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Mike Glennon has much to prove as starter for Bucs

Rookie Mike Glennon gets his chance to shine, stepping in for benched QB Josh Freeman.

TAMPA, Fla. -- This ends one circus. No more Greg Schiano-Josh Freeman (reported) friction. No more questions about Freeman's future. No more wondering how much longer a marriage of coincidence between an intense coach and a low-key quarterback will last.

 

Mike Glennon was going to be named the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' quarterback sometime this season. That was the only result after a toxic September at One Buc Place, where a 0-3 record seems like a large enough hole to bury this campaign before October.  

 

The move happened earlier than expected, a week before the bye, which shows how eager Schiano and general manager Mark Dominik were to make the Glennon Era the present and Freeman the past.

 

There's excitement for one man, uncertainty for a franchise.

 

"It's an exciting time for me, something I've dreamed of my whole life, something I've worked for ever since I was a little kid, throughout high school and college to prepare me for this moment," Glennon said Wednesday. "I'm really excited about it."

 

Who knows what to expect from here?

 

This is impossible to read. There's too much uncertainty, too many unknowns from Glennon. One thing is for sure: There's no turning back from this cliff. As Schiano said, "Mike's our starting quarterback from this point forward,” and because of it, Freeman's days in Tampa Bay are likely numbered. Glennon is a Schiano Guy, unlike Freeman, who was a Raheem Morris Guy from the time he was taken No. 17 overall in 2009. Glennon is Schiano's fingerprint at quarterback.


The rookie has the backing of his coach, general manager and ownership. But he has a lot of work to do outside that circle of trust. The effort will start in his locker room, where the move surprised more than a few respected voices.

 

"I always said I'm down for Free, but whoever the coach decides to start, that's who I'm working with," guard Carl Nicks said.

 

"That's what it is."

 

Guard Davin Joseph, a team captain, also weighed in.

 

"I was surprised, but it's a performance-based league," Joseph said. "A coach's decision is a coach's decision. We've got to move forward … and make Mike the best quarterback he can be."

 

Glennon has a chance to succeed. He has one thing going for him that Freeman never had this season: A reason to be confident. Freeman said he never listened to the noise, the constant chatter, around him. But it's hard to imagine the sharp words, or at least the repeated questions about them, not cutting into his confidence. He was a walking voodoo doll.

 

So the Bucs start fresh with Glennon, and frankly, early returns haven't been great. He received 44 more snaps in the preseason than Freeman, completing 33 of 70 passes for 397 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions. Glennon didn't pass the eye test in training camp or the preseason, not totally unexpected for a rookie. But few in the summer could have imagined he would be tapped to start before October.

 

"I'm not going to get into comparisons of 'What can he do that Josh wasn't doing?' I'm not going to go there," Schiano said. "What I'll tell you is Mike's a smart, tough football player who loves the game. I think he works extremely hard. I think he will go out and try to do what we're coaching him to do. He's not going to be perfect. No one is. But I think he's going to try to execute to the best of his abilities what we're asking him to do in the game plan. I think he'll be accurate, (and) I think he'll go out and do it."

 

The precedent is there. Russell Wilson, whom Glennon replaced at N.C. State in 2011, showed nothing is too large for a rookie last season. So did Andrew Luck. So did Robert Griffin III.

 

But this situation is different. Glennon could become a notable quarterback one day, but he will have a larger learning curve than those three. This promotion hints at a franchise that knew it was spinning its wheels with Freeman, with no hope of recovery soon, and Glennon was the next in line.

 

There's excitement for one man, uncertainty for a franchise.

 

"It's definitely difficult," rookie running back Mike James said of the learning curve for a first-year player. "It's the NFL. You've got to prepare every Sunday like it’s going to be the best Sunday. I’m sure he’s prepared. The curve -- it's a big curve. But I'm sure he's going to handle it well."

 

We'll see Sunday. Look for Doug Martin to receive a healthy workload. Martin has always been a centerpiece of this offense, but with the Bucs now moving past purgatory with its quarterback situation, he will be more valuable than before.

 

No one man will be the answer, though. This is Glennon's huddle now. Veteran leadership from Nicks, Joseph, Vincent Jackson and others must make the transition as smooth as it can be.

 

"This is what I prepared my whole life for," Glennon said with a grin. "I'm excited about it. Can't wait. I've prepared ever since I can remember."

 

One circus ends.


More work will begin.

 

You can follow Andrew Astleford on Twitter @aastleford or email him at aastleford@gmail.com.