Garcia's injury brings depth into focus

For the last week the rumor mill has produced a great amount of copy on the potential trade of Brett Favre somewhere in the NFL. When Jeff Garcia went down with an apparent calf injury, it only served as a reminder why the Tampa Bay Buccaneers should be fine if Garcia misses any length of time in 2008. They now have the depth to absorb such an injury.

We all laughed this offseason at the comic value of Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden and his yen for quarterbacks. He joked that he collects them. When he said it, we chuckled at the truth of that statement.

But Thursday's events at Bucs training camp at Lake Buena Vista brought that truth into stark focus.

Starter Jeff Garcia came up hurt during the morning workout. Gruden must have convulsed in horror.

Garcia should be fine. Reports out of camp are that Garcia suffered a strained calf. Gruden probably breathed a sigh of relief. His starter should be fine.

And before you start the Brett Favre drum beat, that the Bucs need to panic and deal a high pick as insurance in case Garcia's 38-year-old body gives out, consider what the Bucs do have behind Garcia:

Brian Griese. You might remember him as the guy that led the Bucs to a 5-1 start in 2005.

Chris Simms. You might remember his as the guy that finished off that 2005 NFC South champion team

Luke McCown. You might remember him as the guy that stayed the course when Garcia was hurt last year.

Are these all-world guys? Certainly not. Have Griese and Simms seen better days? Sure. Is McCown still a work in progress? Absolutely.

But they know the offense, they've all handled the crucible that is playing for Gruden and they're all in camp right now.

Brett Favre has done none of these things in Tampa Bay. As Garcia pointed out on Tuesday, he played in Green Bay's West Coast offense at the Pro Bowl. Sure, the basics are the same. But the terminology, the play calling and the tweaks are all different. Garcia said it took him until midseason to finally feel comfortable with Gruden's playbook.

How much compromise would Favre and Gruden have to find if the future Hall of Famer came to Tampa Bay? Plenty. Simms confirmed that last week to a St. Pete Times reporter (albeit off the record — oops!).

Favre would have to learn a new offense, develop chemistry with new receivers and deal with an impossibly bright media spotlight all season long, as would his teammates. The Bucs are not used to that spotlight on a national basis. The Bucs seem to fly best when they're under the radar.

My feeling all along is that Favre's age, contract and intangibles — read hassles — aren't worth a high-round pick for any team, much less the Bucs, who can carry at least three quarterbacks into the regular season that have more than a year's experience in Gruden's intricate offense.

The Bucs don't like controversy. When was the last time they had a rookie holdout? It's never happened under GM Bruce Allen. They like players that fit in, do their job and don't draw attention to themselves.

Favre generates publicity when he DOESN'T fax paperwork to the NFL. He's being linked to reports that the Packers are considering dealing him to Minnesota or Chicago. There's even a report that the Packers are considering giving Favre $20 million to stay retired.

Do the Bucs really want to wade into that? If Garcia had torn an ACL, I might have said yes. But after a minor injury? No, not one bit.

The Bucs should keep their hands off this mess and stand pat. Their options aren't spectacular, but they'll do.


Matthew Postins is the editor and publisher of Bucsblitz.com.


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