Bearreport.com’s John Crist and Bucsblitz.com’s Matthew Postins are previewing this weekend’s game all week with their “Behind Enemy Lines” series. Get the inside scoop on this game well before kickoff on Sunday. Read Part I by Clicking here, Then read part two by Clicking here.
Jon Gruden's switch of quarterbacks from Jeff Garcia to Brian Griese will either be proved genius or backfire against the Chicago Bears.
Griese, 33, played the last two seasons in Chicago, so he is very familiar with the defensive personnel.
Unfortunately, the Bears are very familiar with Griese, especially with his limitations.
"I don't know if there is a whole lot of advantage," Griese said. "I may know some of their individual players somewhat better than most, but other than that, I don't see a whole lot.
"I had two good years in Chicago and made a lot of good friendships. I learned a lot playing football there. When I look back, I look back with fondness on my time there and the opportunity that they gave me to play. Unfortunately, we didn't get as good of a result as we would've liked and I didn't get as good of results as I would've liked. But I don't look back on that situation with anything but fondness. ... For me to be going back to play against a lot of the friends I made will be a lot of fun. I'm going to enjoy it to the fullest."
Publicly, Bears players say Griese is a tough competitor and they will have their hands full. Privately, they believe it'll be an advantage not having to play a more mobile quarterback in Garcia, who is less predictable in his play-making abilities.
Of course, neither Griese nor Bears QB Kyle Orton are going to fill the sky with footballs. Both the Bucs and Bears are built on strong running games and great defense.
The Bears have a new breakaway threat in Tulane rookie running back Matt Forte.
"He's a good back," Gruden said. "No. 1, he's talented. He's been given the opportunity. A lot of guys play well when they're given the chance to play. I think the issues that they had there with Cedric (Benson) have allowed the door to open for a young runner.
"They brought in Kevin Jones, who still has a lot left in the tank. Forte was a good back in college. He's been given the opportunity. Sometimes when you're talented and you're given a shot, you prove to a lot of people that you're capable of doing a good job. This guy is a great kid. I met him at the combine, and I'm happy for his success. He's got a bright future."
Orton and Griese both like to manage the game. Neither is prone to turning the ball over. But they also don't take many shots downfield, meaning this game could be played in a phone booth.
Also a factor will be the health of two big downfield receiving weapons. The Bears' Devin Hester (ribs) and the Bucs' Joey Galloway (sprained foot) could miss the game.
"Obviously, with our run game we're hopefully going to get some good looks to throw the football," Orton said. "I think early on, we've completed a high percentage of our passes. We haven't been able to make some of the big plays that we want to. But that will come along. It's just a work in progress and I think for the most part, we're right where we need to be. Just keep on completing a high percentage and with this offense, it's all about staying in third-and-manageable situations."