Buccaneers Prepared At Quarterback

Not even two years ago, Brad Johnson was at the epitome of where a quarterback should be at in his career. He was a traveled veteran that stepped in and fulfilled what the Buccaneers asked from him and more. It was a Pro Bowl year for him, capped off with an impressive Super Bowl win over the Oakland Raiders. It looked as if the Buccaneers had the recipe for success to carry over for a good two to three more years. Instead though, age and contracts ultimately got in the way for any thoughts of repeating. For Brad Johnson he watched the veterans of that Super Bowl team be dealt or cut, and the pieces just didn?t fit for him anymore. He struggled, and Jon Gruden had no choice but to bench him in 2004. Johnson was just recently cut, and the reason why is because the Buccaneers are loaded at the quarterback position with a combination of quarterbacks.

The Buccaneers just extended Brian Griese?s contract to show him that they want him to lead this team. Griese really came on late in the season, and should be primed for a solid season with the return of Joey Galloway and standout stud Michael Clayton. He has always possessed the quarterback savvy that you?d expect him to have, but his indecisiveness is what drove him out in Denver. He just made too many mistakes and Shanahan has absolutely no patience for setbacks in progression.

Down in Miami, it just wasn?t the right place for him. He had a hard time learning the new system, and clearly can?t function in an offense that is snail pace. He is at his best when the offense is moving at free will, and not playing ball control style. Either way, Griese needs to show his worth this season, or he?ll be a salary cap cut next season.

Right behind Griese, our two youthful quarterbacks. One is third string quarterback, Akili Smith who might get a shot down the road to refute everyone?s thoughts of him as a bust. It?ll take a complete overhaul on Smith?s part, but he is showing that he is willing to take that path. Unlike, Cade McNown he is roughing it out by playing in NFL Europe right now. Even if he doesn?t get a chance in Tampa Bay, he may gain interest from another team. By being the number two draft pick in 1999, obviously plenty of scouts saw the same talent that Smith still has. He just needs to learn the game more and bring out those same skills and utilize them.

The true predecessor in Tampa Bay will likely be Chris Simms. Simms, as we all know is the son of Phil Simms, but Jon Gruden made a distinct statement that he wasn?t ready to hand the team to Simms just yet. During his few opportunities last season he struggled, and with Griese?s play well above his, it was an easy decision for Gruden to make. Griese has shown glimpses of being an All-Pro quarterback before, and then folded, so it?ll be interesting to see which Griese steps forth in 2005. If he struggles significantly, Gruden will have no choice than to give Simms another shot to get a head start on the 2006 season.


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