TAMPA, Fla.. – After last season, Greg Schiano said he didn’t believe any NFL coaches and players were wed to each other. As it turns out, the coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was right.
That’s the rookie who will replace Freeman in the starting lineup Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals.
"I think Mike Glennon is Mike Glennon," Schiano said shortly after pointing to the success of rookie quarterbacks last season. "He’s going to help us win Sunday, and he’s going to help us win a lot of games."
Let’s face reality. Freeman remains on the roster for now, but it’s likely he’ll be elsewhere before the trade deadline in late October. This divorce between Freeman and Schiano was in the works for a long time.
Freeman was never Schiano’s "guy." Glennon is.
Schiano’s been infatuated with Glennon for years. He tried to recruit Glennon to Rutgers when he was coaching the Scarlet Knights. Glennon elected to go to North Carolina State, but Schiano didn’t want the quarterback to get away again and took him with a third-round draft pick in April.
At that moment, Freeman’s fate was pretty much sealed. The Bucs lost five of their final six games last season and Freeman struggled down the stretch. After the season, the Bucs looked at quarterbacks such as veteran Carson Palmer before ultimately deciding to draft Glennon.
The Bucs gave Freeman a chance to hold onto the job, but the deck was stacked against him. He failed to complete more than 50 percent of his passes in any of the first three regular-season games, and the offense never seemed to get into any rhythm.
“We’ve lost eight of nine games and we haven’t played particularly well on offense in the last nine games," Schiano said. “Although it’s not completely the quarterback’s fault, that position touches the ball every play."
The Bucs have a bye after the Arizona game, and could have waited to make a quarterback switch.
“It is beneficial I think that Mike will get to play a game and then have a bye week to really decipher through it and learn from the experience before he has to play his next game," Schiano said. “That’s a side benefit of the decision. But it wasn’t by any means the reason it was made now. We felt that it was time that Mike Glennon gave us the best chance to win and that’s why we did it."
So, just like that, the Bucs cast aside Freeman, who was the team’s first-round pick in 2009. Freeman was drafted by former coach Raheem Morris and general manager Mark Dominik. Morris is long gone, but Dominik, the one with ties to Freeman, is still around. If there’s a fall guy for Freeman’s failure, it could be Dominik.
But Dominik and Schiano spent a lot of time together before the decision was made to go with Glennon. Then, they got the blessing of ownership. Now, they’re ready to move on.
There’s almost no chance Freeman can win the job back.
“Mike’s our starting quarterback from this point forward," Schiano said. “We’re moving forward and Mike’s our quarterback. That’s the plan and that’s how we’re going."
Isn’t going with a rookie quarterback sending a message to the veterans that this team is starting over?
“Not this rookie quarterback," Schiano said. “Not in my opinion. I think he gives us the best chance to win Sunday. That’s why we’re doing it."
Glennon had better win quickly. The Bucs are 0-3, and Wednesday marked a big day in franchise history. It was the day Freeman got pushed out of a job. That takes a big layer of insulation away from Schiano. The coach now is wed to his quarterback, and he'd better be right about this one.
If Schiano’s wrong about Glennon, this decision could cost him his job.