spots, could have a future as a middle linebacker.

Lansanah
"He won't be our Will linebacker (All-Pro Lavonte David holds that spot), from there I think his talents are suited probably better at the Mike or the Sam linebacker position and he's had success at both of those,'' Smith said. "Again, we'll find out more these next three weeks, like we found out more about him each week he's played. I'll just say he's a player that's a part of the foundation we're building."

Lansanah has spent most of the season at strong-side linebacker. His play was good enough for the Bucs to decide to trade away former starter Jonathan Casillas. But Lansanah got work in the middle in Sunday's loss to Detroit as Mason Foster was out with an injury.

Foster hasn't been a great fit in the Tampa 2 scheme and it's possible he might not be back next season. That's where Lansanah could factor in. He has good quickness and cover skills and might be able to take over at middle linebacker. The Bucs need to make a decision about Lansanah's future position in the offseason.

"I'll just say this, it's hard -- contrary to public opinion -- you can't just move anywhere in our system and it's real easy to pick up; that's not the case,'' Smith said. "Linebacker-wise, the position has as much responsibility and it's hard when you move. All three linebacker positions are different. Again, Derrick Brooks played the same exact position his entire career, Hardy Nickerson did, it's hard doing that (changing positions) and for a guy to have to do that at all three positions is pretty much -- almost series-to-series a little bit -- it's just unheard of. Looking at it that way, Danny has done a good job, but by doing that there are a couple of plays that we would like to have back and that really kind of cost us a little bit."

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