The quarterback controversy continues! This time, Greg Schiano fuels the Mike Glennon/Josh Freeman quarterback controversy, while simultaneously reinforcing that Josh Freeman is the starter. Oh yes, good fun. Here's what he told Dan Pompei of the National Football Post.
Schiano said he believes Glennon "can play quickly" if he is needed. "But our situation will be only if he's needed," he said. "Or if he wins the job. Look, I'm not against that. We have a starting quarterback. It's not like we're looking to find a starter. But competition is competition. Mike Glennon is a fierce competitor. I knew that when he was coming out of high school. Now being able to work with him a little, you can see it on the practice field."
I'm just going to go ahead and bang my head against the wall a couple of times.
Right, with a newly formed headache, I can look at this a little more clearly. In part, this is Schiano reaffirming his motto of competition at every position. In part it's simply reaffirming what we already knew: that the Buccaneers aren't completely sold on Freeman, which is perfectly reasonable given his inconsistent play so far. And yet, this is the first time the Bucs have come out and said that Glennon really could win the starting job and would compete directly with Freeman.
Not that it's particularly likely that Glennon wins the starting job. There's a lot to like about Mike Glennon, but he had a lot of issues in college too. Which is why he fell to the third round in a very weak quarterback class. The Bucs like Glennon, but they did pass on him in the second round to take Johnthan Banks. Obviously, they didn't feel he was an immediate franchise quarterback, either. Add in the fact that this team desperately wants to win now, and rookie quarterbacks tend to stand in the way of winning now (Glennon is no RG3) and Freeman is almost certain to remain the starting quarterback.
Plus, Schiano did throw a compliment Freeman's way. "[Glennon] has the ability, and Josh [Freeman] has the ultimate ability to keep the eyes downfield," he told Pompei. "I've never seen a guy who is as good at keeping his eyes down the field as Josh. Josh has more mobility."
Still, the Buccaneers are setting Mike Glennon up to take over at any point this season if Freeman falters. Whether that faltering comes during the season or in the preseason, we may see Glennon show up as a starter. Of course, if Freeman doesn't falter we may not see Glennon at all.
Just a few years ago, Josh Freeman was seen as a rising star and a top 10 quarterback. That came after his amazing 2010 season, a year dominated by scrambles and plays outside of structure that are mostly random and fell the right way for Freeman. But it was also a year in which Freeman produced several fourth-quarter comebacks, dominated on third down and genuinely played some good football. He just wasn't a finished product.
Three seasons later, and Freeman still isn't a finished product. The entire team fell apart in 2011 and Josh Freeman was no exception, but he wasn't helped by awful skill position play and the lack of a consistent running game. Those reasons disappeared in 2012 and Freeman's play immediately improved -- but inconsistency remained and with it, questions about his future. Is Freeman a rising star who just needs a second year in a very complicated offense, or is he an inconsistent player whose 2010 season was just a mirage? That's the question he'll have to answer this year. He will get the opportunity to do so, and by season's end we'll likely know whether his future lies with the Buccaneers or elsewhere.
Popular opinion on the quarterback doesn't appear to be great, however. A quarterback controversy has been manufactured out of (mostly) thin air, while NFL.com's Marc Sessler just ranked him 25th under the "How can I trust you?" category. That, to me, is a little ridiculous. Sure, Freeman struggled at the end of the season -- but we're awfully quick to forget that he looked stellar during a seven-game midseason stretch. How can you rank Philip Rivers, Sam Bradford, Jay Cutler, Alex Smith and Andy Dalton ahead of Freeman, when all of them have significant questions they need to answer before you can trust them?
But at least he's ahead of Mark Sanchez, right?
This may be the weakest spot on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' roster. As is the case at many positions, the Bucs lack quality depth. But the tight end position has a unique feature this year: it also lacks top-end quality. The Buccaneers don't necessarily place a large emphasis on the tight end as a pass-catcher, but they still use him and he's essential in their running game. With Dallas Clark leaving, the Bucs have signed Crabtree as a replacement.
Last season, Luke Stocker was the starter. This season, Luke Stocker will also be the starter barring the unexpected emergence of a training camp player. Stocker has a problem, though: he's an adequate blocker, and an adequate receiver, but he's not much more than that. The Buccaneers have better blockers on the roster and they have better receivers on the roster, but Stocker's the only one who has the physical skill to be both. The problem is that he hasn't been overwhelming as a blocker, and has 28 catches for 257 yards and a dismal 9.2 yards per catch on his career.
One upside for Stocker: he ballooned up to 275 lbs this year according to Mark Dominik, whereas he was listed at 253 lbs before. Presumably all of it is muscle, and he'll be a better blocker. I can't imagine that size helping him as a pass catcher, though.
A few other players may beat him out as the starter, if they do well in training camp. Tom Crabtree doesn't have the physical stature to take on defensive ends, but Nate Byham is a devastating blocker who has offered little (but not nothing) as a receiver. That then makes him better than Stocker, really. Zach Miller was an okay player for the Jacksonville Jaguars for a few years, and he may be able to do something but probably lacks the size to take on defensive ends. The same is true for Evan Landi, unless he puts on a lot of weight in an NFL weight room.
The Buccaneers don't emphasize the tight end in their passing game, or they didn't last year at least, but they still use him. Dallas Clark still registered 47 catches last year and became a valuable producer of steady first downs late in the season. Clark almost without fail found himself in the slot on passing downs, and having a quality receiving tight end for that role can only help.
The Bucs appear to think that Tom Crabtree can be that guy in a bit of an H-back role. Crabtree was a core special teams player, a quality blocker on the move without the size to take on defensive linemen, and the speed to do some damage as a receiver. He registered 8 catches for 203 yards and three touchdowns last season, but really hasn't been a factor in Green Bay, in part because of the presence of Jermichael Finley and D.J. Williams.
Crabtree, obviously, is no sure thing -- but he has some of the physical traits to allow him to be a productive receiver. He isn't huge, but he has speed and agility and has flashed some skills. Of course, the fact that the Packers weren't even willing to match the Bucs' rather pitiful two-year $1.6 million contract may say something about his abilities, too. Fun fact: Crabtree has the biggest cap hit and average per year salary of all tight ends on the Bucs' roster.
Two players may get that passing role, too. Stocker isn't much of a threat, though he may develop into a decent pass-catcher who can force some first downs with his size. Danny Noble, Zach Miller and Evan Landi are more likely to do some damage, though. Miller produced two 200+ yard seasons with the Jaguars and their stable of regular-people-pretending-to-be-quarterbacks a few years ago. Evan Landi, meanwhile, put up over 800 yards in his college career with worse quarterback play than even the Jaguars. Finally, Danny Noble has the physical traits to be an intriguing player, but has to really develop his skills to make an impact after spending his first year mostly on the inactive list.
Check out the other installments in our training camp preview section.
Pass-rusher extraordinaire Dwight Freeney has signed with the San Diego Chargers, who contracted him to replace 2012 first-round draft pick Melvin Ingram who suffered a knee injury earlier this week. Freeney will receive a two-year, $8.5 million that could balloon up to $13.35 million with incentives, according to Pro Football Talk.
While the first waves of free agency have long since passed and not many talented players are left on the street, a few veterans are still available. The best available veterans are now starting to come off the market, too, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers don't appear to be interested in pass-rushers, despite posting one of the league's worst sack totals last season.
There's some logic to that approach, however, as the Buccaneers do have a lot invested in the defensive line. Their first two picks from 2011 are on the roster and have seen their careers so far limited by injuries, but the Buccaneers are expecting big things out of Adrian Clayborn and Da'Quan Bowers. Daniel Te'o-Nesheim is an okay backup, while the Bucs added another two pass-rusher in the draft with fourth-rounder William Gholston and fifth-rounder Steven Means.
That amounts to a lot of youth and talent, but not a lot of production in the NFL so far. While the Bucs could conceivably post a very good pass rush this season, they may find that players that have disappointed for various reasons will continue to disappoint. The Bucs are again one injury away from starting Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, who simply isn't good enough to start in this league.
On the other hand, signing someone like John Abraham or Dwight Freeney would have meant giving the players on the roster far fewer chances to develop and impact games. With Freeney commanding at least $5.25 million in guaranteed money this season the Buccaneers could not justify signing him and then using him as a pass-rush specialist only. While the Bucs have some $19 million in cap space and could afford that hit this year, they have bigger cap hits coming as they try to re-sign Mike Williams and need to save space to roll over to next season when they'll start to feel the effects of their spending spree of the past two seasons.
Of course, Tampa Bay may change its approach if one of its star defensive ends suffers an injury during training camp and a player like John Abraham is available.
The Blueprint: Geno Smith's plan for the NFL - SBNation.com
Good stuff on Geno Smith and how he's approaching his career.
Jets offer David Garrard coaching internship - SBNation.com
Cool, good for them.
Donte Stallworth injury: Wide receiver cleared for football activities - SBNation.com
Wonder whether he'll stick somewhere.
Rob Gronkowski injury: Patriots TE needs 4th arm surgery, per report - SBNation.com
And he could need back surgery.
FOOTBALL OUTSIDERS: Innovative Statistics, Intelligent Analysis | Word of Muth: Lane Johnson and D.J. Fluker
The problems of slow feet and lowering your head.
Longest Streaks without a 1,000-yard rusher
Huh, the Bucs aren't on that list.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have waived linebacker Willie Moseley, per the NFL transaction wire. Moseley played alongside Bucs fifth-round pick Steven Means at Buffalo as a pass-rushing outside linebacker, while Means mostly lined up as a 3-4 defensive end in his final season. Moseley was competing for a linebacker spot, but has apparently failed to impress during rookie workouts so far. No new player was listed for the Buccaneers, who now have a roster spot to fill on their 90-man roster. OTAs start on Monday, so we'll likely see the new player then.
According to Jenna Laine, the Buccaneers are rumored to be interested in linebacker Dom Decicco, who was released by the Chicago Bears five days ago. Decicco played for new Buccaneers special teams coordinator in college at Pittsburgh and went undrafted in 2011. He has played 20 NFL games as a special teamer only. But his signing is little more than a rumor at this point.
Rookie backup quarterback says he will compete as hard as he can. Shocking breaking news! You can see it, too. Look at him kick up that leg. It's higher than the guys next to him. He's competing and winning! What a winner. Josh Freeman had better watch out. Quarterback controversy manufacture: success!
Usually those rookies just crawl off and cry in a corner. That's what Chris Simms did in his rookie year, right? That road leads to exploded spleens and Mike Glennon has clearly learned that exploding spleens shorten careers. Good on him.
So hey, manufactured quarterback controversy pile-on! We're going to be stuck with this nonsense for the rest of the offseason, aren't we?
Here's a neat little resource for everyone, I think. I spent the past hour or so adding every Tampa Bay Buccaneer I could find on Twitter to a list of players. You can follow it here, but I've also embedded the feed below for your convenience.
59 of the Bucs' 90 players are on Twitter, with Pep Levingston being the only one who has protected his tweets and is hence not included in the list. Some players are extremely active, while others are a little calmer. They don't really see many interesting things, but it's still enjoyable to track.
I thought this would be a handy resource for whoever wanted to track all the Bucs' players in one place. I'll keep it updated as the Buccaneers sign and release players. Let me know if I missed someone!