When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers decided to cut ties with Josh Freeman and roll with third-round rookie Mike Glennon as their starting quarterback for the remainder of the season, GM Mark Dominik stated that he thought the Buccaneers can win games with Glennon as a game manager. After attempting well over 40 passes per game in each of his first four starts, the Buccaneers have fully turned Glennon into even more of a game manager kind of quarterback. It’s been a wise decision, too, because there’s no sense in asking a rookie QB to throw too many passes per game and try to do too much.
And yet, maybe the Buccaneers could have afforded to use Glennon’s arm strength more often if Mike Williams didn’t go down with a season-ending injury. Williams’s injury was a crushing one for the Bucs, because they really fed off of that dynamic 1-2 punch of Vincent Jackson and Williams. Jackson is still dynamic and is obviously an elite receiver, but defenses can key in on him now more than ever without Williams on the other side.
Glennon has the lowest yards per completion average on the season thus far with just 9.7 yards per completion, and he’s also completed just 59.6% of his passes this year. There have been plenty of ups-and-downs for Glennon this season, but the key is that Glennon has flashed this year. He hasn’t had many opportunities to show his arm strength and is quickly losing his supporting cast due to injuries, so it’s impressive that Glennon has a higher QB Rating than the likes of Christian Ponder, Joe Flacco, Carson Palmer, Alex Smith, Geno Smith, and E.J. Manuel.
All of those quarterbacks are either struggling or not that good to begin with, but it all has to be taken in context. Glennon is a third-round rookie, which means he hasn’t had the experience that guys like Flacco or Palmer have had, and he was also picked lower than Manuel and Smith. He was thrown into the fire, but he’s surpassed expectations. Why? Well, we all knew Glennon was raw coming into the season, but he’s made better decisions than we would have predicted.
Has Glennon truly been good this season? No, because his completion percentage is too low for a QB who is averaging under ten yards per completion. But he’s been good enough, because he’s a rookie quarterback who would have ideally sat out a year or two. Glennon looks composed in the pocket, and he’s already one of the better quarterbacks in the league at taking care of the football. That’s definitely a good sign, because he has thrown an interception on just 1.8% of his total pass attempts. This is a guy who has the tools, and he looks like the potential QB of the future. We definitely can’t say that for sure, but the mental skills Glennon is developing and has flashed this season will go a long way once they are combined with his arm talent. When it all comes together and the Bucs cut him loose, Glennon could fulfill the potential he showed at times (but never consistently put together) at N.C. State.
So while his PFF grade and ESPN TQBR ratings deserve to be below-average, Glennon has exceeded expectations and been above-average once you look at key factors like decision making and potential. He’s done enough to put his team in a position to win games, even as he has seen two starting running backs go down with injuries and his second-best target also fall victim to a season-ending ailment.
Think about it this way, Glennon has outplayed two higher-picked rookie passers in Geno Smith and E.J. Manuel, and he has quite clearly outplayed both of those players. Once you use this to contextualize Glennon’s performance, you’ll see that he truly does have a lot of potential, especially when you look at the praise Smith and Manuel are garnering for the flashes they have shown. If you like their flashes, then I don’t know how you can’t be intrigued by Glennon’s potential. As he showed during workouts, the arm strength and physical tools are there.
The Buccaneers are using him in a game-manager role, but it’s been a smart policy. They are giving Glennon the opportunity to build confidence and, more importantly, hone his decision-making skills (like protecting the football and knowing when to throw away passes). A huge knock on Glennon coming into the draft was his ability to play under both physical (pass rush) and mental pressure, and those were two crucial things that he struggled mightily with at N.C. State. But here in Tampa Bay, Glennon has been better under pressure than expected, even if it doesn’t show in the Buccaneers record. All is not rosy with Glennon and he still needs to make improvements with his accuracy, but his low raw numbers are a bit misleading; just take a look at his lack of a supporting cast.