On the last heartbeat, when it was down to one last chance, Mike Glennon missed … everything.
He was wide and high to tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, and he almost missed FirstEnergy Stadium, and he almost missed Cleveland. For all we know, he might have missed the planet. If this was the Bucs' final gasp of breath, it should be said that they suffocated.
And there is your problem, Bucs fans.
It's 2014 and you still don't have a quarterback.
Yes, you can blame Sunday's 22-17 loss to the Browns on the special teams, which kept getting kicks swatted down all over the field. You can blame it on the defense, which always seems to have opposing wide receivers running through it. You can blame it on this coach, or the previous coach, or the one before that, or the one before that.
Or you can blame it on the quarterback.
And what else is new?
What's the saying about all unhappy families being unhappy in their own way? Well, all unhappy football teams seem to share misery at quarterback. In the NFL, you simply cannot win consistently unless you have greatness at the position. Every team that doesn't is simply fooling itself.
If any team knows that, it would figure to be the 1-7 Bucs, the team of Jack Thompson and Vinny Testaverde and Trent Dilfer and Chris Simms and Bruce Gradkowski and Josh Freeman. When it comes to quarterbacks, Tampa is the city that couldn't shoot straight.
Once again, Glennon was less than ordinary Sunday. He threw one touchdown away by underthrowing Mike Evans, and he threw another one away by overthrowing Vincent Jackson. He was too wide and too high on too many downs for the Bucs not to slide into mediocrity with him. Again.
This keeps happening. Glennon has now won only five of his 18 starts as a Buccaneer, and there is still little to argue that he has the necessary intangibles to represent excellence for his team. After 18 starts, most of the quarterbacks who are superb in this league have shown considerably more flashes of good things than he has. They have shown arm, or legs, or flair. Something.
Glennon? For goodness' sake, you fear he is the second coming of Kyle Orton. Yes, Glennon will have a long career, and he'll come off the bench and play okay in a game or two along the way. But will he ever lead a team to the postseason? No, not unless that team is great around him.
The Bucs finally showed flashes Sunday of playing well around Glennon. Admittedly, there have been too many games in which Tampa Bay has asked Glennon to be one of the best players on the field. In this one, he was one of the worst.
The receivers were fabulous with Evans and, with the exception of his last dropped pass, Jackson. The offensive line played well for a change. Running back Bobby Rainey had some nice moments.
Glennon? He made you wince.
On the Bucs' third series of the day, for instance, the team was moving fairly well. Then Evans was streaking wide open down the right sideline. Glennon floated the ball short, however, and safety Donte Whitner intercepted a deflected pass.
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Halfway through the second quarter, it happened again. Cornerback Johnthan Banks put the Bucs in great field position with an interception. But on second down, Glennon overthrew Jackson and was picked off in the end zone. It was a devastating play, the kind of self-destruction that seems to happen often to bad teams.
"The two interceptions were not good," Glennon said. "Those are potentially two touchdowns, throws that I have to make. Just bad throws. Who knows the outcome if I make those throws? One was in the red zone, so we would have at least had three points out of it. The other should have been a touchdown. I just had to lay it out there a bit."
Is that asking too much? In his 18 starts, Glennon's quarterback rating has been over 85 only six times. In 18 starts, his team has scored fewer than 20 points in 10, seven of those games in the Bucs' past 10. Sadly, there is mounting evidence the Bucs need more from the position.
Doesn't every team? The Broncos win because of Peyton Manning, and the Patriots win because of Tom Brady, and the Packers win because of Aaron Rodgers. After all, it is the quarterback who shakes the milk in the NFL.
"We'd like to have those takeaways back," said coach Lovie Smith, "You can't win if you don't protect the ball better than that. It is as simple as that."
For that matter, 1-7 is simple to figure out, too. It is the record of a team going nowhere in a hurry.
Sadly, there is no one to lead it on its way.