Garcia has backup plans Three-time Pro Bowl choice likes what he sees with Broncos
By Jeff Legwold, Rocky Mountain News March 8, 2005
With only one more stop to make on his free-agent tour before he will make a decision about where he will play in 2005, quarterback Jeff Garcia left Denver on Monday saying it would be "an awesome experience" to sign with the Broncos.
But first, Garcia said, he has a trip to make to Seattle to meet with Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren in the coming days.
"I already somewhat know about the history of the Broncos and have tremendous respect for the organization, what they've done over the years being part of the NFL," Garcia said. "And just what coach (Mike) Shanahan has done here. So if I have the opportunity to be a part of this, I think it will be an awesome experience for me and something that I'll look forward to."
Garcia had dinner Sunday night with Broncos offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak and quarterbacks coach Pat McPherson. He met with Shanahan on Monday at the Broncos' Dove Valley complex.
Garcia also had met with Shanahan, over dinner Feb. 26 at Indianapolis, during the league's scouting combine.
The Broncos are the third team Garcia has met with since his Feb. 14 release by the Cleveland Browns. He also has visited with the Detroit Lions - Garcia played for Lions coach Steve Mariucci when both were in San Francisco - and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Garcia said Monday he would make his decision after the visit with the Seahawks.
"I want to talk to coach (Mike) Holmgren, and then I would expect to make a decision some time after I've been there," Garcia said.
When asked if that meant making a choice by the end of the week, Garcia said: "I think that would be about right. I need to get myself with that team and start to learn and work out and do all those things that are going to be necessary for me to be a contributor."
Garcia, who turned 35 on Feb. 24, said each of the teams he has spoken with have offered him a backup position. Detroit was considered a front-runner because Mariucci might have been more inclined to let Garcia compete for the starting job. But Garcia said he was told Joey Harrington will go to training camp as Detroit's starter.
Shanahan has told Garcia he would back up Jake Plummer. Plummer attempted every pass for the Broncos last season and threw for a franchise-record 4,089 yards to go with 27 touchdowns and 20 interceptions.
Team officials like the idea of having a veteran, three-time Pro Bowl player pushing Plummer through the week, especially one who also would fit the Broncos' version of the West Coast offense if Plummer suffered an injury.
"There is probably an opportunity for those type of things (to be a starter) to happen, maybe more so in a place like Detroit or maybe even Tampa Bay," Garcia said. "But every situation I'm looking at is really a backup position. And that's somewhat hard to swallow because I feel I can still compete and play at a very high level.
"But I understand the way things are right now and where the league's at and where team's are at. And really it comes down to the opportunity, a chance to be a part of a winning situation. And that's really what I have to consider and what I really have to look at and hopefully I make the right decision."
Garcia also pronounced himself "very healthy" and fully recovered from the right shoulder and left knee injuries that kept him out of six games last season.
His rocky one-year tenure at Cleveland - he had the injuries and clashed with coaches at times during a 4-12 season - effectively ended when newly hired Browns coach Romeo Crennel said he would not run the West Coast offense.
Crennel has said he prefers a more power-based attack that looks to set up the deep pass set with a productive running game.
Garcia threw 10 touchdowns in 10 starts last season. The Browns were 3-7 in his starts, so he is looking for a fresh start.
And Denver, he said, looks like a good place to land.
"I think the fact such a solidness to the organization, a winning tradition, an offense that is already in place that utilizes my abilities, my skills," Garcia said. "And just a team that understands work ethic and understands what it takes to win football games. And that's really what the attraction is to me. . . . I really like what Denver has as far as the football side of things."
It almost sounds like if Detroit wants him he is theirs for the taking.
_________________ Regards, Alpha|Lionbacker.com \(^o^)/ "I date this girl for two years and then the nagging starts: I wanna know your name..." - Mike Binder
March 9th, 2005, 10:36 am
Joined: August 6th, 2004, 9:21 am Posts: 9856 Location: Dallas
Here's Killer take on the situation from this morning.
Column: Lions need to let Mariucci go after Garcia -- now Wednesday, March 09, 2005 By Tom Kowalski
ALLEN PARK -- This might be the time when Steve Mariucci puts his foot down -- and then jumps on the next flight to Seattle.
Mariucci, the Detroit Lions head coach, has to be growing increasingly worried that the man he's always wanted this off-season to be his backup quarterback -- and possibly win the starting job -- could slip through his fingers.
After the Lions basically snubbed Jeff Garcia and told him "We'll get back to you," Garcia is now weighing offers from the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks, who he'll visit on Thursday.
The Lions' plan to be patient about signing a backup quarterback wasn't a bad one, but it didn't take into account Garcia's mental state. The Lions were looking at this as a hard, cold clinical decision while they really should've gone with Mariucci's first instinct and stuck with it.
Garcia is coming off a horrible season with the Cleveland Browns and, perhaps more than a decision of whether he'll start or not, he wants to go somewhere where he's really wanted.
He doesn't want to go to a team that isn't solidly behind him. That has to make Garcia wonder about the Lions, who talked to him last week at the scouting combine in Indianapolis and then basically told him to cool his jets while they checked out a few other fellas.
Say what you will about the recent stumblings of the Broncos and Seahawks, but Denver coach Mike Shanahan and Seattle coach Mike Holmgren have a pretty good track record, especially when it comes to quarterbacks, and they're both fighting to get Garcia on their roster.
Both of those teams are already committed to high-priced starting quarterbacks. And that makes you wonder: If teams that secure at the position really want a guy like Garcia, what about Detroit, where the quarterback situation is unsettled?
Look, Garcia is a gamble, there's no question about it. He's had knee, shoulder and back problems and his horrendous season in Cleveland might signal he's near the end of his career. But Mariucci doesn't think so -- and what if he's right?
If Joey Harrington rockets out of the gate in training camp and plays fabulous, then none of this matters. But what if he doesn't? What if Harrington has the same issues he's had for the previous three seasons and the one man Mariucci really wants to turn to is sitting on the Broncos' bench?
The Lions got themselves into this predicament because they wanted to talk to Kurt Warner, arguably the most talented of the free-agent quarterbacks. Most talented? Very likely. The best suited player for a team like the Lions? Very doubtful.
Warner has a stronger arm, but he's never played in the West Coast offense and it would take some time before he got up to speed, not just knowing the plays and terminology, but the finer points like the timing of the routes and knowing when and where to hit receivers. Devoting that much time to Warner in training camp would take valuable practice reps away from Harrington.
Garcia, meanwhile, could be plugged in immediately because, having played for Mariucci in San Francisco, he knows everything about the offense, from the plays and terminology to exactly how Mariucci wants it done.
This is Mariucci's team -- he's being paid $5 million a season to turn this thing around. President Matt Millen has done a good job of stocking the offense with some excellent weapons and the acquisition of tight end Marcus Pollard makes the Lions solid, and very dangerous, at every skilled position.
Millen, despite his doubts, has to let Mariuci pull the trigger on this one. Whether Mariucci is right or wrong about Garcia isn't really the point.
It's Mariucci's decision, his offense and his team. And he has to be allowed to do what he thinks is best, especially when it comes to the all-important quarterback position.
If Mariucci is wrong about Garcia, so be it. It's his choice and he'll have to live with the consequences. But what if he's right about Garcia and the Lions find themselves in a position where they need him and he's not there? I'm not sure Mariucci can live with himself and those consequences.
That's why Mariucci has to catch the next plane to Seattle and impress upon Garcia how much he's really wanted in Detroit and that he'll be given every opportunity to win the starting job.
Then the Lions can only hope Harrington wins the job, stays healthy, wins games and leads the team to the playoffs. Possible? Sure. But would you bet your next paycheck on it?
I'm still thinking that Millen isn't a big fan of Garcia's and that the Lions will end up with Brad Johnson at this point.
March 9th, 2005, 10:48 am
Joined: December 31st, 2004, 9:55 am Posts: 12458
I'd like to see Garcia here mainly because he already know Mooch's offense and should be able to hit the ground running.....also, he could be a really good coach to Joey
Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right....
March 9th, 2005, 10:52 am
Fired Head Coach (0-16 record)
Joined: January 6th, 2005, 10:54 am Posts: 2274 Location: South Quad- Ann Arbor
As much as I dislike Killer, he has some valid points. Mooch should have more of a say in who his quaterback is, if nothing else. Of course, his whole article is speculation.
BTW, notice how killer is talking about Joey as if his job is relitivly secure?
_________________ "If he isn't the best football player, the best runner, that the Lord has ever made, then the Lord has yet to make one." Wayne Fontes on Barry.
March 9th, 2005, 4:14 pm
Joined: August 6th, 2004, 8:33 pm Posts: 3222
Isn't Johnson in town today?
March 9th, 2005, 4:24 pm
Joined: August 6th, 2004, 9:21 am Posts: 9856 Location: Dallas
Isn't Johnson in town today?
Yes! Well actually he will be flying int this evening and his real visit is tomorrow (3/10)