TAMPA — Josh Freeman's teammates were surprised by Wednesday's news that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are changing quarterbacks, quickly adding that they don't make those decisions.
Coach Greg Schiano informed the team that Freeman had lost his starting job in favor of third-round draft pick Mike Glennon, beginning with Sunday's home matchup against Arizona.
“(Schiano) asked us what we thought,'' DT Gerald McCoy said. “Everybody was very surprised. Nobody expected it, but we don't get to make the choices. This is the NFL and things happen. People get hurt, people get traded, changes are made. I don't make those decisions, I just play.
“I was the one who defended Josh early in the year, but I always say that I trust the guys upstairs. They feel this is the best way for us to win.''
With the Bucs (0-3) averaging only 11 points per game, Freeman lost the starting job he has held since midway through his 2009 rookie season.
“Quarterback is the most prestigious position on a football team,'' RT Demar Dotson said. “When you're winning, quarterbacks get the glory. When you lose, you take the hit. Josh is a great guy and a good football player, but we can't look back. We've got to rally behind Mike Glennon and win some football games.''
For LT Donald Penn, Wednesday's decision hit particularly hard.
“It's a very tough situation,'' Penn said. “Josh is a friend, too, first and foremost. I feel bad for him. He's not just a teammate. But it's part of the game and nobody's feeling sorry for us. I've got to do a better job of playing left tackle. Whoever's back there, I'm going to block my butt off for him.''
Guard Davin Joseph said Freeman could eventually benefit from his demotion.
“It's not the end of his career,'' Joseph said. “Josh has a lot of football left in him. He's just got to use his time to really perfect his craft. He can focus on himself and really learn the quarterback position without the pressure of performing.''
Wide receiver Mike Williams said the rest of the team has no choice but to help Glennon succeed under center and turn around Tampa Bay's miserable start.
“They made the decision for a reason,'' Williams said. “They didn't make it for us to keep losing. (Schiano) was just telling everybody the decision and how we've got to be behind the decision. He's our captain and we're on the boat with him.''