Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida
By ANDREW ASTLEFORD  |  Last updated 9/25/13
TAMPA, Fla. -- Josh Freeman has always had the look of someone who could be a franchise face in the NFL. He's 6-foot-6, 240 pounds with a strong right arm that has been at times both tantalizing because of its potential and aggravating because of its inconsistency. That imbalance has become the dominant narrative of Freeman's four-plus seasons in the NFL, and it proved to be a reason the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will begin the Mike Glennon Era on Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals at Raymond James Stadium, as confirmed by FOX Sports' Alex Marvez on Wednesday morning. In a win-now league, where confidence is so important, Freeman ran out of time and lost the faith of his coach. In a bottom-line business, where results matter more than promise, Freeman showed he couldn't deliver enough when it mattered most. This move is somewhat surprising, given the timing. It made sense, if the Bucs were to make a change at all, that they would wait until next week, the bye week, to move past Freeman. But his benching shows the urgency of the situation at One Buc Place, where Tampa Bay is 0-3 for the first time since going 0-7 in 2009. This wasn't what the pewter-and-red faithful had in mind when a "No Fly Zone" was constructed in the offseason with the decorated signings of safety Dashon Goldson and cornerback Darrelle Revis. Glennon is a typical rookie: raw and unproven. He showed little in the preseason, when he went 33 for 70 with 397 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions. The third-round pick isnt Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III, meaning the Glennon experiment will likely be a rocky ride to start. But it's clear coach Greg Schiano and general manager Mark Dominik are willing to take a few bumps, if it means a potential larger payoff later. Clearly, they have weighed that choice and decided the Glennon era has more upside than a former first-round choice who never reached his potential. We'll see if theyre right. But for Freeman, September couldn't have gone much worse. His 59.3 passer rating ranks last in the league. His 45.7 completion percentage ranks last in the league. He threw more interceptions (three) than touchdowns (two). Dating back to last season, the Bucs have lost eight of nine games. But if they open at least 2-1 instead of 0-3 this year (a real possibility), he likely starts against Arizona and beyond. Freeman is to blame for most of this, though. The NFL is a perception business, and his image took hit after hit this month. The missed team photo. The knowledge, from Schiano, that he had been late to other team meetings. Then, most damaging of all, there's the realization that a huddle with Doug Martin, Vincent Jackson, Mike Williams, Carl Nicks and Davin Joseph should average more than a meager 282 yards per game. Is that what a franchise should want in a quarterback? No, absolutely not. Freemans time with the Bucs, whenever it ends for good, will be remembered for unmet promise, inconsistency and the realization that he should have been better. This was his job after training camp, and as recently as Monday, Schiano voiced his support for Freeman as the starter. He lost this role. Freeman forced others' hand to make this move. Can you blame them? Aside from two visible last-drive blunders, against the New York Jets and New Orleans Saints, the Bucs' defense is playing at a postseason-worthy level. The offense must do its part. This was a team build to win now, plain and simple, and Freeman's lackluster play was an obvious hit to those plans. At least at the start, Glennon's performance likely will be erratic as well. Sometimes, the best-constructed visions are scrambled once reality sets in. Freeman always had the look of someone who could be great. In his case, though, appearance proved deceiving. You can follow Andrew Astleford on Twitter @aastleford or email him at aastleford@gmail.com.
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