Since their first meeting in Week 2, the Bucs (4-11) have a new quarterback, new running back, new No. 2 receiver and new tight end. Obviously the biggest change of all, however, was the switch at quarterback – where the Buccaneers switched from longtime starter Josh Freeman to rookie Mike Glennon.
Glennon (6-foot-6, 225 pounds) is even more of a pocket passer than Freeman, who was always a threat to either scramble or throw on the run. And naturally, Glennon has gone through his share of highs and lows while compiling a 4-8 record as the starter.
Glennon has completed 60 percent of his passes for 2,389 yards, 17 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He has also been sacked 38 times – including seven last week at St. Louis and 21 over the past five games. He also hasn’t thrown for more than 180 yards in any of the past four games, while going 1-3 over that stretch.
Here’s what the Saints are saying about Glennon heading into Sunday’s matchup:
Coach Sean Payton: “We’ve had them a lot on tape versus teams we’ve been playing the last, seems like three or four weeks. He certainly is someone that looks very decisive. He’s got a big arm. They’ve done a really good job complementing what they’re doing offensively with their shot plays and their running game. That is the one thing that was apparent, but he’s a guy that we liked coming out [of North Carolina State]. He is very smart. And that transition oftentimes for a young player seems to be happening fairly quickly. Certainly there are bumps with it, but he gets the ball out. He has a good, live arm. He is smart. …
“His coach at North Carolina State is someone I had worked with before, and he spoke very highly of him. He kind of battled a little bit of that prototype that he was almost too tall, which I think is not true. But I think when you watch his footwork and you watch his athleticism, he makes quick decisions. And those are the things that we saw on college tape. We saw his accuracy and his competitiveness.”
S Malcolm Jenkins: “He’s given that team a little bit of juice. I think they’ve kind of rallied behind him. It’s kind of like a fresh start. You now, they’ve really got a whole bunch of players and everybody’s kind of out to prove something. And I think you can see that on tape. ... Really the only mainstay out there is (receiver Vincent) Jackson. And he’s kind of the quarterbacks’ go-to guy, their safety blanket, and he’s having a great year. …
“I think (Glennon) is accurate, he stays in the pocket. He’ll take a hit, he’ll make a tough throw. He’s patient, he doesn’t really force too many things. He’s definitely different than Freeman. He’s not a scrambler, doesn’t really extend the plays with his legs much. But he makes good decisions and he’s patient. And he’s accurate when he has time and stays in the pocket. So it’s a little bit of a change-up than what we played last time.”
DE Akiem Hicks: “Big, tall, great arm. It’s a new team. That’s something that we’ve focused on. It’s definitely a new team coming in. We can’t prepare the same way that we’ve prepared, and (Saints middle linebacker/captain) Curtis Lofton has done a great job of keeping us focused and making sure that we’re doing the right things coming into this week.”
CB Keenan Lewis: “I like him. I feel as though he’s going to be a stud. The more he plays, he gets better and better. You can tell he’s getting more comfortable in that offense. So it will be a good little matchup. Even though he’s a rookie, you can see progress. …
“He trusts in his receivers. So when you’ve got guys like that, as a cornerback, you’ve got to stay on your game. Because even if you’ve got them covered sometimes, they’ve got Vincent Jackson, who’s a good receiver, and other guys he’ll just throw it up there and they’ll make a play.”