What Does Starting Mike Glennon At Quarterback Mean for the Passing Game of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers?


Aug 24, 2013; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Mike Glennon (8) yells out at the line of scrimmage against the Miami Dolphins during the second half at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers made the move some expected, but few expected this early in the season, by benching Josh Freeman in favor of Mike Glennon. This is clearly a shock to the system for the Buccaneers, who have seen Josh Freeman under center for the majority of the past four years. So what does this mean for the team as they face the next 13 games?

First of all, it represents change, which is often the catalyst to improved play and better results. But that has to do with the kind of change, and the quality of the player replacing the guy being benched. In this case, that change could go in one of two directions, based on what the team decides to do with their new quarterback, Mike Glennon.

  • Option One: They throw Glennon out to the wolves, using the same playbook and scheme they used for Freeman. This means three-man routes with back shoulder throws and tons of elite-level routes with few safety valves.
  • Option Two: They dumb down the playbook for Glennon, allowing him to throw the ball short, which doesn’t guarantee success. But it does at least give him a chance to get a rhythm going, but then begs the question: Why wouldn’t the Buccaneers adapt their scheme for Freeman, first?

According to Pro Football Focus, Glennon threw just over 56% of his aimed passes 9 yards or shorter during the preseason. Compare that to the 51% of similar passes that Freeman has attempted so far in 2013, and you can begin to see that Glennon might get more chances to throw the ball short, and get easier completions.

The problem is, Glennon wasn’t particularly good on short throws, earning two interceptions and a 50% completion ratio on throws of 1-9 yards during the preseason.

Glennon will also be more likely to throw a short pass than Freeman was, as he grows into his role and gets more comfortable under center. He won’t feel any pressure to make Hall of Fame throws every time he drops back, which could help him get into more manageable situations.

But if the Buccaneers continue to run max protect routes with only three receivers running deep, long-developing routes, he’ll be set up to fail just like Freeman was.

Overall, I don’t believe this move gives the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a greater chance to win this week against the Cardinals, or any week in the future. Josh Freeman still represents the Buccaneers’ best chance to win football games. But Glennon may force changes to the offense which present higher percentage throws and more reasonable situations for a quarterback to throw from, which may give the appearance that Glennon is better.