TAMPA, Fla. — Mike Glennon did a lot of things the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hoped he would in his first NFL start.
What the rookie quarterback didn’t do — protect the football and, ultimately, win — are the same things that cost Josh Freeman the No. 1 job.
Coach Greg Schiano felt the third round draft pick did a good job of managing the offense during Sunday’s 13-10 loss to the Cardinals.
Nevertheless, there’s no way to sugarcoat the impact of three fourth-quarter turnovers that helped Arizona get back in the game and then seal the victory.
Glennon was charged with a fumble on a handoff that running back Doug Martin was unable to hold, leading to a field goal.
Two interceptions in the final four minutes set up a tying touchdown and ended any chance of the 23-year-old bringing his team back after losing the lead with 1:29 left.
“I thought he handled the operation of the game very well — protections, reading plays out,” Schiano said Monday. “He had a couple of balls, I think, he’d like to have back at the end of the game.”
With the will winless Bucs (0-4) having a week off, Glennon will have two weeks to prepare for his next start, Oct. 13 at home against Philadelphia.
What’s unclear is who his backup will be.
The benched Josh Freeman wasn’t on the sideline for the Arizona game after being declared inactive. He watched from a suite at Raymond James Stadium, and Schiano said little in addressing his future.
“I’m not ready to comment on down the road,” the coach said when asked if Freeman will remain No. 3 going forward. “Right now I’m focusing on today and us getting better, and we’ll see how everything plays out.”
Veteran Dan Orlovsky was Glennon’s backup against Arizona. Freeman said last week in an interview with ESPN that a trade might be the best solution for him and the team.
Again, Schiano balked at discussing what happens next with the 2009 first-round draft choice, who threw for more than 4,000 yards and 27 touchdowns last season.
The coach shrugged off a question about what Freeman would have to do to regain the backup job.
“It’s not like that, what does he have to do. It’s more what we think is best going forward,” Schiano said. “We take each week independently.”
As for the prospect of a trade, he said he’s leave that up to General Manager Mark Dominik.
“The business part of things, Mark and I talk about it, but he handles that. As long as he’s a Buccaneer, then he’ll be a member of this team and do the things we do,” Schiano said.
Freeman’s quarterback rating through three games was a NFL-low 59.3. Glennon’s was even worse — 55.7 — after completing 24 of 43 passes for 193 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in his debut.
The Bucs drove 41 yards for their only touchdown Sunday and led 10-0 entering the fourth quarter despite not being able to run the ball effectively and rarely throwing the ball downfield.
Glennon’s longest completion was on a check-down that fullback Eric Lorig turned into a 20-yard gain.
“It’s definitely frustrating, but with the way our defense was playing, we just felt like we didn’t need to turn the ball over in order to win the game,” Glennon said. “Unfortunately, we turned the ball over, and that’s how it ended.”
Sunday’s loss was the third in which the Bucs defense played well only to fail to hold a lead in the final two minutes.
The difference against Arizona is that Glennon’s mistakes, including a fourth-quarter sack he took at the Tampa Bay 1, created short fields for the Cardinals, who scored on drives of 26, 13 and 29 yards.
Freeman left the field for the final time with Tampa Bay leading in two of the team’s first three losses. In each case, the defense allowed opposing quarterbacks to march 50-plus yards without any timeouts to get into position for game-winning field goal.
Schiano said the defense, which held the Cardinals to 1-for-10 on third-down conversions, can and needs to play better.
“My message is we’re a team. We can play better on defense. That’s what we strive to do. That’s the way team dynamics work,” Schiano said. “You have to play complementary football, and we’re going to do that going forward.”