Mike Glennon had his best statistical performance in his brief NFL career on Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons, throwing only three incomplete passes (two were throwaways) with two touchdowns and no interceptions or fumbles. But statistics are only a measure of what is produced by a quarterback, and not how the player actually played.
For that, we look the the game film, which shows us a mixed bag of mostly good with a few bad plays from the rookie from North Carolina State.
This is one of the biggest issues for Glennon, and it’s something he’ll need to continue to develop in order to earn a role as a starting quarterback in 2014 under a coach other than Greg Schiano. Ball placement isn’t just accuracy. Most any quarterback can throw the ball in a place where his receiver can catch it. Not every quarterback can put the ball in the place where it is best for his receiver to make a big play.
Let’s take a look at some positive and negative examples of ball placement from Glennon on Sunday.
This is Glennon’s first throw of the game, and it is going to Vincent Jackson all the way. There is no doubt in Glennon’s mind from the snap that Jackson will be his target, especially with his defender giving him so much space.
As you can see, Jackson is going to run a “slant” sort of route (Vincent doesn’t make the sharpest cuts, and instead focuses on getting his large frame in front of defenders on routes like these. That’s why the line is a curve and not an angle.)
The defender underneath is going to remain in coverage short, and the defensive back is going to drop back, leaving a wide window for an easy throw and catch.
As you can see here, there’s a cone of vision and a perfect passing lane for Glennon, who has the protection and vision he needs to make a perfect throw.
And Jackson has miles of grass in front of him, with only one safety standing between him and a very big gain.
Here’s the same play from the quarterback’s angle. It’s really shows just how much room Glennon had to make this throw. There’s nothing but grass between himself and his receiver.
And yet despite having plenty of room to lead Jackson and allow yards after the catch, the throw comes in behind the receiver and Jackson loses his balance, ending the play.
Did Glennon make the right throw? Yes.
Did Glennon make a decent throw? Sure. I guess.
Did Glennon make a good throw? No.
A good throw would have led Jackson towards the college hash marks (seen faded out on the turf) and allowed him to continue upfield, using his momentum to gain yards after the catch.
Glennon would waver back and forth with his ball placement on the day, making a good and an not-so-good throw on the same sort of route later in the game.
First, the good example.
As you can see, Glennon is bringing the ball back to throw once Tim Wright has already made his break and is obviously wide open. (The person in front of Wright is an official, not a Falcon.)
Wright has acres of grass in front of him. All he needs is an accurate throw and he can turn upfield and gain some yardage.
Here’s another perspective to show the room Wright has to move with a good throw.
And here’s the throw, with Wright’s running lane included. He couldn’t keep his balance as he turned up field, but this was a good throw under quite easy circumstances.
It shows that Glennon is capable of making the best throw possible, but that he doesn’t always do it. That’s fine, and he has time to prove he’s capable of making the best throw he can on a regular basis.
Rather than making a throw like this…
This is an incredibly similar route to the one shown above. Glennon waits for Vincent Jackson to come out of his break, and delivers a throw down the middle.
Look at Jackson’s feet, and where the ball is. He’s having to put on the brakes just to stop and catch the football, despite having tons of open space in front of him.
So the play ends with Jackson on his butt and a ton of space in front of him that would go unused. These are the kinds of plays Glennon must hit with more consistency, because the throw to Wright was one of his few positive examples of good ball placement this season.
Deep Throws, Decision Making, and More
Glennon finally connected on some deep shots on Sunday, but the plays wound up being more of a credit to Vincent Jackson than to his rookie signal caller. Glennon aired the ball out for his best receiver three times, and here were the results.
- Catchable pass that Jackson makes a great play to snag for a big gain.
- Uncatchable pass that results in Jackson committing offensive pass interference. The ball was well underthrown and thrown to the inside of the defender.
- Poor pass that is completed to Jackson because his defender never turns to look at the football, and Jackson is able to win the race back to the underthrown ball.
So with one moderate success, a relative failure, and a total failure, it’s evident that Glennon isn’t quite up to par on his deep passes quite yet, but the first completion to Jackson was encouraging, and shows just how good Jackson is when he’s given a chance to make a play.
How about Glennon’s decision making? He didn’t have to go through reads often on Sunday, as the Falcons left Vincent Jackson open for some mysterious reason. One the one play where he did obviously progress through his reads, Glennon made a very good throw to Tiquan Underwood for a big gain down inside the five yard line.
He had a lot of plays where his first option was open, or where the playcall dictated throwing to one specific player. The fact that Brian Leonard was the second-leading receiver with four catches proves that Glennon wasn’t spreading the ball around among his receiving threats, and rather taking what the defense gave him.
Glennon’s only incompletion of the day that wasn’t a throwaway was a brutal miss on a throw to Tim Wright. One out of 23 is a good ratio of “horrible throws” to “decent to good throws.”
And finally, what the heck is Glennon supposed to do in this situation?
What an awful playcall for third and four. There are no open receivers at the point of the end of Glennon’s dropback, and Brian Leonard is in the backfield, rather than running out to be an outlet for his rookie passer, leaving only three receiving options.
Glennon would scramble from the pocket and throw the ball away in a wise decision.
Overall, Glennon receives a grade of B for his performance. He didn’t show any elite skills or abilities, but he did show that he’s fully capable of dominating a porous NFL defense.
That said, Glennon still has to prove he’s better than the rookies and possible veterans available in the 2014 offseason. Otherwise, a new head coach will likely use a high draft pick or a chunk of the salary cap to bring in a new quarterback, relegating Glennon to the bench.