Time for Bucs to unleash Glennon

Bucs quarterback Mike Glennon, about to be sacked on third down by the 49ers’ Aldon Smith, averages just 9.9 yards a completion Sunday, but he was briefly effective in a hurry-up mode.
Bucs quarterback Mike Glennon, about to be sacked on third down by the 49ers’ Aldon Smith, averages just 9.9 yards a completion Sunday, but he was briefly effective in a hurry-up mode.
Published Dec. 16, 2013


On Mike Glennon's third-to-last play of the afternoon, he was dumped, rather unceremoniously, on his keister for a 16-yard loss.

On Glennon's next-to-last play of the afternoon, he was also sacked; his fourth of the day, which is far too frequently.

On Glennon's final play of the afternoon, he threw an interception to 49ers safety Eric Reid on a perfectly dreadful pass.

Given that Glennon wrapped up his day with this Triple Crown of ugliness, the following request may surprise you:

Isn't it time the Bucs unshackle Glennon?

Yeah, that's how bad the Tampa Bay offense was in Sunday's 33-14 bashing by the 49ers. Even when you consider the frustration of Glennon's bad plays, you wound up wanting to see more of him. You wanted to see him throw more often. You wanted to see him throw deeper.

After all, what else did the Bucs have going for them?

Oh, what an offense to the eyes this Bucs offense is. At times, it looks like 11 men pushing against a slow-moving bus. When a yard is needed, it cannot gain a foot. When a foot is needed, it cannot gain an inch. It is a collection of second and 9s and third and 11s, and for most of the day, it carried all the excitement of a bunch of guys standing in line.

Yes, the 49ers have a good defense. But they aren't the 1985 Bears. Yes, the Bucs are down to a collection of journeymen on offense. But they had won four of their previous five. In other words, there was no excuse for such an impotent performance.

And yet, there it was. A yard here. A loss of two there.

Over their first four possessions, the Bucs gained a total of 23 yards. The only first down they had came when the 49ers jumped offside on second and 4. For the day, the Bucs finished with one third-down conversion in 10 attempts. Cars stuck in the mud have more traction than that.

In other words, all they had was Glennon, who at least had the decency to play well for two drives out of 12.

On Sunday, with no one else going anywhere, that seemed like a lot.

There was the 80-yard drive, for instance. That came just before halftime, when the Bucs found a spark by going to the hurry-up offense. Glennon hit 5 of 6 passes for 56 yards on the drive, including an 11-yard touchdown pass to Vincent Jackson.

There was the 92-yard drive, for instance. That started at the end of the third quarter. On that drive, most of it also using the no-huddle approach, Glennon completed 8 of 9 for 89 yards, including a 24-yard touchdown to Tim Wright on the first play of the fourth quarter.

Consider this: On those two drives, the Bucs drove for 172 yards. The rest of the day, they managed 11.

Of course, if those two drives were typical of Glennon's day, no one would have grumbled. But they weren't. For the first few drives of the game, sadly, the rookie continually threw short of the first-down markers. He seemed as if he were playing it safe, or perhaps, the play-calls were forcing him to play it safe. Either way, a 5-yard completion on third and 9 wasn't doing anyone any good.

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"I wouldn't call it playing it safe," Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano said. "What happens is you have plays designed to get the first down. They were taking away the routes that were beyond the stick, so then you have some outlets that are below the stick so you don't have to take a sack."

Granted, but does that explain everything? Did the 49ers take away every route by every receiver on every play? Or, perhaps, was it at least partially because of a rookie quarterback who has had it stressed to him how much he should avoid turnovers.

The thing is, you have to make some plays at times. The play-calling, too, has to allow for it. You cannot surrender the second level simply because the other team is pretty good.

Yet, Glennon sipped and nibbled and took a tiny piece here and there. For the first quarter and a half, he looked like a blackjack player who was so conservative he would not hit on 11.

The thing is, it was the third straight ordinary game for Glennon. After back-to-back games against Atlanta and Detroit, when his rating was in the mid 130s, he had a 73.5 against Carolina, a 40.4 against Buffalo and a 75.5 against San Francisco.

The Bucs need better from Glennon. Yes, they need him to protect the ball. But they need him to make some throws, too. On a day when the running game is scrimmaging in a phone booth, they need him to make a lot of them.

After all, he has been your starter for 10 games now.

It is time for him to be unleashed.