It's Griese's Job To Lose

With training camp approaching, the Bucs' biggest quarterback battle will be over the No. 2 spot.

By Jeff Berlinicke

With training camp on the horizon, one of the few positions with no true question marks is quarterback.

That's a break for the powers-that-be within the Bucs organization who have an awful lot more on their mind than calming a quarterback controversy.

Not that it might not be a problem down the road, but barring an unforeseen fluke, the job is Brian Griese's to lose.

Griese has several things going for him. He is a veteran and coach Jon Gruden loves veterans. Second, he has the best arm on the Bucs even though he sometimes gets into trouble trying to make a play when there is nothing there. Those kinds of judgments killed several rallies down the stretch last season during the 5-11 nightmare. Finally, he knows the offense and meshed perfectly with rookie sensation Michael Clayton.

There are a couple of downfalls behind Griese as well. First, he has absolutely no mobility, although neither do his potential backups. A quarterback can get away with that if he has a decent offensive line up front, but Griese doesn't have that courtesy. Second, he is prone to errors in judgment has been since he was a Pro Bowler during his stint with the Denver Broncos.

If the Bucs get off to any kind of a respectable start, it is obviously Griese's job to lose, but if the Bucs stumble out of the gate, Gruden might choose to play for the future.

"I thing (Griese's) much farther along, not only as a performer but also as a leader on offense,'' Gruden said. "Last year he was taking about 25 percent of the reps. This year he's doing double that.''

Griese ended the season throwing for 233-for-336, and a 69.3 completion percentage. He also threw for 20 touchdowns with 12 interceptions after taking over as starting quarterback in Week 5 after an injury to Chris Simms.

Simms was starting his first game after taking over for since-departed Brad Johnson. Simms saw little playing time after Griese came in a proved himself. Like Griese, Simms is the son of an NFL Hall of Fame quarterback, and was highly acclaimed as a second round draft pick three years ago, but has raised questions to the point where he might not even be the backup last season after the Bucs traded with Cleveland on draft day for Luke McCown.

Simms and McCown both have strong arms, little mobility, and some NFL starting experience and their battle for the No. 2 spot will be one of the intriguing competitions of summer camp.

Camp begins July 29 at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex.


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