Gruden of gab
Q: How have you guys tried to move forward since the injury to Brian Griese? Gruden: It's been a challenge. We've lost a lot of players here in the last couple of seasons. The quarterback has not been a real stable position for us. Griese did a great job for us fifteen weeks in a row. I think he threw for 67 percent at that time and he put our team in position to win. It's just a process that you have to go through in this business sometimes. Chris Simms gets the ball and certainly we'll do everything we can to help him. It's just a process that you have to go through in this business sometimes. Q: Do you think since things were going so well for you that now comes the real test? Gruden: You never like to lose your starting quarterback, we're optimistic that Chris Simms has paid a great price to get himself ready for this opportunity. We didn't draft him with the intent that he was going to be a backup for his entire career. It certainly is a challenge that we're going to have to prove that we can overcome. I see teams that lose their quarterback and usually good things don't happen. But Ben Rothlisburger and some other guys of late have changed that, so hopefully Chris can do the same. Q: What do you see in Tim Rattay that caught your eye? Gruden: I like Tim when we played against him last year. I think that he's a system quarterback. He's got a quick and accurate arm. I believe that he's a very good competitor. I think he's an accurate passer. He might not have the status of the 6'5, 220-pound jugs for an arm that a lot of people look for. I believe that this is a good quarterback - that's a team guy that can certainly handle our system. He can move the team and be a leader here. Q: The 49ers didn't have the greatest game in Tampa Bay last year, so did you see something beyond the statistics in Tim Rattay? Gruden: I watched him play carefully as we prepared for San Francisco. He had what I thought to be an outstanding game against Arizona and the Jets. I thought he had some real promising moments. It's not easy with any quarterback in this league. San Francisco has had their share of injuries and they've lost some key players over the last couple of seasons like we have. I thought Tim did a nice job against the Rams this year. I was really impressed with his first half against Dallas. I think the guy is a talented player at a position that we obviously need some help at. Q: Is he your No. 2 quarterback going into this game? Gruden: He's not. (Luke) McCown is our No. 2 quarterback going into the game. He's an athletic guy that we like a lot. We didn't expect him to be in this position this early in the season, and that's the way we are. Q: Was there any thought of bumping Tim up a spot knowing that he would be facing the 49ers? Gruden: No. We've done the best we can over this bye weekend to meet with him and teach him our stuff. Our offense is not the same as San Francisco's. There is some carry over that he has some retention of, but we use that four or five days to really get him wired in on our system. There will be a time that he gets to showcase where he is, but not this week. I don't think. Q: Has he been able to assist you in any way for preparing for the 49ers? Gruden: He's obviously going to try to help us in any way he can. That's his job now. I think that he has a lot of respect for the 49ers, and we'll try to lean on him any way that we can. We realize that they have some really good players on their team. They're coming off a tough loss and they play very well at home, so we expect an inspired team. Q: Rattay seems to have such a different personality than you do, do you find a problem with that? Gruden: Griese was very similar to that. Ty Detmer was very similar to that. I prefer a guy whose is under control, and if you know me then you know I've mellowed significantly. I'm very calm and cool these days. Q: You're legendary for your long hours, but do you feel like that ever takes a toll on you and are the long hours necessary? Gruden: I don't know. I try not to punch a clock. I'm just fortunate to have something to do that I like to do. I know a lot people, unfortunately, don't like their job or don't like to wake up. I get excited doing this. I don't come in here trying to take years off my life. I'm truly enthused about coming to work, studying football and coaching players. Q: Do you think there is a paranoia out there that the opposing coach is always working a little bit more than you are? Gruden: There is paranoia in every phase a life. You can be a basket case if you walk around worrying about getting fired or losing. I'm just fortunate to do what I like to do and I'm going to have fun doing it. While I do it, I'm going to come in and work at it." Q: When you scouted Alex Smith coming out of this draft, what caught your eye the most about him? Gruden: I like the fact that he is a winner. He's won everywhere that he's been and he's won big. He's a great kid, smart, bright-eyed, athletic and I think that he's very talented. I really like him a lot. Obviously, there was some expiration as far as moving up trying to get our hands on him. Q: How close did that come and how serious were your talks with San Francisco? Gruden: We haven't had any high draft choices here in a while. We had Clayton last year and to be honest with you we traded two No. 1 pictures for a receiver. Then a lot of our previous second- and third-rounders didn't work out at all. We weren't willing to compromise our draft. That was our first draft and we had a full complement of picks. Given the asking price and the fact that we needed players, and currently still need players, we weren't willing to give up a whole lot. Q: Was there any interest in Tim Rattay as far back as April? Gruden: There's interest. You don't just look at the college quarterbacks. I think you have to look hard at the guys that are in this league playing. You never have enough quality arms. We played three different quarterbacks my first year here. We started three different quarterbacks a year ago, and we're on our second right now. Not all of us are as fortunate as Indianapolis, Green Bay and some others. We have to look for players that we perceive to fit our system and could be available if the asking price is right. Q: Did that interest go so far as a trade proposal back in April? Gruden: I can't speak for what Bruce Allen did. We have a hot list of guys that we'd like to work with and put in our program. Tim is one of them, and we're happy to have him here. Hopefully that all works out. Q: Do you feel that you guys are really close to where you guys were your Super Bowl year? Gruden: I really don't want to draw any comparisons. We lost so many key players. This might be the youngest football team in the league, particularly on offense. We've played six games and we've been competitive. We won some slugfests and some tight games. I don't know where we are right now honestly. We just have to win another game and perform well to get win number six. Q: How have you been able to succeed with all of the injuries? Gruden: I don't know. We lost a lot of tight games last season. We were not able to make field goals. We've been last in the league kicking the last two years in a row. We've had some continuity on this coaching staff, so our system has been in place. We've developed some young players. Guys are coming in here playing as young performers and so far it's paid off. Q: Speaking of your coaching staff, what has Paul Hackett brought to you? Gruden: He's like a freaking professor. He's a great friend number one. I think that he's a great teacher. He taught me a lot when I was the assistant at the University of Pittsburgh. Being with the 49ers, I heard many stories about him from Joe Montana to Mike Holmgreen. I just think that his resume speaks for itself. To be honest with you, he had a lot to do with Rich Gannon coming to Oakland. He sure sold me on Gannon. Q: Why hasn't Michael Clayton added to his credentials that he started last year? Gruden: I think people count catches nowadays. The top analyst out there count catches to determine who is having a good year. Mike Clayton hasn't been that involved in the passing game because we haven't been passing it much. We're running the ball more than we're throwing it. Cadillac Williams has something to do with it, and Joey Galloway is really having a great season. Mike is still playing good, he had an offseason surgery where he really limited himself. Hopefully he's going to be ready for a good strong stretch finish here. Q: When you're facing a team that's coming off a huge loss like the 49ers, is there a tendency to let your guard down a little bit? Gruden: No, not in Tampa. We will realize what we have to do to win. All you have to do is put the bios up on the screen. They have a lot of really good players, Bryant Young, Julian Peterson, Andre Carter and Derek Smith. I know Beasley, Barlow and Frank Gore are impressive. I like this young offensive line. Joe Nedney will make field goals and then surprise you with the onside kick. They are a handful. They just have to keep working like we do. Q: What are your recollections when you come back to San Francisco? Gruden: That's for probably another day. I had some great memories and made some really good friends. I had my eyes open to one of the most beautiful places that I've ever seen. I just used to drive down the road, see Fisherman's Wharf and take a look at the Golden Gate Bridge. They are things that you guys take for granted until you move away. I met a lot of different people, and I had a blast out there. I really did.
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