SR’s Fab 5 is a collection of inside scoop, analysis and insight from yours truly, Pewter Report publisher and Bucs beat writer Scott Reynolds. Here are a few things that caught my attention this week at One Buc Place:
FAB 1. GLENNON’S WEAKNESSES HAVE BEEN EXPOSED
Buccaneers quarterback Mike Glennon had a November to remember and has had a December to forget. After a hot start to his rookie season, Glennon’s play has fallen off to the point where Tampa Bay needs to once again think about drafting a quarterback in the first round.
In the month of November, Glennon threw seven touchdowns and just one interception to win the NFC Offensive Rookie of the Month honors. In the first eight starts of Glennon’s NFL career, the North Carolina State product threw 13 touchdowns and just four interceptions while passing for 1,782 yards, an average of 223 yards per game. Glennon completed a respectable 62.5 percent of his passes during his first eight starts.
But in December over the last four games, Glennon has completed just 53.8 percent of his passes for 607 yards, an average of only 152 yards per game. Glennon’s completion percentage has dropped nearly 10 percentage points and his yards-per-game is down 75 yards per contest. After starting his career with a 3:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio during his first eight games, Glennon has thrown just four touchdowns and four interceptions since. It’s no wonder the Bucs have lost three out of their last four games and will likely lose the 2013 season finale at New Orleans on Sunday.
Glennon’s struggles aren’t entirely on him. The offensive line has played terribly against Carolina, San Francisco and St. Louis and has failed in its efforts to protect the team’s third-round draft pick and open up holes for running back Bobby Rainey. The lack of a running game has put more pressure on Glennon, as has the lack of balance in Tampa Bay’s offense.
But since the final two possessions of the team’s 33-14 loss to San Francisco, Glennon has suddenly developed happy feet and has been quick to try to escape the pocket instead of standing tall amid the pressure and deliver the football. That hasn’t worked out well for a guy that’s not mobile.
Against the 49ers, Glennon was 0-for-6 with an interception and was sacked twice in Tampa Bay’s last two possessions of the game as the Bucs failed to gain a single yard. Last Sunday against St. Louis, Glennon was sacked a career-high seven times and the rookie is starting to look at the rush rather than keeping his eyes focused downfield. He’s also starting to feel a phantom rush on some plays because he has been sacked so much lately.
That’s not a good sign, and is reminiscent of the play of former Bills and Buccaneers quarterback Rob Johnson, and that of former Texans quarterback David Carr. It’s not all on the offensive line, though, as Glennon’s receivers have struggled to get open against man coverage, too.
Glennon is smart, has a big arm, goes through his progressions well, and is accurate when he has time to throw. This is a quarterback that completed 20-of-23 passes (87 percent) for 247 yards and two touchdowns in a 41-28 win over Atlanta earlier this season. But his lack of escapability in an era when defensive linemen are bigger, stronger and faster is very concerning, among other things.
Teams now know that the right-handed Glennon cannot throw when scrambling to his left. He doesn’t have the quickness or agility to turn his body on the move, set his shoulders and accurately throw on the run. That’s why teams are now blitzing Glennon from his front-side (right) rather than trying to apply the more traditional backside pressure (left) and attack his blindside.
If the Bucs don’t have a running game does that mean Glennon will be ineffective as a passer? It sure seems that way based on the evidence we’ve seen.
How tough is the rail-thin, 6-foot-6, 226-pounder. He didn’t look too tough when he dove head first for no gain – a yard short of the first down – on third-and-1 rather than barreling into Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins. Unfortunately, that play showed a real lack of intestinal fortitude as Jenkins stands just 5-foot-10 and weighs 198 pounds.
Perhaps more importantly, we haven’t seen Glennon take over a game in the fourth quarter. Showing that he was capable of putting a last-minute touchdown drive together in garbage time of the Panthers contest or the 49ers game would have been nice.
As of right now, Glennon is the leading contender for the starting job in Tampa Bay heading into the offseason, but the job shouldn’t be handed to him. Glennon needs some real competition whether it is in the form of a veteran or a rookie quarterback taken in the first or second round – preferably someone with mobility that can extend plays with his feet or extend drives with some scrambling ability.
Bucs head coach Greg Schiano is a big believer in Glennon, and if he’s still around after this season that would be good news for the Napoleon Dynamite look-alike. But Schiano can’t have blind faith in Glennon and ignore his weaknesses, which became apparent this season. He needs to bring in a legitimate challenger for the team’s third-round pick from last April if he has any chance of surviving past 2014.
If Schiano is replaced, a new coach will likely give Glennon a shot, but will also have a hand in acquiring his own signal caller through free agency or the draft. That would probably end his reign at quarterback in Tampa Bay unless the North Carolina State alum had a sensational training camp and preseason while learning his second offense in as many years, and that wouldn’t bode well for Glennon.
FAB 2. THE 2014 QB DRAFT CLASS MAY BE OVERRATED
The 2014 draft class is supposedly littered with talented quarterbacks. As many as five quarterbacks have been discussed as being first-round picks, which is good news for Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which are going to need to draft a signal caller to compete with Mike Glennon, the team’s third-round pick in 2013.
But a closer look at the upcoming draft suggests that there are plenty of big-name quarterbacks, but do they have big-time NFL talent? Georgia’s Aaron Murray was only thought to be as high as a fourth- or fifth-round pick prior to his torn ACL due to his lack of size and arm strength. Now, Murray could go undrafted despite his accomplishments at Georgia and in the SEC.
Despite setting a slew of Clemson and ACC records, Tajh Boyd is viewed as more of a great college quarterback than a great pro prospect. At 6-foot-1, 225 pounds, Boyd, who is viewed as a third- or fourth-round pick, doesn’t have ideal size for the NFL and many scouts believe he is the product of a high-powered college offense and that his skills won’t necessarily translate to the NFL too well.
Alabama’s A.J. McCarron, a three-time national champion and the 2013 Heisman Trophy runner-up will likely not get drafted higher than the third round. McCarron is not mobile and doesn’t have ideal NFL arm strength.
Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner, is likely a first-rounder, but will be one of the biggest boom-or-bust prospects in the 2014 draft if he declares due to his unorthodox play and his penchant for throwing interceptions. Manziel, who has a huge ego, is also known as a party animal, and that could only get worse with the fame and fortune that comes with being an NFL quarterback.
When asked in a Texas A&M-sponsored interview who he wants to party with, Manziel said, “I’m gonna have to go with Charlie Sheen, Rob Gronkowski, and we’ll add Tiger Woods to the mix.”
Let’s see, an admitted illicit drug user, a party animal and a serial womanizer. Sounds like Manziel wouldn’t pass the Buccaneer man test and seems destined to be arrested in Ybor City after a late Friday night.
Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater, who could be in contention for the top spot in the 2014 NFL Draft, is only 6-foot-3 and weighs 205 pounds. NFL scouts are concerned that he’s too thin and frail to withstand a 16-game NFL schedule unless he bulks up.
While Bridgewater has great intangibles, some mobility and is pretty accurate, there are some concerns about his arm strength and the fact that he doesn’t throw the tightest spiral. Bridgewater will likely improve a team’s talent at the quarterback position, but he isn’t thought to be as good as Stanford’s Andrew Luck, the top overall pick in the 2012 draft.
There are also questions about the games of UCLA redshirt sophomore Brett Hundley, who is leaning towards staying with the Bruins another year, and Oregon junior Marcus Mariota, who has already said he is staying in school in 2014. Either would probably be a top 10 pick because of their athleticism and ability to make plays with their arms, but those Pac-12 QBs also have some holes in their respective games and could use another year’s worth of experience in college before making the leap to the pro ranks.
LSU’s Zach Mettenberger finally came on as a senior, and has great size at 6-foot-5, 235 pounds, but he is coming off a torn ACL that shortened his 2013 campaign. That injury will likely cause him to fall from the first round to the late second or early third round, and he may not be able to be counted on in 2014.
Two of the fastest-rising quarterbacks up NFL teams’ draft boards are Fresno State senior Derek Carr and Central Florida junior Blake Bortles, which is scary because neither has been projected that high until the past month or so. The reason for their meteoric rise is the fact that this quarterback class has plenty of holes in it, and not many sure-fire NFL stars – not even Bridgewater. The 6-foot-3, 218-pound Carr may be the best of the bunch this year, and figures to be a top 10 pick.
There is a pretty good chance that one of those quarterbacks – or San Jose State’s David Fales, Wyoming’s Brett Smith or Eastern Illinois’ Jimmy Garropolo – will be a Buccaneer in 2014 and get the chance to compete with Glennon for the right to start. But with every quarterback having a major question mark about his game, don’t bet against Glennon winning the starting job again in 2014.
FAB 3. RODGERS LOOKS TO CLIMB BUCS’ QB DEPTH CHART IN 2014
Mike Glennon won’t be the only quarterback in the mix for the starting job in 2014. With veteran Dan Orlovsky headed for free agency, the team may also re-sign Jordan Rodgers in the offseason and put him into the competition along with Glennon and a new quarterback, whether it be a veteran or a rookie from the 2014 NFL Draft.
Rodgers, an undrafted free agent out of Vanderbilt, was signed by Jacksonville as an undrafted free agent in May, but was released on July 22 and didn’t go to training camp or play in the preseason with any team, which limited his chance for exposure to other NFL teams. The Bucs signed him to their practice squad on October 7 after Josh Freeman was released.
If the name sounds familiar it’s because Jordan is the younger brother of Green Bay’s Pro Bowl quarterback Aaron Rodgers. After a stint at Butte Community College like his older brother, Aaron, Jordan Rodgers signed with Vanderbilt where he completed 108-of-216 passes (50 percent) for 1,524 yards with nine touchdowns and 10 interceptions while becoming the Commodores’ starter midway through his junior season. During his senior season, Rodgers completed 191-of-319 passes (59.9 percent) for 2,539 yards with 15 touchdowns and only five interceptions.
After starting the 2012 season 2-4, Rodgers helped Vanderbilt rip off seven straight victories, including a 38-24 win over Glennon’s North Carolina State team in the Music City Bowl. Vanderbilt beat Missouri, Auburn, Ole Miss and Tennessee in 2012, and Rodgers became the first quarterback to lead the Commodores to back-to-back bowl games.
Tampa Bay head coach Greg Schiano explained why the Bucs liked the unheralded 6-foot-1, 220-pound passer, who ran in the 4.6-range prior to the draft.
“Good bloodlines, No. 1, right?” Schiano said. “His brother has done some things in this league. But he’s his own man. Since college, Mark (Dominik) and I have both had our eye on him. There’s something about him. He’s a competitor. He’s not the biggest guy, he’s just a fiery guy who’s a baller.”
After from beating Glennon in the Music City Bowl, the two young quarterbacks became friends during the offseason prior to the draft and would eventually reunite in Tampa Bay when Rodgers was signed to the practice squad.
“It’s a great situation,” Rodgers said. “If you’re me, you want this situation, especially with my relationship with Mike. We trained together before the draft and lived together before the draft. Being able to learn from him and study from him has been great. The opportunity to grab a roster spot and to know that with a full offseason of learning the offense that I’ll have a chance to compete is big. Getting some reps in OTAs will be huge for me. For someone in my position it’s going to come down to preseason games. I have to be ready to step in and show that I can move the offense no matter how many reps I get in case something happens to Mike and I’m needed.”
Without the benefit of OTAs or training camp, Rodgers hasn’t had time to fully learn and digest the Bucs offense. He’s had to learn bits and pieces of it on the fly while spending the majority of practice each week as the scout team quarterback running Tampa Bay’s opponents’ plays.
“He has a good strong arm,” Orlovsky said of Rodgers. “He can really throw it. He wouldn’t be here if he wasn’t accurate. He can run around a little bit, too. He’s going to come back in the OTAs and take advantage of the time and learn the offense. He has the physical skills to be on our team. The thing that stands out about him is that he’s really, really, really athletic. He’s had to play some receiver at times for the scout team and he’s had to run around and catch the ball for us. He’s really athletic and he can do a lot to help us.
“Mike spoke highly of him when he got here. All three of us have the same agent in David Dunn. Jordan has made progress in this system and we’re happy to have him.”
One thing Orlovsky admires about Rodgers is how he handles his older brother’s fame and popularity.
“I have known Aaron for a long period of time,” Orlovsky said. “We were at the Elite 11 camp together in high school. We were in the same draft class and I played against him a bunch when I was in Detroit. I’ve known Aaron previous to Jordan. The cool thing about Jordan is the fact that he doesn’t run from the fact he’s Aaron’s brother, but he doesn’t also relish in it. He knows who his brother is. He doesn’t brag about it, nor does he feel like he’s in the shadow, either.”
Jordan Rodgers is not as talented as his older brother is, but he is talented enough to possibly move up Tampa Bay’s depth chart and claim a backup job behind the Bucs’ starting quarterback.
FAB 4. ANTHONY IS A PRACTICE SQUAD GEM IN TAMPA BAY
The Buccaneers 2013 draft class isn’t the only group of rookies the team is excited about. Marc Anthony, a rookie defensive back from the University of California, is one of the more promising young players on Tampa Bay’s practice squad.
Anthony was one of the players the Bucs had on their draft radar last year before being selected by Baltimore in the seventh round. Known to be a physical, press cornerback for the Golden Bears, the 5-foot-11, 196-pound Anthony ran a 4.64 time in the 40-yard dash, which caused his draft stock to drop.
“There were a ton of guys in last year’s draft, and I got lost in the shuffle,” Anthony said. “I had expectations for being drafted higher than I was. But now that process is over. I’m in the NFL and I’m looking forward to going to work and making a name for myself here.”
While he was a three-year starter at Cal, he was not known as a big-time interceptor with just five career picks and not producing any more than two in a given season. It’s that reason that the Bucs are cross-training Anthony to play safety in addition to cornerback.
“Marc Anthony is coming to work like a pro,” Bucs cornerback Danny Gorrer said. “He’s taking what he’s learning from some of the corners in our group and definitely from our safeties – Dashon Goldson and Mark Barron. I’m looking forward to seeing him whenever he gets his break to come out and really produce. He’s definitely going to be a good player.”
Anthony has been making the transition to safety with the help of veteran Dashon Goldson and second-year pro Keith Tandy, who also made the conversion from cornerback to safety last year.
“Coming from Baltimore, these guys have really embraced me and I love coming to work with them,” Anthony said. “It’s been a good environment to work in regardless of our record. It takes patience for a young guy like myself to come in and work and learn from guys like Darrelle Revis. That’s why I like being here – because of guys like Revis and Dashon Goldson. Now I’m playing two positions, so it’s great to have great pros like that to learn from.
“I’ve never been a safety, I’ve only played cornerback before. But being a safety on scout team has kind of grown on me and I feel more comfortable as the year has gone on. Keith has made the transition before, so I’m learning an awful lot from him. He’s always been there to help me out.”
Anthony has opened the eyes of several veteran wide receivers in practice, including those of Tiquan Underwood.
“Going against him week in and week out, the kid has tremendous talent,” Underwood said. “I’m anxious to see him when he gets the opportunity to play. He’s made a smooth transition to safety, and you can’t say that about everybody that makes a position switch. For it to be a smooth transition, it says a lot about him and his versatility, which can go a long way to help him in this league.”
Anthony followed the Bucs while growing up in Phoenix, Arizona and is thrilled to be a part of a team he rooted for as a child.
“I liked the Buccaneers growing up,” Anthony said. “I liked Mike Alstott and I liked John Lynch. I loved how the Bucs played Cover 2 because I was a huge Cover 2 guy in high school. Being here is unbelievable. I love being in Tampa.
“The Bucs showed some interest in me throughout the whole draft process, so when I got released from Baltimore and got a call from them I was elated. You start off behind the eight ball behind those guys that were here in the mini-camps and in training camp. You just have to have a positive mindset and come in and help prepare the team for whoever the opponent is that week and stay positive. Whenever I get my chance I have to make the most of it.”
When Anthony arrived in Tampa Bay and was introduced to the team his name raised a few eyebrows.
“I don’t get on him as much as some of the DBs, but the first time I heard his name I was like, ‘Marc Anthony? The Latin singer?’” said Underwood.
Around One Buccaneer Place, Anthony takes some good-natured ribbing about his pseudo relationship with Jennifer Lopez.
“Everybody finds something to pick on the younger players with, and with his name he’s an easy target,” Gorrer said. “But it’s all in good fun. It’s a cool name to have I think. With a name like that it might help him get in the club a little earlier, so I’m looking forward to going out to the clubs with Marc Anthony. We’ll hang out!”
And Anthony will likely hang out in Tampa Bay and get a chance to fully learn the defense and compete with Tandy and Bradley McDougald next year for the right to back up Dashon Goldson and Mark Barron. With those three reserve safeties in the mix behind Tampa Bay’s accomplished starters, don’t expect the Bucs to draft a safety in May.
FAB 5. Here are a few things to hold you over until the next edition of SR’s Fab 5:
• Bucs backup quarterback Dan Orlovsky can’t help but have some fun at the expense of rookie quarterback Jordan Rodgers, the younger brother of Packers star quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
“We do have a little fun about the State Farm ‘discount double check’ with Jordan,” Orlovsky said. “He handles it all really well. And his hair? He pulls it off really well. He’s a brave man to have hair like that. He loves his hair. There’s no question about it. It’s not like it’s long because it’s easier to take care of. He loves his hair. I can’t grow hair like that. More power to him.”
Rodgers, a native of Chico, Calif., is currently sporting a bona fide surfer dude look with long hair nearly down to his shoulders, which makes him stand out in the Bucs locker room.
• Bucs practice squad defensive back Marc Anthony has spent a great deal of time defending Mike Glennon’s passes, dating back to last January, and likes what he sees from the rookie quarterback.
“I played with him at the Senior Bowl,” Anthony said. “When I first saw Mike in practice I thought, ‘Holy cow, he’s huge!’ He looks like the prototypical NFL quarterback. All of our quarterbacks back at Cal with like 6-foot. When I played against him in practice at the Senior Bowl and then against him in the preseason when I was with Baltimore, he looked really good. Now that he’s taken over as the starter, he’s progressed even more this season and I just hope he continues to grow as a quarterback for us.”
• In January, I’ll be entering my 19th season covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on a full-time basis. I want to thank you all for the privilege of allowing me to do what I love, which is to learn more about the game of football. Working for PewterReport.com, formerly Buccaneer Magazine, is the only job I have had since I graduated from Kansas State University. That’s a rare feat and quite an accomplishment in this day and age with a shaky U.S. economy, and it wouldn’t be possible without your daily visits to PewterReport.com and your passion for the Buccaneers.
This has easily been one of the weirdest and most difficult seasons in Buccaneers history. To see a team with some (false) playoff hopes jettison its supposed franchise quarterback a month into the regular season when he is in the midst of a contract year, while dealing with a MRSA outbreak and an 0-8 start was an explosive mix that no one saw coming. That mixture of disappointment could ultimately cost head coach Greg Schiano or general manager Mark Dominik – or both – their jobs after the New Orleans game.
The good news is that while this Buccaneers team is not as talented as most folks, including yours truly, thought at the beginning of the season, it is not void of talent, either. The Bucs should have at least a couple of Pro Bowlers this year in defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, linebacker Lavonte David and cornerback Darrelle Revis on defense, along with some talent on offense with running back Doug Martin, whose shoulder is on the mend, and wide receiver Vincent Jackson among others. With a few more players and some better coaching, the 2014 Buccaneers could be the next Kansas City Chiefs or Carolina Panthers and go from being a cellar dweller to a playoff-bound team.
If Schiano and Dominik return, don’t lose hope. Sources tell me there will be some changes to the coaching staff if Schiano returns, and on a positive note, he and Dominik have drafted well in their two years together. Schiano has made some big changes behind the scenes and that has helped bring the team closer together and improved the coach-player relationship tremendously.
There needs to be an open quarterback competition in 2014, and Schiano and Dominik need to add another viable arm to the mix during the offseason. But the Bucs had a lot a good deal of talent sitting on the shelf this year from kicker Connor Barth to left guard Carl Nicks to wide receiver Mike Williams to Martin, and led the league with 16 players on injured reserve. There is reason for optimism next year in Tampa Bay regardless of who the head coach is, in my opinion.
Make sure you stay tuned to PewterReport.com this offseason as we will switch to free agency and draft mode in January, and have trips planned to cover the East-West Shrine Game in St. Petersburg, Fla. and the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. With approximately $17 million in salary cap – and maybe more of Nicks is released and his $7 million base salary is freed up – the Bucs will be major players in free agency in 2014, especially if Dominik and Schiano are back as they will be on the hot seat and under immediate pressure to put the 2013 season in the rear view mirror and produce a winner in 2014.
• The 2014 Senior Bowl appears to be more talented than in years past with players like Stanford defensive end Trent Murphy and linebacker Shane Skov, two of my personal favorites, Missouri pass-rushing defensive end Michael Sam, speedy Baylor wide receiver Tevin Reese, Arizona State defensive tackle Will Sutton, Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald, Baylor guard Cyril Richardson, Boston College running back Andre Williams, TCU cornerback Jason Verrett, BYU linebacker Kyle Van Noy, Miami offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson, Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard, San Jose State quarterback David Fales and Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr among others.
Last year, the Bucs drafted Senior Bowl participant Mike Glennon in the third round. Chances are another Senior Bowler from this year’s group will wind up in Tampa Bay, too. Be sure to visit PewterReport.com as we will have full coverage live from Mobile, Ala. in just a few weeks.
• And finally, I want to thank Daniel Hernandez and Holy Hog BBQ for a delicious Christmas feast. We ordered a smoked turkey for Christmas from Holy Hog BBQ and it was a huge hit with the Reynolds family. As the college bowl games roll on and the NFL playoffs draw near, switch up your game day meal and pick up some Holy Hog BBQ and home-cooked sides. Or if you are having a New Year’s Eve party, let Holy Hog BBQ cater your event. There are two Tampa area locations, and it’s the best barbeque around. Visit them at HolyHogBBQ.com.