It was bound to happen. At some point, Tampa Bay quarterback Mike Glennon was destined to fail. He was going to have a game where he didn’t throw a touchdown pass, and he did more bad things than good things. He was going to have a game where he looked like a rookie quarterback.
That day was Sunday in Carolina as the rookie quarterback and his Buccaneers got whipped, 27-6, by the hottest team in the league in the Panthers, which have won a franchise-best eight straight games.
After eight straight games of throwing at least one touchdown pass, protecting the ball rather well and making more good throws than bad throws, Glennon contributed mightily to Tampa Bay’s first loss after three straight wins to end the month of November.
Against Carolina, Glennon completed 14-of-21 passes for 180 yards, but threw an interception in the third quarter and also fumbled inside the red zone in the second quarter when Tampa Bay had the chance to take a lead on the road over the Panthers. Glennon wasn’t the same on Sunday after his fumble.
“The ball slipped out of my hands,” Glennon said. “It really hurt us because we would have gotten at least three points in that situation. The second one, I was probably trying to make a play. I should have thrown it away, but those are situations I’ll learn from and be better because of it.”
The key for Glennon will be how he bounces back from his first real unproductive game. The Buffalo Bills come to town on Sunday and it will be critical for the rookie to revert back to his turnover-free ways if Tampa Bay is going to have its best chance to claim its fourth victory of the season.
Glennon’s turnovers in Carolina were uncharacteristic from the team’s third-round draft pick this year. He has had four turnover-free games in his nine starts and the team has captured two of its three wins this season in those contests.
In a season in which the Buccaneers benched starting quarterback Josh Freeman in Week 4 and jettisoned him a week later, began the season 0-8 and have been without several star players due to injury, the play of Tampa Bay’s rookie quarterback has been a bright spot.
Glennon didn’t have a lot of great plays in Carolina, but he did hit wide receiver Vincent Jackson in stride with a 60-yard bomb in the second quarter prior to his fumble. That was his fourth pass over 45 yards or more in the last three games, and a testament to his improving downfield accuracy.
Even with Sunday’s clunker in Carolina, Glennon has completed 182-of-290 passes (62.8 percent) this year through his nine starts for 1,962 yards with 13 touchdowns and five interceptions. His 1,962 yards and 13 touchdowns are Tampa Bay rookie records, as is his current QB rating, which is 90.3.
Bucs head coach Greg Schiano said Glennon didn’t take a step back on Sunday in terms of his development.
“It wasn’t a step back so much as it was he looked more like a rookie than he’s looked,” Schiano said. “The ball slips out of his hands going to the left. It’s an awkward deal and unfortunate, but it happens. The throw to Vince that gets intercepted, and the flag gets picked up on that play, it didn’t come off his hand clean.”
On Sunday, all eyes will be watching to see if the uber-intelligent Glennon can learn from his mistakes and bounce back from a bad performance with a solid showing against Buffalo where he will be squaring off against fellow rookie and former ACC nemesis E.J. Manuel, who played at Florida State.
“You can learn from the good, you can learn from the bad,” Glennon said. “There was some bad [on Sunday] that I’ll learn from. You have to look at it that way. I’m not going to make the same mistake twice. I’ll go back and watch at the film and go from there.”
Not only does Glennon have to learn from his mistakes and get back to playing mistake-free football, he also has to begin to make more plays in critical situations. The North Carolina State product has yet to engineer a game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter to rally his team, and until he does that, there will be questions about his ability to deliver in that situation. Facing a Buffalo team that might be better than its 4-8 record, Glennon might have that chance on Sunday.
“Mike Glennon made a statement [after the game],” Schiano said. “He looked a little more like a rookie, but I go back and look and he’s 14-for-21, he’s 66 percent [completion rate] – he did some things yesterday that he hasn’t done and I think part of it has to do with the defense. He was trying to make something happen. He and I have sat down already and discussed – the circumstances can never dictate behavior, you have to go out and do your thing. It doesn’t mean that the play calls don’t change based on certain – [if] it’s fourth-and-20 it’s a different play than fourth-and-1, I don’t mean that – but I mean our core beliefs on quarterback play don’t change based on circumstance and a little bit of that happened yesterday, he also made some fine plays, he threaded some needles yesterday deep over the middle and then the one to [wide receiver] Vincent Jackson that were big time NFL throws.
“I’m really encouraged with Mike’s development even though yesterday wasn’t one of his finest performances, I think he’s a guy that will rebound, I think he made a statement he’ll learn from those things, and he already has. When he and I are talking he’s just like riveted on every word and you love coaching a guy like that. There are a lot of things that I’m excited about. Unfortunately, we let one get away yesterday and a lot of that had to do with the team we were playing, they earned it. We were in a position for a while and turned it into a one-dimensional game. We’ve got a game this week against Buffalo that I’m excited about the opportunity [for], so I’ll get to work on it.”
Scott Reynolds is in his 23rd 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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