Is Bucs' Glennon the backup QB or a viable backup plan?

With starter Josh Freeman in the final year of his contract, the Bucs need to determine if Mike Glennon is merely the backup quarterback or a viable backup plan.
With starter Josh Freeman in the final year of his contract, the Bucs need to determine if Mike Glennon is merely the backup quarterback or a viable backup plan.
Published Aug. 8, 2013


Mike Glennon throws a beautiful pass. His feet provide a balanced platform. His shoulder and hips always rotate and are pointed perfectly at the target. The football is held high and delivered from ear level with a tight spin and at great velocity.

"The thing that jumped out right away even in the spring was his mechanics and fundamentals," Bucs offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan said of the rookie quarterback.

"Fundamentally, he's very tight, and I mean that in a good way. He's very sound."

If you were holding a passing competition, as the Bucs did using targets mounted on moving golf carts during their practice at Raymond James Stadium on July 27, Glennon is your man. He won it easily, hitting all three bull's-eyes from varied distances.

But he has shortcomings.

At 6 feet 6, he is gangly, awkward on the run and so heavy-footed at times, it appears as if his cleats are made of cement.

"He'd be the first to say he's not the world's smoothest athlete," Sullivan said.

That's why the preseason — which begins tonight when the Bucs host the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens — will be so revealing for Glennon.

With starter Josh Freeman in the final year of his contract, the Bucs need to determine if Glennon is merely the backup or a viable backup plan.

"We'll be getting different looks," Glennon, a third-round pick, said. "It's in a game atmosphere, so that will be important as I continue to grow."

Sullivan is eager to see how Glennon reacts to pressure. Can he move functionally in the pocket and away from defenders at his feet or in his face? Or will his mechanics and decision-making break down?

"We've tried to simulate things out here on the practice field. And it gets very competitive," Sullivan said. "But we still have to see this one thing; when they're tagging off on the quarterback or running right by him and they're at your feet. He's certainly shown some good habits, and he's a tough guy."

Barring injury or collapse, Freeman will start the regular-season opener. Coach Greg Schiano has said as much. But Glennon already is listed at No. 2 on the depth chart, ahead of veteran Dan Orlovsky.

Freeman likely will play only one or two series tonight.

If Glennon can operate the offense and produce points tonight and the rest of the preseason, the Bucs could opt to carry only two quarterbacks on the roster.

"Definitely Mike needs to play a lot to get his feet wet," Schiano said.

Glennon, who graduated from N.C. State in three years and earned a master's degree, is a quick study on the field. He appears to have digested the playbook and is not bashful to direct veterans if they are not in the right spots.

"I'm continuing to get better," Glennon said. "Some days are good, and some days are not as good. Whether good or bad, just learn from those and move forward."

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Freeman gives the Bucs the best chance to win today. But tomorrow?

Glennon will take his first baby steps in the NFL tonight. But the Bucs would like him to grow up fast.

"We just want to make sure he's making the right decisions," Sullivan said. "I'm really looking forward to seeing his command of the offense, his tempo in and out of the huddle. At the line of scrimmage, is he doing the things we want him to do with regard to checking protections and having that command?

"It is a system that takes awhile to get familiar with. And I'm anxious to see how he responds against an opponent that's not wearing pewter and red and is coming at him live."