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In my last article, I explained how Tampa Bay’s crew of pirates (that’s literal talk for “Buccaneers”) came to be. But what is a crew without their captain? Josh Freeman has been Tampa’s without-question starting quarterback for four years. With that in mind, head coach Greg Schiano stated that he, along with GM Mark Dominik, would do everything in their power to assemble the best 90-man roster to the field at the start of training camp. Earlier in that same press conference, Schiano explained that goal would be accomplished by acquiring competition at every position, including at quarterback.
“The one thing I do believe in is competition at every spot, including the quarterback so I want to have as many good players on our football team as we can at every single position….When there is competition the level rises and that is something Mark Dominik and I will work tirelessly on trying to put the best 90 players when we go to training camp on our roster.”
– Greg Schiano
So let’s break down that competition, shall we?
Joshua Tyler Freeman. What most Bucs fans remember about Freeman is that in his first game as a starter he defeated the Green Bay Packers, giving Tampa its first win of the 2009 season. What Bucs fans tend to forget is after that win the Bucs went 2-6 while Freeman went 7-17 in the TD/INT ratio. In 2010, Freeman avoided the “sophomore slump” in style by throwing for over 3,000 yards and finished the year with 26 TDs and only 6 interceptions. However, 2011 was a major step back for the confident quarterback as he threw for only 16 TDs while giving away 22 interceptions; he also lead his team to end the season on a nine-game losing streak. Finally, Freeman had a statistically pleasing year in 2012; he threw for over 4,000 yards with 27 TDs and 17 interceptions, but let his team lose five of their last six games as the Bucs missed the playoffs for the 4th year in a row with Freeman as their starter.
So what do we make of our captain? Freeman is in the last year of his contract and the front office intends to let this season be his chance–basically last chance–to prove whether or not he’s worthy of a franchise-quarterback contract. As of right now, he’s the starter and there’s no second guessing. But at the tail end of April, the Bucs made a gutsy move that will either inspire Freeman to play his best or force him to crumble under new-found pressure…
Mike I Couldn’t Find His Middle Name Glennon. Mike Glennon was a two-year starter at NC State, most famous for being Russell Wilson’s replacement and ending FSU’s undefeated season in 2012. Glennon was an interesting pick in the draft because of where he was drafted and his relationship to Greg Schiano. He was drafted in the 3rd round; backup players aren’t drafted in the 3rd round. Players that are drafted in the top three rounds are usually groomed to start within their first three years. Glennon was also scouted heavily by Greg Schiano while he was the head coach at Rutgers; Schiano has been evaluating Glennon’s abilities for many years. But regardless of how much Schiano coveted him out of high school, the negatives in Glennon’s skills remain evident: very limited in mobility and sacrifices decision making and accuracy to accomodate for his cannon arm strength.
It’s the NFL, so people like to freak out about things–mainly because it’s the offseason and what else are we going to do, watch baseball? Fans that think Glennon was brought in to replace Freeman this year are just being silly; he’s nothing more than a scheme-fit insurance policy at this point in time. Glennon–while not as mobile as Freeman–posseses the same type of arm skills as the current starting quarterback, just much less developed. In the event of an unfortunate injury, Glennon could come in and be manageable because of what he brings to the table. SparkNotes version: Could Glennon eventually be the starting quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers? Yes. Will he replace Freeman at all this year barring a winless record or major injury? No.
Daniel John Orlovsky. On December 18, 2011 Dan Orlovsky lead the then 0-13 Indianapolis Colts to their first victory of the season. Just four days later on December 22, 2011 he lead the game-winning 78 yard drive with less than two minutes left to give the Colts two wins in a row after starting the season 0-13. He’s a winner, folks: “All I Do Is Win“.
Well we’ve had our fun today, but football isn’t about fun, it’s about winning. When it all boils down, fans tend to remember the rivalry games, and Josh Freeman is 9-13 against NFC South teams. It’s one of the most consistently challenging divisions in the NFL and–as argued before–we’ll chalk up some of his loses to poor coaching on bad teams, but this year is Freeman’s best chance yet to show what he’s made of despite the rest of the division only getting stronger. Everyone in the Bucs front office–and even players/GMs around the league–seem to think Freeman has what it takes to get the Bucs to the playoffs and beyond. It’s his job, it’s his stage, and it’s his command that will determine how far this ship sails.