Tuesday the Buccaneers held their latest organized team activity of the offseason and it was the first that quarterback Brian Griese was apart of. Griese was a starter for the Bucs in the 2004 and 2005 seasons. Tampa Bay traded a pick in the sixth round to the Chicago Bears to reacquire the veteran Griese. There had been some reports that Griese was unhappy to be traded back to the Buccaneers, and let head coach Jon Gruden know about it, but Griese refuted those reports after the practice.
"You know I had a great time here in Tampa," said Griese. "I really enjoyed the city. I enjoyed the team, and the guys on the team. I was excited about coming back. While there weren't too many familiar faces when I walked in the locker room, but there were a few and it was good to see those guys.
"I know what kind of organization this is and know how they handle their business, but I did have to give [Gruden] a little a bit [a grief]," said Griese with a chuckle.
Griese also responded when asked directly if he was excited to play for Gruden again.
"I am, but don't tell him that," said Griese.
Tampa Bay traded for quarterback Brian Griese on Mar. 3 reuniting the former Buc with Gruden. Griese is a competent backup that has had success for Gruden and the Buccaneers. In his two seasons with Tampa Bay (2004-05) Griese completed 345-of-510 (67.6 percent) of his passes for 3,768 yards throwing 27 touchdowns and 19 interceptions.
Griese was the starter for the Buccaneers, and had the team off to a 5-1 start in the 2005 season when his season was ended with a torn ligament in his knee. For Griese, he feels that he has more to accomplish in Tampa Bay.
"Yeah its tough. Its tough to go out like that and an injury that early in the season, especially with us being 5-1 and it hurt, it hurt bad," said Griese about the injury. "There's no doubt about it that I have unfinished business here. I felt very comfortable and never really wanted to leave here. I really wanted to be here, so two years later it's good to be back, so I'm off from my hiatus and ready to get back to work."
The Buccaneers starting quarterback, Jeff Garcia, is firmly entrenched as the Bucs starter. Griese is familiar with Garcia and looks forward to being his teammate.
"Yeah I'm looking forward to it," said Griese. "I've watched Jeff obviously, and competed against Jeff and I have a lot of respect for him. I think he's a heck of a player and we both bring a lot of experience to the table, and hopefully that adds to the room and to the team, and I think that's probably why they brought me in."
The 33-year-old Griese will most likely compete with Luke McCown to be the backup quarterback. Bruce Gradkowski and Josh Johnson will also compete at the position. The veteran Griese addressed the competition at quarterback.
"You know when I came here. I guess it was four five years ago. I was a third string guy. Brad Johnson was here, and Chris Simms was here, and nothing was guaranteed for me. I just came in and approached it like a rookie, tried to learn as much as I could, and go out there and perform every snap that I have the opportunity. My role is no different now."
Griese will have to get reacquainted with Gruden's offense but as an experienced veteran it should be a smooth transition. Griese does not anticipate any problems with relearning the Buccaneers offense.
"Obviously I have little bit of knowledge of the system so that makes it easier for me," said Griese. "But there are differences, the league is changing every year, the defenses are changing so I have a lot of work to do from the mental aspect of the game. I'm two years older so I got to work on the physical aspect of it as well. But I know when I have an opportunity I'll go out and perform.
"I've been through some meetings now. I feel good. I feel comfortable in the system. A few things have changed but a lot has stayed the same and so that's encouraging that I'm not back at square one. So I expect to hit the ground running," said Griese.
Not only will Griese have to relearn the Buccaneers offense, he will have to get to know a lot of new teammates. In two years the Buccaneers have had a lot of roster turnover. In fact wide receiver Joey Galloway is the only offensive starter that is still set as a starter from when Griese was the starting quarterback. Other offensive players like Alex Smith, Ike Hilliard, Michael Clayton, and Carnell Williams logged significant playing time with Griese.
"I'm just getting to know a lot of guys and getting familiar to them," said Griese. "Like I said there's not a lot of familiar faces here in just two years removed, but I know they got into the playoffs last year. We played against them. I prepared against their defense, and I've always had a lot fun and respect for the guys on this defense and for Monte particularly. looking forward to the competition in training camp and I think we've added some pieces on offense. The offensive line is something that really jumps out at me when I came in here the first day, so I'm excited about playing with those guys. Joey's still here so you know we got a lot of good pieces."
If it were up to Griese he would not have to get reacquainted with the Bucs offense and new teammates. That is because he never would have left Tampa Bay to begin with. Griese discusses the circumstances of when he left the Buccaneers.
"Yeah I was very frank with them," said Griese. "I told them look, I have a contract and I don't want to leave. But they had different ideas, so when they gave me the news it was just a matter of someone else coming in, and making an offer that was basically all that was entailed in that. Jon tried to talk me into some things, but at the end of the day a decision had to be made, but we ended on good terms. I still communicated with guys here. When they called everything was fine (about coming back to Tampa Bay)."
Griese spent the past two seasons with the Chicago Bears 2006 and 2007. There, Griese had less success than he did as a Buccaneer. He completed 179-of-294 (60.8 percent) of his passes for 2,023 yards tossing 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Griese discussed playing in Chicago.
"Chicago was a great city," said Griese. "It's a storied franchise and I was happy to be apart of that there are some great guys on that team. I did everything I could to fit into that system, but I guess it just didn't work out that way, but I'm happy to be back."
There is some of the opinion that Griese did not get a fair shot at playing time in Chicago. When the question was brought up, Griese was somewhat vague, but still voiced his feelings.
"Yeah, without going into a whole lot of detail," said Griese. "It was a difficult situation and coming off of a Super Bowl and having everybody gunning for you and we had a lot of injuries. It wasn't necessarily a system that fit my strengths and what I do well and so it's probably best that we both parted ways."
Griese spoke about the trade that sent him out of Chicago and to a team that desired his services. The Bucs obviously wanted him strongly. They made the trade when some thought the veteran signal caller would be released. Griese commented on being a free agent and going to a team that sought to have him.
"Yeah you want to be in control of your destiny obviously, but at the same time if I would've been a free agent this is one of the places that I definitely would've considered.
"Its good to be wanted. I wish they had wanted me two years ago to be honest with you, but that's the business. I understand that, and you can't have grudges in this business, can't burn bridges. At the end of the day we want the same goal, and that's the only thing that matters."
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