As the news came out Wednesday morning that Coach Schiano was benching one-time future of the franchise QB Josh Freeman in favor of rookie Mike Glennon, I had a couple thoughts.
First, it makes sense, because Freeman has been struggling. Whether he’s pressing, or its the system, something isn’t clicking and hasn’t been over the last 8 games. Schiano even said it’s not all on the QB-which honestly could just be nice coachspeak.
Second, do Schiano and GM Mark Dominik have a clear vision for this franchise? Dominik has been on the job now for over four years, so he ought to have a handle on where things should be going-and considering how long he’s been with the Bucs prior to assuming the role of GM, he really ought to know. I stress this especially because of their notable trade for Darelle Revis in the off-season, along with their decision to not trade Freeman last season when he had value. Now, as a benched QB, his value is likely far less than the Bucs wanted, and likely also far less than they could have gotten during the off-season, when Freeman was their starter and there was no other option yet in place.
Also taking into account the reports of veterans not being particularly fond of Schiano’s style, and it has to make you wonder about the direction of the Buccaneers franchise.
Based on the performance from 2010, when the Bucs surprised and went 10-6, barely missing the playoffs, the expectations were pretty high for this team. But, 3 seasons later, they have not had a winning record since. The coach from that last winning team? Fired. The young emerging RB? Traded. And the QB? Now benched. Really analyzing things, I would say that Dominik’s seat might be getting a bit warm, and Schiano’s may be close too, even though he’s only in his second season.
So, can a rookie QB help turn things around? It is surely early enough in the season that it could have a positive impact. It certainly won’t make things go any worse. And, thinking logically, Glennon was one of the QBs in the class of 2013 that a lot of scouts were really high on. If your veteran starter is floundering and your team is winless, it only makes sense to make a change and find out what you have in the rookie. Best case, he shows glimpses (or more) of what those scouts were so high on. Worst case, he shows he can’t handle the job, and you as a team know to add QB to your list of needs heading into the 2014 draft.
Right now, it is hard to see if Tampa is headed in the right direction. Why? Because, if I am running a franchise, I don’t go all in for an injured All Pro cornerback if my QB situation is really that unsettled. At the time of the trade, the Bucs didn’t know if Glennon would fall to their pick in the third round. Freeman was, for better or worse, their guy-even though there have been rumblings about his long term prospects for some time now. Yes, I get it. Revis, when healthy, is one of the league’s best corners, and they don’t become available every day. But, knowing I have issues or concerns at QB, and that Revis was coming off of a major knee injury and isn’t exactly a low maintenance player, I may have opted for a different direction. For starters, if they’d kept that selection, every single QB in the class of ’13 was still on the board. So, if Geno Smith and EJ Manuel really develop, but Glennon does not and Revis reverts to his old self, this move will see a lot of scrutiny. Also, looking at the trades in the second half of the first round, as a GM I probably would have rather had the pick on draft day so that I could have fielded calls and made some moves. The 2014 class is, right now, supposed to be very promising, much more than 2013 was. But if a GM had fallen in love with a pick (like if Buffalo really wanted Manuel and thought the Bucs were going to take him ahead of them), Dominik could have parlayed the 2013 first rounder into multiple picks, including possibly a 2014 first.
Bottom line, acquiring a player like Revis is really a win-now move. Yes, he’s young, but it’s still more of a win-now move. Now that you are ushering in a new era with Mike Glennon, it’s unclear if the offense can be in win-now mode. Surely the Bucs are hoping Glennon can emulate the recent success of his predecessor at NC State (Russell Wilson) on the NFL stage. If he can, then this move will be a stroke of genius. But what are the odds of that?