Copyright 2007

In this week’s Bucs Shots, Pewter Report editor-in-chief Jim Flynn sounds off on message board True Pirate’s take on head coach Jon Gruden supposedly announcing during a recent breakfast function that Jeff Garcia is Tampa Bay’s starting quarterback.

Gruden Says Garcia Is The Starter – Posted On June 8, 2007 by True Pirate
I just returned from The Breakfast With The Bucs, and one of the only things worth mentioning was that Bucs head coach Jon Gruden, when asked about the quarterbacks, said that Chris Simms was doing some good things, and Bruce Gradkowski and Luke McCown were interesting, but that all of the  young guys, including Simms, had a long way to go to catch up to Garcia.

Gruden said that if all goes as planned, Garcia will be Tampa Bay’s starting quarterback this season.

We all already knew this, but as far as I know this is the first time Gruden has outright said that Garcia was the starter.

Jim Flynn’s response to True Pirate’s post
Bucs head coach Jon Gruden hasn’t exactly announced that Jeff Garcia is Tampa Bay’s starting quarterback in front of the media, but it’s not difficult to believe he said it at the breakfast function you attended.

From the two organized team activities that Pewter Report and the rest of the media have been allowed to attend and watch, it has been clear that Garcia, not Chris Simms, is the Bucs’ starting signal caller, and Gruden has obviously seen the same thing because of his comments.

Despite the fact that he just signed with the Bucs in March, Garcia has been taking the majority of reps during OTAs. Perhaps this is because Simms knows the offense and Garcia needs more reps to elevate his comfort level in the offense.

No one will really be surprised if Garcia does in fact start at quarterback for the Bucs, but I think most people, including the Bucs, believed Simms would compete for that right this season.

However, Simms told me earlier this week that he is “frustrated” with the lack of progress he’s made in terms of getting his mechanics and throwing motion back since the surgery to remove his spleen in September.

Simms went nearly three months without throwing the football, and he told me in an interview that will become the Pewter Report Conversation this June, that he had developed some bad habits throwing the football since he was trying to psychologically protect his stomach. He is in the process of breaking himself of those bad habits, but that, along with the extended period of time he went without throwing the football, has really hindered his ability to compete head-to-head with Garcia for the starting job. 

This is not to say that Garcia is winning the starting quarterback job by default. He’s been sharp during OTAs. While he’s 37 years old, Garcia is playing and practicing like he’s 27. And he’s proven to be an extremely quick study.

Although he doesn’t have the strongest arm, Garcia is a great fit for Gruden’s offense. He's been making the right decisions with the football and we have yet to see one of his passes get intercepted in practice (although I'm sure he's thrown some picks). The Bucs have been running a lot more trick picks and misdirection plays with Garcia in the lineup. They even went as far as installing the shotgun formation for Garcia, who had thrived in it during his playing days with San Francisco, Cleveland, Detroit and Philadelphia.

Not only has Garcia established himself as the starting quarterback (if the season started today), he has also been doing a nice job of bringing some excitement and leadership qualities to the football field.

It’s no surprise here to have you post that Gruden said Garcia is Tampa Bay’s starting quarterback. However, the timing is a little surprising seeing as many people, including myself, were expecting Simms to really challenge Garcia for the job. This is, after all, Simms’ fifth year in Gruden’s offense.

Simms is in an unfortunate situation where he mentally wants to compete for that job, but he’s physically unable to do it right now. Still, the fact that Garcia is already being called the starter is more of a credit to him than it is a knock on Simms.

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