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Patience can work with young quarterbacks, and usually it’s required to a degree. Peyton Manning’s amazingly absurd numbers so far this year — and, well, most years — have made us forget that even he slugged through his rookie year during that 1998 season so long ago. Manning completed only 56.7 percent of his passes while throwing 28 interceptions, numbers that still stand as career worsts.

Josh Freeman took that rookie gut shot in 2009 while still showing signs he’d develop, signs he then followed through on with a 2010 season in which he threw only six interceptions to 25 touchdown passes, and his completion percentage rose dramatically from 54.5 to 61.4.

Then the slow descent began, one that was given plenty of spiral hangtime due to Freeman’s status as a first-round pick. Mercifully, it ended today with the announcement that he’ll be benched, and Mike Glennon will start against the Cardinals this Sunday.

And with that, we have our first quarterback benching of the 2013 season after only three weeks. The Browns will surely follow by default and keep Brandon Weeden chained to a bench even once he’s healthy, and surely the Vikings will soon tire of their own developmental quarterback who isn’t developing.

But Freeman gets the noble distinction of being the first, and has he ever earned it. Granted, he’s thrown against some tough defenses over the last three weeks, including the vastly improved Saints’ secondary. But no starting quarterback should complete less than 50 percent of his passes in three straight games, even if he’s playing monstrous space cyborgs. Freeman’s overall completion percentage rests at 45.7, which accurately represents his wayward crosshairs. An equally wayward gameplan wasn’t helping, as the average depth of Freeman’s throws thus far was 11.1 yards, the league’s second-highest rate.

As a result the Bucs currently have the league’s second worst passing offense, while clipping along at an early pace of only 174.7 yards per game. Freeman was something far below great last year too when his accuracy was still horrendous (completion percentage of 54.8), but his tumble truly started late in the season, when he threw 10 of his 17 interceptions over the last five games.

Enter Glennon then, the third-round pick with an actual cannon for an arm (disclaimer: he doesn’t actually have a cannon for an arm). That’s the most encouraging aspect of his game, and one that gives us hope that the fantasy production of Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams won’t take an immediate beat down since they’re receiving passes from a rookie. Over his four years at North Carolina State Glennon completed 60.4 percent of his passes, and although there were signs of promise throughout the preseason when he received plenty of playing time, overall he looked like a rookie in August while averaging 5.7 yards per attempt, with 397 passing yards overall, three touchdowns, and three interceptions.

He’s a statue and pocket passer, which is becoming a throwback in today’s NFL. That means he’ll need great run support to be successful (which he has) along with great receivers (which he has), and a great offensive lone (which he pretty much has).

Now the Bucs just need a great quarterback. They’ve been waiting a long, long time for one of those.

More notes, stray thoughts, and other such randomness

Terrelle Pryor is fine, he just doesn’t remember anything

To his credit, Terrelle Pryor played pretty well Monday night, even if the scoreboard says his team was shellacked by the Denver Broncos winning machine. He was a running threat as always, and he made several key deep throws while scrambling out of the pocket. But about that running and open-field exposure: it led to some scrambling of a different kind when Pryor was crunched between Broncos linebackers Wesley Woodyard and Danny Trevathan. It’s at that point when time stopped moving in Pryor’s mind Monday night.

No worries though, guys, because he feels great.

And he’s ready to go.


Of course, Pryor was surely attempting to make a funny here, but with all the sensitiveness about concussions nowadays, saying little was probably the better idea if we assuming he doesn’t enjoy being bombarded with awful things on the Internet.

What definitely isn’t a laughing matter here is the fact that Pryor stayed in the game for two plays after the hit. It’s a little odd that a player could sit out a game the following week (still a strong possibility for Pryor), and yet he was allowed to play immediately following the hit that could cause his absence. Or maybe it’s not odd at all and I should just continue to work on my medical degree at the University of Phoenix.

Fair enough, but there’s still concern that the Raiders didn’t follow the proper and strict concussion procedures before letting Pryor trot back out. The Players’ Union is wondering if Pryor was properly evaluated on the sideline for any symptoms, and may press the issue.

Stop sucking, Christian Ponder

Now and forever, this is what will be in my mind when I see Christian “Mr. Christian” Ponder. It’ll be this Ponder kid’s legacy.

Sorry, guy who actually took the time to do this, but Leslie Frazier probably wasn’t right. And Frazier will likely be the first to admit his mistake soon, because the utter non-existence of job security for head coaches in this league has a way of making smart men confess to their wrongs and evil doings. This morning we’ve already seen Greg Schiano realize that tying his feeble grasp on employment to Josh Freeman isn’t wise, and Frazier may soon come to a similar conclusion with Ponder.

But that’s where the comparison ends, because in Tampa there’s at least hope and promise behind Josh Freeman in the form of Glennon, a rookie selected just this past spring. In Minnesota there’s Matt Cassel, whose career has been on burnout mode pretty much since the moment he left New England.

It won’t end well either way for the Vikings, but at least quarterbacks coach Craig Johnson has an idea. Mostly, Ponder should suck it up. Oh also, stop sucking.

“The bottom line is — and he knows this — if you do not win the game, you’re getting the blame. That’s just the way it is. Suck it up. You’re no different than quarterbacks in every other part of the country. When you lose, you’re getting the blame. That’s part of the deal.”

Johnson is right, unfortunately. The practice of assigning wins and losses to quarterbacks is antiquated, and it generally creates a binary conversation. A quarterback can play well in a loss, and have that loss happen due to things far out of his control (see: Pryor above).

The problem with Ponder is simple: he’s been horrible regardless of the result.

Still hate you, Denver Broncos backfield

Broncos running backs combined for 166 rushing yards Monday night, as their cluster of madness that’s effective in real life but horrifying in fantasy continued. Ronnie Hhillman led with 66 yards, while Montee Ball had 61 yards, and Knowshon Moreno finished with 39 yards.

The assumption or at least educated guess was that Ball would retain his fantasy value by pounding away with short yardage carries, Hillman would see the field on passing downs, and Moreno would get the majority of the work between the 20s. But no, the Broncos’ backfield entered full out fantasy trolling mode Monday night in the fourth quarter with the ball on the goal-line.

Tell us more, Gary Caldwell:

While Hillman, Knowshon Moreno and Montee Ball waited to see where the ball would be spotted, they decided to play a quick game of rock-paper-scissors for that chance.

“We were just messing around on the sideline,” he said. “Just something to do. Have fun.”

Hillman chose rock. Ball and Moreno went with scissors.

“Luckily I won,” he laughed. “So it all worked out.”

Nothing beats rock. Nothing.