TAMPA — Before the Bucs can finally beat another team, they have to stop beating themselves with penalties.
Tampa Bay leads the league in penalty yards per game (86) and is second in flags per game (nine), and coach Greg Schiano says a collective effort is needed to solve an evolving problem.
"Part of it is we're trying too hard," Schiano said. "We're pressing a little bit. Why do you hold somebody? We have six holding penalties in two games. Early on, the penalties were those personal fouls that were aggressive plays. So it's kind of been an evolving penalty problem."
Schiano pointed out that last season, the Bucs were 11th in penalty yardage, and they are now last, so "something has changed." He said if it were just one player, he could make a move, but it's not. Schiano planned to address the issue at Monday's afternoon meeting.
Penalties played a big role in Sunday's 31-23 loss to the Falcons, with three of the 11 flags coming on Tampa Bay's nine-minute fourth-quarter drive that ended with a field goal. The Bucs gave the Falcons offense gifts, including DE Trevor Scott's roughing the passer penalty that turned third and long into a first down. Instead of punting, Atlanta drove to its second touchdown.
Tampa Bay ran 75 plays to the Falcons' 44 and had 15 more minutes of time of possession, but the penalties were a more telling statistic.
"We just need to make those go away," Schiano said. "Because, right now, if you look, six of them were in Atlanta territory, four in the red zone, three of them on third down. On defense, we gave them two first downs. So when you add all that up, as I said (Sunday) after the game, when you look at the final sheet, you look at a lot of the different things, 'What did we win by?' But you don't look at the column that says 'PEN,' because that's a big reason why we didn't win."
IN THE RUNNING: With RB Doug Martin's shoulder injury, the Bucs claimed RB Bobby Rainey off waivers from the Browns. Rainey, 26, had 13 carries for 34 yards in six games in Cleveland. He entered the league in 2012 as an undrafted free agent with the Ravens and never played in a game for them. Rainey could be a reserve behind Mike James and Brian Leonard.
LIKE MIKE: As pleased as the Bucs are with QB Mike Glennon's weekly progress, the rookie believes he can improve.
"I'm extremely tough on myself. I think all quarterbacks at this level are," Glennon said. "No one wants to succeed more than ourselves, and no one is harder on ourselves than we are.
"I think there's definitely room for improvement. I've made some good plays, I've made some bad plays but I look forward to progressing with this offense and helping this team make plays."
SAFETY FIRST: Though Schiano said it's possible S Dashon Goldson (knee) will play Thursday, it's still a question mark. And there appears to be thinning depth at safety, with S Mark Barron (hip) and S Keith Tandy (concussion) listed on Monday's injury report. While Barron is likely to play, Tandy might not, considering the short turnaround. S Kelcie McCray, 25, claimed off waivers this month, unexpectedly got into his fifth NFL game Sunday when Goldson got hurt and could get more action Thursday.
"I was as comfortable as I could be with having three weeks in the system," McCray said. "I feel like I've grasped the system so far, and I think the coaches felt the same way, that's why they had the confidence to put me in."
MEDICAL MATTERS: As expected, RB Jeff Demps (groin) and LG Carl Nicks (foot) are listed as out for Thursday. … DE Da'Quan Bowers (toe) said the injury was just a minor setback, and he feels it's pretty much taken care of.