The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are benching Josh Freeman in favor of Mike Glennon, with the rookie quarterback due to make his first NFL start at home Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals. Off to an 0-3 start in 2013, coach Greg Schiano's team has become drama central of late. What does this development mean for Glennon, Freeman, Schiano and the Bucs' organization as a whole?
QB change was a long time coming; now the heat's on SchianoThis benching was just a matter of when -- not if -- after the Bucs went looking for an alternative to Josh Freeman during the offseason; in addition to drafting Mike Glennon, Tampa Bay also inquired about Carson Palmer. Freeman was facing a prove-it year, which really was a year in which he had to win over Greg Schiano. Instead, he got less than a prove-it month.
This doesn't put more pressure on Glennon, the rookie quarterback Schiano handpicked in Tampa after trying to recruit him to Rutgers years ago. But it does up the ante for the coach, who now has won his battle with Freeman. Freeman didn't help his own cause by posting a 45.7 percent completion rate over the past three weeks, continuing a swoon that began late last season, but this goes deeper than the numbers. Once word leaked that Freeman had missed a team photo, it was clear his relationship with Schiano was poisoned and that a divorce was inevitable.
Schiano won't have anyone left to blame, though, if the Bucs don't rebound from their disastrous 0-3 start (and stabilize a free-falling offense). The rumbles of discontent from the locker room, which already touched star free-agent acquisition Darrelle Revis, will only intensify.
Don't underestimate Glennon, who reminds me of a young Joe FlaccoThis is a tremendous opportunity for Mike Glennon to prove to the football world that he is a legitimate franchise quarterback. While his draft position in April (third-round pick) would suggest he is a developmental prospect, I've always believed Glennon has the tools to be an upper-echelon NFL quarterback. In fact, I think he compares favorably to Joe Flacco at this stage of his career.
As a 6-foot-6, 232-pound, classic dropback passer with a big arm, Glennon excels at pushing the ball downfield in a vertical scheme. Moreover, he is a masterful ball handler adept at working in an offense built on heavy play-action concepts. This makes him a perfect fit for a Bucs attack that features a sledgehammer at running back (Doug Martin) and two big-bodied pass catchers (Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams) on the perimeter.
If Glennon is given sufficient time in the pocket, he should add a spark to a unit that failed to consistently move the ball with Josh Freeman under center. Sure, the youngster will have his fair share of turnovers, but the potential that he'll deliver big results makes this the right move for the Bucs at this time.
Just another indictment of the Schiano regime in Tampa BayIt's a sign that Greg Schiano has made very little progress since taking over as head coach. Offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan's unit has committed more penalties and blown more assignments than any offense in the league. Josh Freeman has looked lost and inaccurate this season, but there's no denying that his play has worsened since the arrival of Schiano and Sullivan.
The Bucs have to prove they can develop a quarterback, and Mike Glennon just didn't look ready in the preseason.
Freeman still has promise as a quarterback in this leagueI've known Josh Freeman's father for many years. I know the quarterback was raised correctly by good parents, and I couldn't find any character flaws in him when he was coming out for the 2009 NFL Draft. I felt then -- and still feel now -- that he has the tools to be a successful quarterback in this league. He's got everything you want: mobility, a strong throwing arm, intelligence.
In April 2009, I was part of a group that invited Freeman to New York for the draft. Because Freeman didn't stand out at Kansas State -- the Wildcats went 17-20 in his three years there -- folks didn't believe he had what it took to be a first-round pick. Then, of course, the Bucs traded up to take the quarterback 17th overall, and after a slow rookie year, he went on to have an outstanding sophomore season. In that 2010 campaign, Freeman threw 25 touchdown passes (to just six interceptions) with a less-than-stellar receiving corps -- that's pretty good and shows you he can do it.
It would be totally unlike Freeman to do something like oversleep and miss a team picture; that goes against the grain of the way he was brought up. As someone who has known this player for a long time, I wonder if maybe the fact that he wasn't given a new contract in the offseason got to him. I would hope his representatives would stress not letting that kind of stuff set him back, and that they would emphasize trying to earn a reward with his play, à la reigning Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco.
I will say this: The difference between Raheem Morris, who coached Freeman for the early part of his career, and Greg Schiano is like night and day. Some coaches know how to reach some guys better than others. I think Freeman still has promise. Someone will take a chance on him, and I think he'll show that he has what it takes to win. He's still just 25, after all, and he has too much talent not to play better.
A desperate move by a desperate coachGreg Schiano is flailing right now. Mike Glennon is his handpicked guy, and the coach is making the future now in Tampa Bay, because if the Bucs continue to tank, there's no way he'll be around in 2014. Schiano has used up all his goodwill with the fans and the team, so this is it: With his job at stake, he's all-in on Mike Glennon.
And if Glennon doesn't work out? That will mean not just a new head coach next year, but a new franchise QB, since Glennon came cheaply in the draft.