Quality Over Quantity: Why Greg Schiano Is Right About Mike Glennon Throwing Too Often


Oct 24, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback

Mike Glennon

(8) throws the ball against the Carolina Panthers during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Carolina Panthers defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-13. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Greg Schiano has been under a lot of fire lately, and nothing in this article will cover up the awful job he’s done using his roster and managing his team this season.

But he was absolutely right during a press conference this week when he said the following.

Just how many passes has Glennon thrown? The most in NFL history for a rookie in his first four starts.

And Schiano is very astute in this observation, as this increased amount of attempts for Glennon doesn’t mean he’s growing or learning. The best quarterbacks in the NFL are about quality over quantity, and that’s where Glennon still lacks.

The Proof in the Numbers

181 attempts per four games translates to 724 attempts over the course of a season, which would have finished second in the NFL in 2012 behind only Matthew Stafford. None of the four best-rated quarterbacks (Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson) had more than 583 pass attempts last season.

Oct 28, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) warms up prior to the game against the St. Louis Rams at Edward Jones Dome. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

And among the 11 quarterbacks to win 10 games as a starter in 2012, only three threw the ball more than 600 times for the season. They were Matt Ryan (pass-happy offense with an unreliable running game), Tom Brady (fast-paced offense with a distrust of running backs) and Andrew Luck (rookie phenom with no reliable running game).

But those statistics fall under “correlation does not imply causation.” Rodgers, Manning, Griffin III and Wilson did not finish with the best passer ratings because they didn’t throw as often. They were well rated because they were efficient and did well with the attempts they had.

The four quarterbacks in question were among the top-five in yards per attempt in 2012, and all but Griffin III were in the top-four in touchdown percentage, or the number of throws which ended in scores relative to total attempts. That’s the definition of doing the most with a smaller amount of total attempts.

Where does Glennon stand this year?

Of the 33 qualifying quarterbacks in the NFL, only Josh Freeman has fewer yards per attempt than Mike Glennon. So despite the difference in accuracy and a relative lack of mistakes from the rookie, he’s still not productive on a per-play basis.

In fact, only four quarterbacks with winning records find themselves in the bottom half of the league in yards per attempt. They are Andrew Luck, who defies all statistics and logic as the future of football at the QB position, Tom Brady, who is struggling but doing enough to hold up his strong defense and hit-or-miss running game, Jake Locker, who lacks in weapons and isn’t on a particularly powerful offense, and Alex Smith, who is winning despite himself.

Yet 10 of the top 12 quarterbacks in the NFL have winning records. The exceptions are Tony Romo and his awful defense, and Michael Vick and his poor defense and injury concerns.

How Glennon Gains More Quality, Less Quantity

Oct 13, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Mike Glennon (8) throws the ball against the Philadelphia Eagles during the first half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

If you’ve been following along to the Pewter Plank for a while, this next comment should come as no surprise.

Mike Glennon has to get better on long throws.

According to Pro Football Focus, Glennon statistics are as follows on throws over 20 yards, or outside of the numbers over 10 yards. In other words, long throws.

  • 14-36 for 259 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT

Take away the miracle catch from Vincent Jackson, and things get ugly in a hurry, as it becomes 200 yards and no touchdowns.

Defenses are not going to respect Glennon until he proves he can reliably throw the ball past the first down marker for completions. On first-and-10, teams have no fear that Glennon is going to throw for a first down, and can stack the box against the run and short pass.

That means Glennon isn’t able to hit short throws to receivers which turn into big gains, because there’s no open space in the shorter part of the field. Forcing players to drop deep opens up space for Vincent Jackson, formerly Mike Williams, and Tiquan Underwood to make plays after the catch.

Glennon also needs to be more accurate. He’s better than Josh Freeman, but his accuracy is still lacking. According to Pro Football Focus, Glennon ranks 21st out of 38 in accuracy percentage. This takes into account dropped passes, which account for 6.6% of Glennon’s throws (which is not even among the top-10 in the NFL. There are quarterbacks who have more passes dropped than the Buccaneer rookie).

If a quarterback isn’t hitting big plays, he has to be more accurate and efficient than Glennon. Missed throws, overthrows, and mistaken throws into coverage aren’t acceptable for a dink-and-dunk passer.

So Greg Schiano is right. Mike Glennon needs to throw less often.

And the throws he does make need to be better. Because he’s proven he can manage a game, but he has yet to prove he’s a threat to NFL defenses. So teams will allow him to throw underneath as often as he wants, and will eventually usher him off the field after his first mistake, the first penalty, or the first dropped pass.

And throwing less means that the Tampa Bay running game and defense are performing better. Good teams don’t throw 181 times in four games. The 2012 Lions and Matt Stafford are not the blueprint for success on offense.

So while Greg Schiano may speak plenty of “coachspeak” at press conferences, he was very wise in his observation about Glennon’s overuse this season.