The case for Mike Glennon to start at quarterback in 2014 took a hit on Sunday, as the rookie quarterback posted some ugly numbers in a duel against the Buffalo Bills and their struggling rookie QB E.J. Manuel.
But beyond the numbers, there are frustrating things found in the tape for the NC State product, but also a couple of positives. Let’s take a look at every attempt for Glennon against the Bills and see what went right and what went wrong.
You can click on an image to blow it up.
Attempt 1: Glennon stands in the pocket and finds an open Vincent Jackson on a short route. It’s deflected at the line. That happens sometimes.
Attempt 2: This is a play I didn’t realize was a drop at the time, but looking back it’s obvious that Vincent Jackson failed to haul in. Glennon puts it where Jackson can catch it, and he simply fails to haul it in.
Attempt 3: On this play, Mike Glennon shows his inability to navigate pass rush, as he panics and makes a poor throw rather than stepping up into open space and either running or making a better throw.
Glennon was spooked by a Kiko Alonso blitz which Brian Leonard picks up, and the offensive linemen to his right are all doing their jobs. He just has to step up out of the way of the pass rusher at the bottom of the image and he’s fine. But instead he throws from where he is and doesn’t step into it fully.
Attempt 4: This play is a good use of play action by Glennon and the Buccaneers, and Glennon handles the pressure better to find Vincent Jackson for a nice gain.
Attempt 5: On this play, Glennon waits for Vincent Jackson to make his break, and the two defenders on Jackson close in on the receiver. Glennon throws it high, though, and Jackson makes a great adjustment to fall back and make the catch. This was the definition of “throwing it where only your man can get it.”
Attempt 6: Let’s go to the images for this one.
Here’s the play. The receivers are all running straight down the field, or at least the first few seconds of their routes are to run straight down the field at their defenders. It’s a play action to Rainey, who hesitates before releasing into the middle of the field.
Vincent Jackson’s present is the focus of the safety over top, as he cheats that way. The defensive back closest to the line of scrimmage steps up either in reaction to the play fake or to what he perceived Tiquan Underwood’s route to be, and that leaves no one down the middle of the field…
…which is exactly where Tiquan goes. And he’s wide open. And Glennon has time and space to look around and see this developing.
So from what I can tell, the progression on this play is “Vincent Jackson, Bobby Rainey, sack.” Apparently there was no consideration of throwing to Underwood, otherwise he would have eventually moved his eyes to the open receiver.
Glennon completed the short throw to Rainey, but it could have been a better play.
Attempt 7: This play would become a touchdown, but it’s not because it was a well designed play. There are four defenders on the right side of the formation, and there will be three routes run to the same area. The math doesn’t work out for the Bucs in that scenario.
This is one of the Greg Schiano/Mike Sullivan “Wide receivers, run at the defenders while the quarterback runs around in a panic” plays. They happen pretty often, and are one of the main reasons why it’s nearly impossible to accurately judge Mike Glennon, because he has to operate in a frustrating offense where he doesn’t have a ton of power to change plays.
So Glennon hits the end of his drop and as expected, no one is open. The defenders who were on the right side of the field are still there, and only Tim Wright emerges as “kind of open.”
But Glennon feels pass rush and has to escape. So what do the receivers do to help him out once he breaks the pocket? Tiquan Underwood is going to loop around upfield, Tim Wright is going to come back to his quarterback, and the receiver at the top of the image is going to come back toward his quarterback.
Vincent Jackson just heads to the end zone.
So here’s how Mike Glennon saw the play going. He lobs up a pass that leads his big receiver into the end zone for a jump ball. The problem is, he’s Mike Glennon and not Russell Wilson, and the throw isn’t a perfect rope that hits Jackson right in the hands in the middle of the end zone.
Here’s another look at what Glennon sees. There is open space in front of Jackson. (There’s also open space in front of the receiver to the left, but it’s possible that Glennon can’t see him due to the defender in his face. Still, if he had a moment to look, that would have been the better play.) The Tampa Bay QB’s idea is to throw it into the end zone, where the red box is in the upper right. He winds up throwing it to where the red circle is.
But the defensive back decides he’d rather hand-fight with Vincent Jackson than turn to look for the football, and Jackson wins the physical battle, moves the DB to the outside, and dives in to make a great catch on a very smart adjustment. The pass was a duck, and it was an instance of Glennon’s brain doing more than his arm could do. The result is a touchdown, but it was a very dangerous throw.
Attempt 8: This play was a miscommunication of some kind, because Glennon goes to play action to his right, and Bobby Rainey has already taken off to the left to block a blitzer. By the time Glennon carries out the “fake” he has no time to throw, and throws it away.
Attempt 9: This is another play where Glennon seemed to allow the pass rush to dictate what he does a bit too quickly. Glennon lets go of a pass very quickly, and Tiquan Underwood didn’t stop on his route. I would suspect that Tiquan was supposed to stop on the play if there was a blitz, or against a certain kind of coverage, and simply didn’t do what he was supposed to do. But without knowing the playcall, it’s impossible to blame Glennon or Underwood exclusively.
Attempt 10: The infamous “drop” by Tiquan Underwood in the end zone. Take a look at the image below.
In my opinion, the defensive back swept his hand across the ball during flight, and it deflected high and inside on Underwood, and hits him in the face mask. Underwood isn’t the most reliable receiver, so it’s easy to blame him. But as you can see in the photo, he’s bringing his hands to his face to catch the ball, but the deflection off of his facemask is impossible to handle.
The throw was still fairly good, especially considering how deep it was. It could have been “better.” But it’s certainly not worthy of many complaints.
Attempt 11: This is Glennon’s first interception, and it’s an example of Glennon not “letting a bad play die.” One of the things Greg Schiano praises in his rookie quarterback is his ability to take care of the football and not make a bad throw just to say he made a throw.
He didn’t do that on this play.
Let’s first look at the play design.
On one side of the formation, you have Vincent Jackson with three defenders in the vicinity. On the other side, you have three receiver options with four defenders, and only two of those four are defensive backs.
So as the play unfolds, the defenders on Vincent’s side of the field predictably stay with the Pro Bowl receiver, while Glennon’s eyes stay stuck there as well. Glennon has a safe option to his left, but he never looks that way. The green box is the open space to throw to Brian Leonard for an easy (but small) gain.
Instead, Glennon throws to Jackson, and throws to lead him inside. That was never a good idea, because Jarius Byrd was reading Glennon’s locked-in stare from the start, and would have stepped in front of the pass even if Jackson and Glennon were on the same page.
But Glennon and Jackson were not on the same page at all. Jackson sat down on his route, and “fell down” as he tried to shift his balance back to the inside to where Glennon had thrown the ball. As you can see in the image above, Jackson is just turning around out of his break when the ball is in the air.
Glennon simply threw it too far inside, either thinking that’s where Jackson was going (and it still would have been a pick), or by missing with a very poor throw.
Either way, it was not the right play to make, and it was an example of forcing the issue when taking the easy way out at least provides a field goal attempt at worst.
Attempt 12: Erik Lorig is open in the flat, and Mike Glennon throws it behind his fullback. A poor throw that cost the Bucs a chance at a nice gain of five yards.
Attempt 13: A short throw over the middle to Skye Dawson. Glennon gets rid of the ball quickly, because he’s facing pressure. But he took an easy throw to keep the team in field goal range. However, the play was third-and-long because of the missed throw in attempt 12. If he got the ball to Lorig in space, he’d have a more manageable third down.
Attempt 14: Yet another awful playcall for the Tampa Bay offense. Gabe Carimi is in at tight end with Glennon in the shotgun. Only three receivers go out, and none of them get open. The blocking is a mess and gives Glennon no time (even though there are two extra blockers). Glennon throws it away.
Attempt 15: Mike Glennon sees Vincent Jackson with a one-on-one, and locks his eyes on him. He throws up what he believes to be a jump ball, but it’s under-thrown and intercepted. Poor play for the rookie.
Attempt 16: Glennon certainly doesn’t have a very long memory. He makes the same exact throw that he made in attempt 15, only this time to Skye Dawson.
Who isn’t a jump ball receiver, and isn’t going to compete for the football down the sideline.
Glennon stares him down as he goes down the sideline, and misses on the throw which needed to be perfect due to great coverage. But look at the image below for the real problem on the play.
You remember Vincent Jackson? The best player on offense? He’s open on the other side of the field, and the safety is following Glennon’s eyes to Dawson. If Glennon really did “scan the field” here, it would have been an easy touchdown. Jackson is in a perfect position to haul in any kind of throw, even if it’s not a perfect pass.
Attempt 17: This pass was dropped by Tiquan Underwood on a short route as Glennon got rid of the ball under pressure.
Attempt 18: Tim Wright gets open over the middle on an angle route, and Glennon throws it to the right spot. Good throw, good route.
Attempt 19: A shovel pass. Moving on…
Attempt 20: No one covers Tim Wright in the end zone. Touchdown.
Attempt 21: A blown up screen pass which loses eight yards. This play was Glennon’s only completion of the second half, and it probably should have just been thrown at Rainey’s feet instead.
Attempt 22: Skye Dawson sits down on a short route and is wide open, but Glennon is flustered by pressure coming around the edge (that won’t get to him for another second, at least) and fires the ball high and inside. Dawson isn’t as big as Vincent Jackson, Mike Williams or Tim Wright, so he doesn’t have the wingspan to reliably catch a poorly placed ball when his feet are set.
Just another example of poor ball placement for Glennon.
Attempt 23: No one open, no time to wait for someone to get open, so Glennon throws at Tiquan Underwood, who is double covered. The ball is batted away.
Attempt 24: Otherwise known as the overturned touchdown. This was a “big boy” throw by Glennon, and pretty gutsy considering the hard throws he passes up on regularly. He fits the ball into a window in the back of the end zone and places it where only Vincent can grab it. It wasn’t a touchdown, but it’s still worthy of praise.
Attempt 25: What’s wrong with this picture?
What is Mike Glennon looking at? Who could he be watching? Why isn’t he throwing to a wide open Vincent Jackson, whose man is falling down? He has time, he has space, and he has a receiver.
Instead, Glennon rolls out of the pocket under pressure that won’t come for another second or two, and throws an awful shovel pass that hits a defender in the shoulder. Such a regrettable play for the rookie.
So there were a couple of very good throws from Glennon on the day, but several awful throws and decisions. There were also a handful of terrible playcalls which hamstrung the rookie quarterback.
Overall, it’s still not clear to me if Glennon is a franchise QB, a starting QB, or just a career backup. He’s capable of winning games in the NFL, but that’s only because he’s not actively bad and destroying his team.
The Buccaneers shouldn’t settle for that, though. If those in charge at One Buc Place see the same flaws and struggles, and think a rookie, free agent, or trade option in 2014 would give the team better play under center, they should make that move.
All images obtained from NFL Game Rewind.