Of all the teams that could end up having quarterback competitions carry over into the preseason, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have the most comfortable situation.
When the Buccaneers signed Josh McCown earlier this offseason, head coach Lovie Smith indicated that the 35-year-old journeyman, fresh off an impressive run of spot-starts for the Chicago Bears in which he threw 13 touchdowns and just one interception, was signed to be the starter.
"We'll have a starting rotation at every position, and you have to have a certain level of play to stay there," McCown said, according to Gary Shelton of the Tampa Bay Times. "But there has to be a starting spot, a starting point, a starting person to go out there first. And that will be Josh."
If McCown can play as well for a full season as he did in five 2013 starts for the Bears while Jay Cutler was injured, the Buccaneers will have a great starting quarterback. But considering he has never established himself as a long-term starter in 11 NFL seasons, it’s reasonable to expect him to take a step back.
Even if he doesn’t, second-year quarterback Mike Glennon shouldn’t go down without a fight. He was the best of the NFL’s rookie passers in 2013; he completed 59.6 percent of his throws for 2,608 yards and 19 touchdowns with just nine interceptions. He showed the tools to emerge, with the expected development of a player to year two from year one, as Tampa Bay’s franchise signal-caller.
Despite Glennon’s promising first season, the way the Buccaneers have structured their quarterback competition should get the best out of both quarterbacks.
Had they kept Glennon at the top of the depth chart, all the pressure would be on his shoulders to perform, with McCown viewed only as a solution if Glennon faltered. Instead, the Buccaneers have shifted the pressure to perform on McCown, who should certainly expect this to be his final chance to establish himself as a starting quarterback, while putting Glennon in a position to continue his development in order to push McCown for the job.
While some teams might prove to have no viable starting quarterback, the Buccaneers appear to have two, and the competition between them should make each better.