Bucs coach Lovie Smith thinking about starting QB Josh McCown again

Josh McCown, left, could get his starting quarterback job back from Mike Glennon for the 1-7 Buccaneers.
Josh McCown, left, could get his starting quarterback job back from Mike Glennon for the 1-7 Buccaneers.
Published Nov. 4, 2014

TAMPA — Lovie Smith is getting ready to crank up the not-so-merry-go-round at quarterback.

Saying his 1-7 team needs better play under center, the Bucs coach is contemplating going back to starter Josh McCown.

Smith admitted he considered replacing struggling quarterback Mike Glennon with McCown during Sunday's 22-17 loss at Cleveland, in which Glennon had his worst game of the season. He was 17 of 33 for 260 yards and two touchdowns to rookie Mike Evans, but he underthrew the ball twice to Evans, who had gotten behind the defense, and had two interceptions, including one in the red zone.

"Yes, whenever any position is struggling during the course of the game, you look at your options," Smith said, "but I thought Mike would be able to come out of it.

"The turnovers really hurt us. We need to play better at the quarterback position. I think that kind of goes without saying a little bit."

Smith said Monday he will evaluate both quarterbacks in practice this week before deciding. McCown hasn't played since Week 3 when he tore a ligament in his right thumb in the first half of a 56-14 loss at Atlanta. The Falcons, who haven't won since, visit Raymond James Stadium on Sunday.

Glennon is 1-4 since taking over for McCown, who was relieved to no longer be a career reliever when he signed a two-year, $10 million contract in March and immediately was named Tampa Bay's starter.

In three starts before his injury, McCown was 43-of-68 for 420 yards with two touchdowns and four interceptions while going 0-3. Smith said how McCown and Glennon perform in practice this week will impact his decision.

"It's always week to week with what we do," Smith said. "We look at who we think gives us the best opportunity to win this week. Last week, Mike will be the first one to tell you, he's played a lot better than he played (Sunday) and Josh is healthy and ready to go right now. … Right now we'll see who's available. We have a couple days and kind of go from there."

"How we match up, the play in practice this week. History, also — last time we played, everything comes into play with that. And then it's just a feel at the end on who gives you the best chance."

Though McCown had costly turnovers in losses to the Panthers, Rams and Falcons, some circumstances have changed since his injury. Evans has developed into a dangerous weapon, giving the Bucs another big outside target along with Vincent Jackson. McCown thrived last season with the Bears throwing deep to receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery.

Quarterbacks coach Marcus Arroyo has more playcalling experience since taking over for offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford, who took an indefinite medical leave of absence after a heart procedure.

Finally, the offensive line hasn't protected a pocket passer like Glennon very well and McCown's mobility and ability to extend plays with his feet would be a plus.

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"(McCown) got hurt is what happened," Smith said. "He's healthy right now, but Josh McCown is a good quarterback. We can win with him. So that's kind of where we are right now."

Glennon was inaccurate from the start Sunday, missing on 10 of his first 18 attempts with two interceptions. Evans had a career-high seven catches for 124 yards and two touchdowns.

"We had a lot of opportunities," Smith said. "We had good matchups with both our wide receivers. Accuracy on the ball, some of the decisions we made that led to turnovers. Both of those turnovers should've been touchdowns, we feel like, instead of interceptions putting them in a favorable position."

Glennon is 5-13 as a Bucs starter. Perhaps more damning, the team has scored fewer than 20 points in 10 of those games.

Smith said he still has confidence in Glennon.

"Yes, I do. Mike didn't play well (Sunday)," Smith said. "He has played well during this stretch of starts that he's had. You have to look at the body of work. It's always about now."