Griese learning Miami's playbook in first minicamp appearance
By Alex Marvez
Staff Writer-Sun Sentinel
Posted June 17 2003
DAVIE -- Of all the things quarterback Brian Griese would like to forget about his time with the Denver Broncos, nothing is more important than erasing his memories of their playbook.
Since signing with the Dolphins 11 days ago, Griese has taken a crash course in trying to digest an offensive system he describes as "totally different" than what he operated in Denver for five seasons. That learning curve continued Monday when Griese participated in minicamp.
Although he started 51 games the past four years, Griese stayed on the field with rookies and reserves long after the Dolphins' first-team players were dismissed. Griese will continue to receive additional practice time as he settles into his new role as the backup for Jay Fiedler.
"I had so many things going on in my head as far as the offense is concerned and trying to get the plays out of my mouth," Griese said. "I forgot a few things and guys were looking at me kind of funny. It's going to take me a little while to get all the terminology and verbiage right."
Griese had his rough moments Monday, getting intercepted by cornerback Jamar Fletcher during one drill and fumbling in another. But offensive coordinator Norv Turner said Griese only needed to repeat one of the roughly 30 plays he was given to run.
"A lot of the concepts are the same, so I'm comfortable once the ball is snapped," Griese said. "It's just getting the right terminology in the huddle and telling the guys which way to go. The protections and formations and motions, those types of things I have to get used to."
The only offense Griese has known since entering the NFL in 1998 is the West Coast-style system developed by Denver coach Mike Shanahan. The scheme helped Griese earn a Pro Bowl berth in 2000, but he was released after throwing almost as many interceptions (34) as touchdown passes (38) the past two seasons.
One difference between the systems run by the Broncos and Dolphins is that Shanahan gives his pass routes names. Turner uses numbers.
"The play we have [as] 548 F-Drag is what they call Flanker Drive X-Comeback," Turner said. "If you drew it up, it looks exactly the same. [Griese] has to take their call and transfer it to our terminology. And he's obviously got to get used to all the players.
"I think the fact he's played as much as he's had is the whole key. If you're trying to teach a rookie a new system and what it's like to play in the league, that's a challenge. When you've got a guy who's done all the things Brian has done, I think that's a whole different deal and very doable."
Griese has worked extensively with Turner since signing his two-year contract June 6, but even that can't completely make up for the practice time he has missed this offseason. Denver didn't release Griese until June 2 because of salary cap reasons. Griese then missed the Dolphins' three-day minicamp because contract negotiations took longer than expected.
The Dolphins have two more minicamp practices before training camp begins July 25, which means the bulk of Griese's prep time will consist of off-field studying.
"When it's first thrown at you, Norv's offense seems very complicated and overwhelming," said third-string quarterback Sage Rosenfels. "But once that day comes when you get it, it seems like it's very simple.
"The key is putting all the pieces together, the protections with the formations and routes. If they're all separate things in your mind, they're not going to make sense. It takes a lot of memorization and film work and practice. After that, [Turner] can give you the formation and half the time you'll know what the play is."
Griese can't wait.
"I don't think I'm going to have any days off between now and camp," Griese said. "But that's OK. I've had some this summer already."