The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had seen enough of the Josh Freeman era and made a switch at quarterback. Out went the unhappy Freeman and in came rookie quarterback Mike Glennon, who notched his first NFL start in Week 4 against the Arizona Cardinals.
Glennon’s debut wasn’t a stinker, but it did leave a lot to be desired. The rookie started fine with a touchdown pass to wide receiver Mike Williams on the Bucs’ second drive of the game. But then his play deteriorated as the game went on. Glennon’s two interceptions in the final 3:23 of the game cemented the fact that much work was needed to get this first-year passer ready.
It’s a good thing the Bucs were due for a Week 5 bye.
Last season, with Freeman at the helm and struggling, Tampa Bay used its Week 5 bye to get Freeman more involved in the passing game, especially with deep passing. The results were glowing after the team’s bye in 2012.
After starting the season 1-3, Tampa Bay won five of its next six games after the off week. Freeman went from playing with a safety net to playing with his hair on fire and enjoyed one of the best stretches of games of his career. From Week 6 to Week 11, Freeman threw for 1,715 yards and connected on 16 touchdown passes while throwing just three picks.
Can the Buccaneers and Glennon pull off some of that same post-bye magic in 2013? Asking a rookie to improve that dramatically after just one career start is asking a bit much. But Glennon and the Bucs did work on some specifics during the bye to improve his chances to excel.
According to WDAE 620 AM in Tampa, Glennon and wide receiver Vincent Jackson worked together during the break to get more in tune with one another. They worked on one specific route.
Glennon attempted only two passes of 20 yards or more against Arizona. The first was in the second quarter, as he aimed for Jackson on the left sideline and missed badly.
At the beginning of the fourth quarter Glennon took another shot deep down the left sideline. Once again he aimed for Jackson and missed by a bunch.
Given how unsuccessful those passes were, the extra work with Jackson during the bye week will be crucial to the development of the rookie passer. Jackson can be such a huge benefit to Glennon, the rookie just needs to put the ball where Jackson has a chance to come down with a reception.
In addition to the extra work Glennon and Jackson put in, the new quarterback had a ton of new work with the starting offense. Prior to taking over as the No. 1 signal-caller for Tampa Bay, Glennon had very little experience with the starters.
Working with the starting unit during the last couple of weeks was critical, as Tampa Bay prepares for its Week 6 matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles. In speaking to the media Wednesday, Glennon expanded on just how important these practice reps with the first team are:
I really hadn’t gotten a whole lot of reps with them during [training] camp and stuff because I wasn’t going with the ones. I’ve really thrown more balls to them in the past two weeks than I had the past few months. I think that definitely helps develop a chemistry, and we’ll continue to grow on that as we go on.
Oh yeah, definitely. When (Glennon) came here and the quarterbacks were passing balls to me, I could tell he was very accurate and threw a perfect spiral and has great touch on the ball. Great touch.
Glennon also used the break as an opportunity to watch a ton of film.
I think the bye week came at a great time—just to be able to watch that film a few times, you get more comfortable and then get the extra practice in last week and then get a jumpstart on Philly [the Philadelphia Eagles]. To be able to watch the film and kind of get the game plan ahead of time has helped my preparation and will help us have a better feel for things come the game.
As he watched the game film multiple times, Glennon noticed that teams were loading the box to stop Martin and defenses would continue doing so "until we prove that we can throw the ball over the top of them and make them get out of it."
Glennon also said he had a lot of confidence in his arm and his ability to put the football anywhere, but film study and the experience that comes from getting so many reps in practice is teaching him that he needs to take opportunities to check down and not try to do too much as such a young starter in the NFL.
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes and statements were obtained firsthand.