Mike Glennon’s ascension to the starting quarterback position for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was anything but normal. His short 13-game tenure as front man, and his stranglehold on his future with the franchise, hasn’t been the epitome of calm, either.
Up, then down. Hot, followed by cold. Secure for a short while, only to be endangered later…Glennon’s never really been able to relax and enjoy his place in one of the most exclusive jobs on the planet, NFL starting quarterback.
Just three games into his professional career, Glennon took over for Josh Freeman under center last season. Sure, Freeman was stinking up the joint with a 45.7 percent completion rate, and a touchdown-to-interception ratio than was on the wrong side of respectable (Freeman posted two touchdown passes and threw three picks in 94 passing attempts), but his ouster was as much political and driven by disagreement with then-head coach Greg Schiano, as it was a reaction to his dismal play.
Glennon did as well in the situation as he could.
While learning on the job, the rookie passer had his good days (a 20-of-23 performance with two touchdown throws in a Week 7 win over the Atlanta Falcons) and some bad (a 40.4 passer rating on 9-of-25 passing in a Week 10 win over the Buffalo Bills). At season’s end, Glennon threw for 2,608 yards with 19 touchdown passes and nine interceptions.
No one will ever write a song about how well Glennon did after being thrown into the fire, but he surely did well enough to garner praise and the title of starter heading into 2014.
Except there was a regime change at One Buc Place. Gone were Schiano and general manager Mark Dominik, replaced with Lovie Smith and Jason Licht.
Glennon was no longer “the guy” Tampa Bay’s head coach coveted (not only did Schiano push the Bucs to draft Glennon, he tried to recruit the young passer while head coach at Rutgers), or its general manager drafted. He was just another piece on the roster, wondering what this new staff and front office would do.
The first message Glennon got was that the Bucs might consider a quarterback in the first round of the 2014 NFL draft, as Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reported from Smith’s press conference at the NFL combine.
I know enough about that draft to know, yeah, there’s someone that would be worthy of the seventh pick because everything is on the board right now. Whenever you have a chance to get a franchise quarterback, you have to consider that.
Mike did some good things. But he did some good things as a rookie. To say right now that Mike is the answer and he’s our quarterback of the future and we’re going to build around him and give him a 20-year contract right now, you’re not there.
The Bucs then made a splash in free agency by signing former Chicago Bears backup quarterback Josh McCown, who threw 13 touchdown passes and only one interception last season and accumulated 1,829 passing yards as a fill-in for Jay Cutler. Smith then anointed McCown the starting quarterback.
Bucs' Lovie Smith, asked if Josh McCown is his quarterback: "Yes, he is."— Greg Auman (@gregauman) March 12, 2014
In a few short months, Glennon went from starting quarterback to potentially replaceable. Then he lost his starting role. He now had to worry as much about remaining with the Bucs, as he did reclaiming his starting role. Then more mixed messages hit Glennon like a sack of bricks.
Licht, possibly trying to smooth things over in March, told Alex Marvez of Fox Sports the starting spot at quarterback was up for grabs.
But then Roy Cummings of The Tampa Tribune reported ESPN’s Adam Caplan told WDAE 620 AM the Bucs were shopping Glennon prior to the draft.
“It’s obvious to me and people around the league that (the Bucs) are going to try to move him,” Caplan said on the radio just a week before the first day of the draft. “They have denied this, but I think Mike Glennon is going to be good as gone.’’
The Bucs didn’t trade Glennon, and they didn’t select a quarterback in the draft. Then Licht told Marvez on SiriusXM NFL Radio that the team was more than happy that Glennon was the quarterback of the future in Tampa Bay.
We looked at all the tape of last year. Having him in the building and going through that first minicamp with him and seeing how he was in meetings and interacted with the team -- and more importantly how he was on the field -- just secured our feelings of how we evaluated him and felt about him.
That really helped with our draft strategy.
But that doesn’t mean Glennon is going to be the starter in 2014.
The Bucs are in a bit of a pickle. On one hand they have a quarterback (Glennon) that could be the franchise passer for years to come. On the other hand, Tampa Bay has a journeyman (McCown) that lit the league up last season and might be able to provide more wins in 2014 than anyone else on the roster.
Should the Bucs go with Glennon, their quarterback of the future, or stand by McCown? That’s an easy question for a four-win team. Developing the young guy is the right move.
However, and this is where things get interesting, Tampa Bay is far from a four-win team right now.
There was too much talent on this roster last season to believe these guys could go 4-12. But that’s exactly how the Bucs finished. Whether you believe the losses came because of injury, bad coaching or a plethora of other circumstances, the new-look Bucs have a more promising future, both immediately and long-term.
Add Tampa Bay’s perceived improvement just on the basis of this new regime, to the fact that the Bucs paid a king’s ransom to bring in a stellar free-agent class and further enhanced the team with a good 2014 draft. It’s not an unlikely scenario to believe Tampa Bay could double its win total in 2014, or do even better.
If the Bucs truly are good enough to win 9 games, who should be the quarterback driving the team to victory?
Winning should never be considered a problem, but in this case it’s going to create a sticky situation.
If the Bucs can win eight or nine games in 2014, that puts them on the cusp of the postseason. If they’re going to be that close, it makes a ton of sense to have the quarterback that can immediately win more games under center.
Starting McCown, and it’s hard to believe the Bucs wouldn’t after paying him $10 million to come to Tampa Bay, means the development of Glennon stops, or is at least greatly slowed. But a shot at the playoffs would definitely push Tampa Bay into win-now mode.
That said, if there truly is a quarterback controversy in Tampa Bay, the decision no longer boils down to which quarterback is the better option for the franchise moving forward (which would be Glennon as the team's quarterback of the future), it’s which guy can bring in wins right now.
Glennon loses again to a situation outside of his control.
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.