In a move that has been anticipated since the preseason, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have reportedly decided to bench quarterback Josh Freeman in favor of rookie Mike Glennon. A league source told ESPN's Adam Schefter the news. Freeman has completed 45.7 percent of his passes this year for an 0-3 Buccaneers team that currently ranks 29th in Football Outsiders' opponent-adjusted offensive metrics. It's been reported for months that head coach Greg Schiano was interested in moving on from Freeman, who is in the final year of his rookie contract, and the team selected Glennon out of North Carolina State in the third round of the 2013 draft after a deal for Carson Palmer could not be done.
"He's done some good things and he's done some things that we'd like to change and he'd like to change," Schiano said of Freeman on Monday, when he indicated that Freeman would still be his starter. "But it's the whole offensive unit. We need to be more precise. We need to be coached more precisely."
Freeman has been frustrating at all levels this season, and we have broken down his mechanical failures at length. He started this season by completing 15-of-31 passes for 210 yards, one touchdown and one interception against the New York Jets, followed that up with a horrid performance against the New Orleans Saints (9-of-22 for 125 yards, one touchdown and one pick), and may have ended his Buccaneers' career with a 19-of-41, 236-yard game against the New England Patriots in which he threw no touchdowns and one more pick.
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Schiano has said that he understands his quarterback is not the only issue, but when an offense is lapsing like this, a team has to start somewhere.
“I think he [Freeman] understands what we’re trying to do with our offense," Schiano said on Monday. "I think when he’s in the pocket and he feels comfortable, he’s delivering the ball. It’s when things break down a little bit that it hasn’t been as good as it’s been before, and it will be again. One of his strengths is extending plays. But again, when you have variables, where we’re not sharp enough on the details, [then] it’s hard to be the trigger-man when some things aren’t going the way they’re supposed to. There’re 10 other guys out there, without getting into specifics, and certainly everybody has some of the responsibility for us not scoring points right now, starting with me. But it wouldn’t be right to [blame him], obviously it does happen because he touches the ball 73 times on Sunday, but there’s a whole bunch of us that have got to get our stuff straight.”
A report from CBS' Jason La Canfora in mid-September indicated that Freeman would ask for a trade in the near future, and that time could certainly be now. What they'd get for an underperforming player in the last year of his contract, when his market value has plummeted, is open to conjecture. Freeman was selected 17th overall in the 2009 draft, and he is making $8.43 million in base salary this season. Glennon completed 33-of-70 passes for 397 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions in the preseason. He has not thrown a pass in the regular season. The Buccaneers face the Arizona Cardinals at home on Sunday. They then have a bye before another home game against the Philadelphia Eagles on Oct. 13.