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Change to Griese looks more permanent for Bucs

Quarterback Brian Griese, who is in his second stint with the Buccaneers, was 18-of-31 for  160 yards and a touchdown and no interceptions in Sunday’s victory over the Falcons.

BRIAN CASSELLA | Times

Quarterback Brian Griese, who is in his second stint with the Buccaneers, was 18-of-31 for 160 yards and a touchdown and no interceptions in Sunday’s victory over the Falcons.

TAMPA — It's Brian Griese's time, not Jeff Garcia's team.

The Bucs' change at quarterback became more permanent when Griese was officially named the starter for this week's game at Chicago — and beyond.

Griese missed open receivers Sunday but did something Garcia didn't in the season opener — he won, beating the Falcons 24-9.

"You know what? He warrants being a starting quarterback in the league, period," coach Jon Gruden said. "With that said, we don't anticipate any changes at that position this week."

Meanwhile, Garcia's role is undefined. He was the inactive third quarterback against the Falcons, and Gruden would not elaborate on his role for the rest of the season.

"We'll address that. It's going to be a long season," Gruden said. "We're going to need everybody on our football team. We certainly need Jeff Garcia. What his role is will be defined on a weekly basis.

"You're more concerned than I am, okay? Every day I address the same questions with you. I'm not concerned. I'm concerned with beating the Chicago Bears. That's my No. 1 concern. That's the concern of our football team, period."

Gruden denied media reports that the Bucs have tried to drum up interest for Garcia in a trade, including having discussions with the 49ers.

"No, I have not. I've not talked to anybody about Jeff," Gruden said. "There's a lot of reports out there. If someone ever came to me that had issued a report, I would be happy to address it. But there's a lot of reports out there that are erroneous and incorrect."

Griese, 33, went 18-of-31 for 160 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions against the Falcons. He missed a chance for big plays by overthrowing Antonio Bryant and Alex Smith.

But Griese produced 10 points off two Falcons turnovers and built a 17-0 lead.

"Well, we started fast," Gruden said. "I felt we took advantage of good field position, made a nice play on third down, and we capitalized, scored a touchdown on our opening possession. …There's still a lot of room for improvement, me included.

"I thought he did a nice job really. We had the one turnover late in the football game. He managed the offense. He made some great decisions in the running game. We won the football game."

Garcia, 38, has nursed a sprained ankle and calf injury but practiced last week. Just the same, the Bucs made Luke McCown the No. 2 quarterback behind Griese. That could be the same depth chart when Griese visits his former Bears team.

"Nobody is perfect, and I am really aware of the quarterback position and the notoriety that it gets," Gruden said. "It will be a tough call, but I think right now we will stay status quo and we will move forward and get ready for the Bears.

"There are a lot of veteran players that have been around here a long time and they know what I'm doing in terms of playing the best players, the guys that give us a chance to win."

Rick Stroud can be reached at stroud@sptimes.com.

Change to Griese looks more permanent for Bucs 09/15/08 [Last modified: Friday, September 19, 2008 8:33pm]
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