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Mike Glennon vs Game Film: Week 16 - regression across the board

Whereas most rookies, regardless of where they are drafted, show signs of improvement over their first season, Glennon has regressed in almost every aspect of play. In Week 16, the combination of the same issues he's shown all year together with his most hesitant, indecisive performance yet must lead to serious discussions about his future as a starter.

Michael Thomas

Well, dear readers, I'm back from a fantastic trip to the States, where I got to see my first Bucs home game that wasn't taking place in London, and even managed to get a private tour of One Buc Place, which I'll write about soon. I have to give a huge thanks to Sander and Hockey Duckie for covering the 'vs Game Film' articles for me the past two weeks, but it's time for me to get back to work and look at Mike Glennon's Week 16 performance against the Rams - and boy, did he do a good job of undoing all the de-stressing I had done on holiday.

I won't sugar coat it - it was a horrible performance marred primarily with the least decisive, most hesitant game he's put on tape yet. The issues that have always been there are still there - far too often aiming for the short route when the team needed him to take deeper shots; his complete inability to deal with pressure; even the one aspect that he had begun to show some minor signs of improvement - ball placement - has regressed back to his YAC-killing inaccuracy of old. There was so much to look at, that it was hard to restrict myself to just ten plays to look at in-depth; you'll find three of the more troubling plays below, and the other seven in part two. First though, as always, here's your dropback-by-dropback account of Glennon's performance last Sunday:

Pass Attempt Down & Distance Result Notes
1 3rd & 10 0 to Leonard (0 YAC) Tiquan Underwood was open between zones in the same line of sight to Glennon as Brian Leonard was, but he chooses to check down for no gain on 3rd & 10. Offsides penalty gives Bucs another shot
2 3rd & 5 Thrown out of bounds Chris Owusu open on a quick slant that would likely have gotten the first down, but Glennon abandons progression when Chris Long comes free, instead flees pocket & throws out of bounds
3 2nd & 7 Pass to Underwood broken up Glennon throws to slant by Underwood but as the defense are in a (vanilla, undisguised) zone defense, the pass is into double coverage. Even if it had been man coverage, Glennon's pass was behind Underwood so would have likely been broken up anyway
4 3rd & 2 6 to Wright (2 YAC) Read was fine but Glennon's lack of anticipation meant the ball wasn't thrown until after Tim Wright's cut, leading to him getting nailed by four defenders instead of giving him a chance to make YAC
5 1st & 10 1 to Lorig (6 YAC) Designed fullback screen, pass was fine, failure of the play was on Donald Penn missing his initial block, and Jeremy Zuttah, Davin Joseph and Demar Dotson taking far too long to disengage from the DL, meaning they were too slow over to block for Erik Lorig
6 2nd & 9 22 to Jackson (3 YAC) This one was actually a great pass by Glennon, one of the rare occasions where he threw the ball before the receiver breaks his route
7 1st & 10 Incomplete to Jackson Decides to throw a deepish sideline jumpball to Vincent Jackson,but ball is slightly underthrown making it hard for Jackson to make a sure catch and the pass is broken up. Kyle Adams is open on a crossing route underneath, but I like the fact that Glennon took the deep shot
8 3rd & 10 30 to Jackson (5 YAC)* Glennon shows some nice anticipation here, but the ball was underthrown, meaning Jackson had to pull up to catch it. If there's some more air on this ball, it's a touchdown. See 'I' in part two
9 2nd & Goal, from the 1 Incomplete to Wright* Glennon hesitates on the throw, and then under pressure throws in Wright's general direction but it's way too high and sails out of the back of the end zone. Adams running the flat route underneath would have been a much better choice but Glennon locks in on Wright and decides to wait for him to get open, rather than go through his progression to Adams. See 'H' in part two
10 2nd & 11 7 to Underwood (3 YAC) Great grab by Underwood to catch a ball thrown too high by Glennon; if delivered accurately, there was more YAC to be made here
11 3rd & 4 4 to Rainey (2 YAC) On the one hand, nice to see Glennon going through his progression quicker and actually hitching to the backside of the play. On the other hand, Glennon immediately throws the checkdown to Bobby Rainey instead of scanning the backside routes, as Wright was open deeper. Instead Rainey has to really fight for the two yards to get the first down
12 2nd & 6 Incomplete to Jackson* Glennon locks in on Jackson and Jackson only, hesitates far too long and when he does eventually throw, there's some pressure in his face so the pass is far too high and sails out of bounds. Spencer Larsen was open underneath, Underwood would have broken open on the other side, but Glennon never looks anywhere else but Jackson. See 'D' in part two
13 3rd & 6 Incomplete to Jackson Jackson was completely blanketed; Underwood was three yards directly underneath Jackson, and wide open. Glennon decides to go for the blanketed receiver. Even then, the pass was both too high and too far behind Jackson
14 1st & 10 4 to Lorig (2 YAC)* Decently placed ball, but Jackson and Underwood were breaking open on go routes on either side. See 'G' in part two
15 3rd & 4 Sacked Failure in scheme here, looks like Bucs use a slide protection, meaning Leonard is left to block both a linebacker and a nickel as the Rams dial up a zone blitz. Leonard attempts to cut the LB, meaning the nickel came free to make the sack. Still, the nickel showed blitz pre-snap - Glennon has GOT to recognize that the blitzing nickel would make Wright the hot read
16 2nd & 7 19 to Jackson (0 YAC) Don't be fooled by the 19-yard gain - Glennon first hesitates on the throw, despite the fact he locks in on Jackson and doesn't look at another receiver, and then the ball is underthrown, meaning a lot of potential yardage in YAC is lost
17 2nd & 9 11 to Jackson (9 YAC) Nice throw by Glennon under pressure
18 2nd & 8 Incomplete Officially this was recorded as 'incomplete to Jackson' but the ball's not near any of his receivers. There's a DPI call against Janoris Jenkins for interfering with Jackson, but Underwood was wide open. I'm genuinely not sure if this pass was intended for Jackson or Underwood, Glennon was hit as he threw which might explain the wayward pass - though even his being hit was a direct result of his hesitation
19 1st & Goal, from the 9 Sacked Another slide protection, leaving Rainey responsible for James Laurinaitis on the blitz; Rainey's just too slow getting over to the linebacker, resulting in a sack
20 2nd & Goal, from the 16 Sacked* The sack was on Penn, who set too wide and made it easy for Robert Quinn to beat him inside; still, Glennon's reaction to the pressure was to scramble away, and got caught from behind. If his reaction instead was to look for his safety valve - a wide open Leonard - there was a play to be made here. See 'F' in part two
21 3rd & Goal, from the 25 8 to Wright (3 YAC) Glennon had a potential open pass to Jackson deeper, but as the name of the game here was presumably just to set up the field goal I don't have a problem with Gelnnon's decision here
22 3rd & 1 Scramble* Glennon has opportunity to throw to Jackson in the flat, but instead decides to scramble despite no pressure, before flopping face first to the ground short of the first down mark. See 'J' in part two
23 4th & 1 QB Sneak Sneaky
24 1st & 10 Incomplete to Jackson Deep sidelien shot, ball slightly overthrown but Jenkins called for interference against Jackson, which might have made the difference. Again, I like that he went for the deep shot
25 2nd & 9 Incomplete to Jackson* A potential touchdown here, but Glennon hesitates, and hesitates, and finally throws the ball once Jackson's had to pull up or he would have run out of bounds, allowing the defender to close on him and prevent the catch. See 'B' below
26 3rd & 9 Thrown out of bounds* Glennon's hesitancy again kills this play. Holds onto the ball far too long, and eventually pressure breaks through. Glennon then scrambles to the sideline and just throws the ball out of bounds. See 'A' below
27 3rd & 9 7 to Wright (4 YAC) Got rid of the ball quickly under pressure, not sure there was much else he could have done
28 1st & 10 Dropped by Jackson Ball was a little low but still catchable - Jackson's got no excuse for this drop
29 1st & 10 6 to Wright (1 YAC) Might have gotten more YAC but ball was thrown a little high and behind so Wright couldn't catch in full stride, giving the linebacker time to close down on him
30 3rd & 3 Sacked Long begins to get through Dotson, which causes Glennon to run into some other Rams defenders. Fumbles the ball. Didn't really have much of a choice in terms of receiving options, there was a definite defensive holding on Jackson but it wasn't flagged
31 1st & 10 16 to Jackson (8 YAC) Good placement by Glennon here
32 1st & 10 4 to Leonard (7 YAC)* Late in the game trying to make a comeback, Underwood is breaking open on a sideline streak. Instead, Glennon decides to check down to Leonard three yards behind the line of scrimmage. See 'C' below
33 2nd & 6 4 to Owusu (1 YAC) Another play where Glennon's hesitancy allows the defender to get to the receiver just after he's caught the ball, killing off YAC opportunities
34 3rd & 2 Sacked None of this one is really on Glennon; A low snap meant Glennon didn't get much time to scan the field, the Long just straight up beat Dotson around the edge with his speed
35 4th & 10 Sacked Penn got beaten on the inside and that's on Penn, but Glennon should never have had the ball still in his hands as Wright was wide open
36 1st & 10 Incomplete* Penn gets beaten again inside by Quinn, but again if Glennon could regularly throw the ball before his receivers have broken their routes then the pass would have been away already. See 'E' in part two
37 2nd & 10 9 to Owusu (1 YAC) Plenty of open receiver but again, Glennon's reaction to pressure is scramble the sideline instead of throwing the ball, leading to wasted deeper opportunities
38 3rd & 1 Sacked Ted Larsen is slow picking up Quinn on a loop inside, Glennon gets flushed from the pocket and is brought down from behind by Quinn

As you can see form the chart, there was plenty lacking in Glennon's performance last week. In part two I'll go straight through a bunch of plays from the Rams game, but I've highlighted three plays below that show both new and continuing issues in Glennon's play that should give real concern to everyone.

A) Hesitation kills

We'll look at two plays from the Bucs' first possession of the second half. They had just kicked a field goal as time expired in the second quarter, brining the score to 14-10 in the Rams' favour at half time; they followed that up by forcing the Rams to go 3-and-out to start the third quarter. With momentum on their side and driving down to the field all the way to the red zone, the Bucs had an opportunity to retake the lead. Instead, they had to settle for a field goal, leaving the Rams with a one-point lead. It would be the last points they scored all game.

Here's the play before the field goal, on 3rd & 9:



It's a curl-flat combo, one of the most basic (and effective) two-route concepts, with Underwood running the curl and Leonard the flat underneath.



As I've circled above, both Underwood and Leonard have plenty of room to make a catch. Underwood is about to break into the curl, and is just around the first down mark. At this point, Glennon should be starting to throw the ball, whether to Underwood for the first down, or to go 'captain checkdown' and hit Leonard. Wherever he's going to go with the pass, Glennon really needs to be starting to release the ball already. Instead, his throwing arm is still down by his side.



Glennon, circled in beige, only begins to raise his elbow when Underwood starts breaking into his curl, while Leonard has to slow his route down; at this point, the ball should already be in the air, if not in the hands of a receiver. Even though he's taken far too much time, he can still deliver the ball here for a first down - but Quinn, who Penn initially is able to contain, flashes his helmet inside, as I've circled in blue. That causes Glennon to step outside the pocket - which only serves to give Quinn a better angle. Glennon scrambles to the sideline, as marked by the black arrow.



Glennon's decision to run from the pocket results in him being chased down by two free defenders. Glennon throws the ball out of bounds, forcing the team to settle of three points. The thing is, Penn wasn't even particularly beaten on this play - Quinn's helmet flashes inside but he hadn't actually beaten Penn on his inside. If Glennon stays in the pocket to make the throw that he was raising his elbow to make in the previous picture, then the play's likely to end in a completion. More importantly, if Glennon just threw the ball when it was clear there was going to be open field with plenty of room for his receivers to make the catch, it never gets to the stage where the mere sight of an opposing defender's helmet causes him to flee the pocket.

Both Glennon's hesitation and his horrible response to a mere hint of a possibility of pressure are seriously concerning - but Glennon's hesitation was even more stark, and the missed opportunity more glaring, on the play immediately preceding this one.

B) Wasted Opportunity

On second-and-nine, the Bucs also dialled up a two-route concept:



Underwood is running roughly a 5-and-out, while Jackson runs a shallow corner route over the top. Like the curl-flat, it works on a high-low read: if the defender on the five-yard line, Trumaine Johnson, goes to cover Underwood's route, then Jackson is open over the top; if he drops to take away Jackson's route, then Underwood is open underneath.

Still, it's pretty clear here what the responsibilities are, due to Janoris Jenkins - Jenkins is covering Jackson, meaning Johnson is covering Underwood. As soon as Glennon sees this, he should be throwing to the outside of the endzone, allowing Jackson to catch it in stride.



In this photo, Glennon is only just bringing his arm forward to pass the ball. That from the time Glennon could see the defensive coverage in the first photo, to the point of release in the second photo, Jackson has managed to get around eight yards deeper. That's how long it took Glennon to decide to pull the trigger.

I've circled Jackson and Jenkins - there is very little separation between the two. The longer any quarterback waits to throw the ball, the clearer a picture a defender has of what routes he's defending. If Glennon throws the ball after the first picture, Jackson has a big advantage in getting to run his route before the defender knows for sure where the play is going. By hesitating, Glennon lets Jenkins close the gap on Jackson. What's worse, by the time he decides to throw the ball, Jackson actually has to slow almost to a stop in order to prevent running out of bounds. There's simply no room for Jackson to make the catch between Jenkins and the sideline; if this ball is thrown with the anticipation that so many claim of Glennon, yet is very rarely seen on tape, this play's a touchdown. Instead, it's a needlessly incomplete pass.

C) Nothing left to lose

Now to one of my most regular refrains when it comes to breaking down Glennon: his penchant for hitting check downs when there's deep throws available, no matter the circumstance.

Fast-forward to 2:54 left in the fourth quarter. The Rams have just scored a field goal to make it a two-score game; if the Bucs have any chance of winning the game, they need to get down the field and score with as much time left on the clock as possible.



That Buccaneer at the bottom of the picture is Underwood - you know, that speedy WR who runs a 4.4 40 and whose speed Glennon has taken advantage of before. Janoris Jenkins has his back turned to Underwood. There's no question that Underwood would burn Jenkins on this deep streak; all that's required is for Glennon to throw it to him.



Underwood is now breaking free from Jenkins, and Glennon, looking in the right direction, is winding back to throw - with just two and a half minutes left and the Bucs two scores down, he's got to be going deep with this, right?



Oh, he's decided to dump off to Leonard instead. Three yards behind the line of scrimmage. With two and a half minutes left and the game on the line.


Here's the problem with Glennon: sure, he's a third round rookie, and so holding him to the standards of an Andrew Luck is patently unfair. But regardless of where a rookie was taken, whether it be a second rounder like Johnthan Banks, fourth rounder like William Gholston, or even an undrafted guy like Tim Wright, it's not so much the level of play that you need to see for the future as the rate of development. Those three rookies have each gotten better over the course of their rookie campaigns, whether it be marginal improvement like Banks, or significant improvement like Wright or, as of late, Gholston.

Glennon has not. Outside of a two-game stretch of improvement - that's two out of twelve games he's started for the Bucs - Glennon has not shown any real development. Even in the one area that lately looked to have improved, ball placement, Glennon's taken a clear step back. Instead of a rate of development, we've instead had to take note of a clear rate of regression in Glennon's play, with the number of wasted opportunities, and the number of needless sacks and pressures, increasing week on week as Glennon becomes more and more indecisive and hesitant.

In part two, I'll go through some more plays from Week 16, but it's very clear that Glennon is in no way ready to take this team to a winning season in 2014 - and frankly, even reaching mediocrity with Glennon under center is looking to be a stretch.