Mike Glennon making his coach look wise

DETROIT -- Maybe Greg Schiano wasn't the bad guy in the Josh Freeman saga after all.

Maybe, while looking like he had no clue, the coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers knew precisely what he was doing. It has taken longer than anyone would have liked. But it's starting to look like Schiano has found his quarterback and a winning formula.

The latest evidence of that came as rookie quarterback Mike Glennon posted a 138.4 passer rating in the Buccaneers' 24-21 victory over the Detroit Lions on Sunday. After losing their first eight games, the Buccaneers now have won three in a row.

"The one thing that you love about coaching Mike Glennon is he has a reason for everything he does," Schiano said as he explained why Glennon took a fourth-quarter sack to keep the clock moving.

The irony there is that maybe Schiano has a reason for everything he does. His methods might have seemed awkward at the time, but running Freeman out of town was the best thing for the Buccaneers in the long run.

As long as Schiano is the coach of the Buccaneers -- and it now is looking like he has a decent shot to stick around next season -- it wasn't going to work with Freeman. Like a lot of coaches, Schiano believes in having a lot of meetings. Freeman apparently didn't believe in showing up on time for meetings and, at times, skipped them altogether. Schiano and Freeman simply weren't going to work well together.

Schiano has been infatuated with Glennon since trying unsuccessfully to recruit him to Rutgers. Maybe, on paper, Glennon isn't nearly as good an athlete as Freeman. So what? Maybe it means a heck of a lot more to have a quarterback the coach believes in.

"I thought Mike Glennon did a very good job of taking care of the football," Schiano said. "He needed to. The pass rush was fierce. He held on to the football and didn't force it and took his shots when they were there and hit the deep ball, which we needed to do. That was about the only way we were going to win that game."

Glennon didn't single-handedly carry the Buccaneers to victory. There was help from a defense that produced four interceptions and a fumble recovery. There was a huge effort from rookie cornerback Johnthan Banks, who stepped up and kept Detroit receiver Calvin Johnson in check after Darrelle Revis was forced to leave the game with a groin injury. The special teams also came through with a blocked punt.

But Glennon did his part. On a day when the Lions' defense focused on the running game and dared Glennon to beat them, he did. Glennon completed 14 of 21 passes for two touchdowns and no interceptions.

"In six games, he's turned the ball over once," Schiano said. "To me, that's winning football. That's the kind of football we want to play."

The Bucs were playing that kind of football when Freeman started the first three games. Let's face the fact that the Bucs now are a better team than they were with Freeman. They're cohesive, organized and, most importantly, they're winning.

The Bucs aren't going to the playoffs this year, but the victory against the Lions was another step in the development of Glennon and this team. It was Tampa Bay's first road win of the season and Glennon's first NFL victory away from home.

"That wasn't easy," veteran guard Davin Joseph said. "That's a good defensive front. That's a good defense. Mike made some tough throws. He took some big hits. But he didn't get rattled. He was able to extend plays and complete passes. You see him getting better and better every game.

"I'm a Mike Glennon fan. I think that he can be great. I've said it since the first time I saw him take a snap. I told everybody that we had something special. I don't like to say 'franchise, blah, blah, blah,' but he's a stud. He's been a stud since he's been starting."

The only early knock on Glennon was that he wasn't completing deep passes, even though he has a big arm. But that started to change in recent weeks and it continued Sunday. Glennon completed a 47-yard pass to Vincent Jackson and his biggest play of the day was an 85-yard bomb to Tiquan Underwood early in the fourth quarter that put the Bucs ahead to stay.

"We'd been kind of saving that one," Glennon said. "We felt like we were going to have it. He did a great job getting open and I put it on him."

"He hit home runs twice," Schiano said.

Funny, but that might turn out to be the story of the season for the Bucs. They struck out a lot early on. But, thanks largely to Glennon, they're coming up with the big hits now and that bodes well for the future.

If the Bucs keep playing the way they have the past three weeks, something can be salvaged of a season that once looked like it was going to be a repeat of the 1976 expansion year when the Bucs went winless.

Schiano once seemed like he was certain to lose his job. But, by doing the hard thing and parting ways with Freeman, Schiano did the right thing for the Bucs in the long term.