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Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jeff Garcia can seem frantic at times, but his style leads to wins

TAMPA

Bucs QB Jeff Garcia plays as if he were on an espresso drip. He is uncomfortable in the pocket. He takes his drop, surveys receivers, pump-fakes several times, reloads and frantically scrambles until deciding to launch or tuck and run.

Many times, it drives coach Jon Gruden crazy.

"We look at the tape like everybody else and try to design patterns and get everybody involved," Gruden said. "At the same time, Jeff will tell you he's got his own style. It's been with him a long time. It's a style we bought into.

"Yes, there are times I think he'll look at the tape and say, 'I should have stuck that one in there.' But he is a threat to run, and he does take care of the ball. They tell me that's a key part of winning. But he has thrown for a lot of yards and completed a lot of passes. We'll just try to get better in all areas."

But there are two areas where Garcia has always been exceptional: protecting the football and winning games.

Since his benching early this season, the 38-year-old quarterback is 6-1 with six touchdowns and one interception.

His scrambling produces first downs. And he knows how to make big passing plays on the move.

Consider the one he made several weeks ago at Detroit. A play was designed to go to WR Antonio Bryant on a slant route, and he was certainly open. But Garcia pulled the ball down, stepped up in the pocket and spotted WR Ike Hilliard downfield for a 36-yard touchdown pass.

"I say this in a kidding way: He drives me crazy," ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski said. "Plug in tape and look at him. Some things he does, there's just no rhyme or reason for. The play might be there but, for whatever reason, he keeps moving. The feet never stop. He's hyperactive, kinetic. But you know what? He'll run out of the pocket and throw it 40 yards downfield for a completion. There's no question, he's fun to watch. But for someone like myself who enjoys the discipline of the position, he — I'll just say — is very unique. You can't deny he makes plays on the field, though."

But Jaworski is not a big fan of the Bucs receivers. He doesn't think they strike fear into opposing defenses.

Bryant's 736 yards receiving ranked 26th in the NFL entering the weekend. Michael Clayton, the Bucs' other starting receiver, has 30 receptions, including just six in the past three games.

"There will be times when maybe Jeff is out of there. Maybe he's this or that," Gruden said. "But you can't downgrade your receiver for running a nice route and finishing his routes. A couple times (Bryant) was open (against the Saints) and the ball was batted down. But statistically speaking, he ranks up there with anybody in the league. We'd like to get Mike (Clayton) the ball a little bit more. But I'd like a new car, too. I can't have everything I want."

Speaking of quarterbacks: Brian Griese is still recovering from tendonitis in his right (throwing) elbow. The interesting thing is that it is not related to his injury Oct. 5 at Denver. "It's been two steps forward and one step back," Griese said recently.

Griese has begun to throw again regularly and is optimistic he could contribute if needed before the end of the season. Meanwhile, Luke McCown has served as Garcia's backup, and rookie Josh Johnson has been the inactive third quarterback.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jeff Garcia can seem frantic at times, but his style leads to wins 12/07/08 [Last modified: Friday, December 12, 2008 2:46pm]

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