System Failure and A Closer Look at the Quarterback Position (Poll)

Ok. Clearly we are all looking forward to next season. And to that glorious day when we read those heavenly headlines that read "Schiano Fired." This season all we can hope to achieve is avoiding that most embarrasing mark of 0 and 16. One win is all I can personally see- and I am an eternal optimist. But this team has serious coaching flaws. It runs deep, my friend. The Head Coach is way over-matched intellectually when it comes to scheme and game planning. He is clearly out of his class. I saw it his very first game as a Buc head coach. I was hoping that he would somehow be a fast learner. That was my optimism overshadowing what was clearly a futile flaw. And ,of course, we can't minimize the impact of the 'aura', if you will, of the locker room. The lack of respect that the players have for the coach and staff for the mishandling of many situations (Freeman, MRSA, etc.), as well as lack of confidence in the coaching as it relates to X's and O's.

And then there are the Coordinators. Sheridan is losing on two fronts- the scheme is clearly not working, and he seems to be as block-headed and petulant as his boss. His remarks to the fans came off as dismissive and arrogant. But arrogance in the face of an abysmal track record clearly shows he and Schiano are two peas of the same stubborn pod. For they are sticking to their guns and going down with the ship- right into the abyss of Tampa Bay history. And then there is the Offensive Coordinator Mike Sullivan, who at least on the surface appears more of a likable person. But clearly his system and play calling are as doomed as his future with the Buccaneers. Josh Freeman looked like a QB with a bright future under the play calling of Greg Olson. But his mercurial fall seems to have stemmed from a system that doesn't give a quarterback many high percentage throws or dump off outlets. Rather it is more of a throw-it-up-into-coverage and let the receiver fight for it system that lacks creativity and timing. Furthermore, the play calling is very predictable and non-adaptive.

In spite of this Run and Shoot offensive system, Freeman was able to post pretty good numbers in 2012, undoubtedly helped by the strong running of Doug Martin. But this system has its flaws and vulnerabilities and we are seeing it crash and burn this year in New York and Tampa. The system demands excellent pass protection from the line, and when there isn't sufficient protection for the receivers to get down field, the quarterback must throw it away, throw it into coverage, or scramble to buy time as receivers adjust their routes, therefore increasing the possibility of a sack. This is a low-percentage offense that only works when your receivers are bigger and more physical and can attack the ball. Vincent Jackson can win many of those battles. The Giants have had success with it in the past because they had multiple receivers that dominated in that way. But if you only have one receiver that fits this profile the odds are he will be doubled and the advantage will be lost.

Glennon is having the same struggles Freeman did. I venture to say just about any quarterback would struggle in this system with the personnel we have in Tampa. This raises the question of adaptability by the coaches. Which seems to be absolutely non-existent. Either they fail to understand that their system will not work with the present conditions or they know nothing else and therefore have nothing else to install. I tend to think the latter, although their stubbornness does seem to be oversized. I've never know of an NFL Head Coach that didn't really appreciate or employ half-time adjustments. Until now, that is.

Where Freeman had an advantage over Glennon is in his pocket awareness and mobility. Freeman had natural instincts and was very hard to bring down, very much like Ben Roethlisberger. Glennon is much more of a statuesque passer and hasn't really shown natural instincts to know when the pocket is collapsing. Both seem to have similar arm strength and accuracy, or lack thereof, although I would give the nod to Freeman. The major difference as I see it is that Freeman has a very high ceiling. Many of the draft prognosticators felt that Freeman was more raw than his draft counterparts but had all the ability one could ask for. Of his draft class, we can say that Detroit struck gold with #1 overall Stafford. Sanchez has not lived up to the hype. Perhaps he and Freeman are co-equal in that regard. Freeman, however, has the opportunity to revive his career. He is in a system that will allow him to maximize his potential, providing he chooses to take hold of the opportunity and fresh start. He needs nurturing for his bruised ego and seems to have the environment and coach to provide that. Sanchez is in a tougher predicament where his opportunity has dried up. He may have already maxed out.

Mike Glennon I believe is a really nice backup quarterback. If he is your franchise quarterback don't expect to win more than about 3 or 4 games a season. Sure, he can improve with experience and a better system certainly will help. But it's all a matter of expectations. If you want the Bucs to be looked upon by outsiders as the Suck-aneers or that trouble-laden team with the creamsicle jerseys, then Glennon is your man. But if you are like me and want to return to those division winning days then you need a big time quarterback.

Let's take a look around the league at the signal callers. Of the 32 teams in the league, only 4 of those teams started this season with a QB drafted lower than Glennon. Tom Brady we all know was a colossal miss by 31 teams. How he fell to the 6th round is one of the great mysteries of the universe. His modern day counterpart is Russell Wilson, superstar and well-deserved darling of the league. He only fell to the 3rd round, 75th overall, but clearly he was undervalued on draft day. Then there is Tony Romo. Controversial as he may be, who would you rather have as your quarterback, Romo or Glennon? Romo wasn't even drafted so he has clearly surpassed expectations. He is so good, at least in the regular season, that we forget his humble beginnings. It's interesting to note that he did find one excellent recipe for success- play behind Bledsoe. Both he and Brady both succeeded Bledsoe and found their path to stardom. These three quarterbacks were clearly overlooked and undervalued. And lastly there is Matt Schaub. Who now it appears landed right about where he should have on draft day at 90th overall and in the 3rd round.

Glennon at 73rd overall, two notches ahead of Russell Wilson, by most analysts was considered a reach. Schaub has been a steady quarterback for the Texans but may now be on his way out as they search for a guy who can take them deeper into the playoffs. So Buc fans, would you be content with Glennon if he like Schaub gets you close but not quite. Or should we build around a Championship caliber QB. Most of the teams in the league chose their leader in the First Round. There are a few Second Round QB's. Then there are the overlooked and over-achieving "freaks'' of the league- Brady, Wilson and Romo. And of course, Schaub- who started out as Michael Vicks' backup before moving to a re-building franchise now looking for its final missing piece. Very much like Glennon, who started out as a backup to a man who was kicked out of his franchise throne, only to land somewhere else. Although the difference I hope is that Tampa doesn't need to rebuild as much as Houston did. It just needs that superstar quarterback to lead it to the promised playoff land. Let's pray the Glazers understand that we don't want a stop-gap quarterback for the next 5 years. Let's get a coach who understands that it takes a top-tier quarterback to get us to that Promised Land.

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