Rookie Watch: Mike Glennon Flashes Early, But Can’t Lead Bucs to Victory

Mike GlennonAfter Josh Freeman struggled through three straight losses and more interceptions than touchdowns, head coach Greg Schiano chose to make a change at the quarterback position, opting to go with former NC State quarterback and 73rd overall pick Mike Glennon against Arizona on Sunday.

However, after an impressive first quarter, Mike Glennon’s flashes dimmed as the game went on, and was only able to lead the Bucsto a pedestrian 10 points in the team’s loss. While Coach Schiano still appears upbeat about his hand-picked rookie quarterback, Glennon will need to build off his first career loss if he hopes to be the franchise’s quarterback of the future.

As an NFL Draft prospect last year out of NC State, Glennon appeared to be all over draft boards. On one hand, team’s loved his size, velocity, and ability to stretch defenses vertically. On the other, his lack of foot speed and poor decision-making under pressure gave team’s pause. Here’s a section of our scouting report on Glennon:

“With near-elite arm strength when he's set, Glennon works best when he gets to his drops, progresses across the field, and is able to sling and get the ball across the field. His ball placement on stick or timing throws, including from different foot platforms, is ideal. His velocity, consistent clean ball and ideal mechanics allow him to get into a rhythm and exploit openings… Questions remain regarding his composure. He can get rattled, lose his rhythm and confidence, shifting his eye level and using poor footwork and mechanics.”

In his first career regular season game as the Buccaneers starter, it was evident that he’s still very much the player he was in college, for better or worse. Standing tall in the pocket with apparent confidence (especially early in the game), the Bucs gave him plenty of short passes and easy reads in his first start. Still displaying high velocity on those in-breaking slants, delayed screens, and drag routes, Glennon orchestrated an impressive first quarter drive that lead to the Bucs’ only touchdown thanks to his ball placement and the rhythm the offense was able to get into.

However, as the game progressed, the Bucs still weren’t able to make Glennon comfortable  when working down field. On five passes of 15 yards or more, Glennon wasn’t able to complete a single one (though Kevin Ogletree did drop one early in the game). Over reliant on his check downs, Glennon continued to try and work shorter routes to move the chains, including throwing nine passes to players that came out of the backfield.

Per ProFootballFocus Mike Glennon was 5 of 15 for 33 yards under pressure, including an interception and two sacks. While some of that appeared to be due to his lack of audible vision/control, Glennon’s lack of escape-ability and limited core strength to brush off rushers should continue to be problematic, especially on A-gap blitzes, for much of his career.

The Bucs offensive game plan was focused on giving Glennon confidence through completions early on in the game, a standard idea to get a young quarterback going in his first NFL start. However, Glennon’s plus arm strength and ability to test teams vertically off play action weren’t used enough, both tools that the Bucs will likely build on for the rest of his starts. Despite the fact that Glennon will always be limited in terms of mobility, the Bucs have a talented offensive line that can give him time in the pocket and let his big-bodied receivers  win one-on-one match-ups.

Glennon flashed rookie tendencies in his first NFL start, which is to be expected. He didn’t play well after the first quarter, but he did show a grasp of most of the basic throws in the Bucs offense. If he can improve his decision making, feel more comfortable pre-snap against rushers, and get the opportunity to test teams in the middle of the field and vertically, Glennon could very well begin to thrive in this offense.

It’ll take some time before Glennon starting pays dividends for the Bucs offense. But while Greg Schiano isn’t quite on the hot seat yet, the team can’t afford to continue their losing ways after starting 0-4. For the foreseeable future, those two will be tied to the success of this team. And while the team’s pre-season playoff aspirations are nearly a faded memory, Schiano and Glennon are fighting to not suffer the same fate.

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