Today's electronic conversation between Sports columnists John Romano and Gary Shelton:
JR: I know you hate to pick on a guy who's down, so I have a better idea. How about picking on a guy who is undefeated? Gary, can the Bucs survive if Brian Griese is still the NFL's 30th-rated passer next month?
GS: No, and you know that as well as I do. It's like juggling chain saws. Eventually, it will catch up to you. So, to ask a question that has been asked in Denver before, how much rope should Griese get?
JR: Less than Bruce Gradkowski got in 2006 but more than Jeff Garcia was given in 2008. I'm not sure if A) Jon Gruden doesn't want to mess with a winning streak, B) he's being stubborn or C) he truly believes Griese is better than Garcia. I'll buy two of those answers but not the third.
GS: Here's what I want to know. At what point, exactly, did Gruden decide to bench Garcia? Did he catch Garcia writing smiley faces on the game plan? Did he draw a mustache on Gruden's self-portrait? Did he pull the limbs off a Chucky doll in a team meeting?
JR: I think it was worse than that. I heard he turned Gruden's alarm clock to 4:27 a.m.
GS: How about when he changed the audible to "Blue … Texas … IwantanewcontractorI'llpout … Rosebud!" Could that have something to do with it?
JR: Ah, we could make jokes about Garcia/Griese all day long. But then we wouldn't have time to joke about the Glazer boys. So maybe we should get serious for a moment. Tell me what happens at Mile High today.
GS: The Bucs defense jumped from 26th in the league to 13th last week. I'll be interested to see if the run defense can shut down the Broncos and if Denver quarterback Jay Cutler goes hard and heavy after Ronde Barber. Do you think Barber bounces back?
JR: I suspect a person could lose a lot of money betting against Ronde. And Cutler may be a hot commodity, but Ronde has made better quarterbacks look foolish for testing him. So do you think Cutler is the real deal? I mean, isn't a quarterback from Vanderbilt sort of like a scholar from Tifton, Ga.?
GS: Don't judge the brilliance of a diamond by its origins, Huckleberry. Cutler is a fine quarterback, and as you know, a 70-yard pass travels 80 in the thin air of Mile High.
JR: Same theory as watching a three-hour Lions game actually feels like five hours.
GS: And watching an Al Davis news conference makes you think the Crimean War is still going on.
JR: I make fun of Tifton and you start making Crimean War references? If I rag on Auburn, are you going to work the Pythagorean theorem in the conversation?
GS: Nah, take your best shot. Unlike yours, however, my diploma didn't come with Care Bears and Dr. Seuss characters on it.
JR: Okay, hotshot, then tell me if the Bucs win today.
GS: Not today. It's hard to win on the road, and it's hard to win in that kind of altitude. The Bucs will have a shot in the fourth quarter, but I can't quite see 4-1. You?
JR: Oh, I see 4-1. I just see it on the Broncos.