Commentary | Deciding on a quarterback is job one for Lovie Smith, Jason Licht

adell@bradenton.comJanuary 25, 2014 

TAMPA

Mike Glennon's style of quarterbacking puts a lot of pressure on an offensive line, a luxury the Tampa Bay Buccaneers can't afford.

The unit is aging and functioning at a less-than-satisfactory level.

But the Bucs have other needs.

It's why this could be the most important offseason of the Lovie Smith era.

What the Tampa Bay Bucs do with the quarterback position could determine a good part of the roster.

Glennon will sap strength from the overall team needs to function at a serviceable level.

Glennon does not resemble any of the quarterbacks who played in the NFL's Final Four -- or any of three who play in Tampa Bay's NFC South.

Smith says you can win eight games with a good defense and two more with special teams.

After that, it depends on the quarterback.

If we take the new Bucs coach at his word, choosing a quarterback in this year's draft is paramount.

The Bucs have the seventh selection. They may never have a higher pick during Smith's reign.

If they do, it means 2014 was a bust.

If the Bucs choose a quarterback who has some elusive skills and better-than-average arm strength, it will be easier for the Bucs to fill other critical needs in the draft.

They need a quarterback who can make others look better instead of one who needs others to make him look good.

A different quarterback means the Bucs don't have to surround the position with the Great Wall of China.

There have been some numbers thrown around to argue Glennon had a good year. But they are skewed.

Statistics show that Glennon is not a very accurate passer; couple that with his lack of mobility, and you have a problem.

The best thing members of the new coaching regime has said about Glennon is that he is tall, smart and a hard worker.

It's what wasn't said that speaks volumes about his value.

The knock on Glennon is that he waits too long for receivers to get open and won't take risks, which accounts for his relatively low number of interceptions.

Unfortunately, that style leads to sacks and throwaways.

According to Pro Football Focus, when Glennon has more than 2.5 seconds to throw, his quarterback rating is 91.4. When he has to throw in less than 2.5 seconds, his rating plummets to 75.5.

Glennon ranked fifth in percentage of throws that took more than 2.5 seconds with 57.5 percent of his passes falling into that category.

Only four players had a more than 10-point quarterback rating increase in throws taking more than 2.6 seconds (Ryan Fitzpatrick, Matt Schaub and Eli Manning), which puts Glennon in an undistinguished crowd.

Glennon showed a tendency to wait for receivers to make breaks and get open rather than throwing to a spot. His style put a lot of pressure on his offensive line.

He was last in the league in yards per attempt (6.27).

So if the agreement is you need another quarterback, the question remains: Whom do you get and how much do you give up?

With Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater and Blake Bortles, expected to be gone by the time the Bucs choose, they will be selecting a quarterback with some question marks. But that doesn't mean he won't be better than the aforementioned three.

The quickest rising star at the moment is relative unknown Jimmy Garoppolo, the I-AA player of year out Eastern Illinois, which produced Tony Romo.

The 6-foot-2, 220-pound gunslinger has an impressively quick release that some scouts say have pushed him ahead of guys like Fresno State's Derek Carr and San Jose State's David Fales, who will share quarterback duties with him in this Saturday's Senior Bowl.

Quickness defines Garoppolo. Along with his quick release, he has quick feet and makes quick decisions. Last season, he threw 51 touchdowns and never have a higher pick during Smith's reign.

If they do, it means 2014 was a bust.

If the Bucs choose a quarterback who has some elusive skills and better-than-average arm strength, it will be easier for the Bucs to fill other critical needs in the draft.

They need a quarterback who can make others look better instead of one who needs others to make him look good.

A different quarterback means the Bucs don't have to surround the position with the Great Wall of China.

There have been some numbers thrown around to argue Glennon had a good year. But they are skewed.

Statistics show that Glennon is not a very accurate passer; couple that with his lack of mobility, and you have a problem.

The best thing members of the new coaching regime has said about Glennon is that he is tall, smart and a hard worker.

It's what wasn't said that speaks volumes about his value.

The knock on Glennon is that he waits too long for receivers to get open and won't take risks, which accounts for his relatively low number of interceptions.

Unfortunately, that style leads to sacks and throwaways.

According to Pro Football Focus, when Glennon has more than 2.5 seconds to throw, his quarterback rating is 91.4. When he has to throw in less than 2.5 seconds, his rating plummets to 75.5.

Glennon ranked fifth in percentage of throws that took more than 2.5 seconds with 57.5 percent of his passes falling into that category.

Only four players had a more than 10-point quarterback rating increase in throws taking more than 2.6 seconds (Ryan Fitzpatrick, Matt Schaub and Eli Manning), which puts Glennon in an undistinguished crowd.

Glennon showed a tendency to wait for receivers to make breaks and get open rather than throwing to a spot. His style put a lot of pressure on his offensive line.

He was last in the league in yards per attempt (6.27).

So if the agreement is you need another quarterback, the question remains: Whom do you get and how much do you give up?

With Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater and Blake Bortles, expected to be gone by the time the Bucs choose, they will be selecting a quarterback with some question marks. But that doesn't mean he won't be better than the aforementioned three.

The quickest rising star at the moment is relative unknown Jimmy Garoppolo, the I-AA player of year out Eastern Illinois, which produced Tony Romo.

The 6-foot-2, 220-pound gunslinger has an impressively quick release that some scouts say have pushed him ahead of guys like Fresno State's Derek Carr and San Jose State's David Fales, who will share quarterback duties with him in this Saturday's Senior Bowl.

Quickness defines Garoppolo. Along with his quick release, he has quick feet and makes quick decisions. Last season, he threw 51 touchdowns and just nine interceptions. Some question the level of competition he faced, but the natural talent is there.

The best choices in the free-agent market likely will be Josh McCown and Michael Vick.

With Smith, offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford and new general manager Jason Licht not giving Glennon any indication he is the starter, it's clear they want competition at the position.

"He is obviously a big guy, he's a deceptive athlete, he's an accurate passer, he's very smart," Licht said about Glennon. "I got a chance to meet him yesterday (Wednesday). Smart players usually come around when the head coach and general manager are hired."

Alan Dell, Herald sports writer, can be reached at 941-745-7056. Follow him on Twitter @ADellSports.

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