Last word on Sunday's QB decision
As you probably know, we've reported that backup QB Luke McCown was under the impression he would start Sunday's game if Jeff Garcia was unable to play.
Obviously, that didn't happen. Coach Jon Gruden went with Brian Griese, which is his prerogative.
But there are a few things here that don't add up. Gruden said on more than one occasion last week that McCown was handling the majority of the practice snaps while Garcia did little because of his calf injury. That's what led us to believe McCown would be the starter in the first place. I submit this quote from Thursday as evidence: "Luke has been taking a lot of snaps and Brian is going to work himself back in tomorrow (Friday). For the first time, really, in the past couple months we're seeing him throw the ball as well as he is. So, that's a good sign for us."
But today, Gruden changed his story. He said Garcia took lots of snaps in practice last week and, as a result, neither McCown nor Griese had adequate preparation to start the game. He said that's why he went with Griese, because he had played the Falcons earlier this season. And Griese is obviously more experienced, which theoretically makes him better-equipped to handle the situation on such short notice.
Here's Gruden's quote: "We have a 90-play walk-through . . . which pretty much explains the game plan for the quarterback. And Jeff took all those. . . Neither one of those guys (McCown and Griese) was really prepared to be the starter in the game."
Gov. Sarah Palin might accuse me of practicing "gotcha journalism" here. I prefer to call it an attempt to sort out the facts. It appears Gruden is being less than honest here, which certainly is not a deadly sin in the NFL.
But the question is why?
Here's my theory: Gruden knows his decision to play Griese might be interpreted as a slap in the face to McCown, who is in the final year of his contract and would appear to have a dim future in Tampa based on Sunday's move. All indications are that McCown took a big percentage of the reps last week and, in his words, "had a great week of practice." Still, he doesn't get the start. It's natural for Gruden to look for a justification for playing Griese over McCown that doesn't include an admission that "I trust Griese more than McCown."
It's not fair to put words in Gruden's mouth, and that's not the intention here. But the bottom line here is that McCown does not appear to be held in very high regard here, and there's just no ignoring that.