Watch CBSN Live

Bubby's Back For Broncos

Adrift without a victory and hoping to save their season, the champion Denver Broncos on Wednesday switched quarterbacks for the second time in five weeks.

They benched Brian Griese and promoted Bubby Brister to starter.

"I understand that we're 0-4 and something needs to change," Griese said Wednesday. "Whether that blame comes to me, that's fine. I can handle it. I'm not going to let any of this get me down."

Coach Mike Shanahan said Brister "gives us the best chance to win now. We're not playing for the future. We're trying to do the best we can right now and obviously trying to find a way to win a game."

"My concern is, what can we do to give us the best chance to get out of this slump?"

The 37-year-old Brister will start Sunday at Oakland, with Griese No. 2 and veteran Chris Miller remaining No. 3. Brister hasn't started more than eight games in a season since 1993.

"I'm excited about having the opportunity to be back and be the starter and maybe help us get back on track," Brister said. "But I will say this: It's not one guy's fault. Brian played hard but had some unfortunate things happen. We all have to play better and coach better to get back on track. Hopefully, I can make a difference."

Fullback Howard Griffith said the big difference between the quarterbacks is that Brister has won in the NFL.

"In this league, it's all about wins and losses," he said. "Right now, Brian hasn't won any games for us, but that doesn't mean we have lost confidence in him. He's not the sole reason we have lost games."

Brister, who went 4-0 as a starter in place of the injured John Elway last season, was deemed the heir apparent when Elway retired last spring.

But, in a startling change of heart, Shanahan benched Brister on Aug. 30 after the fourth of five exhibition games and made the inexperienced Griese the starter.

Brister, who played poorly during preseason, protested. He said he was never told his job was on the line. Shanahan said he felt Griese gave the Broncos their best chance and Brister was better suited for providing a spark off the bench.

Shanahan changed his mind after the two-time defending Super Bowl champions failed in win in Griese's four regular-season starts. Along the way, the Broncos lost standout linebacker John Mobley and league MVP Terrell Davis to season-ending knee injuries

Shanahan said Griese played well in the first half of Sunday's 21-13 loss to the New York Jets.

"We had a chance to have four touchdown passes and 250-260 yards in the first half," he said. "But the bottom line is we didn't get it done."

"When you lose four games in a row, it's easy to blame it on a young quarterback. I think it's best for our team to take some of that pressure away from the quarterback position and disperse it among everybody on the team."

The 24-year-old Griese played solidly in the Broncos' opening 38-21 loss to Miami, completing 24 of 40 passes for 270 yards and three touchdowns. But he struggled in the next two games and wound up with three interceptions in last week's loss to the Jets.

He has completed 64 of 116 passes for 721 yards with four interceptions and five touchdowns for a rating of 67.5.

Brister has come off the bench in two games, completing 12 of 20 passes for 87 yards with three interceptions for a rating of 30.6.

Asked about Brister's outburst following his benching, Shanahan said: "I knew it was going to be tough on Bubby. I didn't expect it to be easy. I didn't expect him to blast me like he did, either.

"But at the same time, I understand that he's emotional. I care about him. He told me later that he overreacted. That's football, that's life. We go on."

©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.