NFL Wire News

Bucs focus on next season but stick with McCown


TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers already are looking at 2015 as their season wraps up with two remaining games at Raymond James Stadium.

On Tuesday, the Bucs placed three players on injured reserve: defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (knee), tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins (back) and wide receiver Louis Murphy (ankle).

McCoy leads the Bucs with 8.5 sacks and is their best player. It is not a good week to lose him with the Green Bay Packers coming to town Sunday.

However, rather than dwell on their 2-12 record, the Bucs are making moves to help them next year and beyond. They switched right tackle Demar Dotson to left tackle, which could erase a need early in the draft. Currently, the Bucs own the No. 1 pick over the Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars based on strength of schedule.

Tampa Bay also is taking long looks at young players: Bradley McDougald is starting at safety. Danny Lansanah is filling in at middle linebacker but has a job at strong-side linebacker when Mason Foster returns from injury. Defensive end Jacques Smith took over at left defensive end and is second on the team in sacks.

At quarterback, though, there is no change for coach Lovie Smith. He is sticking with Josh McCown.

Opponents have feasted on McCown’s 16 turnovers: 12 interceptions and four lost fumbles. The only players to have more lost fumbles this year are New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith and Jaguars rookie quarterback Blake Bortles.

“Not what you want as a quarterback,” Tampa Bay offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo said. “It’s something that he did not do last year. At all. He was as good as it gets in the league. A lot of (the fumbles) were in the pocket this year. A lot of them were ball-security things.

“He’s beating himself up over it. He’s got to take care of the football because he knows, being in the league this long, the key to victory, No. 1, is taking care of the football.”

Perhaps that is why, having watched McCown throw 13 touchdown passes and only one interception for the Chicago Bears last year — the best ratio in the NFL — Smith chose the 35-year-old veteran to be his starting quarterback over Mike Glennon. The decision isn’t being revisited.

“I think Josh gives us our best opportunity,” Smith said. “That’s not necessarily a knock against Mike. We start 11 guys. We could say that about every player we dress.

“I got a chance to see what Mike is during that time (he played). His future right now, he’s on our football team. The future is about that last press conference after the season.”

Certainly, Glennon did not take advantage of his opportunity, going 1-4 with 10 touchdown passes and six interceptions while McCown was recovering from a torn ligament in his right thumb. Even so, with Smith emptying his bench and moving players around like chess pieces since falling out of the race, it is telling Glennon is still carrying a clipboard.

Glennon says he is still going by what Smith told him and reporters at the start of the season, that he’s the Bucs’ quarterback of the future.

“Yeah, I don’t see why not,” Glennon said. “That’s what has been told to me. I mean, that’s just been the communication throughout. Until they tell me otherwise, that’s the approach I’ll take.”

Meanwhile, McCown has to do a better job of keeping both hands on the football, especially when he feels pressure.

Of course, if the Bucs are able to retain the No. 1 overall pick, they almost certainly will use it on a quarterback, either Oregon’s Marcus Mariota or Florida State’s Jameis Winston.

In the meantime, the only question is which player will serve as the bridge to the new quarterback: McCown or Glennon?

Right now, it seems obvious Smith’s choice is McCown.

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