One year ago, Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll went all-in on third-round quarterback Russell Wilson, saying that the former North Carolina State signal-caller (by way of Wisconsin) would get a huge number of reps in the preseason. He certainly did -- Wilson was worked like a mule up to, in, and through, the preseason, and it's safe to say things worked out pretty well ... pretty well, that is, for everyone but seeming incumbent Matt Flynn, who Seattle signed to a lucrative free agent contract before Wilson was drafted.
Now, another team has taken Carroll's "Always Compete" mantra to that same position, applying it to another third-round pick from NC State, and that philosophy may spell trouble for a seeming incumbent and former first-round pick. Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano came away from his first year at the helm of the Bucs without a clear picture of quarterback Josh Freeman, and that was reflected in his comments after the season.
Though Freeman became the first player in franchise history to throw for more than 4,000 yards in a season, and his 27 passing touchdowns also set a team mark, he was as bad as the Bucs were down the stretch. Tampa Bay lost five of its last six games, and Freeman threw nine of his 17 picks in the last three games. Of course, it wasn't Freeman's fault that the Bucs' pass defense was a dumpster fire in 2012, but when Schiano was asked about Freeman's future, he didn't sound convinced.
“That’s a question that, again, I’m not all in with myself yet, so how could I me all in with Josh Freeman or any other player?'' Schiano told the Tampa Bay Times last Dec. 31. "I’m not side-stepping you, but I need to evaluate.
"What I can say is, a 4,000-yard passer, a touchdown record – there’s a lot of things you say, “Wow.’ Are there things that frustrate you? Yeah. There’s things that frustrate him, too. And I’m not ducking the question, because quite frankly, I really like Josh Freeman. But I want to make sure I don’t get ahead of my skis at all here and really evaluate every single thing to what’s best for this organization. Do I think Josh Freeman is going to win Super Bowls in this league? I do. So, I hope that happens here. But again, at the end of the day, I have to evaluate everything before I can say that’s what we’re doing."
Part of that evaluation was the selection of NC State quarterback Mike Glennon in the third round. Glennon, who we ranked as the 41st-best player in this year's Shutdown 50 series, impressed the Bucs brass enough at the team's rookie minicamp for Schiano and general manager Mark Dominik to give Glennon the Russell Wilson treatment. Glennon got his chance after Wilson transferred to Wisconsin because NC State head coach Tom O'Brien would not let Wilson pursue his baseball aspirations, and Glennon was the beneficiary. Apparently, he took his collegiate lessons to the NFL, and looked like a model student from Day 1.
“We’re going to put a lot of pressure on him and see a lot of reps from him in the preseason," Dimonik recently told NFL.com (via JoeBucsFan.com). "He’s got to play. We may not see as much of Dan Orlovsky or even of Josh Freeman somewhat in the preseason as much as you’re going to see Glennon.
“We’re excited about just the little bit we saw from him [during rookie minicamp] in terms of mentally what he could handle. We kept piling more on him and he kept doing a great job digesting it, regurgitating it and running the team.”
Freeman, who is in the last year of the five-year, $26 million contract he signed after the Bucs selected him with the 17th pick in the 2009 draft, has seemed to get up Schiano's nose for a while. Whether it's his streaky play, of the fact that he's not as "rah-rah" as Schiano would like, or a simple schism in overall football philosophy (Dominik drafted Freeman, and Schiano may want his own guy under center), it would appear that the Bucs are not committed to Freeman beyond this year -- and the switch could come sooner than some expected.
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