posted on Sep, 1 2004 @ 05:45 PM
Jeff Garcia isn't giving up his second job: armchair quarterback.
A few days after complaining he hadn't played enough during the preseason and describing Cleveland's offense as "chaotic", Garcia said he has no
regrets about being critical because that's what the starting quarterback is supposed to do.
"I'm just trying to do what's best for the team," Garcia said. "All I want is for this team to be better. All I want is for me to be better. That's
all I was saying."
Garcia's tone wasn't nearly so diplomatic last Saturday following the Browns' 21-19 win at Kansas City. Annoyed at only playing part of the first half
and frustrated by his inability to get Cleveland's offense clicking, Garcia griped about a lack of playing time, bemoaned his own mistakes and
lamented costly penalties.
"It was meant to be in a constructive way," he said. "It's not destructive at all to have players who want to be in the game, who want to be out there
doing positive things on the field, who want to get the team to basically come together.
"So in that way, I didn't feel like what I said was negative or meant to be a knock toward anybody in this organization."
Garcia's candor, along with his three Pro Bowl appearances, is what made the 34-year-old so appealing to the Browns, who signed him to a four-year,
$25 million free agent contract in March.
After going 5-11 last season, the Browns needed a leader. And in Garcia, they've got one unafraid to speak his mind.
Coach Butch Davis said Garcia's comments won't change Cleveland's game plan going into the preseason finale on Friday against Chicago.
"All that Jeff says is a manifestation of who he is," Davis said. "He's a fiery, fearsome competitor and he plays with such passion. He's an enormous
Garcia's pursuit of perfection has been tested in his first preseason in Cleveland.
Through three games, he is 12-of-20 for 115 yards. But he has yet to throw a touchdown pass, and on more than one occasion, Garcia and his receivers
have appeared to be on different pages in the playbook.
Against the Chiefs, Garcia did not complete a pass to starting wide receivers Quincy Morgan or Andre' Davis. He also failed to connect with rookie
tight end Kellen Winslow Jr., who is expected to get more playing time now that Steve Heiden is sidelined four-to-six weeks with a knee injury.
Garcia, though, thinks there is still enough time for the Browns to work out the kinks before the Sept. 12 opener against Baltimore.
"I'm not concerned," he said. "I know that this team is continuing to learn and continuing to work hard. I feel like I'm getting more confident and
more comfortable every week, and that's the key for this offense to be effective."
Garcia's comments probably got more attention than they deserved. But what made them so unique was that they came from a veteran quarterback with a
proven track record of success - something Cleveland hasn't had since returning to the league in 1999.
"He has won games and he's been to the Pro Bowl," Morgan said. "You have to listen to him whether you're a coach or a receiver on an offensive lineman
or whoever you are. Jeff's not going to bite his tongue."
Despite Garcia's plea to play more, he knows he'll probably trade a helmet for a visor by the end of the first quarter on Friday. Davis didn't sound
like he's budging from his plan when he was asked how long they'll be in against the Bears.
"Get there early," Davis said.