TAMPA — As debates go, whether Josh McCown or Mike Glennon should quarterback the final five games of the season isn't an argument worth having.
At 2-9, Glennon supporters would point out, the Bucs aren't going anywhere despite the two-game separation between first and last place in the NFC South standings (which for the last-place Bucs is more like three games because they've lost both games to 4-7 Atlanta and are 0-1 versus New Orleans).
Why not see what you have in Glennon instead of the 35-year-old McCown, who is watching the sand run out of his career hourglass? The simple answer is that coach Lovie Smith believes McCown still gives the Bucs the best chance to win.
When a coach is trying to change a losing culture and needs to validate his philosophies, wins are important. Plus, though Glennon has done some good things when he has played, he's 5-13 as a starter over two seasons. That's a decent sample size, not to mention that the Bucs believe his inaccuracy cost them games against the Vikings and Browns.
When a coach asks 52 other players to lay it on the line each week, he can't simply tell them they're playing to try to possibly develop a quarterback the last month or so. There also is a need to continue the growth of other players. WR Mike Evans has had his best games with McCown under center. Four of his six touchdown receptions in the past four games have been thrown by McCown, who does need to do a better job of protecting the football.
Also, considering the sad state of the offensive line, having a quarterback who can escape the pocket may be the best thing.
If the Bucs draft a quarterback in the first or second round in May, they will need someone to provide a bridge to him. Glennon had trade value before the 2014 draft. McCown's experience may be more of an asset to a young player at that position.
A DEBATE WORTH HAVING: Doug Martin versus Bobby Rainey or Charles Sims.
Martin has been derailed by injuries, having played only 12 games the past two seasons. He is averaging 2.8 yards per carry and last week at Chicago had 11 rushes for 27 yards, with 10 coming on one play.
Rainey is the club's leading rusher, with 395 yards, but hasn't had a significant role in the offense in the past three weeks — since the return of rookie Sims from injured reserve. Rainey has been the featured back in the Bucs' only two 100-yard rushing games this season.
Last week, Marcus Arroyo, who is running the offense, basically alternated Martin and Sims every series, with Rainey playing primarily on passing downs. Overall, the lack of production on the ground is the by-product of a below-average offensive line and a lack of creativity in play-calling.
But if it's truly about winning games at this point, the only back averaging as much as 4.2 yards per carry is Rainey, despite Martin's pedigree and Pro Bowl rookie season. The three-headed rotation ensures only that none of the running backs gets into a rhythm.
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GREAT FIND: Free agency hasn't been kind to the Bucs this year, and injuries are part of that story. But the Bucs did hit on NT Clinton McDonald.
Not only is he the only player on defense to start every game, he leads all Bucs defensive linemen with 36 tackles and is tied for second on the team with four sacks. He also had a fumble recovery last week against the Bears and had an interception in Week 9.
"He seems to be around the ball a lot," defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said, "whether he's pushing the pocket and creating something for someone else or being around the ball like he was on Sunday and picking up a fumble. He's one of those guys who kind of has a knack. You know what you're going to get every week and every practice with Clinton. He's been a good player for us."