Can Bobby Rainey and Mike Glennon help save Greg Schiano's job?
That such a question is even on the table should emphasize what a bizarre season it has been in Tampa Bay. But now, after an 0-8 start to the year that threatened to end Schiano's tenure before 2013 was out, the Buccaneers have found some life behind their rookie quarterback and a surprising star running back.
They scored their second consecutive victory on Sunday, a 41-28 dismantling of the Falcons. Glennon completed 20-of-23 passes in the victory for 231 yards and two TDs, while Rainey -- he of 79 career rushing yards -- torched Atlanta for 163 yards and three TDs (two on the ground, one through the air).
Suddenly, there's life in Tampa Bay. And maybe even a little renewed confidence in the embattled Schiano.
"Guys trust him, guys believe in him," Tampa Bay offensive lineman David Joseph told the Tampa Tribune's Roy Cummings of Schiano. "For the first time I can say it feels like we're a family now."
A 2-8 record is hardly what the Buccaneers had in mind for 2013, so even a slight uptick may not be enough to grant Schiano a reprieve. (Tampa Bay also plays Detroit, Carolina, San Francisco and New Orleans before the season ends, so even getting to five or six wins will be tough.)
Still, the inevitable coaching change may be slightly less certain all of a sudden.
In sending Josh Freeman packing to get Glennon into the lineup, Schiano made a clear investment in the future. Even if Freeman's relationship with his former head coach forced the move, the decision has begun to pay off. Glennon has been sharp in his seven starts, and he's been at the helm for this two-game mini-win streak.
That Rainey -- and before him Mike James -- has emerged in the backfield ought to be a silver lining for Buccaneers fans, too. James had his breakthrough showing in Week 9, as he plowed for 158 yards in Tampa Bay's near-upset of Seattle (a performance that also may work in Schiano's favor). An injury to James then opened the door for Rainey, and he stepped through with a TD against the Dolphins last Thursday and Sunday's monster showing against Atlanta.
If nothing else, the Buccaneers have found their footing a bit on offense, albeit against two reeling teams. Who knows what that will mean in the long run for Schiano, whose brief Tampa Bay career has been hindered by problems on and off the field. His prospects -- and those of his team -- at least look brighter than they did two weeks ago.