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The Quarterback Situation in Tampa Bay: Examining the Josh Freeman/Mike Glennon Dilemma

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Last month, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Mike Glennon in the 3rd round of the 2013 NFL Draft. Fan reaction was mixed at best, with some fans crying outrage at the selection while others were exited at the prospect at the potential change at a position that has seen much scrutiny the past few seasons.

But what does the selection of Glennon mean for Josh Freeman, Tampa’s incumbent starter?

The questions surrounding Josh Freeman have been well documented. Freeman has flashed moments of brilliance over his now five-year career, but has also shown plenty of inconsistencies in his time in Tampa. Some games he has won solely on his arm, while others he has handicapped Tampa with a slew of interceptions and incompletions. But some things need to be considered before fans throw in the towel on the young signal caller.

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Freeman is only 25 years old. By comparison, Joe Flacco is 28 and only just now turned in a consistent season, ending in a Super Bowl MVP. Freeman has room to grow, and most QBs in the NFL don’t reach that level of consistency until much later in their careers. That said, Freeman still has five years of NFL experience.

In the NFL, you have to show growth from year to year, else you run the risk of losing the faith of your respective team. Freeman has shown improvements, but not quite enough to instill a feeling of comfort in the decision makers in Tampa. Freeman now heads into 2013 with 1 year left on his contract, and needs to show consistency if he wants to have a shiny new contract from Tampa Bay in 2014.

Hence the Glennon selection. But Glennon provides more than just insurance in case Freeman disappoints this season. In 2008, 3rd round picks averaged $668,000 in guaranteed salary. By comparison, Dan Orvlosky was scheduled to make $2.25 million this year before being cut and resigned to a new contract for $850,000.

This means that either way you slice it, Glennon will provide a much cheaper option for a backup QB than most  backups in the league. This, added alongside the fact that Glennon is a much better fit in Tampa Bay’s system than Orvlosky is, makes the selection much more sensible.

But what makes Glennon such a good fit in Tampa schematically?

For starters, Glennon has the arm to make throws down the field, something Tampa holds in high regard in its offensive scheme. Tampa loves taking shots on long throws down the field, breaking off huge chunks of yardage at a time. This was emphasized in 2012 with the free agent acquisition of Vincent Jackson, a big receiver who makes a living running past defenders on long routes. This allowed Freeman to make use of his greatest asset, his arm strength. Glennon possesses a similar  talent, and can make all the throws of the football field.

Unfortunately, the similarity between Freeman and Glennon doesn’t end with the positives. Glennon also possesses the traits most Tampa fans find the most frustrating about Tampa’s incumbent starter. Glennon has a problem with accuracy, as well as some questionable decision-making. There is a reason he was a 3rd round pick this past draft. These questions will hold Glennon back in his first season in the NFL. And while Glennon could step into a starting role in 2014 should Freeman disappoint, don’t expect him to see the field much (or at all) in 2013.

Glennon will sit behind Freeman and learn how to be an NFL starter this season, and despite what a quote from Coach Schiano would have you think, there is no QB controversy in Tampa this season.

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