Third string, first love

Preseason football action each year brings several routines that I have come accustomed to... You've got the two-a-days, you've got the head coach raving about players to no end, you've got the heat, the humidity, and you usually get the most loyal of the fans in attendance at training camp sessions along with preseason games. The opponents number one offense tends to play more possessions in an attempt to score against 2nd stringers in the Buccaneer defense (and sometimes, they can't score until they face the Bucs 3rd string D)... Oh, and Tampa Bay media and fans playing up their 3rd string quarterback as if he is the second coming of Christ.

Buccaneer fans tend to be extra sensitive about their quarterback and his abilities - they need him to be all world, all of the time and anything less than spectacular is a disappointment. It's as if there is an expectation that the QB must be a college/high-school throwback: doing it all on offense and doing it amazingly at that.

And every preseason, the Buccaneer faithful see this accomplished by a benchwarmer or rookie trying to make the roster. After they see it, they're no longer content with the defacto 1st stringer.

Gary Shelton decided to address the passing-fancy that the Buc faithful have towards their QB's -- it was accompanied in the print edition with a picture of Bruce Gradkowski who has had a nice preseason and has won the crowd over by his gamesmanship against backup defensive players while surround by the 2nd and 3rd string offense.

The Gradkowski hype -- and I don't use that term to play down Bruce's abilities as-so-much the fan and media's expectations of the guy -- is overblown. It's the yearly right-of-passage for the Bucs. Chris Simms earned this preseason wonderkind accolades during his rookie year. Before him came the likes of Shaun King and Scott Milanovich along with various names that I've long since forgotten except for how much they won over the crowd.

Suffice it to say, I'm happy preseason is over but I'm shaking my head because I know what's going to happen next: The minute Chris Simms stumbles, or the Bucs offense has a shaky game (no matter if it's a win or a loss), a portion of the fan-base will call for Chris' immediate ouster in favor of Bruce. Gradkowski has won hearts and minds by performing well against backups during late summer scrimmages that amount to nothing once the season starts. He's the "it" man of the moment and yet he's the next likely casualty of fans lofty QB expectations.


Ski said...

Gradkowski has shown moments of brilliance but he's still a sixth round rookie (dont mention Tom Brady) out of the MAC. he's not used to the game speed or athleticism of the NFL. in fact, i hate the Bucs backups at quarterback this year, bring back Brian Griese!

Scott said...

You just described how Shaun King created a career.

John F. said...

It's already starting with the fans trying to lynch Simms. What a joke that it was this predictable.