- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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Every time I start to think the Tampa Bay Buccaneers need to do something dramatic at quarterback, the same thought pops to mind:
I'm not saying Glennon's the next Joe Montana. But I am saying he's as good as Grossman was in the 2006 season for the Chicago Bears. In fact, Glennon has more upside than Grossman ever did, and that might be enough to get the Bucs out of a drought in which they haven't won a playoff game since their Super Bowl victory more than a decade ago.
Let's turn to the numbers. In Grossman's Super Bowl season, he completed 54.6 percent of his passes for 3,193 yards with 23 touchdowns and 20 interceptions. In Glennon's rookie year, during which he was surrounded by a diminished supporting cast and started the final 13 games, he completed 59.4 percent of his passes for 2,608 yards, 19 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
More important, in a crazy 4-12 season that featured the benching and release of Josh Freeman, Glennon showed promise. He showed poise, a strong arm and some savvy.
That's why I don't think the Bucs need to sign a high-profile free agent or use a first-round pick on a replacement for Glennon. Sure, bring in someone to push Glennon because a little competition can't hurt. But give Glennon every shot at being the starting quarterback for 2014 because that just might be enough for the Bucs.
In this day and age when everyone talks so much about the NFL being a quarterback-driven league, maybe the Bucs can break from the mold of luxury models and win big with a quarterback who's dependable and economical. If Glennon can be the guy, the Bucs will have three more years where they don't have to pay a quarterback big money.
As Smith takes over as the coach of the Buccaneers, he might already have the quarterback he needs. Let's look back at that Super Bowl season Smith had in Chicago. Grossman was ordinary. The Bears got as far as they did because they had a great defense, good special teams and a solid running game.
History has a way of repeating itself, so use your imagination a little bit and you can see a similar blueprint taking shape for the Bucs. They already have a very good defense that could become great if they use their free-agent or draft currency on a pass-rushing defensive end instead of a glitzy quarterback. Combine that defense with running back Doug Martin, who should be healthy after missing much of last season with an injury, and it's not too difficult to picture the Bucs having a winning season.
Glennon might not be Drew Brees, Matt Ryan or Cam Newton -- the three other quarterbacks in the NFC South -- but in Tampa Bay's situation, maybe moving counterclockwise is the right way to go. Upon his hiring, Smith even hinted he might view the position a little differently than most.
"Do I believe in a franchise quarterback? You'd have to explain [what] 'franchise' [means]," Smith said. "I believe you need to have a very good player at that position. Do I think you need a Hall of Fame guy to be able to win in the NFL? No. I think you can still win with a good quarterback.”
Glennon can be a good quarterback. He did some good things last year even when the Bucs were without Martin and wide receiver Mike Williams and were down to their fourth tight end because of injuries. Glennon looked like he could be a legitimate NFL quarterback even as the offensive line was struggling and the play calling was questionable.
Glennon is a smart kid and a hard worker. He's only going to get better in his second season. I'd take Glennon ahead of draft prospects Johnny Manziel, Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater and Derek Carr in the short term. I'd take Glennon over Michael Vick, Matt Schaub or any other veteran who might become available in the long term.
Glennon isn't a remarkable talent, but I think he's the right quarterback for Smith's system and for the Buccaneers and who they want to be.
We've covered Smith's history in Chicago. There's one other thing we need to touch on: Smith was the Buccaneers' linebackers coach under Tony Dungy from 1996 through 2001. Since Smith's hiring everyone has been pointing to the past as a possible sampling of the future.
Under Dungy, the Bucs were winning with a dominant defense and nothing special from their offense. Smith left to become defensive coordinator in St. Louis before moving on to Chicago, and Jon Gruden came in to replace Dungy and finally led the Bucs to a championship.
Although Smith was gone from Tampa Bay by the time the Bucs won their Super Bowl, he saw firsthand how the Bucs were built. He saw a team with Brad Johnson at quarterback winning a championship.
They weren't super quarterbacks, but they were good enough to get to the Super Bowl. In the right system -- the kind of system the Bucs are trying to build -- Glennon could be a Super Bowl quarterback.