October 19, 2008: The Day The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' QB Controversy Ended

Tim CarySenior Analyst IOctober 19, 2008

I made the comment a couple weeks ago that Brian Griese's latest injury might actually be the best thing that's happened to Tampa Bay all season.

It's sad, and as a Buccaneer fan, I mean no disrespect to Griese whatsoever, but Jeff Garcia gives this team a much better chance to win football games.

Only two weeks ago, Griese was the starting quarterback of a 3-1 Tampa Bay team and Jeff Garcia was wearing a baseball cap on Sundays.  How quickly things change.

Now, Garcia has engineered back-to-back impressive wins over NFC foes Carolina and Seattle, and the Bucs are thinking seriously about playing the Super Bowl as a home game in February. 

Garcia and Griese have many similarities: both are veteran quarterbacks that manage Coach Jon Gruden's offense quite effectively.  Neither takes many shots down the field, and both are capable of the occasional bad interception.

However, Garcia's legs give him a significant advantage in the great quarterback race of 2008, and watching him use his mobility to buy time and pick apart the Panther and Seahawk defenses in October should put to rest any lingering quarterback controversy in Florida.

In Tampa's short-passing offense, third down conversions and solid decision-making are crucial above all else, and Garcia put on a time management clinic Sunday night against Seattle on national television.  The Bucs finished the game a sparkling 10-18 on 3rd down in the contest, and their newest/oldest starting quarterback led the way with 310 passing yards...to ten different receivers, no less.

Remember, this is a player that went to the Pro Bowl and led the Buccaneers to a division title in his very first season by the Bay.  A wild offseason that included nagging injuries, a contract dispute, an excused absence at the beginning of camp, a very long and even more public flirtation between Garcia's employer and some Brett Favre fellow, and who knows what else ended up with the 38-year-old starter getting benched after one week at the helm. 

It looked for all the world like Jon Gruden had turned last year's Pro Bowler to this year's clipboard holder, and many speculated that Garcia had played his last game in pewter...but one unfortunate injury to Brian Griese later, Garcia is back in charge and should* hold on to the job for the remainder of his time in Tampa Bay.

*Note: the word "should" acknowledges that Jon Gruden doesn't ever make promises or commitments to any one quarterback, and of course, Garcia stands less of a chance to keep his job in Tampa than he would with 31 other NFL teams.  With that disclaimer, Garcia's as close as there is to a no-brainer to remain the Buccaneers' starting quarterback, even after Griese is again 100 percent.

Believe me, that's Tampa's best chance to play Super Bowl XLIII at home in 2009.

Somebody tell Jon Gruden before he starts "dating" again.