This week's electronic conversation between Sports columnists Gary Shelton and John Romano:
GS: One week in, and the Bucs are partying like it's 2004. Tell me, John. Considering Brian Griese had more practice and more playing time in preseason, is this good for the Bucs offense? Or, considering Jeff Garcia's Pro Bowl season of a year ago, is it bad news?
JR: I will have a shot of bad news with a chaser of ominous. Look, I like Brian Griese. I think he is a fine quarterback. But this team rode Garcia last season like he was Big Brown. Unless the offensive line is significantly better, I have a hard time seeing how the Bucs score more points without Garcia's mobility.
GS: Obviously, you won't have the mobility. You might have a quarterback who is a bit sharper than Garcia was last week. But I don't think it's worth the short-term price. This wouldn't happen to another Pro Bowl quarterback anywhere else.
JR: I don't think it's the case, but I wish I could be certain there was no animosity involved in the decision. That Garcia isn't mad about his contract and the Brett Favre chase. That Jon Gruden isn't annoyed by Garcia's annoyance. Isn't it a little early in the season for this kind of drama? It's usually October before players start whispering about Gruden's unfamiliarity with the truth.
GS: Everywhere else, it's early in the season for this kind of drama. Here? I had Week 2 in the office pool. And the important thing is, what happens in Week 3? Is Garcia going to get less rusty on the bench? Is your next change to Luke McCown? Or to Troy Percival?
JR: At least we know Percival can get the ball deep. Like I said before, Griese can run an offense. In some ways, he is similar to Brad Johnson. When Brad was surrounded by talent in 2002, he won a Super Bowl. When that talent disappeared in 2004, he couldn't win a game and was benched. Is there enough talent here for Griese to consistently win?
GS: I disagree with your Johnson comparison. I've never seen Griese have a streak like Brad did at the end of the 2002 season. I will agree they have similar limitations, though. Griese can steady a ship for the short term, but I just don't think he's the long-term answer.
JR: Are you saying the Bucs are not a playoff contender if Griese goes the rest of the way? Because I tend to believe the offense is better with Garcia, but I also think Griese can do the job if he has an adequate running game.
GS: Wow. You're going to make me be the bad guy, huh? No, I don't think the Bucs make the playoffs with Griese. I think he would need more than an adequate running game. He would need an excellent one.
JR: You make a great bad guy. You're like Hans in Die Hard. You're Bruno Tattaglia in The Godfather. You're Sue Ann Niven in the Mary Tyler Moore Show. Nothing wrong with going negative early. Let Griese take a few sacks and I'll be claiming I was the one who said this was a disaster.
GS: I wanted to be Hannibal Lecter, darn it. Seriously, I'm not trying to knock Griese. I just remember the spark Garcia added to this offense last year.
JR: You'll get no argument from me there. Again, the only way I saw this offense improving from last season was the offensive line growing up and the running game becoming a force. Of course, somebody has to remind Gruden that he has some running plays in his game plan.
GS: If there is a positive to the quarterback change, it should be that. Perhaps with a more controlled quarterback, Gruden will call a more controlled game.
JR: All right, smarty pants. What do you see happening today?
GS: I see Earnest Graham running for 123 yards. I see Griese hitting 10 of 14 passes and no interceptions. I see the defense holding Falcons tailback Michael Turner to 84 yards. You?
JR: That works for me. I see the defense causing three turnovers and the Bucs winning 23-17.
GS: Sounds about right. Ten safeties and a field goal for the 23 points?
JR: No, no, no. They score a touchdown. Cato June on an INT return.
GS: If so, I say Gruden should move Cato to wide receiver by the Bears game. Or maybe quarterback.