TAMPA — Maybe the scouts were wrong about Mike Glennon.
The general consensus on the Buccaneers rookie coming out of college was that he was an immobile and often inaccurate quarterback. But Glennon’s play in his first two starts has all but belied the scouting reports.
Shoot, one play alone might have done it.
It was the last play of the third quarter of Sunday’s 31-20 loss to Eagles. On third-and-9 from Tampa Bay’s 26-yard line, Glennon rolled out to his right and, while still on the run, threw a pass that sailed 24 yards before landing softly in the hands of wide receiver Vincent Jackson just as Jackson reached the sideline.
“Hey, I never thought he was the statue that some others did, but he does move better than I thought,’’ Bucs offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan said. “And in practices and games now, we’re also starting to see that ability to throw on the move. So, he’s a very accurate quarterback, too.
“We’re not going to suddenly turn into a read-option team here all of a sudden. But hey — news flash — there’s a mobility that he has. And, at this point, whatever helps us put points on the board, we’ll take it.’’
Glennon’s mobility definitely helped put points on the board against Philadelphia. On consecutive plays late in the second quarter, he broke out of the pocket and ran for 4 yards and 16 yards. Coming on third-and-14, the second gain kept alive a drive that concluded three plays later with Glennon throwing a 1-yard touchdown pass to Jackson for a 17-14 lead.
It also prompted a light moment between Glennon and Bucs coach Greg Schiano on the sideline during the two-minute warning break that came immediately after Glennon’s 16-yard scramble.
“Coach Schiano is always giving me a hard time about (going to N.C. State instead of) Rutgers,” Glennon said. “So, after that long run I came to the sidelines and he was smiling and I just kind of joked that maybe I should have gone to Oregon instead.”
Glennon’s mobility isn’t the only thing that has Schiano smiling. His ability to hit receivers on the run with his passes has brought back an offensive dimension Schiano said was missing with former starter Josh Freeman.
Freeman’s inability to consistently hit his targets in stride, Schiano said, greatly reduced his receivers’ ability to make yards after the catch and therefore limited the offense’s true potential. Last week, Schiano said he thinks that trend will slowly change for the Bucs now that Glennon is at quarterback, and there is already proof.
Though the Bucs are last in the league in total yards after the catch with 421, a season-high 107 came against the Eagles, when Glennon completed 26 of 43 throws (60 percent). It marked the first time this season a Bucs quarterback has completed more than 50 percent of his passes.
“As the receivers become more and more accustomed to (the quarterback) hitting the route, they’ll start to run to the end of the route, to the reception point of the route,’’ Schiano said. “And they’ll start to do that at a high rate of speed. But that has to be a confidence thing, a chemistry thing that builds between the quarterback and his receiving corps over time.”
At N.C. State, Glennon completed 63 percent of his passes (316-for-505) during his first three years with the Wolfpack. It was only during his senior season that his completion percentage dropped below 60 percent. And despite a number of dropped passes contributing to the drop in his percentage, Glennon left school with the knock he was an erratic thrower.
Glennon has never really bought into that theory. Nor has he completely embraced the argument that he’s an immobile quarterback incapable of escaping trouble or making plays with his feet.
“I’ve always felt like I’ve thrown the ball really well and that it comes out of my hand really well,” Glennon said. “And I’ve always felt like I’ve been able to move well enough in the pocket, too. I don’t use my feet as a weapon, but I think, when need be, I can get a few yards and then get down and get the first down. That’s all I’m trying to do, and that’s all you need to do at this level.
“As a quarterback, you want to throw the ball, get the ball in the playmakers’ hands, and, if need be, run and get a first down. I’m sure that won’t happen too often, but I think I’ve shown that I could do it if the defense opens up.”