Quarterbacks are incredibly tough to evaluate, even for NFL teams. That’s why Josh Freeman was still hanging around until his fifth year in Tampa Bay, when the wheels officially fell off.
It’s also why Philip Rivers is flourishing as a veteran after struggling for a few years, while his fellow draft-classmate Eli Manning is having his worst year after a few years of success.
Ultimately, quarterbacks are unique in their ability to impact every other player on their team with their play, but also be impacted by the play of the teammates and the gameplan of their coaches. It’s the coaching that has helped Rivers to come alive after a few years of poor play, and it’s the teammates that may be holding back Eli from his usual form.
So how do we evaluate Mike Glennon? The first-year quarterback for the Buccaneers seems to be all over the place, occasionally looking like a very poised pocket passer that could rival Matt Ryan in terms of managing an offense and making good throws. But then, at times, he seems to be working in slow motion and doesn’t give any appearance of being a starting NFL quarterback.
Sunday’s game was yet another example of Glennon’s bi-polar play, but it sheds some light on why he may struggle at times, and flourish at others.
As I wrote for Bleacher Report on Sunday, Glennon completed 87 percent of his passes with a 9.7 yards per attempt average while scoring two touchdowns with no interceptions on the Buccaneers’ two scoring drives against the 49ers. On the other nine drives, he was 5-of-19 for 44 yards and an interception. And my hypothesis is that this discrepancy reveals the problem for Glennon may be coaching as much as it is his own inconsistencies.
When the Buccaneers were in the no-huddle for the majority of their two scoring drives, Glennon was in the shotgun and making short-to-intermediate throws to receivers who were getting open on quick routes. That’s in sharp contrast to the usual Mike Sullivan-called offense, which lines up in the I-formation and runs deep routes that depend on pinpoint sideline throws and plenty of time in the pocket from the offensive line.
So it’s no surprise that when the offense dictates that Sullivan’s gameplan must change, and the tempo must increase, the Buccaneers did much better on offense. The typical Sullivan offense is very boom or bust, and on Sunday, it was all bust.
That’s because Mike Glennon isn’t an uber-confident gunslinger in the pocket who will stand in until he gets whacked by a defender and throw up a bullet at Vincent Jackson 35 yards downfield. That was Josh Freeman.
Glennon is more under control with his actions, and doesn’t take a ton of chances. He might be a bit too hesitant, but that careful approach has helped him limit turnovers. But he’s certainly not the confident signal caller to stand like a statue while getting hammered by Aldon Smith just to throw a 25-yard back shoulder fade to Skye Dawson on third and three.
But when Glennon was in the no-huddle, he got to quickly make his reads and find the open man while marching the team down the field. He seemed like a different quarterback, and that’s because the playcalling was allowing him to.
The point of this article isn’t to say that the Buccaneers should have run more no-huddle offense, nor is is advocating that they run more no-huddle in the future. Instead, it’s yet another apparent failure by the coaching staff in Tampa Bay to get the most out of their players.
Whether it’s the three months it took to start moving Gerald McCoy around to get him better matchups to the questionable pass coverage calls early in the season, this coaching staff has repeatedly seemed stubborn and unwilling to make needed changes. Sunday’s offensive performance is just further proof.
Fire Greg Schiano.