The Bucs offense is starting to fade down the stretch. Mike Glennon had the worst game of his season last week against Buffalo, completing only one pass in the second half.
Running back Bobby Rainey had a decent total number against the Bills, but most of that came in the first half, and the biggest chunk came on one run.
One problem that Greg Schiano points out is the offensive conversion on 3rd down. Schiano tells us his team is frequently in third, and too long too many times -- a problem that started back in the Detroit game.
"[Against] Detroit, we had more negative plays than we've had in a while," Schiano points out. "A negative play on first down usually amounts to an eight-plus yard third down. Not always, but usually, just statistically."
Schiano says that's why a first down or a possession-and-10 negative play is a big thing.
"Because there's a really good possibility of third-and-long. Incrementally, it goes way up. I'm talking about getting second-and-nine compared to second-and-12-third-down conversion on that set of downs is a lot lower if you start second-and-12," he said.
Schiano adds that there have been some longer downs in these last couple weeks.
"But then the third-and-eights can't be a longer down; you've got to find a way to get eight yards. That's something that we have to do better," he said.
What about third-and-13s?
"There's a reason that the conversion rate's pretty low across the league on third-and-13's, third-and-14's. But the eights and the nines, not everyone's going to be four-to-six, three-to-five. We're going to have some sevens, eights and nines that you've got to find a way to convert," Schiano says.
While the offense struggles, the defense is surging. The Bucs defense dominated Buffalo, winning the game by shutting Buffalo down.
Darrelle Revis says he can see the progress, see the performance getting better each week.
"We've been growing as a team, I feel. These last four out of five games I think we've really grown and I think we know how to win together," Revis said. "Guys know how guys play now and the communication of where guys are supposed to be and not supposed to be."
Revis says the team feels confident.
"We've been on a roll and we've got to continue to do that. And that's just us sticking together like we've always been this whole year, even though it's been rocky; but we can build, I was saying this earlier in the year, we can build off this and look forward to the future."
The Niners come in with plenty of motivation, they can clinch a spot in the playoffs with a win and a little help. But the Bucs are showing us, they still have their own "December" mindset -- with a defense that is playing and producing as if a playoff spot is on the line.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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