How Greg Schiano Set Josh Freeman Up to Fail

Knox Bardeen@knoxbardeenNFC South Lead WriterSeptember 25, 2013

Jul 26, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA;Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman (5) calls a play as center Jeremy Zuttah (76) gets ready to hike the ball as head coach Greg Schiano watches during training camp at One Buccaneer Place. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano announced Wednesday during a press conference that the team was moving away from Josh Freeman as its quarterback.

"We made a change at quarterback this morning," said Schiano. Schiano claimed the decision came after speaking with general manager Mark Dominik and the team's ownership group.

"Mike Glennon is our quarterback."

Upon the news that rookie Glennon was promoted to starter and the Buccaneers benched Freeman, CBS Sports NFL expert Will Brinson fired off a very telling tweet about the relationship between Schiano and Glennon.

This goes a long way toward establishing an unaccommodating work environment between Schiano and Freeman. Even though Freeman’s own substandard stats led to his removal, the fifth-year quarterback was never going to be allowed to succeed in Schiano’s system in Tampa Bay.

Schiano saw to that.

The Head Coach-Quarterback Relationship

Schiano was hired by the Buccaneers prior to the 2012 season, and whispers inside One Buc Place were that the new head coach and Freeman didn’t see eye to eye. Pete Prisco of CBS Sports likened the relationship to two guys who loved football but went about the daily grind much differently.

The word is Schiano doesn't think Freeman has enough fire in the belly, that he isn't his type of quarterback.

Schiano is fire and bravado.

Freeman is more easygoing than that.

So there's friction. And it leaves Freeman hanging out there entering the final year of his contract.

This friction almost boiled over earlier in September, when a rumor came to light that Schiano rigged the vote for team captain to exclude Freeman. Then an unnamed source leaked information about Freeman missing a team photo. The circus began, and there were no happy clowns or cotton candy.

Multiple players, from Darrelle Revis on Fox Sports to Doug Martin on Pro Football Talk, came forward and voiced dissent for Schiano or confirmed a growing rift between the quarterback and head coach, which spilled over into the locker room.

Does it seem that the “easygoing” Freeman could flourish under these conditions?

The Lack of a Contract Extension

Ultimately, contract extensions are under the purview of general manager Dominik and team owner Malcolm Glazer, but the duo clearly supports their head coach.

Per the Tampa Bay Times, Dominik said:

I'm encouraged by the progress and direction of the franchise. I think the most exciting thing about the 2012 season was the competitive level of our football team and the leadership that came to this football team; specifically from our head coaching position and Coach Schiano.

It was decided prior to the 2013 NFL draft that Freeman's rookie contract, which was due to run out after the 2013 season, was not going to be extended.

According to Schiano, the decision was as much about competition as dissatisfaction with Freeman.

Do I think Josh Freeman is going to win Super Bowls in this league? I do. But again, I have to evaluate everything before I can say that's what we're doing. The one thing I do believe in is competition at every spot, including the quarterback.

These comments show the Buccaneers felt Freeman could succeed, but the team decided to hedge its bet in the draft.

Does it seem that the “easygoing” Freeman could flourish under the constant scrutiny of every move being analyzed and judged? Yes, every move in the NFL is examined, but Freeman was still fighting for his NFL life after setting a career mark in 2012 of 4,065 passing yards and 27 touchdown passes.

Drafting Glennon Was the Beginning of the End

Under the guise of “competition at every spot,” Schiano and Dominik put their heads together and drafted Glennon in the third round of April’s draft. This was a shot across the bow aimed directly in Freeman’s direction.

If Freeman couldn’t get it done, Glennon was going to be waiting in the wings to replace him. It wasn’t expected to happen by Week 4 of the regular season, but Freeman has posted horrifyingly bad numbers through three games.

Freeman’s 45.7 percent completion rate is worst in the league. He is the only passer below the 50 percent mark. While elite quarterbacks thrive under pressure, the “easygoing” Freeman just couldn’t work under the conditions of constantly looking over his shoulder.

Who was going to bury Freeman under the bus first: Schiano or Glennon?

Preseason Was an Indicator

Freeman threw just 26 passes in the preseason, completing only 46 percent of them. Who got the most work under center?


Most teams like to get the backup quarterback work in preseason games, but Schiano decided to give Glennon 170 percent more snaps than Freeman. That’s more than developing a young quarterbackit’s an extended tryout.

Why didn’t Freeman fight for more preseason playing time? It was pretty obvious that the Buccaneers were looking at the future of the franchise in Glennon.

The “easygoing” Freeman apparently just sat back and watched Glennon get 70 passing attempts in preseason. It’s impossible to think Freeman felt secure. Or did he?

In reality, Freeman wasn’t secure. The Bucs on Wednesday decided to move forward with Glennon as their starting quarterback. It’s as if Schiano wanted this all along.

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.


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