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What does Bucs' Gruden see in Griese?

In Denver, he was the quarterback with the slow legs. Here, the coach sees him as the man with the quick mind.

In Miami, he was the quarterback with the weak arm. Here, the coach sees a passer of great efficiency.

In Chicago, he was the quarterback with the bad aim. Here, the coach sees a rare player who can comprehend his system.

Everywhere else, there have always been knocks on Brian Griese. He didn't have enough of this for that team or enough of that for another. The common view of Griese is that he has always been halfway between being a question and an answer, somewhere in the middle of being good enough to start yet never good enough to stay.

What, then, does Jon Gruden see in this guy?

Besides a new can of hope, that is.

And so, the Bucs prepare to embark upon Brian Griese: The Sequel. Once again, Gruden has turned to Griese to calm the controversy. Once again, he has turned his huddle — and perhaps his team's season — over to him.

Is it the right choice at the right time? It depends on whether you will see what Gruden sees.

That might be the most important part of the Bucs' quarterback change, not the player but the perception his coach still has in him. When Gruden looks at Griese, it is fair to say the picture looks different to him than it looked to the Bears' Lovie Smith, who started him only six games in two years, or the Dolphins' Dave Wannstedt, who started him only five back in 2003, or the Broncos' Mike Shanahan, who had early success with Griese but eventually looked to other quarterbacks.

No, Griese did not grow a cannon onto his right shoulder since he left the Bucs two seasons ago. No, he has not been reborn as a sprinter. His resume suggests Griese is still capable of throwing a stray every now and then.

What does Gruden see?

Perhaps he sees a headache remedy. Yes, it is a risky move to pull a quarterback who guided a team to the playoffs a season earlier, and it is puzzling that Jeff Garcia's demotion came so quickly. In Griese, however, perhaps Gruden saw a quarterback whose performance was easier to anticipate.

Then again, perhaps Gruden had simply seen enough of Garcia. This year's version, anyway.

Perhaps he sees Griese as a performer who will deliver the lines as written. At his best, and at his worst, Garcia is an improviser. That's dandy when he is scrambling around and creating big plays. When things do not go well, however, no one can drive a coach crazy as quickly as a quarterback who breaks away from the script.

Perhaps Gruden sees Griese as the one who got away. If you remember, Gruden was on record as wanting Chris Simms and Griese to return after the 2005 season. Instead, Simms was given a raise, and Griese was asked to cut his salary. Just a guess, but the Bucs probably would like a do-over on that one.

Perhaps he sees Griese as a puzzle piece that fits. Gruden has looked a long time for the right fit at quarterback, and Griese has looked for a coach who thinks of him as more than a relief pitcher. Gruden has always spoken fondly of Griese's ability to grasp the offense, even the past two years when Griese was with the Bears. In some ways, Griese has always had the perfect mind for Gruden's nuances.

Perhaps Gruden does not see Griese as the quarterback who could not beat out Rex Grossman, the way much of Chicago does, or could not beat out Jay Fiedler, the way fans in Miami do, or could not make you forget John Elway, as the fans in Denver do.

Perhaps he still sees Griese as the quarterback who almost saved the 2004 season. Back then, it was Brad Johnson who was pulled from the second game of the season and replaced in the fifth. Both times, however, Gruden overlooked Griese and went to Simms.

But Simms was injured in his first start, and Griese played well. He had three 300-yard passing days, and he pulled the Bucs back within 5-7 before fading. For the season, he had a team-record quarterback rating of 97.5

Perhaps Gruden no longer sees Griese as the quarterback who threw six interceptions in his final three starts, all losses.

Perhaps Gruden sees Griese as the efficient quarterback who started so well in 2005. The Bucs started 5-1 that year, though Griese's statistics weren't as good as the year before.

Perhaps Gruden does not see the same Griese who addressed his teammates after the fifth game that year and promised to improve his play.

Perhaps Gruden sees Griese as a point guard. It bears remembering that when Michael Clayton had his best days for the Bucs, Griese was the quarterback. When Cadillac Williams had his best days, Griese was the quarterback. With Griese, perhaps the game will be more controlled and more weapons will be used.

Perhaps Gruden sees Griese as a silencer. It has been a noisy week around One Buc Place, with the quarterback change and rumors of whether Garcia was on the trading block. Perhaps Gruden sees Griese as an answer for all of that.

Perhaps he sees Griese as a short-term solution to the drama that has surrounded the quarterback position for the Bucs this offseason (and the season before). Perhaps he sees him as a long-term answer to the conga line of passers-by.

Perhaps next week, he will see everything differently.

For everyone else, however, things are still a little out of focus. There is mist and haze and smoke.

Is Griese the same quarterback the Broncos, Bears, Dolphins and, yes, Bucs let walk away? Does he have enough arm? Does he have enough mobility? This time, is Griese going to be good enough to last until Week 3? Week 9? Week 15?

We'll see, won't we?

Broncos: 1998-2002

Games: 53

Att./comp.: 1,678-1,044

TDs: 71

INTs: 53

Yards: 11,763

Dolphins: 2003

Games: 5

Att./comp.: 130-74

TDs: 5

INTs: 6

Yards: 813

Bucs: 2004-05

Games: 17

Att./comp.: 510-345

TDs: 27

INTs: 19

Yards: 3,768

Bears: 2006-07

Games: 13

Att./comp.: 294-179

TDs: 11

INTs: 14

Yards: 2,023

What does Bucs' Gruden see in Griese? 09/13/08 [Last modified: Monday, September 15, 2008 3:39pm]
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