Mike Glennon Has Perfect Opportunity to Show He's Bucs' Future QB vs. Panthers

Knox BardeenNFC South Lead WriterNovember 27, 2013

TAMPA, FL - NOVEMBER 11:  Quarterback Mike Glennon #8 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers leaves the field after play against the Miami Dolphins November 11, 2013 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. Tampa won 22 - 19. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Now that Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Mike Glennon has reached the eight-start mark of his professional career, something’s starting to stick in the young passers’ development.

Thrown into the fire far earlier than expected, Glennon made his first NFL start in Week 4 and had to try to throw his way to victory. In each of his first four starts, he attempted north of 43 passes. Over his last four starts, Glennon hasn’t been asked throw as much and a light bulb has gone off.

Glennon’s completion percentage has skyrocketed, as has his efficiency and yards per passing attempt. Another pleasant side effect: Tampa Bay’s won three of its last four games.

Mike Glennon: First 4 Starts vs. Next 4
Comp - AttPercentageTDINTYards/Att
First 4 Starts106-18158.6%635.51
Next 4 Starts62-8870.5%718.61
Pro Football Reference

Other than his yards passing per game, which, of course, would go down with 93 fewer attempts in a four-game period, just about every facet of Glennon’s game has improved since the beginning of November, statistically speaking. He’s throwing more touchdowns and fewer interceptions, his passer rating has exploded and the game seems to be slowing down for the rookie.

Tampa Bay has reaped the benefits of Glennon’s growth. Over the last four weeks the Buccaneers are 3-1. During Glennon’s first four starts the team was 0-4.

But things are about to speed up for Glennon as the Bucs travel to Charlotte, N.C. to face the Carolina Panthers, winners of seven straight and owners of one of the most potent defenses in the NFL.

Glennon faced this Carolina defense in Week 8, his fourth game after taking over as Tampa Bay’s starting quarterback. The Panthers won 31-13, and Glennon was under pressure on 24 of Tampa Bay’s 55 passing plays, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).

Because it’s so tough to run against the Panthers (Carolina ranks third in the league allowing just 81.5 yards on the ground per game), Glennon may have to return to the same throw-a-ton mode he experienced during his first four starts. Tampa Bay averaged just 3.4 yards per carry in its last meeting with the Panthers and gained 48 yards on the ground. Glennon had 51 passing attempts.

In last week’s win over the Detroit Lions, Tampa Bay’s running backs averaged just two yards per carry. The Panthers and the Lions are similar in that Detroit owns the fourth-ranked run defense in the league. Had Tampa Bay not been the recipient of four Matthew Stafford interceptions, Glennon likely would have had to throw many more passes than the 21 he attempted in the win.

Carolina quarterback Cam Newton isn’t likely going to cough the ball up four times on Sunday like Stafford did last week. Newton’s been careful of late and only thrown four interceptions in his last seven games.

Glennon is going to have to beat this Carolina defense with long drives that are sustained with him throwing the football. Running backs Bobby Rainey and Brian Leonard aren’t likely going to be churning out huge rushing totals against the Panthers.

Glennon is going to have to beat Carolina with his arm.

Nov 24, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Mike Glennon (8) during the second quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

That’s why Sunday’s Week 13 matchup on the road is vitally important to Glennon. No one’s really sure if Glennon is the quarterback of the future for Tampa Bay. Have the Buccaneers bought in and are they dedicated to his development, or is Glennon just a stopgap option until this franchise can get its hands on the excellent 2014 draft class of quarterbacks?

Answers to all those questions won’t be available solely based on Sunday’s game, but Glennon could go a long way toward stamping his name on this job with a huge performance against the best defense he’s going to face for the rest of the season.

Glennon is going to have to handle Carolina’s pressure well. Carolina defensive end Charles Johnson might not play as he’s trying to recover from a knee sprain and will be evaluated after each practice this week, according to Max Henson of Panthers.com.

Courtesy NFL.com

But Johnson’s just one half of a deadly pass-rushing duo. Greg Hardy lines up opposite of Johnson and wreaks just as much havoc on opposing quarterbacks. Glennon was sacked three times in Week 8 by the Panthers, two by Johnson and once by Hardy.

Courtesy NFL.com

Mario Addison, Johnson’s replacement at defensive end last week, had a sack of Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Don’t think the pressure is going to let up if Johnson can’t play. Addison proved to a capable fill-in.

And Glennon’s numbers while under pressure aren’t great.

According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Glennon is under pressure 43 percent of the time. Only two quarterbacks are under duress more frequently. But Glennon’s completion percentage while under pressure is 45.6 percent, 18th-best in the NFL.

When Glennon is secure in the pocket and not under pressure, he’s thrown eight touchdown passes and just one pick and has a passer rating of 109.4. When he’s under attack his passer rating drops to 63.9 and he’s thrown five touchdown passes and three interceptions, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).

Mike Glennon under Pressure
DropbacksCompletion %Yards/Att.TDINTRating
No Pressure16973.2%7.881109.4
Under Pressure13145.7%4.75363.9
Not Blitzed19267.4%7.15097.5
When Blitzed10853.6%5.88481.2
Pro Football Focus

Glennon has made great strides over the last month in his trek as a rookie quarterback. Now it’s time for him to show off those enhanced skills and add a new layer to his development.

He doesn’t have to be perfect on Sunday against Carolina. But Glennon could earn a ton of points with the Bucs if he sticks with his recent trend of limiting mistakes and efficient passing. His stock would soar if he can show a spike in his development against the heavy pressure Carolina is going to bring.


Unless otherwise noted, all quotes and statements were obtained firsthand.

Knox Bardeen is the NFC South lead writer for Bleacher Report and the author of “100 Things Falcons Fans Should Know & Do Before they Die.” Be sure to follow Knox on Twitter.