Bucs QBs Ryan Griffin, Mike Glennon and Jameis Winston – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
The future arrived in the rain at 8:50 p.m. ET with 10:56 left in the second quarter.
That’s when Ryan Griffin entered the game for Tampa Bay as it wrapped up its 2016 preseason at home against Washington. Griffin, the Bucs’ third-string quarterback, is expected to be the No. 2 quarterback next year when Mike Glennon hits free agency. Glennon will supposedly be as a sought-after free agent passer, although this year’s shaky preseason could change his perception around the league.
If Glennon departs as expected, that means that Griffin would be one Jameis Winston injury away from becoming Tampa Bay’s starting QB in 2017 – unless the Bucs change their long-term game plan under center.
Based upon what happened over the past month that might not be a bad idea.
Let’s face it. The game conditions in Wednesday night’s preseason finale at soggy Raymond James Stadium were awful.
Thanks to Tropical Storm Hermine it rained for hours prior to – and during – the Bucs vs. Redskins game. To say the weather conditions were conducive to the passing game would be a gross misstatement.
Glennon, who started the game, was 1-of-5 for minus-1 yard against the Redskins in Wednesday night’s 20-13 loss to Washington. His best pass of the night – a bomb to Russell Shepard – was right on the money, but dropped due to the wet conditions.
Bucs QB Mike Glennon fumbled the ball against the Redskins – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Glennon fumbled the ball Garo Yepremian style as he was throwing his second pass attempt, and he recovered it for what became a 7-yard sack by Redskins linebacker Trent Murphy. He finished the preseason completing 21-of-45 passes (46.6 percent) for 215 yards with one touchdown and one interception. A less-than-50-percent completion percentage is not what you want from a fourth-year quarterback with plenty of NFL starting experience.
As bad as Glennon was on Wednesday, Griffin was even worse until the last minute of the game when he threw his first and only touchdown pass of the preseason.
Griffin’s first pass attempt was thrown off his back foot and too high for the 6-foot-6 Austin Seferian-Jenkins and was batted up by Redskins safety Everett Shazor and into the waiting arms of fellow safety Duke Ihenacho at the Tampa Bay 23.
“That was a very poor decision on the first ball when he was rolling to his left and he tried to throw to Austin,” Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter said after the game. “I tell those guys, ‘Don’t try to make plays you can’t make. You don’t turn into Superman all of a sudden.’ That was a very bad decision. I though Ryan settled down in the second half and played more like he has played consistently throughout camp.”
That was Griffin’s fourth interception of the preseason and led to a 23-yard field goal attempt that put the Redskins up 13-0 midway through the second quarter.
With 1:06 remaining before halftime, Griffin badly overthrew running back Peyton Barber, who was wide open in the flat on first down. On third-and-3 at the 46-yard he had his own Yepremian moment, and like Glennon, recovered his own fumble.
Has that ever happened before where two quarterbacks have a Yepremian in the same game?
Griffin finished the night completing 23-of-38 passes for 190 yards, but he completed just 8-of-16 passes for 66 yards in the first three quarters before slinging 22 passes in the fourth as the Bucs furiously tried to mount a comeback in garbage time. (Actually, all four quarters of Wednesday night’s slopfest could be considered “garbage time.”)
Griffin actually had a chance for two touchdowns against the Redskins, but threw behind Freddie Martino, who was wide open in the end zone, earlier in the fourth quarter and the pass fell incomplete. The Bucs settled for a 22-yard field goal by Roberto Aguayo, who was 3-of-3 on the night (two field goals, one extra point), including a career-long 50-yarder.
Dating back to the Jacksonville game, Aguayo has now connected on 11 kicks in a row (six field goals, five extra points) heading into the regular season opener against Atlanta on September 11. That was the lone bright spot in a dismal game from the Buccaneers, who finished the preseason 2-2.
It certainly wasn’t the quarterback play of Griffin and Glennon. Because of the constant downpour and the erratic play from Griffin and Glennon, the Bucs were unable to get any clarity on which players would claim the fourth and fifth wide receiver positions in the preseason finale.
“It’s my fourth time playing in one, you’ve got guys out there that are fighting for jobs that haven’t played a whole lot,” Griffin said. “So it’s your job not only to get them the ball, but also calm them down or make them feel comfortable.”
Bucs QB Ryan Griffin – Photo by: Getty Images
Granted, Griffin didn’t work with the starting offensive line or receivers during the month of August, but he didn’t look comfortable until the fourth quarter when the rain let up. His preseason did little to inspire confidence in the backup position behind Winston for the future.
In other words, nobody should confuse Griffin with Jeff Hostetler.
Playing for most of the game, Griffin helped lead the Buccaneers to just 213 total yards of offense, while the Redskins amassed 301 yards – largely due to the legs of running back Mack Brown, who had 149 yards rushing, including a 60-yard touchdown.
This was not the way the Bucs’ envisioned Griffin ending his preseason as the team contemplates keeping him as the third-string quarterback on the 53-man roster for a second season. Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter made news this week when he revealed that the team was leaning towards keeping three QBs once again.
“I think it’s safe [to say] that we’re probably going to keep three quarterbacks,” Koetter said earlier in the week. “Two reasons: one, we put a lot of time into Ryan Griffin and I think he’s proving that he’s capable of being a backup in this league. And then the second thing is, obviously, it’s not a big secret that Mike Glennon is going into the last year of his contract. Jameis is our quarterback for the long haul, but we’ve got to have a two and those guys take so long to train and with the calendar the way it is in the NFL where you can’t bring guys in early… I mean we’ve invested – well, we picked ‘Griff’ up at this time last year – so we’ve invested a full year into his training. A lot of that is him and [quarterbacks] Coach Mike Bajakian a lot of time that you guys don’t know about. He’s done a good job when he’s been on the field and we think he’s got a chance to be here long-term.”
After looking at what Griffin did in four preseason games the future for the Bucs looks mighty scary if Winston ever misses time with an injury. Griffin came into Wednesday night’s game completing just 20-of-36 passes (55.6) for 239 yards with no touchdowns and three interceptions and a QB rating of 41.3.
Yet that prompted Koetter to say he was very comfortable about the guys behind Winston?
“Very comfortable,” Koetter said when asked about the supposed depth at Tampa Bay’s QB position heading into 2016. “I feel great about that room. I think we have good depth. Again, if it was a perfect world, we are getting to the point where it would be better for our football team if we could keep two quarterbacks because we’re going to have to let some guys go that we don’t want to let go. And I think the perfect set-up with the way the NFL is structured right now, is two quarterbacks and one on practice squad. But if you have a good one and you try to put him on practice squad, the league is so short of quarterbacks, he’ll get scooped up like that.
“We had two guys we were waiting on last year and Ryan Griffin was one of them. We had two guys that we had our eye on, only one of them came open [and] we snapped him up. And like I was saying yesterday, we invested a year and it just so happens that Mike [Glennon’s] deal’s up [after the season]. If we didn’t have that situation with Mike, then maybe things would be different. I believe in keeping two and a developmental guy, but we’re just not in that situation right now.”
Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo: Cliff Welch/PR
Despite having a year’s worth of development invested in Griffin, you have to wonder if Koetter is rethinking his position after Wednesday night’s debacle?
“I think Griff’s done a good job,” Koetter said earlier in the week. “It’s no secret – Mike Glennon’s going into the last year of his contract so we’ve got to figure out if Griff is a good long-term answer as our number two.”
I would say no, but my name isn’t Dirk Koetter or Jason Licht.
I would also say Winston needs to stay healthy over the next couple of years because if he’s lost for any time due to injury the Buccaneers’ ship is likely sunk with Glennon or Griffin at the helm based on what we saw in August.
Scott Reynolds is in his 22nd year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds enjoys giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: email@example.com
I never want to see Griffin step onto the field in a regular season game put him on the practice squad who cares if someone takes him we should do what the Raiders did and draft a Connor Cook type guy (if available) in the 4th round
You absolutely nailed this one Matthew. Look in the 3rd or 4th rd for a Joe Montana type that is overlooked because of size. Develop him. However, now trade Glennon, put Griffin on the Practice squad, and go get an older journeyman QB.
Spot on SR. Our backups are atrocious.
Strongly agree with Sr and Jbf.
Both QB’s played horribly and there is no disputing that. That being said, the WR’s catch a few balls thrown to them and they go from awful to poor. WE also have awful back up WR’s. This does not help the QB backups. IMO both positions have players that seemed to be afraid of some water on their uniform. Aside from Aguayo, very disappointing..we have lots of little sissies as backups when it rains.
To me Mike Glennon has been the biggest disappointment this pre-season. He has regressed from his rookie year when he put up some decent statistics albeit with an ultra-conservative approach by always playing it safe. After what he put on tape these past 4 exhibition games, there are a lot of other QB’s out there better than him. No one would trade for this guy.
As for Griffin. He has some skills that need to be developed, but from what I see he’s not a #2 at this point.
Neither one looks like he could challenge for a starting gig in the CFL let alone this league. Right now we’re stuck with them. Dirk is like the guy seeking a date to the Prom and his only choices are on the homely side. Stop trying to tell us they look good Coach. We Bucs fans know ugly when we see it.
Lets be honest. We have no depth at wide receiver. All preseason Gleanon has been putting the ball on the numbers and the 2nd and 3rd string WRs have proven they cannot catch. Not at all. None of them should be kept. REDDY even fumbles catching punts. These are not ready for the NFL players. There will be better WRs released when the teams cut the rosters down.
If Gleanon was passing to Evans, Jackson, and Humphries he would have had a much better preseason!
Not sure which games some of you have been watching, but Glennon hasn’t been “putting it on the numbers.” I don’t disagree that the WR talent is poor after the starters, but Glennon has regressed badly. He has played himself out of having any trade value. Rather than getting a solid back up’s contract he will be lucky to get a “prove it” type contract.
Scubog, it’s uncanny but I pretty much posted the same critique of Glennon in “The Most Disappointing Bucs” before reading the one you posted here.
Can’t say I agree with the PR assessment of Griffin’s play last night. For one thing, the pass by Griffin to Martino was very catchable and one that should be made by an NFL caliber receiver.
Griffin seems to start out cold but as the game progresses and he gets into a rhythm, his passes and accuracy improve. Remind you of anyone?
If I had to choose between who I was going to keep between Griffin or Glennon. I would go with Griffen who seems to have a much better feel and movement in the pocket when under duress.
Fortunately, according to Koetter, no one will have to make that difficult decision.
But after watching last nights game I disagree with the head honcho in one aspect. I don’t think any of the lower rung players after the first 40 or so are going to be invaluable to this team if we cut them.
The only thing Glennon and Griffen have going for them from what I can see is they know the playbook. That’s it. As “Lovie ” would say…. ” Very disappointing”.
Be Afraid…be Very Afraid!
In training camp last year Jameis and Mike looked about even. A year later, Jameis and Mike look nothing a like. Did Jameis get that much better or has Mike’s development fallen back?
Both look like they have moved in opposite polar directions Kegan.
The only reason Glennon did okay his first year is because it was his first year and after that everybody knew to blitz the walking stick. Griffin has shown nothing. Bottom line, neither of these two QB’s are worth keeping; try some others.
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