Scout Analysis — Jeff Garcia

BucsBlitz.com continues its "Scout Analysis" series on the Buccaneers' free-agent signings with a look at quarterback Jeff Garcia. First, experts from the Cleveland Browns and Philadelphia Eagles provide their analysis from Garcia's time with those teams. Then Buccaneers expert Matthew Postins provides his own analysis on Garcia's place in Tampa Bay.

Lane Adkins, Scout.com's Browns expert (theobr.com)

Veteran quarterback Jeff Garcia's unexpected re-emergence in 2006 with the Philadelphia Eagles only solidified the notion that he has plenty of football left. After unsuccessful stops in Cleveland and Detroit, this prototypical West Coast offense star has faced numerous obstacles since his glory days with the 49ers.

Slight in stature (6-foot-1, 205 pounds), Garcia's strength is his familiarity of the West Coast offense. When the opportunity presented itself last season following a season-ending knee injury to starter Donovan McNabb, Garcia was instrumental in leading the Eagles into the playoffs.

Miscast in Cleveland and later Detroit, Garcia greatest attribute is his ability to create in the pocket, minimize mistakes, and take advantage of the defense. While not possessing a strong arm, accuracy and timing are critical for Garcia's success. Agility and mobility remain significant assets in Garcia's game, along with the experience of lining up on gameday for nine seasons.

While Garcia remains the type that does not require an All-Pro caliber offensive line to be successful, he does require sufficient time to make progressive reads. When seriously pressured, Garcia displays the tendency to pull the ball down and run for positive yardage.

If there is a flaw in Garcia's game at the later stages of his career, it is the tendency to trust his arm and ability too much. Not known as a deep-ball quarterback by any stretch of the imagination, Garcia will put the ball up for grabs.

In all, Garcia is a solid fit for a Tampa Bay team in need of an experience quarterback under center, and one which can play within the system and deal with the demands of head coach Jon Gruden.

Chuck Hixson, Scout.com's Eagles expert (warnest.com)

Jeff Garcia was brought into Philadelphia as a backup to Donovan McNabb, who has suffered his share of injuries. When the somewhat-expected script played out and McNabb went down for the season, Garcia wasn't even the definitive choice to take over the Eagles offense. Fans were vocal about wanting A.J. Feeley, who had taken over in a similar position in the 2002 season and guided the Birds to four wins in five games. Head coach Andy Reid also took a few days to wrestle with the decision before making the unpopular choice of handing things over to Garcia.

Once he took over as the Eagles quarterback, Garcia quickly worked his way into the hearts of Eagles fans and the season turned around dramatically. While he was never spectacular or statistically strong, Garcia did enough for the Eagles to win. As the Eagles fought their way into the playoff hunt and eventually won the division, it was Garcia who was credited with helping their success. His demeanor was perfect and teammates quickly rallied around him just as much as they ever had with McNabb.

Not re-signing Garcia may prove to be a key factor in the Eagles 2007 season if McNabb either doesn't return healthy or suffers yet another injury. Garcia would be an easier choice to insert at quarterback than either Feeley or Kelly Holcomb and of course, Kevin Kolb isn't going to be ready to lead the Eagles anytime soon. In other words, odds of any of the current Eagles quarterbacks being as steady and fitting in as well as Garcia did in his season in Philadelphia are not very good.

Matthew Postins, Scout.com's Buccaneers expert (bucsblitz.com)

A Garcia-Gruden pairing has been brewing for some time, ever since Gruden tried Garcia out in Oakland, shortly before Garcia signed with San Francisco and made a name for himself tossing passes to Terrell Owens. Garcia almost came to Tampa Bay instead of going to Cleveland in 2004.

Gruden mentioned that he and Garcia would share late meals together after preseason games in the Bay area. All they would talk about was football. Garcia said he has longed to play for Chucky.

Well, everybody gets their wish now. But Garcia will find out quickly that breaking bread for Gruden is a heck of a lot different than playing for Gruden, one of the league's most demanding offensive coaches.

As for Garcia, everything Lane and Chuck wrote is accurate. Garcia is a system quarterback, and Gruden's West Coast system ought to fit him perfectly. Garcia is as mobile as Rich Gannon was in Oakland, and about as accurate, too (his career completion percentage is right at 61 percent). Both of those facts should please Gruden, who's been longing for a Gannon clone since he arrived in Tampa Bay.

Two things I wonder about. First is Garcia's arm strength. One scouting report on Garcia is blunt. "(He) has a weak arm and struggles to throw the ball outside the hashes with any force." This is concerning because the passing game's biggest weapon is Joey Galloway, and his best attribute is beating defensive backs deep. Last year one of the passing game's real struggles with Bruce Gradkowski as the starter was getting the ball deep to Galloway. Gradkowski's range is about 50 yards, and Garcia's seems to be about the same. Will Garcia be able to take advantage of Galloway's speed?

The second is grasping Gruden's intricate offense. Every quarterback in Tampa Bay since his arrival has struggled with it to a degree. Perhaps it's too difficult for any mortal to grasp. While Garcia is a West Coast quarterback and has spoken to Gruden for years, he'd never seen a Gruden playbook until March. I've only seen the notebook, and it's a massive three-inch binder — and that's at training camp. Can Garcia digest in six months what Chris Simms has had five years to digest?

Garcia's history is that of an accurate quarterback who tends to make his supporting cast a little bit better. His mobility gives the offensive line a bit more of a margin of error. He's solid in play-action, which could provide some help to Cadillac Williams in the run game. And he will learn quickly that he can't take too many chances in Gruden's offense. He's 37 years old, so his health is paramount to the Bucs' success if he is the opening-day starter. I think Garcia will be a solid, but not spectacular, shepherd of the offense, doing just enough to keep Simms off the field.

Unless something catastrophic happens, he will be the opening-day starter. Gruden knows his employment is at stake. That's why Garcia is finally here.


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