An 0-3 start to the season for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers has led coach Greg Schiano to make the decision that he's hinted at ever since the NFL Draft: benching quarterback Josh Freeman in favor of rookie Mike Glennon. Freeman has been with the Buccaneers since being drafted in 2009 and has steadily improved each season while playing for several different coaching regimes, but with the Bucs turning to a rookie, Freeman's future with the franchise lies in doubt.
Glennon starred for Westfield High School in Virginia and was rated the third-best high school quarterback in the nation his senior year. Heavily recruited by Schiano when the coach was with Rutgers, Glennon instead went to North Carolina State where he saw spot duty as the backup to Russell Wilson in 2009 and 2010.
Once Wilson transferred to Wisconsin, Glennon took over the starting job and immediately made an impact. Tossing 31 touchdowns and more than 3,000 yards in 2011, Glennon led NC State to a 9-4 record and a win in the Champs Sports Bowl over West Virginia, the first bowl win for the Wolfpack since 2005. His senior year was another successful campaign, once again throwing 31 touchdowns while passing for 4,031 yards and leading NC State to another bowl victory.
Coming out of college, Glennon was regarded as one of the top quarterback prospects in the 2013 NFL Draft. Experts were divided on when Glennon should be selected, with differing opinions on how limiting his shortcomings as quarterback would be at the NFL level.
At 6'7 and 225 pounds, Glennon is the prototype for the quintessential pocket passer in the NFL. He's tall and strong in the pocket and has an over-the-top release that allows him clear throwing lanes without danger of getting the ball batted down at the line of scrimmage. His above-average arm strength gives him the ability to make nearly all of the throws required of an NFL quarterback.
Scouts and draft experts generally had Glennon slotted as a second- or third-round pick, and it was estimated he could sneak into the first round if teams felt strongly enough about his prospects as a starting quarterback. The concerns regarding his overall game were nearly universal, however, and most questioned his lack of agility in the pocket and ability to avoid the rush and pressure while on the move. His accuracy has also been an issue throughout his career -- 58.5 completion percentage during his senior year in college -- and it's been a major issue when he's pressured in the pocket and unable to square his feet for the throw.
SB Nation's 2013 Mock Draft had Glennon going at No. 39 overall to the New York Jets, with John Butchko agreeing that Glennon struggled the most when the pocket started to collapse around him.
"The biggest problem with Glennon is his mechanics can go to heck under pressure. He panics and makes mistakes. [...]
"Glennon certainly isn't a perfect prospect. He has the aforementioned issues under pressure. Other times, he trusts his arm too much and is mistake prone. Those are reasons to not risk taking him in the first round. All of the positives mentioned above show what he brings to the table and why it is worth using a second round pick to try and develop him. After all, with an awful receiving corps and a lousy offensive line, he threw for over 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns."
Glennon instead fell to No. 73, drafted in the third round by the Schiano and the Buccaneers. From the moment he was selected, it was stated that Glennon would receive extensive playing time in the preseason and a legitimate shot at taking the starting job from Freeman -- speculation that kicked off a quarterback controversy between Schiano, Freeman and Glennon that lasted throughout the summer and well into the season.
Schiano reiterated several times throughout the offseason and into camp that Freeman was the Bucs' starting quarterback, yet reports surfaced as the season began that there was a rift growing between the starting quarterback and his coach. This was aided by Freeman's continued accuracy problems and the overall ineffectiveness of the Bucs' offense, along with the somewhat impressive play by Glennon throughout the preseason.
With the Buccaneers off to an 0-3 start to the season, Schiano has now turned to "his" quarterback and will start the rookie against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. The Buccaneers' offense is still lacking notable weapons and will once again be limited no matter who plays under center, yet Glennon will get his chance to prove he can make a difference where Freeman could not.