Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

After this setback, which Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback gets the call?

Bucs quarterback Brian Griese grimaces as tackle Donald Penn backs into him before a sack in the second quarter.

BRIAN CASSELLA | Times

Bucs quarterback Brian Griese grimaces as tackle Donald Penn backs into him before a sack in the second quarter.

ATLANTA

For nine weeks, he has been on a storage shelf, somewhere in the Bucs' equipment room.

He was on the road, and the penalty flags were flying, and the field position was awful, and he didn't know for sure that he was going to get the start until a couple of hours before the game.

All in all, you would have to admit that the Bucs asked a lot of Brian Griese on Sunday afternoon.

All in all, you would also have to suggest they had a right to expect more than this.

You wait. You play. You win. Everyone who plays quarterback in the NFL, and everyone who wants to, knows the way it works.

Rust doesn't matter. Limited practice doesn't matter. Location doesn't matter. You throw. You compete. You find a way.

Griese knows. Even as he stood outside the Bucs locker room Sunday evening, talking about his performance in a 13-10 overtime loss to Atlanta, Griese knew he had not completed the bottom line. You can talk about degree difficulty all you want, but the offense — his offense, at least for the time being — didn't do enough, and because of it, the season feels as if it is slipping away from a team that had it well gripped only six days ago.

"We didn't win the game," said Griese, who started in place of injured Jeff Garcia. "Really, that's how I judge quarterbacks around the league. It's whether you win or lose. It was difficult, but I've been doing this for quite some time now, and I understand what it takes to get ready."

The truth of it is that Griese wasn't horrible Sunday. He hit 26 of 37 passes, and his quarterback rating was higher than it has been all season. On the other hand, Griese led his team to only one touchdown.

Now, of course, comes a familiar question.

With the Bucs' season teetering on the ledge, who is going to play quarterback next week?

Oh, Bucs coach Jon Gruden said after the game that if Garcia is healthy next week, he'll start. No question. At this time of year, however, health is a matter of degree. Odds are, Garcia will still ache here and there. Which means the decision could still come back to a judgment call by Gruden.

Will it be Garcia, who moved so stiffly around the locker room Sunday that you wonder whether John Abraham had sacked him three times, too.

Is it Griese, whose grasp of the offense has always made him a favorite of Gruden?

Is it Luke McCown, the quarterback who was bypassed Sunday?

Before you decide, ponder the scene early Sunday. It was just after 9, and Gruden was watching Garcia try to go through his workout. It was obvious Garcia wasn't ready to go.

"His game is being spontaneous," Gruden said. "It's change of direction. It's creating passing lanes. He wasn't ready to go today. I don't regret not playing him. We had no choice."

It was the second time this year Garcia has moved aside to watch Griese play. This time, Garcia agreed with the decision.

"I think we would have taken a chance on making it worse and probably ending the season," Garcia said.

That meant McCown, right? After all, he has been the No. 2 quarterback for most of the season. Most people, including Luke, expected that Luke would be the starter if Garcia couldn't go.

Instead, the call went to Griese, who keeps turning up as the Bucs quarterback. Around Tampa Bay, the guy's nickname should be "Griese Again."

"Experience is big," Gruden said. "I don't regret that at all."

Perhaps not, but there were times when Griese looked like a quarterback who hadn't played since early October. He took sacks — for 43 yards — on plays when he had a chance to throw the ball away. He struggled on third down (three of 14). He failed to capitalize when the Bucs blocked a punt late in the fourth quarter and ended up with a first down on the Falcons 12.

Might McCown's younger legs have given him a chance to run away from Abraham's rush? Might his stronger arm have allowed him to test the Falcons secondary deeper? We'll never know.

So who plays next week? If it wasn't McCown this week, odds are, it won't be him against the Chargers, either.

That means the decision is going to come down to Garcia's right leg, in that area in back between the calf and the Achilles' tendon. If it cooperates, Garcia will be back.

If not, it will be Griese. Again.

Fast facts

Comparing the QBs

The Bucs offense under
Jeff Garcia and Brian Griese:

GarciaGriese

Games *105

Points #13183

Points avg. #13.917.9

Rush yds.1,004597

Rush avg.107.1129.1

Pass yds.2,1291,004

Pass avg.227.1217.1

Total yds.3,1331,601

Total avg.334.2346.2

* Griese injured midway through third quarter against Broncos.

# Do not include those scored by defense or special teams.

After this setback, which Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback gets the call? 12/14/08 [Last modified: Thursday, December 18, 2008 9:24am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays have their chances, but end up with another loss (w/video)

    The Heater

    TORONTO — The litany of games the Rays have given away this season is long enough, arguably too lengthy. So the only way to get to the postseason is make up for some of those losses by grabbing some wins when the opportunity is presented, especially at this time of year when the margin is diminished and the stakes …

    Associated Press
  2. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Wednesday's Rays-Blue Jays game

    The Heater

    You wonder if the scouting reports and/or workload are catching up to rookie RHP Jake Faria. The bottom line wasn't bad again, three runs in 51/3 innings, but he's having to work harder to get there.

  3. Rays journal: Chris Archer eager for eventful final stretch

    The Heater

    TORONTO — RHP Chris Archer takes the mound today for the Rays as they head into the final 40 games of the season with little margin for error as they battle for an American League playoff spot.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) takes a moment on the mound in the second inning of the game between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, August 6, 2017.
  4. Tim Tebow's slump continues, as does fan support

    Sports

    CLEARWATER — On July 29, playing against the Charlotte Stone Crabs, Tim Tebow smacked a mammoth three-run homer, helping the St. Lucie Mets cruise to a 10-3 victory at Charlotte Sports Park.

    St. Lucie’s Tim Tebow, shown Monday at Spectrum Field, struggled at the plate Wednesday against the Threshers.
  5. Rays at Blue Jays, 4:07 p.m. Thursday

    The Heater

    Today: at Blue Jays

    4:07, Rogers Centre, Toronto

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun, 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Rays info: Toll-free 1-888-326-7297

    Probable pitchers

    Rays: RH Chris Archer (8-7, 3.84)

    JAYS: RH Chris Rowley (1-0, 1.69)