TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have benched quarterback Josh Freeman and replaced him with rookie Mike Glennon.
The move Wednesday came two days after coach Greg Schiano insisted Freeman remained the starter because he gave the team the best chance to win.
The coach changed his mind after meeting Tuesday with general manager Mark Dominik and later discussed the switch with ownership.
"This is a performance-based decision," Schiano said Wednesday. "We're not getting the job done on the field."
The winless Bucs have lost their first three games, two on field goals in the closing seconds. Freeman has completed just 45.7 percent of his passes for 571 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. Dating to last season, they've dropped eight and nine games, and the offense hasn't played well throughout the stretch.
"There are a lot of reasons for it. It's not just one guy," Schiano said of Freeman, who is in the final year of the contract he signed as a rookie. "But's that's a critical piece of it. ... The quarterback touches the ball every play."
Glennon was drafted in the third round out of North Carolina State, where he spent part of his college career as a backup to Russell Wilson. He will make his first pro start Sunday at home against Arizona.
After setting single-season team records for passing yards and points scored in 2012, the Bucs have scored just three offensive touchdowns through three games — none in the past seven quarters.
Freeman's completion percentage and quarterback rating (59.3) are last in the league, and Tampa Bay's had trouble scoring points despite having proven playmakers in running back Doug Martin and receivers Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams.
The fifth-year pro, once touted by general manager Mark Dominik as a franchise quarterback, has thrown for four TDs vs. 12 interceptions in the last six games.
The switch caps a tumultuous month in which Freeman missed a team photo shoot on Labor Day, was not voted a team captain for the first time in three years and refuted reports that he was seeking a trade. Throw in his quarterback rating and completion percentage, plus a couple of last-second losses in games in which he and the offense did not perform well, and he's back on the bench.
And, perhaps headed out of Tampa Bay, with the trade deadline being five weeks away.
Freeman played his best game of the season Sunday, but was unable to get into the end zone in a 23-3 loss at New England. He had a pair of potential touchdown passes dropped and finished 19 of 41 for 236 yards and one interception.
Freeman became the first 4,000-yard passer in team history last season, but his inconsistency down the stretch contributed to the Bucs losing five of final 6 games to finish 7-9 and miss the playoffs for the fifth straight year.
He threw nine interceptions in the final three weeks of 2012, and his slow start this year raised questions about Schiano possibly turning to Glennon in two weeks, when the Bucs have a bye.
The coach said as late as Monday that Freeman was his starter, but apparently changed his mind on Tuesday — an off day for players — and informed Freeman and Glennon of the change Wednesday morning.
The 25-year-old was the third quarterback selected in the 2009 draft behind Mark Sanchez and Matthew Stafford. He made his first NFL start — a win against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers — after Tampa Bay began his rookie season with seven consecutive losses. The former Kansas State star followed with a breakout season in 2010, when the Bucs went 10-6 but failed to make the playoffs.
Freeman threw for 25 touchdowns and just six interceptions that year, and the future appeared bright — for him, the team and former coach Raheem Morris.
Inconsistent play has dogged him and the Bucs since.
Morris was fired after going 4-12 in 2011, leaving Freeman to learn his third offensive system in four seasons when Schiano was hired last year.
The first sign that Schiano felt Freeman might not be the team's long-term solution came shortly after the end of last season, when the coach said he wanted to raise the level of competition for jobs at every position, including quarterback.
Schiano hedged later, saying Freeman was the unquestioned starter, however that didn't stop him and Dominik from drafting Glennon.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org