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There was a time when they said only three things can happen when you throw the football and two of them are bad: an incompletion or interception. With the way games are officiated today, that no longer holds water.

Considering the rules against where and when you can hit the quarterback, targeting defenseless pass catchers and the inability to touch receivers after 5 yards, it would be foolish not to fill the sky with footballs.

"What you're referring to is the DPI (defensive pass interference) factor and the DPI at the point of the foul," Bucs coach Greg Schiano said. "If you throw the deep ball and get a DPI, you can't advance the ball. That's the only downside compared to the catch, but it's still a big chunk.

"We haven't done it as well as we would like to and as well as we have in the past. And that's something we are focused on."

Big plays come in the passing game. A year ago, the Bucs had 57 of 20 yards or more and 16 of 40 yards or more. Contrast that with the first four games this season. Tampa Bay has no plays of 40 yards or more and only a dozen of 20 yards or more.

Until Tampa Bay shows it can pass downfield with success, RB Doug Martin will continue to be swarmed by eight- and nine-man fronts, which is why the Bucs are averaging only 3.6 yards per carry.

"I don't think that's the only thing, but I don't think it's too simplistic either," Schiano said. "I think we have to throw the ball deep down the field. Intermediate routes are one thing, but we have to throw the ball effectively down the field."

In his first start, two weeks ago, rookie Mike Glennon did some nice things. He distributed the football to nine receivers. But his downfield throws left much to be desired. Two sailed out of bounds, and another was hummed so hard, it bounced off WR Kevin Ogletree's face mask.

Can Glennon help the Bucs connect on passes downfield? He said they will throw the ball downfield more often today against the Eagles.

"At the same time, we want to get completions," Glennon said. "And if something underneath is there, I'm going to take it.

"As we continue to evolve, hopefully we'll get some deep passes down there and that will help our running game out."

ALL GONE: What would happen if the league said 31 clubs could participate in the draft but one could not.

That's essentially what has happened to the Bucs. Not one player is left from their 2009 class after QB Josh Freeman was released. That was the first draft under GM Mark Dominik.

When those players should be hitting free agency and, hopefully for teams, re-signing to long-term deals, the Bucs are left to make up for those mistakes with free agency.

HELP WAS HERE: Bengals DT Wallace Gilberry had some unflattering things to say about Schiano last week.

In 2012, he was released by the Bucs in preseason. The next day, the team called and said it made a mistake, so he re-signed. Gilberry then was cut after the regular-season opener, which meant the Bucs owed him his entire contract.

Gilberry has 8 1/2 sacks over the past two seasons for the Bengals. Meanwhile, Cowboys DE George Selvie, who was released by Tampa Bay before training camp this season, has three for the Cowboys. The Bucs have two sacks apiece from DT Gerald McCoy and DE Adrian Clayborn.

Turns out, they could have used the help that was once in the building.

Rick Stroud can be heard from 6 to 9 a.m. weekdays on WDAE-620.