Finding a Quarterback: Mike Glennon and the Art of Quarterbacking

| February 7th, 2017

Early in Jay Cutler’s career with the Bears, he led the Bears to a win on Monday Night Football. This wasn’t enough to satisfy ESPN’s Steve Young who went on a crazy rant about the so-called “art of quarterbacking” simply because he didn’t like the way Cutler played.

It was the kind of pretentious bullshit that makes Young and Trent Dilfer hard to listen to. They want everyone to play the quarterback position a certain way –  the way that makes guys like Marc Trestman ejaculate – and everyone who doesn’t is just wrong. Cutler didn’t play that way. They still can’t stand it.

Personally, I only care about getting the job done. It was rarely pretty and the stats weren’t glorious, but Cutler was effective on that night as he has been in most games. You don’t get points for beauty in the NFL but there’s still a certain something a quarterback has to have.

Jay Cutler has it. Mike Glennon does not.

Glennon has his supporters based solely on the raw statistics he had early in his career. In 13 starts his rookie season, Glennon threw 19 touchdown passes to just nine interceptions. The next year, he threw 10 touchdown passes and six interceptions, serving most of the season as Josh McCown’s backup.

You can craft an argument for Glennon around those statistics, but that argument dies when you watch him play. I watched Glennon play in four games and the conclusion was damning. He just isn’t good.

I started my study on Glennon with the only extended action he saw this year, a blowout loss to Atlanta. He didn’t throw a single inaccurate pass, completing 10 of his 11 attempts with one touchdown. He also didn’t attempt a single pass further than 10 yards down the field. He took advantage of a soft defense that knew it already had the game won.

I went back to 20014 and tried to pick out three of Glennon’s better games and even his best games weren’t good. Out of 114 passes Glennon attempted in the two games, he was inaccurate on 36 percent of them, by far the worst rate of any quarterback — college of pro — I’ve studied so far. Even if you add in the Atlanta game from this past season, his inaccuracy rate is still well over 30%.

It’s easy to look at the 56 sacks he took in 2013 and 2014 and say protection was the problem, but I felt Glennon was the problem with their protection. The dude seemed to hold onto the ball until he was going to get hit, at which point he either took a sack or just chucked it in the area of a receiver. The fact that he doesn’t have more interceptions is a fluke. He can’t avoid pressure and didn’t have any feel for when guys were coming to destroy him.

Glennon takes a ton of sacks, isn’t accurate and doesn’t pick up many yards when he does complete passes. So what does he do well? He throws a decent ball. He looks the part and he can deliver strikes down the field when he isn’t getting hit. Glennon could have success if he signed with a team like Dallas or Green Bay; a team with a great supporting cast and good system that would limit the thinking and moving he would have to do. For the Bears, however, I don’t see a fit. Glennon is a backup quarterback and that’s all anyone should ask him to be.

I agree with what Young said on that Monday night several years ago, there is an art to playing the position. Glennon has a paint brush, but nothing else.

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