First it was Josh Freeman. Then it was Mike Glennon. Now it’s Josh McCown‘s turn to quarterback the Tampa Buccaneers after signing with them on Wednesday afternoon.
After solid season in a replacement role for the Chicago Bears, McCown was inked to a two-year deal worth $10 million with an extra $5 million up for grabs in incentives. It’s quite a large contract, so you have to believe McCown will enter as the starter this fall. However, is he really that much of an upgrade over Glennon?
In 2013, Glennon started 13 games and threw for 2,608 yards, 19 touchdowns and just nine interceptions. He finished with a 59-percent completion percentage and an 83.9 rating. Glennon took over in the midst of a very difficult situation. He dealt with the drama of Freeman, former head coach Greg Schiano and the outcry from fans over the team’s struggles. It was a volatile situation and one that presented many distractions.
Up north, McCown took over and started five games in place of an injured Jay Cutler. He went 3-2 and threw for 1,543 yards with 11 touchdowns and just one interception. If you want to look at just the statistics, then there’s no question McCown had a better season. However, it’s important to recognize the conditions in which these players performed.
When you compare how the two performed under the circumstances, I have a hard time giving McCown the advantage over Glennon. McCown took over on a winning football team with little to no controversy. He got to work with Brandon Marshall, Matt Forte, Martellus Bennett and Alshon Jeffery. On top of that, the quarterback whisperer Marc Trestman was his coach. It’s an ideal situation for any quarterback.
Now that he’s in Tampa Bay, he doesn’t have an arsenal of weapons at his disposal. He’s currently got Vincent Jackson, but that’s about it. The Buccaneers’ offensive line also surrendered 47 sacks, so McCown will need all of his athleticism to stay upright. The challenge that faces him in Tampa Bay is far greater than anything he took on in Chicago.
Consider the similar situation that took place with the Washington Redskins last season. For the final three games of the season, Robert Griffin III was benched and Kirk Cousins became the starter. After his brief stint at the helm in 2012, there were high hopes for him. Instead, Washington went 0-3 and Cousins turned the football over seven times while throwing just four touchdowns.
Being a starting quarterback is a different mindset and experience than being the backup. Opposing defenses prepare for you and game plan as if you’re the starter. When you take over a game after an injury as a backup, success is much more easily found. As McCown will learn this fall, he’s not starting quarterback material.
The Buccaneers, while they did try, have still not found their franchise quarterback. McCown will prove to be just an expensive patchwork job at that position.