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Bucs' Lovie Smith interested in wins, not QB drama

Josh McCown will start again after hurting his right thumb in Week 3 because the Bucs need better QB play, Lovie Smith says.
Josh McCown will start again after hurting his right thumb in Week 3 because the Bucs need better QB play, Lovie Smith says.
Published Nov. 6, 2014

TAMPA — The story of how quarterback Mike Glennon came to announce his benching is more scattershot than his passes.

Glennon's brother Sean, a former Virginia Tech quarterback, used Twitter to say he had lost all respect for Bucs coach Lovie Smith on Tuesday. He later took down the tweet, then deleted his account.

"I talked to him about it. He realizes he made a mistake," Mike said. "But he was doing it out of frustration and love for his brother."

The Bucs decided to have Glennon disclose on his weekly radio show Tuesday night that Smith had decided to replace him with Josh McCown.

"Feel bad for Mike that way? I'm not into feeling bad for anybody," Smith said Wednesday. "We're trying to win football games. It's as simple as that. … When it came out, who did it, that's just low on the totem pole for me right now."

McCown is front and under center for the Bucs again, carrying the hopes of a coach — and a weary fan base — desperate for a win. After injuring his right thumb and being replaced by Glennon in Week 3 at Atlanta, McCown hoped it would never come to this. He wished the Bucs would have soared rather than sunk to a 1-7 record.

"I love playing this game, and we play to play. Don't get me wrong on that," McCown said. "An opportunity to go out there and play in the National Football League, especially as a starting quarterback, there's only 32 of those, and that's a special, special privilege. I don't take that lightly.

"There's a part of me that wishes this team was winning ball games. And I've said this all along … I want to be part of a winner, and I want to be part of an organization that wins. And it's not about me. So if Mike could win ball games, I don't care. I really don't. … I was expecting after the injury Mike would take it and run with it."

But after upsetting the Steelers 27-24 on Sept. 28 on a touchdown pass with seven seconds remaining, Glennon has lost four straight games, including Sunday at Cleveland, a game in which he threw two interceptions and missed open receivers.

"I think we need better play at the quarterback position right now," Smith said. "You start with that. … (McCown) was our starter before. … We need a little boost. It's like that with all positions. If the play isn't what we think it should be, we see if there's another option we should look at."

McCown's performance before his injury — albeit for 21/2 games — provided no counter to pundits who insist he will never be much more than a career backup. McCown lost to the Panthers and the Vikings, and started the 56-14 blowout at Atlanta. In three starts, he passed for two touchdowns and four interceptions.

"If I didn't feel good about what he would do for us, we wouldn't go this direction," Smith said. "We think that we're doing some good things right now, and if that quarterback position can give us a few more plays, we can take off.

"(The) record doesn't show it right now, but we're a better football team. Offensively, yes. Our offensive line did some good things last time out. I think receiver-wise, you look at our passing game right now, we can do some things with it. … Eventually the wins have to come, and our offensive stats have to say that."

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Glennon might still be the Bucs' quarterback of the future, but McCown faces an uncertain future. If he doesn't perform well this time, the Bucs could just ride out the remainder of the season with a younger, developing quarterback. Smith said nothing has changed, and in a way, everything has come full circle.

"Mike has gone back into the same position as we started," Smith said.

Glennon didn't agree with the decision to start McCown but acknowledged he didn't do enough to win games.

"I guess it was not what I was expecting," Glennon said. "But it's part of the game, and … I will help the team in any way I can. Last time this happened, I was 21/2 games in and I was playing the game. So you never know when it's going to happen."

McCown, 35, wasn't able to grip a football well enough to practice until two weeks ago, when he served as the Bucs' No. 2. It bothered him that before he was hurt, Tampa Bay fans didn't get to see how well he is capable of playing.

"It would certainly be a bad taste left in my mouth," McCown said. "But I think at this point it's about coming together with those guys in the locker room and finding a way to win a ball game."