Bucs players, including WR Mike Williams, have raved about the development of rookie QB Mike Glennon, who will get the start for Tampa Bay on Sunday against Arizona. Find out what his teammates think about Glennon's preparation, his confidence and his arm as he gets ready for his first NFL start.
The Mike Glennon era in Tampa Bay has begun.
With the benching of five-year starting quarterback Josh Freeman due to the team’s 0-3 record in 2013 and 1-5 finish in the 2012 season, Bucs head coach Greg Schiano will put the offense – and the franchise – in the hands of Glennon, the team’s third-round pick this past April, to help spark the team's moribund offense.
The reason why Glennon is starting on Sunday instead against Arizona instead of after the bye week is that Tampa Bay feels it will be beneficial to the young quarterback's development to see action against an injury-plagued Cardinals defense and then have the bye week to study his own film and learn from that as he prepares for the Philadelphia game on October 4. The fact that both the Cardinals and Eagles games are at home also played into the decision to start Glennon.
Freeman, who is entering a contract year, was benched for his lack of performance. Tampa Bay’s offense has scored just 24 points through three games – an average of just eight points per game after averaging 24 points per game a year ago. Jacksonville’s offense has actually scored more points this season with 28.
There has been plenty of controversy surrounding Freeman, the team’s first-round pick in 2009, who missed the first day of his own football camp in June and the Bucs’ team photo in September. There have been multiple reports about friction between the tightly wound Schiano and the laid back veteran quarterback.
Also, his peers didn’t vote Freeman, who will likely be traded in October, as a team captain by for the first time in three years prior to the start of the 2013 season, and there have rumors of off the field problems affecting his performance.
Bucs players have raved about Glennon’s preparation behind the scenes at One Buccaneer Place.
“He’s actually surprised me,” Tampa Bay wide receiver Mike Williams said. “He gets here real early and leaves late. He really prepares like he’s going to be the starter every week. That’s what they tell the backup quarterback he’s supposed to do, but I’ve never seen a rookie do it like he’s actually been doing it. It’s surprised me how he’s gone out there and prepared. They drafted him for a reason. He’s good.”
The cerebral Glennon is known for study lots of tape at One Buccaneer Place dating back to the organized team activities in May. The team expects his veteran-like approach to preparation to help him step in and be able to lead the Bucs to victory this Sunday against Arizona.
“The main thing is just the preparation during the week, getting here early and watching the film,” Glennon said. “Going through the work week knowing the notes to take, watching the film and game-planning against a defense. In the preseason it wasn’t so much about game-planning. That helps me understand defenses more, and it helps me understand the offense more. Although my reps are minimal, I want to make the most out of them – even with the scout team – and in my classroom stuff.”
Starting nose tackle and fellow rookie Akeem Spence has been impressed with how Glennon has performed on the scout team in the month of September.
“Mike G. has been giving us great looks on the scout team, throwing balls into tight windows,” Spence said. “He looks good to me, even when he’s taking his reps with the No. 2’s. He’s throwing the ball good, getting the play call and getting the offense up to the line ready to play. Through everything I’ve seen from camp he’s progressing and getting better and better week in and week out.”
Dating back to the preseason, Freeman has yet to complete at least 50 percent of his passes this year. He posted a QB rating of 56.7 after completing 12-of-26 passes (46.1 percent) for 101 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. Freeman was sacked nine times and fumbled once. His accuracy did not improve in the regular season as he has completed just 43-of-94 passes (45.7 percent) for 571 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions.
The problem for Tampa Bay is that Glennon, too, was inaccurate in the preseason. The North Carolina State product led the Buccaneers in passing during the preseason, completing 33-of-70 attempts (47.1 percent) for 397 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions. The rookie was sacked four times and fumbled once, while posting a QB rating of 61.4.
However, the Bucs’ brass and coaching staff believe that Glennon has improved during the past month since his last performance on the field in a game situation, and that his intelligence can help accelerate his learning curve.
“He is a really bright, intelligent quarterback with football IQ – very high – and I think he’ll fit in really, really well here,” Schiano said after drafting Glennon in April.
“[Glennon is] a very smart, cerebral young man who really understands systems and has worked with some of the best quarterback coaches,” Dominik said. “His coach actually coached Matt Ryan, coached Russell Wilson. He’s worked with some really great coaches in his development so far and that’s what’s exciting about him.”
In college after sitting behind Wilson for his first two years, Glennon started his final two seasons for the Wolfpack, completing 646-of-1,069 passes for 7,411 yards with 63 touchdowns and 31 interceptions.
As a junior replacing Wilson, Glennon completed 62.5 percent of his passes for 3,054 yards with 31 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. As a senior, Glennon’s completion percentage dipped to 58.5 percent while throwing for 4,031 yards with 31 touchdowns and 17 picks.
He had 12 games with three touchdown passes or more, including a trio of scores in the Belk Bowl where he was named the game’s MVP during his junior season. Glennon helped North Carolina State beat Louisville, which was led by Teddy Bridgewater, 31-24, two years ago.
Bucs wide receiver Eric Page, who caught three passes for 55 yards last week against New England, spent a lot of time catching passes from Glennon in practice dating back to the OTAs and training camp, and believes he has the arm and confidence to succeed in the NFL – starting this Sunday against Arizona.
“He has a great arm,” Page said. “I didn’t watch him too much in college, but he has a nice, tight spiral. It’s easy to catch. You can see the ball coming.
“He’s just smooth. He can go out there and control the game. He has a level head and that’s what you want in a quarterback. When everything is going on you want him to be confident, and I think that’s what he is. He has a lot of learning to do, but that goes for everybody here. I think his confidence is building.”
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