Got Another One For The Collection!

(If this seems familiar to you, you might want to read this post from the last NFL off-season.)

Scene: Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden and GM Bruce Allen are sitting in the team’s war room, looking over available free agents and trade bait.

Allen: Look, Jon, we’ve got quite a few holes we need to fill here because we can’t expect the Saints to suck like that again — and God only knows the Panthers could somehow fulfill their promise.
Gruden: Fuck, Atlanta’s beyond help, though, right?
Allen: Yeah. Moving on — we need some line help on both sides, our linebackers aren’t getting any younger, and considering the fact that Cadillac’s damn near a lemon and losing a couple other RBs to injury, maybe paying Michael Bennett isn’t enough. Oh, and our best receiver is Joey Galloway. That’s a problem.
Gruden: Fuck that shit, Bruce. What if anything happens to Jeff?
Allen: Um, there’s Gradkowski….
Gruden: I told you last year, asshat — I’m not trusting my team to someone from fucking Akron.
Allen: Luke did well when he got his shot.
Gruden: If I wanted a McCown, I’d have gotten the semi-competent one and he signed with the new mob boss down in South Beach.
Allen: It’s Sparano, not Soprano, Jon.
Gruden: What-the-fuck-ever, Bruce.
Allen: (Sighs.) What about Chris?
Gruden: You want to pay him another bonus for nothing? Fuck that. We need an insurance policy. I want this guy.
Allen: We’re gonna waste a pick and send it to Chicago for Brian Griese, someone we got rid of two years back because he got injured like he always does? Are you nuts? We’ve got line needs! We could use someone for Jeff to throw to!
Gruden: You’re not hearing me out, Bruce…I mean, I can’t just trust some flake from the Second Family of QBs and an Akron Zip, man. Fuck….

(D-coordinator Monte Kiffin opens the door, pokes head in.)

Kiffin: Guys, I could really use a linebacker, maybe a safety here — Ronde can’t exactly do it all any more…
Gruden: Aw, piss off, you old fuck. It’s not like they have to do a whole lot in the Tampa Two — just keep the fuckers in front of them! Now, just go make sure Ronde’s asshole brother isn’t trying to talk him into retiring too.
Kiffin: (Grumbles.) Dammit, if Lane could only have canned that Rob Ryan fellow…
Gruden: Like that had any chance of happening, old man. Your boy isn’t getting one over on the damn Cryptkeeper and you know it. Get going.

(Kiffin slams the door.)

Allen: Jon, I don’t know why you want this guy. He couldn’t beat out Rex Grossman in Chicago, got the job when Grossman got hurt, and then lost it to that drunkard masquerading as a third-stringer — whom I have to remind you that they kept!
Gruden: Yeah, but I got a spot all planned for him; he’ll do what I say, and nothing more, and when I’m done with his reps for the day, he just goes in the collection in my office. It’s not like the pick’s that expensive, Bruce. I mean, fuck. I need some slightly used mediocrity for my collection, dammit! Rob Johnson is collecting dust and I had to loan Brad Johnson out to Wade and Jerry.
Allen: (Mumbles.) Seriously?
Gruden: Yeah, Bruce. I’m telling you: This will completely validate me. If I can win another Super Bowl with a barely serviceable QB, it’s my name in the annals of history. I AM AN OFFENSIVE GENIUS, AND I WILL BE FUCKING VALIDATED!
Allen: Ugh. Do what the hell you want. Your funeral, Jon.
Gruden: Fucking awesome. While we’re getting some of the old-timers back before they go to the retirement homes, I got a phone call from Warrick’s agent…

Bucs Bring Back Griese, Meet With Dunn [Tampa Tribune]

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Careful What You Wish For, Bears Fans.

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