TAMPA — The surprise on Wednesday wasn't that the Bucs decided to pull the plug on Josh Freeman. The first-round pick in 2009 never seemed to be Greg Schiano's kind of quarterback.
It's that the switcheroo to rookie Mike Glennon happened after three weeks of Freeman receiving the good-cop, bad-cop treatment and two days after Schiano announced there would be no change for Sunday's game against the Cardinals.
But after meeting with general manager Mark Dominik on Tuesday and discussing the decision with ownership, the Bucs' coach ran a quarterback reverse.
"This was a performance-based decision, and the fact of the matter is we were not getting the job done on the field," Schiano said.
"We've lost eight of nine games (dating to last season) and haven't played particularly well on offense. Although it's not completely the quarterback's fault — I understand that — that position touches the ball every play."
Freeman was not made available for comment by the Bucs. But Schiano said, "He took it like a stand-up guy."
The Bucs have lost their first three games — the first two on last-second field goals — while Freeman struggled. He completed less than 50 percent of his passes in each while throwing two touchdowns and three interceptions. Over his past six games, he has thrown four touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
Freeman will be the No. 2 quarterback Sunday, and the team will try to trade him before the Oct. 29 deadline; most likely for a conditional late-round pick.
Tampa Bay wants Glennon to play Sunday then have a bye week to review his mistakes.
"It is beneficial to really … learn from the experience before he has to play his next game," Schiano said. "But it wasn't by any means the reason (the decision) was made now.
"We felt at this time that Mike Glennon gives us the best chance to win."
The team captains were told Wednesday, and the timing caught many players by surprise.
"The last time (reporters) asked me that, I said I was down for Free," guard Carl Nicks said. "But whoever the coach decides to start, that's who I'm rocking with. I really have no choice.
"Who knows? It might be like when (Colin) Kaepernick came in for San Francisco. I'm not saying he's going to rush for 150 yards."
Glennon, 23, a third-round pick who replaced current Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson at N.C. State, said he was excited by the opportunity.
"Something I've dreamed of my whole life," the 6-foot-6, 225-pounder said, "something I've worked for ever since I was a little kid throughout high school and college to prepare me for this moment."
The Bucs also questioned Freeman's leadership qualities and maturity. He missed the team picture Sept. 2 and was late to his own youth camp during the summer for what he described as car trouble. Receiver Vincent Jackson stepped in for him at the camp.
Meanwhile, Schiano lauded Glennon's preparation.
"Incredibly hard worker, passionate about football, studies his rear end off," Schiano said. "Tries to execute the plan we try to implement. There's a lot of good things."
Freeman played his best game of the season in Sunday's 23-3 loss to the Patriots. He completed only 19 of 41 passes for 236 yards with an interception but was victimized by dropped passes, including likely touchdowns by Jackson and tight end Tim Wright.
In tossing Freeman overboard, the Bucs eventually will say goodbye to a 25-year-old who owns most of the their passing records. He set records for passing yards (4,065) and touchdowns (27) last season, and his 80 career touchdowns are a record.
By going with Glennon, players should not think the team is willing to sacrifice wins for developing a rookie quarterback, Schiano said.
Two quarterbacks taken ahead of Glennon, the Jets' Geno Smith and Bills' EJ Manuel, have started since Week 1.
"You've just got to look at the playoffs last year," Schiano said. The NFC, I think those guys (produced)."
Was Schiano comparing Glennon to Wilson and the Redskins' Robert Griffin III?
"I think Mike Glennon is Mike Glennon," Schiano said. "I think Mike Glennon is going to help us win Sunday, and I think he's going to help us win a lot of games."
Rick Stroud can be reached at stroud @tampabay.com and heard from 6 to 9 a.m. weekdays on WDAE-AM 620. Follow him on Twitter at @NFLStroud.