Mike Glennon: Buzz-Free Dynasty Buy?

After battling tough circumstances during his rookie year, is Mike Glennon poised to take advantage of coaching and supporting talent upgrades in 2014?

| 3 years ago

After battling tough circumstances during his rookie year, is Mike Glennon poised to take advantage of coaching and supporting talent upgrades in 2014?

Mike Glennon: Buzz-Free Dynasty Buy?


glennonTrumpeting Tampa Bay’s Mike Glennon as the best rookie passer of 2013 is akin to naming him smartest monkey in the tree. The Robert Griffin-, Andrew Luck-, Russell Wilson-headlined quarterback class of 2012 it was not. However, while Glennon displayed some rough edges, the 6’6” product of North Carolina State flashed enough skill to warrant closer inspection into whether he is merely head and shoulders (and neck) above a group of disappointing peers, or if he can develop into a reliable starter in both real and fantasy football.

A quarterback rating of 83.9 (QBR; 23rd among NFL starters with a minimum of 25 percent of snaps), completion percentage of 59.4 (28th), PFF passing game grade of -6.1 (tied for 30th), and yards per attempt mark of 6.3 (42nd, and last), are not what dreams are made of, even for a rookie. But the circumstances under which those numbers were compiled must be factored in to gauge their true worth.

Taking over for a discarded Josh Freeman, who was ironically thrown out of a flaming dumpster, Glennon started his first game a month into a rookie season that saw him take all but four of the Buccaneers’ remaining 868 snaps. To describe his run of opponents as daunting would be underselling how grueling Tampa Bay’s schedule was, particularly after facing Philadelphia in Week 7.

If we rank each defense by PFF grades in both pass coverage and pass rush, we can see that out of Glennon’s 13 opponents, he faced top-half pass rushes 77 percent of the time and top-half pass coverage 69 percent of the time. It is even starker when the opposing defenses are divided into quarters.

Glennon vs.

Top-Eight Opponents

9th – 16th

17th – 24th

Bottom-Eight Opponents

Pass Rush

6

4

1

2

Pass Coverage

7

2

2

2

Against the seven opponents who graded as top-eight pass coverage units, Glennon averaged just 5.5 yards per attempt, posted a completion percentage of 56.3, and threw 10 touchdowns with seven interceptions. He tallied the 22nd-most fantasy points among quarterbacks during those weeks and averaged 0.33 points per dropback (34th). When facing the other six defenses, his completion percentage was 63.5, yards per attempt jumped to 7.3, and he tossed nine touchdowns with just a pair of picks.  He ranked as the 14th-best fantasy quarterback during those weeks and averaged 0.43 points per dropback (16th).

Glennon’s numbers against top defenses were actually buoyed by a surprisingly strong Week 9 performance in Seattle, against a unit that graded No. 1 in both pass coverage and rush. He completed 17 of 23 passes (73.9%) and averaged 7.3 yards per attempt, while throwing two touchdowns and no interceptions. However, he struggled mightily when under pressure, and it did not help that the Buccaneers’ offensive line ranked 25th in Pass Blocking Efficiency (PBE).

Glennon was the most-sacked quarterback in the NFL during the 13 weeks he played (43), and was under pressure on 43.4 percent of his dropbacks (second most). He tied for the second-most pass attempts during which he was hit by a defender (8), despite his playing three fewer games than anyone in the top nine in the category. When under pressure, Glennon averaged 4.4 yards per attempt, threw seven touchdowns to six interceptions, and posted a 55.7 QBR. With no pressure, he averaged 7.4 yards per attempt, threw 12 scores and three picks, and put up a 101.4 QBR. Every quarterback wants a clean pocket, but it is apparent that Tampa Bay’s protection issues took their toll on the rookie passer.

That is not to say that Glennon was entirely blameless when it came to taking sacks. The venerable Leo Howell, editor of The Pewter Plank, provides some context by pointing out that “considering Glennon’s lack of true athleticism to break the pocket and create on the run, his slow decision-making is a recipe for sacks.”

Losing their best lineman, left guard Carl Nicks, for all but two games was a huge blow. A subpar season from left tackle Donald Penn, as well as a brutal showing by right guard Davin Joseph, crippled what was supposed to be a strength of the Buccaneers’ offense. Stud running back Doug Martin went down for the season with a Week 7 shoulder injury, and backup Mike James followed him to the I.R. a few weeks later. Glennon did not get to play with a healthy Mike Williams, as the talented No. 2 wideout never fully recovered from a Week 3 hamstring injury and eventually landed on I.R.

Other than top receiver Vincent Jackson, Glennon was essentially a man on an island in Tampa Bay’s offense. Timothy Wright flashed potential as a pass-catching tight end, and Tiquan Underwood has some pretty sweet hair, though one was a rookie whose pass routes run dwindled considerably during November, and the other flat out stinks. When relative supporting casts are taken into account, the fact that Glennon stood above his fellow rookie passers is more impressive. That does not even factor in the nightmare that was Greg Schiano’s coaching regime.

Howell, who also writes for numberFire, is not so anxious to let Glennon off the hook entirely. “Missing Carl Nicks was rough, and Davin Joseph was poor as can be. But Glennon definitely needs to speed up his time to throw moving forward, no matter who is playing on the line.”

“I think there’s reason for optimism, but nothing is guaranteed. It’s tough to break apart ‘where was Glennon failing’ versus ‘where was Glennon being failed by others.’”

Luckily for Glennon, he will again have the services of Martin, Williams, and a likely improved offensive line. According to OverTheCap.com, Tampa Bay projects to have nearly $13 million in salary cap space ($12,866,139), with little dead money weighing them down ($165,135). Along with having the latitude to deal with tough contract decisions on current Buccaneers’ players, new general manager Jason Licht will have the wherewithal to upgrade the roster.

The larger question is how the new coaching staff’s arrival will affect the Bucs’ soon-to-be sophomore quarterback.

Lovie Smith will take over as head coach, and he tapped Jeff Tedford to be his offensive coordinator. Tedford is known for his quarterback-friendly, if voluminous, pro-style offensive schemes. During stops at California, Oregon, and Fresno State, Tedford has produced first-round picks Aaron Rodgers, Kyle Boller, Trent Dilfer, David Carr, Akili Smith, and Joey Harrington. While only Rodgers became a top quarterback in the NFL, the fact that Tedford molded such a disparate collection of passing talent into top picks speaks highly of his tutorial acumen.

Howell remains somewhat skeptical yet concedes that “the tools are there for Glennon to be a better than average quarterback. But it’s tough to assume that a new coordinator and coach are going to be able to speed him up and fix his other flaws.”

In his previous coaching stops, Tedford has run both spread offenses, as well as power-I formation-based schemes. As for which he will feature in Tampa Bay this upcoming season, the smart money is on the latter. Smith himself has alluded to as much, and it certainly fits the Buccaneers’ current receiver-thin personnel. Any improvement on their 25th-ranked 3.8 yards per carry average will only enhance Glennon’s chances. He ranked a middling 15th in percentage of dropbacks that utilize play action (19.9%), yet ninth in completion percentage differential when using run fakes (+1.4%), and a noteworthy second in yards per attempt differential (+4.6). A strong running game does not automatically mean an effective play-action threat, but it can only help.

A power running game that takes shots downfield is what Smith wants, and it fits Glennon’s strengths. His 45.7 Accuracy Percentage on deep balls (20+ yards downfield) ranked fourth, but he only attempted the 15th most among passers with at least 50 percent of snaps (11.1%). However, Howell points out that he needs to improve his deep ball accuracy to all portions of the field, and despite the fact that “there’s no doubt that Glennon sees the deep game between the hashes very well,” he displays a “lack of touch and accuracy on deep sideline throws.”

The numbers bear this out. Glennon’s QBR on passes 20-plus yards downfield and outside the numbers to the left was 65.2, and he completed just one of 13 attempts. Contrasted against the deep middle of the field, where he posted a 141.4 QBR (8 of 14 for 309 yards and four scores), the difference is striking. He picked up his performance on deep attempts outside of the right numbers, but Howell reminds us that is where Jackson did most of his work and “bailed Glennon out on some really poor throws this season.”

When Glennon came out of N.C. State, the book on him was that he has a strong and accurate arm, and for the most part that is what he showed during his rookie year. He also was advertised as a heady quarterback, and descriptions of Tedford’s offense begin and end with that being a requisite skill for signal callers.

The deck could not realistically have been more stacked against Mike Glennon when he became Tampa Bay’s signal caller in 2013. To say that things can only improve is a modest assumption. He will have more talent around and in front of him, as well as a coaching staff who will put him in a better position to succeed. There will no doubt be a bit of a learning curve associated with Glennon’s indoctrination into Tedford’s complicated offense, but the second-year passer’s strengths are in sync with the task. As a potential dynasty target, his 2014 Week 1 projection is less important than his longer term upside.

An attitude of cautious optimism is well-founded and should be instructive to those banking on too large a leap in production early next season. At the same time, Glennon does represent an opportunity to acquire a potential dynasty league bargain, something even the dumbest monkey in the tree can appreciate.



Pat Thorman is a lead writer for PFF Fantasy and a Fantasy Sports Writers Association award winner.

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