The accuracy in which Bucs quarterback Jeff Garcia is providing in the passing attack on offense has reached record-breaking status. Garcia is making all the right plays and, more importantly, hasn't made the big mistake throwing the football at crucial times during a game.
Garcia etched his name into the Bucs record book with his impressive performance going 37-of-45 for 316 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday in a 23-16 loss vs. the Detroit Lions. The three-time Pro Bowl quarterback has attempted 189 passes so far this season without throwing an interception. Garcia passed former Bucs quarterback Brad Johnson, who had 187 pass attempts without an interception spanning the 2001 and 2002 seasons.
"It's impressive and he's in a new offense. It's not like he's been in this offense his whole life," Bucs head coach Jon Gruden said. "He's playing with a lot of young guys and different receivers and [running] backs coming and going. Not only has he not thrown an interception, but he has thrown for almost 70 percent completions. So he's doing a lot of great things and I give him a lot of credit."
Garcia is the biggest reason for the offensive success this season and a major reason why the offense has been able to move the ball without a consistent running game. Even though Garcia's name is rarely mentioned when talking about the best quarterbacks in the NFL, his stats speak for themselves. The nine-year veteran has completed 133-of-189 pass attempts for 1,504 yards with seven touchdowns.
"Well [that's] probably because [Patriots QB] Tom Brady has  touchdown passes, I mean let's all tip our hat to that," Gruden said. "I don't know…but Jeff is playing great. I think with wins, high-profile wins and winning again and again has a lot to do with it."
Garcia is completing 70.4 percent of his pass attempts this season and has a quarterback rating of 106.2, ranking higher than Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning in both categories. Manning is completing 68.3 percent of his pass attempts this season with a 103.5 quarterback rating. The 6-foot-1, 205-pound quarterback is also on pace to break the team record for completion percentage in a season as well.
Only Brady has a better completion percentage (73.8 percent) than Garcia and Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback David Garrard, who will miss Sunday's game vs. Tampa Bay with an ankle injury, is the only other quarterback with more than two starts this season not to throw an interception so far this year.
Quietly, Garcia is putting together a potential Pro Bowl-type season, which is what the Bucs were hoping for when signing him to a two-year deal in the offseason. Despite all the talk swirling around quarterback Jake Plummer, who was acquired in a trade from the Denver Broncos during the offseason and has yet to report to the team, Garcia never lost confidence in his abilities.
"I would just like to get the entire supporting cast out there with him," Gruden said. "I think in fairness to Jeff he's doing a great job. I still think there are some areas that he can continue to grow and improve on. I think he would be the first one to admit that. He's a great player, an outstanding player, I think you can see that. We just have to lean on him at this point in time obviously with some of the injuries that we have around him."
As the injuries continue to mount on the offensive side of the ball – running backs Carnell "Cadillac" Williams and Michael Pittman, left tackle Luke Petitgout and wide receiver Michael Clayton – the one constant on offense is Garcia. However, the Bucs will need to keep Garcia healthy if they want to remain in the hunt for the playoffs.
Garcia is the conductor of Gruden's offensive train and is doing a good job of keeping it on the tracks. The question is how long will Garcia keep this train from being derailed for the rest of the season. The Bucs offense is in good hands as long as they can keep number seven healthy because it seems like he has the talent to carry this team to the postseason. If Garcia and the 4-3 Bucs can weather the recent rash of injuries and rid themselves of the injury bug, the offense just might get healthy at the right time for a late-season playoff push with Clayton and Pittman possibly returning after the bye week on Nov. 11.
"I think so much of it is attitude, just maintaining a positive attitude and outlook. Not allowing the negativity or the negative situations that have taken place with the injuries to affect us from a mental standpoint," Garcia said. "It is a matter of players having the physical abilities to play at this level and that's why they are here. Now it's intrusting an attitude amongst all of us and it starts with me having a positive attitude, having a positive motivational outlook every single day in practice; can't afford a tough loss like last week and the loss of two more offensive players to bring us down. It's important that we understand where we're at right now as far as a record is concerned, where we are at in our division and really taking that head on. We are in a great position to continue moving forward; nothing comes easy, nothing's going to be handed to you and it's important that everybody understands what the focus is, what the goal is and how we can work together to obtain that. It comes from having emotion on the field, playing with intensity; a positive attitude and it starts every single day in practice. You can't afford to hang your head and think about the things that have happened over the past couple of weeks, the losses that we've had as far as personnel is concerned."
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