As soon as the Chicago crowd on Sunday night started screaming “GRIESE! GRIESE! GRIESE!” after Rex Grossman’s second interception of the night, I began to get a very sick feeling in my stomach — and I’m sure most Bronco fans got the exact same queasiness. We’ve been here before, we know what putting faith into the shaky hands of Brian Griese is like, and we had him when he was younger and less battered by age and injury.
Yes, Lovie Smith would probably be well advised to go with Brian, but I wouldn’t expect the Bears to be significantly better with him than they were with Grossman. He won’t lose games for you, but he won’t be able to produce the necessary wins when you need them either. That’s not going to take a hell of a lot of pressure off your defense. It means a 7-9 or 8-8 season rather than a 5-11 or 6-10, but the odds of missing the playoffs are still pretty good, and you all believe you should be getting to the Super Bowl again.
Let’s review his seasons in Denver as the full time starter (statistics via Pro Football Reference):
- 1999 – 6-10 season for the Broncos, 14 games played. 14 TDs, 14 INTs, over 3,000 yards. Not bad for a first year starter despite the bad record and INTs, but missing two games should have been a sign of things to come.
- 2000 – 11-5, Griese’s sole Pro Bowl season. Lost six games to injury. Threw 19 picks to 4 INTs, lost to the Ravens in the first round of the playoffs.
- 2001 – 8-8, only missed one game this season. Threw 23 TDs to 19 INTs, didn’t make the playoffs that year. Everyone figured he’d catch on.
- 2002 – 9-7, regressed despite the better team record and missed the playoffs again. Missed 3 games. Had a 1:1 TD/INT ratio yet again, throwing 15 of each, and after that, the Rat Fink had enough, having produced 1,000 yard rushers only to see his quarterback return to performance more along the lines of his first starting season.
For all his faults, the Broncos decided to throw in their lot with Jake Plummer after that 2002 season, because while Griese could get you a decent record, he couldn’t win games for you at all. Plummer could certainly lose them, but he could also win them — and while you may be thinking, “Well, Brian Griese won’t lose games in the way Rex Grossman did,” you’re right, but he isn’t capable of helping you win them as a starter. His ACL snapping in Tampa Bay during a renaissance was the final straw.
So, you probably have no choice in Chicago but to deal with Brian Griese. Cedric Benson will have to remember not to fumble and tote it for 100+ per game. Berrian and Muhammad can’t drop anything at all, because their quarterback, despite his virtues of not being a complete fuck-up, isn’t anything resembling a playmaker. Enjoy making the playoffs by the skin of your teeth and then losing in the first round — which means you won’t be able to improve much by getting a top blue-chipper QB in the draft, either. Better hope Kyle Orton is still salvageable.
Photo: Getty Images/Jonathan Daniel