Comparing Mike Glennon and Josh Freeman: Did the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Improve at Quarterback By Benching Freeman?


Jun 11, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman (5) and quarterback Mike Glennon (8) drop back as they workout during mini camp at One Buccaneer Place. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have changed quarterbacks under the premise of winning more football games. So surely that means that Mike Glennon can do some things well that will lead to the Buccaneers scoring more points and moving the ball more efficiently on offense, right?

So let’s take a look at what Glennon does best, and compare it to Josh Freeman, who he just replaced.

One of the biggest issues for Josh Freeman is his accuracy. This season he was on pace to have one of the worst completion percentages of all time, and that was after struggling with accuracy for most of 2012.

But one of Glennon’s issues coming out of college was his accuracy, which regressed during his senior season. (Stats from Sports Reference)

Pass Year Pos Cmp Att Pct Yds Y/A AY/A TD Int Rate 2009 QB 24 39 61.5 248 6.4 4.6 1 2 113.2 2010 QB 9 13 69.2 78 6.0 6.0 0 0 119.6 2011 QB 283 453 62.5 3054 6.7 6.9 31 12 136.4 2012 QB 330 564 58.5 4031 7.1 6.9 31 17 130.7 Career 646 1069 60.4 7411 6.9 6.8 63 31 132.3

So as you can see, Glennon’s senior season was less accurate and included more mistakes. But thanks to charting statistics, we can break down Glennon’s performance even more, to see where on the field he struggled the most. (Thanks to John Pollard of STATS on Twitter.)

Click to see the full image, courtesy of John Pollard on Twitter:

You can click on the image to expand it. But let’s point out some of the key points of Glennon’s accuracy map.

The Bucs’ new quarterback is extremely accurate over the middle of the field, including on deep passes down the middle. This is a dangerous place to throw in the NFL if the throw is late, but if Glennon is able to play within the offense there is space to throw to against certain defensive schemes over the deep middle.

But as you can see, Glennon did almost all of his throwing over the middle, and for good reason. He was poor with his completion percentages towards the sidelines, including throwing 8 interceptions on fewer than 200 attempts to the right or left sidelines. Mike was apparently comfortable putting the ball up to the deep right of the formation, but this also brought about a good amount of interceptions.

Let’s compare this to Josh Freeman. According to Pro Football Focus, Josh Freeman was at his worst throwing to the deep right of the formation in 2012, completing 9 of 33 passes with one score and one interception. He was stronger over the middle, especially the deep middle, where he was insanely accurate considering the difficulty of those throws.

Wait a minute…

We’re describing the same exact player.

But there is one key difference to point out, and that’s where these players make their mistakes.

Freeman threw 7 of his interceptions on throws towards the sidelines. Glennon threw 15 on similar passes. Both players threw 17 picks in 2012. This could come down to Glennon’s lack of velocity on his passes.


When Glennon tries to throw to the sidelines, the ball floats and defenders have a better opportunity to intercept. Compare that to Freeman, who has an absolute rocket that fires great passes to the sidelines, but he tends to overthrow passes when he misses.

Here’s an example of Glennon’s slow pass letting him down on a deep throw to the sideline. Look at how the slow pass allows the defender to catch up from being left behind on the break, and get the interception.

So the interception thrown by Josh Freeman on Sunday against the Patriots might be just a preview of what the Buccaneers will see from their new signal caller.

It’s clear that Freeman was off to an awful start to the 2013 season, and he was certainly not showing any signs of being a franchise QB worthy of a contract extension.

But Mike Glennon doesn’t have a skill that stands out and screams “I can win more games.” He might go through his progressions better than Freeman, but he’ll be facing NFL defenses for the first time after struggling against backup defenses in the preseason.

And he simply doesn’t have the same arm talent as the man he’s replacing, who made plenty of plays over the past year and a month in Mike Sullivan’s offense.

So it will be interesting to see if Glennon’s naïve confidence and his lack of a strained relationship with his coach will be enough to overcome his obvious shortcomings when compared to Freeman.