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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Do Glazers have big say in QB choice? You bet, so debate continues



Raheem Morris took the roll call of people he planned to meet with late Sunday to determine the starting quarterback for 2009.

The list included general manager Mark Dominik, offensive coordinator Jeff Jagozinski, quarterbacks coach Greg Olson, pro personnel director Doug Williams and college scouting director Dennis Hickey.

But when addressing the media, he omitted two of the most influential voices: Bucs co-chairmen Joel and Bryan Glazer.

After meeting Sunday night, it was decided that the quarterback race between Luke McCown and Byron Leftwich was too close to call. In other words, the debate will continue at least through Thursday night's preseason home opener against the Miami Dolphins.

Morris had been adament about naming a starter heading into the third preseason game. He felt it was important, since starters traditionally play well into the third quarter and very little at all in the final exhibition.

It's hard to fathom that after evaluating every snap count, every audible, every pass attempt since March, through the OTAs, minicamps and training camp, that another series or two from each quarterback Thursday against the Dolphins will change the picture.

But Dominik -- and most likely the Glazers -- are among those wanting to delay the decision.

And that is very good news for Luke McCown.

Remember, first and foremost, this is a business. And the Glazers have $5-million invested in McCown this season, including a $2.5-million signing bonus. Not to mention the five seasons he's spent in Tampa Bay.

Considering the Bucs rank 32nd in the NFL since 2004 in terms of cash spent for signing bonuses and salary, you can no longer dismiss the Glazers' strong influence over personnel decisions.

Don't think for a minute they weren't a driving force on the decision to release veterans like Derrick Brooks, Cato June, Warrick Dunn and others in February.

And you can bet the Glazers are weighing in on Morris' choice of a starting quarterback.

Heading into Saturday night's 24-23 win at Jacksonville, Leftwich had a slight edge over McCown based on the off-season performance and the first preseason game.

But McCown had a big night, throwing touchdown passes to Jerramy Stevens and rookie Sammie Strougher in the second quarter.

Leftwich was able to reverse some poor field position and led the Bucs to a field goal in the first half. But McCown benefitted at the Bucs' 40-yard line, the Jags' 20-yard line and the Jacksonville 45-yard line. Leftwich took over at the Bucs' 22-yard line, 39-yard line and 23-yard line.

A week earlier, it was Leftwich who took advantage of great field position to throw a touchdown pass to Brian Clark.

In two preseason games, McCown's numbers are better. McCown has completed 10-of-17 passes for 70 yards (58.8) with two touchdowns and no interceptions. His passer rating is 107.2. Leftwich is 12-of-26 passing for 124 yards (46.2 percent) with one touchdown and no INTs for a passer rating of 73.2.

McCown led his team to 14 points -- all against the Jags. Leftwich led the Bucs to 13 points.

But the quarterback position is more about belief and leadership than preseason numbers.

Both are capable of leading the Bucs in 2009. From an organizational standpoint, it would benefit the Bucs more if McCown won the job. The goal is to turn the position over to Josh Freeman, their first-round pick, as soon as possibble. If McCown plays well, his trade value will increase. He has a bigger upside than Leftwich, who has played in 54 games.

So the debate continues. And the Glazers will weigh heavily in the decision.

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 3:38pm]


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