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Garcia Becoming Vocal

Postby slowkidz » Thu Oct 28, 2004 10:45 pm

Garcia getting very vocal

Ira Miller
Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Berea, Ohio -- Jeff Garcia appears to be winning
his fight with the Cleveland Browns' offense.
Good for Garcia.

The Browns, who signed Garcia as their
quarterback after he was released by the 49ers,
at first did not appear to know what to do with
him. Garcia is at his best when he's on the move,
but the Browns tried to make him a pocket passer.


Garcia chafed. Now, nearly halfway through the
season, Garcia says that he and first-year
offensive coordinator Terry Robiskie have reached
a relatively happy medium, with Robiskie "growing
and adapting to what I'm capable of doing,"
Garcia said.

In Sunday's overtime loss to Philadelphia, Garcia
played his best game of the year, both with his
arm and his feet. He ran over a defender for the
tying touchdown with 30 seconds left in
regulation and said afterward, "I'm starting to
get it."

"I'm growing to accept this offense," Garcia said
at the Browns' facility here. "I've been very
open, very vocal, with our offensive coordinator
as to what I'm comfortable doing ... and that, in
many ways, is the movement in the pocket."

If the Browns continue to adapt to Garcia, this
could prove a very good move for the quarterback.
Cleveland is a blue-collar town with fans who
appreciate his gritty, somewhat frenetic, style
of play.

Nonetheless, it's proving a difficult transition
because Garcia is a Bay Area guy who didn't want
to leave, who thought the 49ers tried to short-
change him after he indicated willingness to stay
with them on an incentive- based contract, and
who admits he hoped to join Jon Gruden with Tampa
Bay, but that the Bucs low-balled him in contract
negotiations.

"As much as I thought that it would be a fresh
start for me and be invigorating, and it has been
a fresh start and there have been a lot of
positive things that have come about ... it is
difficult to leave home," Garcia said.

"I had so many comforts there in the Bay Area,
growing up in the area and having so much
positive support from my family and friends, all
of a sudden changing that and now being somewhat
isolated in a new part of the country and
adapting to a new system ... not to knock
Cleveland in any way, but I do miss being back
home, being back in California, being close to my
family.

"I think, at the age of 34, I would feel like I'd
be more settled at this point in my life."

But, he said, "I definitely understand the
business."

The business of football was driven home when
Garcia and the 49ers tried to rework his 2004
contract. He knew he would have to take a pay cut
and accept a deal based largely on incentives, he
said.

"As much as I was willing to lower my price,
where they set their standard, did not equal what
I felt I was worth there," he said.

Maybe Garcia was simply being naive. There is
reason to believe the 49ers never intended to
bring him back this year, ever since they signed
his backup, Tim Rattay, to a relatively
inexpensive contract extension in the summer of
2003. Garcia said he never saw his departure
coming.

"I knew that something had to give," he said. "I
just didn't anticipate it would be happening to
me."

The team's argument was that Garcia's performance
declined in recent years. He also was injured
quite a bit in 2003. Garcia, however, said his
performance last year was affected less by
injuries than by the mental stress of everything
going on around him, including the Terrell Owens
saga.

"Last season was such a trying season on so many
levels that I really felt it start to come to a
boiling point as far as the mental drain that was
taking place on the team and on myself," he said.
Garcia also pointed to the aftereffects of Steve
Mariucci's firing, saying it "obviously ... came
at a time (that) for us as a team, was really
difficult to swallow."

"After back-to-back playoff seasons (2001 and
'02) and a young team that was continuing to grow
and build, I just thought that was such a
disruption --

and then to add into the mix, some of the other
problems that we had within the locker room and
within the organization, I just felt it was
really starting to take a toll on me and my
approach to the game," Garcia said.

Although Garcia did not say so in so many words,
his displeasure with the 49ers' organization does
not include the coaching staff or the players
(other than Owens). He talked recently with coach
Dennis Erickson, still keeps in touch with Bill
Walsh and Rattay, and got a good-luck message
from former offensive coordinator Greg Knapp
before the game against the Eagles.

When he left the 49ers, Garcia talked to the Bucs
before landing in Cleveland. He says Gruden "had
me sold" on Tampa and, further, that he believed
Gruden was the coach who could get the most out
of him.

"I so badly wanted to play for coach Gruden,"
Garcia said, "but (general manager) Bruce Allen
and what they came to the table with was a slap
in the face."

Garcia's passer rating this season is a
middle-of-the-pack 80.7, which isn't bad
considering the Browns' problems with their
receivers. The rating would be 95.3 without
counting a game at Dallas, when Garcia's rating
was 0.0 and two of his three interceptions
resulted from a pass that bounced off a
receiver's hands and another receiver who ran the
wrong route.

Just as Garcia is getting used to Cleveland, the
city is getting used to him. Since the Browns
returned to the NFL as an expansion team in 1999,
their No. 1 quarterback had been Tim Couch, who
had neither mobility nor leadership ability.

Since the start of training camp, Garcia has been
much more outspoken than he was in San Francisco,
saying top pick Kellen Winslow Jr. needed to end
his holdout, that receivers should adjust to his
scrambling, and that the team needed to settle on
a No. 1 running back, among other things. When
coach Butch Davis said Garcia looked "skittish"
behind a so-so offensive line, Garcia shot back
that Davis couldn't understand the quarterback
position because he never played it.

"In San Francisco, as much as I was a leader for
that team, I did it through example," Garcia
said. "I don't think I was ever really a vocal
guy. And with this team being so young and with
what I've experienced in the past .. . I felt
this was an opportunity for me to start fresh and
to really be the guy that I envisioned to be a
leader.

"It doesn't mean you speak out on every
situation, but when there are things you feel you
need to represent the team on, then that's the
time to definitely step up and speak your mind."

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