TAMPA — Quarterback Mike Glennon lost a passionate supporter last week when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers dismissed Greg Schiano as head coach.
Schiano played an instrumental role in selecting Glennon in the third round of the 2013 draft and the former North Carolina State standout threw 19 touchdown passes and only nine interceptions as a rookie, starting 13 games for an injury-ravaged attack that ranked last in the league.
Schiano’s successor, Lovie Smith, has watched Glennon’s play extensively on film and tossed a few compliments Glennon’s way Monday when he was introduced as the 10th head coach in franchise history.
“Strong arm and he had great pocket presence, to me,’’ Smith said. “Mike won’t win a 40-yard sprint, but he can move around in the pocket good enough and make smart decisions, and there’s nothing like having that experience that he was able to get his rookie year.’’
In his nine years leading the Chicago Bears, Smith won 81 games and three division titles without the benefit of an elite quarterback. The 2006 Bears reached the Super Bowl with Rex Grossman under center and Glennon’s passer rating as a rookie (83.9) was better than Joe Flacco, Eli Manning and Robert Griffin III in 2013.
Glennon’s future in Tampa could be determined by how much confidence he instills in new offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford, who built a reputation as a quarterback guru in 11 seasons at the University of California, where he molded Aaron Rodgers.
“Glennon will like the offense,’’ said former UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel, who dueled Tedford’s teams every year out west. “It kind of suits him in terms of big plays down the field. I think Glennon is his style of quarterback. The key will be protection.
“I think Glennon sits tall in the pocket. You think of Kyle Boller or Aaron Rodgers, who both played in Cal’s offense. Those guys were kind of in a little half-roll pocket. They sat tall and were able to drop balls into the different grids. Glennon, with his height and his arm, I think that fits him.’’
Like any NFL coach, Smith said he craves competition for every spot on the 53-man roster. Upon meeting Smith for the first time on Monday, Glennon made a favorable impression.
“Mike was one of the first guys here early today. He looked me straight in the eye and said, ‘Hey coach, I don’t know about the rules, but when can we get started?’ That’s a good start, right away.’’
The Bucs could pursue a veteran quarterback in free agency or turn toward the draft, where Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel or Blake Bortles of the University of Central Florida could be available with the seventh overall pick.
Glennon can’t wait to get a head start on the competition.
“Obviously, (Smith) has a great track record in the NFL, so I think it’s a great hire,’’ Glennon said. “He knows how to win, he has a great mind for defenses and I’ve also heard he’s just a great person.’’
Once Smith fills out his staff and the Bucs have a general manager in place, player evaluations will begin in earnest. Tedford will familiarize himself with each of the 416 throws Glennon made this fall, analyzing everything from footwork to arm slot.
“Jeff will make it a quarterback-centric offense that runs the football,’’ said former Oregon coach Mike Bellotti, who hired Tedford as his offensive coordinator. “He’s a great technician who can simplify the game for Mike Glennon and make his job easy. He took quarterbacks I had — Akili Smith, Joey Harrington, A.J. Feeley — and retaught them the game in a manner that made it easy for them.
“It appears complicated for the opponent and the defense, but for the players involved in the offense, they understand it, they love it and they will thrive in it.’’