OAKLAND CA - SEPTEMBER 19: Bruce Gradkowski #5 of the Oakland Raiders passes against the St. Louis Rams during an NFL game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on September 19 2010 in Oakland California. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
When the Bengals signed a veteran quarterback, I doubt that many were surprised. When that veteran quarterback turned out to be former Raider Bruce Gradkowski, I would think even less were surprised. Gradkowski may not have the numbers that you would want your most experienced quarterback to have -- a 6-14 record, a 65.9 career passer rating, 5.7 yards per attempt and interceptions that outnumber his touchdowns -- but what he does have, according to Bengals new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, is the right attitude and work ethic to be a great role model for the guy who will likely take the snaps for the Bengals on September 11 against the Browns, Andy Dalton.
"With Bruce you know you're getting the ultimate competitor," Gruden said. "You know he's going to be reliable and mentally tough and ready to go every week. I think he's a great role model (for Dalton). He knows how it's done and how to prepare for whatever his role is. Starting, backing up. He was thrown into the fire at a young age in Tampa. He performed well. We didn't have a great record, but he performed well. He's won some big games."
Gradkowski is familiar with the Gruden brothers and with their playbook. He was the Buccaneers sixth-round pick in 2006, when Jon Gruden was the head coach of the team and Jay Gruden was the offensive assistant. The Buccaneers ran a West Coast offense under the Grudens and Gradkowski got a lot of experience, replacing Chris Simms when he ruptured his Spleen and replacing Jeff Garcia the following year because of an injury.
Gradkowski may be the opening day starter and he may not see the field in 2011. We'll have to wait and see what happens in camp before we can assume who will be taking the snaps for the Bengals this year. Either way, though, it's good that the Bengals found somebody that knows the system and knows how to work as a professional quarterback. That will do nothing but help Dalton on his road to becoming the next face of the franchise.