“Mike’s our starting quarterback from this point forward," said Schiano. We’re moving forward and Mike’s our quarterback and that’s the plan and that’s how we’re going.”
Glennon's promotion marks the first move the Buccaneers have made at the top of the quarterback depth chart since Freeman himself took over for Josh Johnson in the eighth game of the 2009 season, Freeman's rookie campaign. Since then, Freeman has started 59 of Tampa Bay's last 60 games, missing only the December 4, 2011 game against Carolina due to a shoulder injury.
The 2009 Buccaneers were 0-7 when they made the move to Freeman, who won his starting debut against the Green Bay Packers, 38-28. Team management had originally intended to let Freeman spend his entire rookie season learning from the sideline but saw that timetable accelerated by the team's string of losses and Freeman's encouraging performances on the practice field. This time, the move to Glennon was prompted by more than two months of offensive struggles, dating back to the 2012 season, and it was only made after a series of exhaustive meetings on Monday and Tuesday between Schiano, General Manager Mark Dominik and others.
"Mark Dominik and I spent a lot of time together in some intense meetings trying to decide what’s best for our football team," said Schiano. "We got with our ownership when we came to a conclusion as a group, we made the decision organizationally that we’re going to make a change at quarterback and now Mike Glennon is our starting quarterback. Mark and I believe that this gives us the best chance to win today. We've lost eight of nine games and haven’t played particularly well on offense in the last nine games. That’s something that, although it isn’t completely the quarterback's fault [and] I understand that, that position touches the ball every play."
Glennon found out about his promotion on Wednesday morning before the overall team meeting, when he was called up from the weight room to Coach Schiano's office. He was obviously pleased with the news and he knew he had to establish his presence with the rest of the starting offense right away.
"It's an exciting time for me, something I've dreamed of my whole life, something I've worked ever since I was a little kid, and all throughout high school and college has prepared me for this moment," said Glennon. "As a quarterback, you have to take control of the huddle no matter how old you are. It doesn't matter if you've been in the league for 10 years or it's your first year – they're still counting on you to be the guy and to lead them to victory. That's what I have to do. I have to be that guy."
Freeman is 24-35 as an NFL starter, having been at the helm for the first three games of the 2013 season, all losses. His most successful season came in 2010, when he piloted the Buccaneers to a 10-6 mark and threw 25 touchdown passes against just six interceptions. Last year, Freeman set franchise single-season records with 4,065 passing yards and 27 touchdown passes. This year, however, Freeman's totals included a 45.7% completion rate, two touchdowns versus three interceptions and a passer rating of 59.3.
Most importantly, the Buccaneers are not winning as they expected to in 2013, especially after bringing in such important additions as
“Not this rookie quarterback, not in my opinion," said the coach. "I think he gives us the best chance to win Sunday, that’s why we’re doing it.”
The Buccaneers selected Glennon in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft last April, making him the first quarterback the team has drafted with a selection in the first three rounds since using the 17th overall pick on Freeman in 2009. Chosen 73rd overall, Glennon was the third quarterback drafted, following Florida State's E.J. Manuel and West Virginia's Geno Smith. Manuel and Smith were opening day starters this season for Buffalo and the New York Jets, respectively.
At North Carolina State, Glennon played in 36 games and started the last 26, putting up 7,411 yards and 63 touchdowns on 646-of-1,069 passing. He took over the starting job for the Wolfpack after Russell Wilson, now the starting quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks, transferred to Wisconsin. Glennon, Wilson and Philip Rivers, the current starter for the San Diego Chargers, are the only three NC State passers ever to complete 300 or more passes in a season. Glennon and Rivers are the only two to post a 4,000-yard campaign for the Wolfpack. As a senior in 2012, Glennon completed 330 of 564 attempts for 4,031 yards and 31 touchdowns.
As a quarterback, you have to take control of the huddle no matter how old you are. That's what I have to do. I have to be that guy.
Glennon played in all four preseason games for the Buccaneers in August, starting the finale. He completed 33 of 70 passes for 397 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions. He accounted for all three of the aerial touchdowns Tampa Bay recorded during the preseason.
Glennon got a significant amount of reps during the preseason but, for obvious reasons, hasn't been the focus of practice since the regular season began. On Wednesday he got all of the first-team snaps for the first time and had a good practice, according to Offensive Coordinator Mike Sullivan.
“Mike has been progressing steadily; he had a very good day today," said Sullivan. "Since he’s arrived, he’s had a sense of maturity about him, a sense of focus and being able to maintain an even keel. Despite the ups and downs, and been pleased with where he’s been and looking forward to him continuing to grow and develop and see where he’s at this Sunday.”
After the Buccaneers face the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, the team will enjoy its bye week, and Schiano said that timing was perfect to help Glennon get up to speed quickly. After playing in one game, he and the staff will have extra time to evaluate that game tape and help him be even more prepared when the team resumes play in Week Six against Philadelphia. The most important aspect of the timing of the move, however, was what it means to the team immediately.
"We felt that Mike Glennon gives us the best chance to win and that’s why we did it," said Schiano.