TAMPA - In a move that might have been considered heresy a few months ago, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have benched quarterback Josh Freeman.
The players were told in a meeting Wednesday Freeman would be replaced by rookie third-round pick Mike Glennon.
Freeman , in the final year of a five-year contract, has been inconsistent throughout this career, but was going through his biggest struggle this season. The Bucs rank 31th out of 32 teams in points per game and passing.
Still, the move comes somewhat as a surprise because as recently as Monday Bucs head coach Greg Schiano gave a ringing endorsement of Freeman stating at his press conference: “Josh is our starter. Josh is our guy. We’re going to ride or die with Josh. We support him 110 percent.”
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The Bucs play host to Arizona Sunday and then have a bye week. The speculation has been that if a quarterback change happened it would be done during the off week to give Glennon more time to prepare.
But it appears the organization has given up on Freeman and feels it would be better if Glennon would have two weeks to go over mistakes he makes in his NFL debut.
Glennon, who played college ball at North Carolina State, struggled during the pre-season completing less than 50 percent of his passes with three touchdowns and three interceptions.
Glennon and Schiano have a history. When Schiano was at Rutgers he tried to recruit the 6-6 quarterback and developed a strong relationship with him. He played extensively during the preseason with several Bucs saying they had never seen a backup quarterback get so much work during that time.
Schiano is on the hot seat with rumors and innuendos coming out of One Buc Place almost on a daily basis of player unrest and dissatisfaction over his coaching.
The Bucs are 0-3 and have lost eight of their last nine games with that only victory coming against Atlanta, which had nothing to play for in last year’s regular season finale. But in his last six games Freeman has thrown only four touchdowns while getting picked off 12 times.
There have been numerous reports that Freeman and Schiano do not get along and that Freeman was seeking a trade. It appears that the Bucs have decided to side with their coach at this point and will seek to move the quarterback before the Oct. 29 trade deadline
Along with his poor play, Freeman hastened his possible move out of town by taking a passive-aggressive approach to Schiano and the organization. He failed to show up for the team photo and other team-related functions.
Apparently the team leaders were on board with this move, according to reports. But the question remains whether it extends Schiano’s tenure as Bucs coach.
The Bucs brought in a lot of high priced players in the last two years and they didn’t come to Tampa to play for a rebuilding team.
The Bucs selected Freeman with the 17th pick in the 2009 draft.
He had his best season in 2010 with 25 touchdown passes and six interceptions while leading the team to a 10-6 record. He gained a reputation as a clutch late game quarterback.
Last year he threw for a franchise record 4,065 passing yards with 27 TDs. But he struggled late in the season and had back-to-back four interception games.