TAMPA — When he got Josh Freeman’s old job, it was a dream come true — to start in an NFL game. He’d thought about it since he was a kid.
And Sunday was a dream come true — for around 57 minutes.
Then Napoleon Dynamite go boom.
About three minutes left. That’s when rookie Mike Glennon, Greg Schiano’s hand-picked, best-chance-to-win quarterback, officially became part of the problem, one that’s 0-4 after another late Tampa Bay Buccaneers loss.
“It was just an unfortunate way to end the game,” Glennon said.
It’s not fair to bury this kid.
It was his first game.
He threw his first NFL touchdown. It looked as if it would hold up.
But then, late and later, Glennon threw his first two NFL interceptions. Bad throws, bad decisions, grisly mistakes.
One came deep in Bucs territory and led to a Cardinals touchdown on the next play. The game was tied at 10. After Arizona took the lead on a field goal, Glennon felt pressure and hoisted one up. That was intercepted, too, and that was the game.
All of it under the watchful eyes of Josh Freeman, who saw the whole thing from the fabled “inactive players suite” at Raymond James Stadium.
“It was a mutual decision,” Schiano said.
After, Freeman stopped to tell media, “I can’t comment right now.”
Tune to ESPN for Part 7 of his exclusive interview. Tonight: “Freeman: The Mutual Decision Years.”
Into all this came Mike Glennon and his boyhood dreams.
“Mike stepped in there like he was supposed to step in there,” Bucs offensive tackle Donald Penn said. “It was a tough, tough job on him. I thought he handled it very well.”
“I thought Mike did a good job of command and control of the game, tempo, everything,” Schiano said. “I thought he read things out relatively well. ... He spread the ball around to nine different guys. ... At the end of the day, though, we had two costly turnovers.”
Glennon was looking for Vincent Jackson both times — but the first was worst, that first pick. It’s the one thing you can’t do from your own 11-yard line up 10-3.
“Can’t make that throw,” Glennon said. “A foot in front would have been the difference. Definitely a learning experience, but also a tough one to swallow ...”
It occurred to me, right after that play, that Schiano probably doesn’t let Freeman try that throw.
But this was his guy ... his quarterback ... the hope for the future and Schiano’s neck.
After the Cardinals had taken the lead, there was time left for a comeback, more than enough.
This used to be Freeman time. You can say what you want about Freeman, quarters 1 through 3, but he pulled off several comebacks in his time.
Maybe Glennon will, too. Not Sunday.
“They brought pressure,” he said. “I was trying to make a play. I probably should have just thrown it out of bounds and lived to see another down.”
From dream to nightmare.
Mike Glennon did some good in his debut. Quick release. Some very nice throws. All told, it added up to 24 of 43 for 193 yards.
Now he has one under his belt — one to study.
“The good, the bad, whatever it is, it will be a lot of learning for me,” Glennon said.
The Good, the Bad, Whatever it is — wasn’t that a Clint Eastwood western?
This club is in trouble after another offensive bonanza, 10 whole points against a depleted Arizona defense. This coach is in trouble, nine losses in 10 games dating to last season.
Now comes the bye, two weeks between games, two weeks of trading block talk, loads of time for Freeman’s agent to leak stuff about the Bucs and the Bucs to leak stuff about Freeman.
No. 5 has to go.
At this rate, can Schiano be far behind him?
Poor Mike Glennon. He played his first NFL game Sunday. It was there for everyone to see.
The good, the bad, whatever it is.