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The Case for a First-Round quarterback for the Buccaneers

A brief breakdown of this season's terrible quarterback play thus far and why fans are pining for an early-round QB in the 2015 draft.

Smith & Licht whiffed with the acquisition of Josh McCown.
Smith & Licht whiffed with the acquisition of Josh McCown.
David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

In a miserable season, the Buccaneers have seen their first- and second-string QB's for significant time, with both leading the team to a win each while giving fans reason to hope for change at the position in the near future.

Weeks 1-3: Down on McCown

The first few weeks were marred by absolutely horrific QB play by Josh McCown, who was prone to dumping the ball off for short gains and making poor decisions with the football, including two heinous interceptions against the Carolina Panthers in week one. The following week saw an improved performance from McCown, who cut down on his mistakes and led the offense into field goal range for Patrick Murray had it not been for the officials calling for a controversial 10-second runoff -- roughly 8 seconds after the play had come to an end -- that ended the game, resulting in the Bucs going 0-2. Week 3 is something that most Bucs fans are attempting to erase from their memories, and amidst the embarrassment, Josh McCown exited with a hand injury that would force him to miss the next five games.

Weeks 4-9: (Backup) QB of the Future?

With McCown exiting the week 3 "contest" with an injury, Glennon was given the chance to prove his worth and make the coaches regret the decision to hand the starting position to McCown as soon as he signed with Tampa Bay. Glennon had a promising start, gathering a bigger fan base after leading the Buccaneers to their first victory of the season with a clutch performance for a come-from-behind win. Finally, "the quarterback of the future" had gotten his chance and led the team, and he responded with an impressive performance and an emphatic win. The "Mike Glennon Mob" could rejoice in the triumph of their hero as the Buccaneers got their first win of the season, and the Buccaneers' fans could look forward to a reversal of fortunes with improved QB play...right?

Not so fast.

Over the next month, Glennon showed some promise and ability to start in the NFL-as an average backup QB who could make spot starts in case the starter was injured. In his 5 starts, Glennon completed 60 percent (or more) of his passes just once and did not go a single game without turning the ball over at least once. In two of his five starts, Glennon threw for more than 300 yards; however, just one game resulted in a win (vs .Pittsburgh), with the other being a home blowout at the hands of the Ravens, with virtually all of his yardage coming after the game was out of reach...with four minutes left in the first quarter.

Weeks 10-14: McCown's Second Act

After the Cleveland game, Lovie Smith made the curious decision of going back to McCown as the starter. Thus far, he has been rewarded with a 1-5 record since benching Glennon. In that time, McCown has thrown 7 touchdowns with 7 interceptions while completing just 56 percent of his passes. The past three games have seen just 3 touchdowns from the 12th-year veteran, to go along with 5 interceptions and a sub-55 percent completion percentage in each of them. His interceptions may not be as egregious as those that came in the first few games of the season, but they're still coming. He has regularly overthrown receivers down the field [as well as running backs coming from the backfield], forced throws into spots that were closer to peepholes than windows. Far too often, McCown has been absolutely ravaged by the opposing defensive linemen who are consistently made to look like Pro Bowl lineups when facing the Buccaneers'offensive line.

Moving Forward

With just three games left in the season and post-season hopes completely gone, there is no reason for McCown to start another game this season. Realistically, McCown should have never been re-introduced as starter, even with the team's struggles under Glennon. Aside from being Lovie's starter of choice [as soon as he signed his contract with Tampa], McCown seems to have been given the chance to start due to his athletic ability. Granted, that athletic ability has not helped him much since he's been sacked 18 times in the past 5 games but it's one of the only ways to justify him being re-named the starter.

Going ahead though, the Buccaneers must decide on whether a third-year Mike Glennon will be taking up one of the Buccaneers' roster spots in the 2015-16 season. If Smith and Licht do not intend on maintaining Glennon's services, there must be an alternate plan in place, as trotting out McCown as the unquestioned starter without him earning the spot will likely result in a fan revolt, much like Greg Schiano saw. So, going forward, Smith must address the QB position, either through free agency or the draft. Neither option presents great options in 2015.

The 2015 free agent class is an underwhelming group highlighted by Mark Sanchez, Ryan Mallett, Jake Locker and Brian Hoyer. The draft class is highlighted by Marcus Mariota, who many believe is the product of a system that does not produce NFL talent at the QB position, and Jameis Winston, whose recent on-field play, when combined with his off-field troubles, is dropping him down draft boards despite an undefeated record as a starter. Regardless of which way Smith and Licht approach the position next year, there certainly must be a change to who is leading the offense for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, or McCown and Lovie may be in the unemployment line together. So, regardless of the offensive line problems, there certainly is a case for a quarterback in the 2015 draft.