QB Josh Johnson will make his first career start next Sunday at Washington
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will have a new starting quarterback when they play the Washington Redskins on Sunday.
Head Coach Raheem Morris announced on Monday that second-year man Josh Johnson will take over the offensive reins for the 0-3 Buccaneers. The decision came one day after Tampa Bay's offense struggled to one of the lowest yardage and first-down outputs in franchise history.
Veteran Byron Leftwich, an unrestricted free agent signee in April, started the Buccaneers' first three games after beating out Luke McCown and Josh Freeman in a preseason battle for the number-one job. He produced 572 yards and four touchdowns through the team's first two games but just 22 yards on seven-of-16 passing against the New York Giants in Week Three.
The Buccaneers' difficulty on offense against the Giants was definitely a team-wide issue; Morris said after the game that no single player was to blame. Still, the Buccaneers believe that Johnson will bring an added dimension to their attack due to his outstanding mobility. After relieving Leftwich in the fourth quarter on Sunday, Johnson directed the team's only sustained drive of the game, completing four of 10 passes for 36 yards and also scrambling for a key 15-yard gain. Johnson completed four of his first six in leading the Bucs to the New York five-yard line before suffering four straight incompletions trying to punch it into the end zone.
The Buccaneers also have the rookie Freeman in reserve, and as a first-round pick this past April, he is clearly a big part of the team's future. However, Johnson has the advantage of an added year of NFL experience and he made an impressive strides during his first full offseason this past spring and summer.
A fifth-round draft pick out of San Diego in 2008, Johnson made the 53-man roster as a rookie but was inactive for every game. As a collegian in the FCS subdivision, he put up enormous numbers, including an NCAA FCS career record passing efficiency of 176.68. Johnson also ran for 1,864 yards and 19 touchdowns for the Toreros. As a senior, Johnson posted an incredible 43-1 touchdown-interception ratio while also rushing for 726 yards.
Johnson learned of his new role on Monday morning, not long before Morris made the announcement publicly. Buccaneers.com will follow with additional coverage of Johnson's promotion, which will include the quarterback's thoughts as well as Morris' explanation for the move.