Only a day after the Buccaneers lost at home 24-0 to the Giants, Raheem Morris announced that Josh Johnson is the new starting quarterback in Tampa Bay.
“We will have a change at starting quarterback,” Morris said at Monday’s press conference. “We will be going to Josh Johnson. We are in constant evaluation of our football team, and we made that decision today.”
Byron Leftwich, who started the opening three games, will be demoted to the third team, while rookie Josh Freeman will take over the role as backup quarterback.
Johnson’s first career start will come on the road at the also struggling Washington Redskins, who lost to the Lions on Sunday.
Morris wasn’t shy in giving reasons why Johnson will be starting next Sunday.
“He provides some more options,” Morris said. “It gives us an opportunity to go out there, compete, and do some different things. He gives you the dynamic that you all know about. He creates a different matchup for people. He gives you a better chance obviously to break out of the pocket and make a play with his feet every once in a while.”
During Sunday’s loss, Johnson entered the game with just under 10 minutes remaining in the game yet still finished the game as the team’s leading passer and rusher.
The Bucs struggled all game long and were unable to put a decent drive together until Johnson replaced Leftwich. In fact, the team did not register a first down until Earnest Graham rushed for one with 4:21 left in the third quarter.
Prior to being benched, Leftwich had completed only 7-of-16 passes for 22 yards with two carries for three yards. In the fourth quarter, Johnson completed 4-of-10 passes for 36 yards while rushing once for 15 yards, both of which were team highs. Carnell Williams was second on the team with two carries for eight yards.
If Johnson does struggle or gets injured, it will be Josh Freeman who will be called upon to step in, while Leftwich may not see another snap in a Buccaneers uniform.
“Josh Freeman will be moving to No. 2, so he will be expected to really be ready to go,” Morris said. “We expect him to really lock in and keep improving on him becoming a pro, which he has been doing. He has to learn how to do it now. He has to come in and be ready to go, get with his coaches, and prepare as No. 2 from now on.”
For the season, Leftwich has completed 54.2 percent of his passes for 594 yards with four TDs and three INTs, while Johnson saw his first regular season action on Sunday since being selected by the Buccaneers in the fifth round of the 2007 NFL draft.