ALLEN PARK - When the Lions offense has struggled during the season, Jeff Garcia was there with answers.
Verbally, at least.
Garcia talked about certain players having something handed to them without having to work for it. He talked about having to pull himself up from going undrafted, fighting the football wars in the Great White North in the Canadian Football League while earning everything he got along the way to three Pro Bowl apperances, 4,000 yard passing seasons and multiple playoff appearances.
The worst part about Jeff Garcia's tough talk is that he actually makes us believe he could back it up. The Lions fans clamored for the grizzled veteran who never got a thing handed to him in his battles with the bonus baby draft picks; he just outplayed 'em.
Garcia was former head coach Steve Mariucci's insurance policy, a no-nonsense player who was willing to fight for a job and felt in open competition he could beat out a reeling Joey Harrington, who never really got the west coast offense.
Even veteran corner Dre' Bly bought into Garcia's bravado stating that he didn't think coach Mariucci would have been fired if Garcia had been healthy.
But Garcia's play has belied his confidence and showed that he doesn't really belong as a starting quarterback in the NFL anymore. His 17-of-35 for 126 effort against Minnesota on Sunday was just as putrid as any of Joey Harrington's previous outings, maybe worse considering that Garcia is supposed to know how to run this offense.
Instead, he threw away yet another game with a late interception, sealing defeat for his teammates. Garcia said the problem lies with the team not being in sync.
"There's not a lot of being on the same page," he said. "We are just not gelling well together. That's been something that we've been trying to work through and work over throughout the season and it's still out there on the field and not where it should be."
The trouble is, that's just another excuse.
The fans are tired of the excuses that constantly eminate from the locker room for yet another loss. This one dooms the Lions (4-8) to their fifth consecutive sub .500 season. Don't give me any of that mathmatical stuff, let's face it, it's over.
Earlier in the season, Garcia did a lot of tough talking about his teammates not working hard on the practice field.
He said that was the reason the team was not having success on the field. He challenged management and the coaching staff to make each position an open competition and let the best practice players play on Sunday.
The problem is that the coaching staff bought what Garcia was selling... and it resulted in another loss.
"You would like to think that it's something that you can iron out in practice and continue to work on, continue to grind, and continue to bust your tail out at practice because if it's not happening out there, then it's not going to happen on Sunday," said Garcia recycling his credo for success.
"As much as you try to get it right, it hasn't been easy to get it right. That's something that, hopefully with hard work and continuing to stay on top of things, eventually we will get it."
Eventually? That's was Joey Harrington's old line. Just keep working, keep fighting. Harrington was sacked in place of Garcia who is now using the same tired excuses.
The fact is that Garcia isn't good enough anymore to make any plays and who knows if Harrington ever will be, but at least Harrington has youth on his side. Garcia's performance on Sunday was bad enough that the fans - wanting for relief from Garcia's overthrows, underthrows and wide throws - actually began chanting for Harrington.
"Well that's just frustration from the fans. I understand that," claimed Garcia. "Part of that, I put on my shoulders. I didn't feel like I did things that I needed to do in order to help this team win a football game today."
Today was week twelve. And despite clamoring for an opportunity to get on the field, Garcia is not the solution to the team's quarterbacking problem and obviously doesn't have any more answers for the problems with the Lions offense than Harrington did.
Garcia's early rhetoric sounded good, it even made sense. But when it came time to put up or shut up, Garcia was no more effective than his predecessor.
It's time to turn the page on Jeff Garcia.
Wonder if Dan Orlovsky has any thoughts about the offense?