The Tampa Bay Buccaneers already have a new starter at quarterback, and the new league year is just over 24 hours old.
Josh McCown was named the starter on Wednesday, ahead of returning rookie Mike Glennon, who spent 13 games under center in 2013. Glennon drew some praise from media and fans, and posted respectable numbers, so why make the change?
McCown had an impressive season in 2013 and has the experience to run an NFL offense, but McCown isn’t the reason for the change. He’s a vehicle to allow change. The reason for the swap on the QB depth chart is Glennon’s ability and potential in Jeff Tedford’s offense.
Jeff Tedford’s offense is all about “speed in space.” At this point, you’ve heard that phrase a million times. But why does that eliminate Glennon?
It’s not Glennon’s physical speed (which is a mark against him) that holds him back, but rather his decision-making speed. The NC State product was slow to act in the pocket in 2013, putting his offensive line in a bad spot by taking too long to make a throw, and having well below average ball velocity.
We made note all season that Glennon was very hesitant and frequently missed open receivers. He seemed to lock in on Vincent Jackson, and then throw to a check down or scramble and take a sack rather than looking through his progressions. This isn’t what Tedford wants in his offense.
And even when Glennon does get rid of the football, his poor ball velocity means that timing routes and screens will have an inherent disadvantage. Many analysts claim that Glennon has a big arm, but there’s a difference in being able to throw the ball far, and throwing it far and with velocity. Ourlads Scouting Services has Glennon down as one of the slowest throwers in recent history, on par with Matt Flynn, Tony Pike and Dan LeFevour.
McCown also shines where Glennon fails in the area of handling pressure. Despite receiving praise for his “poise,” Glennon actually showed very little in 2013.
According to Pro Football Focus, McCown was one of the best players while under pressure in 2013, throwing accurately 77% of his passes while under duress, which was best in the NFL. Note that this isn’t completion percentage, but accuracy percentage, which accounts for drops, throwaways, and being hit while throwing.
Where did Glennon fall on the list? Among quarterbacks to take at least 25% of their team’s snaps, he was 30th, with an accuracy percentage of 56.9%.
McCown is a veteran who has seen it all, and doesn’t get flustered when the play breaks down. Glennon is exactly the opposite.
Mike Glennon showed that he’s a careful, capable quarterback, but his physical tools are not special, and he didn’t seem to fully grasp the offense during his first year under center. Josh McCown isn’t a special talent, either, but he showed during his time in Chicago that while still being careful with the football, he is capable of pushing the ball down the field and showing more mobility than the NC State product.
Josh McCown is not the long-term solution at quarterback, and depending on how the draft goes for the Buccaneers, he may not even last a full season under center. But Jeff Tedford’s faith in his ability to run his offense is higher than it is in Mike Glennon, which is why the decision to change starters at the position has less to do with the newcomer, and more to do with the incumbent. The Bucs didn’t have faith in Glennon, so they acted on that doubt and brought in a safer option.