Welcome to the first edition of our Training Camp Previews, where we go position by position to give you a look at how we feel each position will look heading into the regular season. We start with the most important position on offense, and the one that will likely see the most debate and discussion during camp and the preseason.
The plan is to take a look at each player and see what they’ve done in the past, and what sort of role we can expect from them in 2013. We’ll use our traditional “Good, Bad, Likely” format to give all possible outcomes for each position, and we start today with quarterback.
Josh Freeman, 4 Years Experience, Last Season: Started for Tampa Bay
Josh Freeman needs no introduction to Buccaneer fans. Possibly the most polarizing name in Tampa Bay, the tall, strong-armed Kansas City native brings out haters and apologists alike. Last season, Freeman rode a roller coaster that saw him mentioned as one of the emerging stars at his position during the middle of the year, followed by a dip in performance that had fans and analysts (myself included) questioning his suitability for the job. It’s clear that the ideal Josh Freeman is better than the one who took the field against the Saints and Rams last season, but can he clear the mental hurdles that stand between him and a most consistent and less error-filled season in 2013?
I believe Freeman CAN take a huge step forward in 2013. But potential means very little, as it’s performance on the field that determines worth for an NFL quarterback entering his fifth season. So what can we expect from Josh as camp breaks and the regular season begins?
The Good: Josh comes out of camp and the preseason firing on all cylinders, delivering perfect throws and limiting mistakes in practices and games.
The Bad: I don’t believe that Mike Glennon is going to overtake Freeman for the starting job, but there is a scenario that includes Freeman struggling so much in camp and the preseason that his first incomplete pass against the Jets draws the ire of every Tampa Bay fan.
The Likely: It’s really impossible to predict Josh Freeman, but I have a feeling that he knows what’s at stake. And considering that most of his struggles are mental, I think he’ll benefit from being focused on proving himself worthy of a contract extension in Tampa Bay.
Dan Orlovsky, 8 Years Experience, Last Season: Backup in Tampa Bay
I list Orlovsky second, because I believe that will be his role in 2013, just as it was in 2012. Meaning that if someone needs to come off the bench and play to replace an injured Josh Freeman, or to mop up the end of a blowout game, it will be the veteran from UConn. Mike Glennon is the backup of the future, but I suspect that Orlovsky’s experience will mean he’ll get the call should something happen that requires an immediate change.
Now don’t get me wrong, Orlovsky isn’t a very good quarterback. But he’s a serviceable veteran who isn’t going to destroy the team should he be called into action. And while I love Mike Glennon, I think the first QB to take a snap not named Josh Freeman this year will be Orlovsky.
The Good: Orlovsky shows well in the preseason and secures the number two spot, leaving Glennon as the emergency QB every week.
The Bad: And this is really bad, but it’s entirely possible that Orlovsky fails to make the roster. If Glennon proves himself capable of being the backup, and Dan does nothing to justify his presence on the roster, the Buccaneers would be glad to keep another defensive player or a special teams player in his place.
The Likely: Despite my bold (ehhh, sorta bold) claim that Orlovsky will be the backup, I think the most likely scenario is that we see a weekly decision as to who the second QB is. Orlovsky would prove to have a purpose on the roster should he be kept through all of the cuts, so he’ll be there in case he’s needed.
Mike Glennon, Rookie, Last Season: Started at NC State
Glennon got a bad rap when he was selected by the Buccaneers in the third round, because fans saw a quarterback coming from NC State who had a sub-par completion percentage and a few interceptions, and didn’t see the value in spending a third rounder on such a player. But the fit for the system is perfect, and Glennon has a talented arm that no one else in the draft could match. He’s still got work to do to be an NFL QB, so don’t expect to see him playing any meaningful snaps this year with Josh Freeman at QB. But he put up consistent touchdown numbers in two years as the starter for the Wolfpack, a team that lacks the supporting cast that the Buccaneers have in the likes of Vincent Jackson, Doug Martin, and Mike Williams. So if he is pressed into action due to an unplanned injury or absolute breakdown from Josh Freeman, he’s got the tools to succeed.
The Good: Glennon earns the backup job and puts just a bit of pressure Josh Freeman, and causes the team to let go of Dan Orlovsky.
The Bad: He’s not going to be cut, but he could spend every week as the third emergency QB, meaning he’s nowhere near ready to be an NFL quarterback.
The Likely: As I stated above, he’s likely to face a week-by-week battle for the backup job with Dan Orlovsky. Glennon has the tools, but I doubt he’ll be ready to step into the line of fire on short notice this season.
Adam Weber, 1 Year of Experience, Last Season: Bucs’ Practice Squad
Let’s cut right to the chase here…
The Good: Weber is absolutely fantastic and somehow beats Dan Orlovsky for a roster spot. This is incredibly doubtful.
The Bad: He doesn’t make the roster.
The Likely: He doesn’t make the roster.