Not Ready to Throw in the Towel

Much like a week ago, the Bears are facing an opponent that needs a win as desperately as they do.

The Bucs still aren't ready to waive the white flag.

Despite a 1-5 record, coach Jon Gruden still is keeping his players focused on turning around their wretched season.

The reason? Most of the Bucs' losses have been the result of self-inflicted mistakes. And after playing four of their six games on the road, the Bucs have a few winnable games at Raymond James Stadium.

It starts Sunday against the 1-4 Bears, a team that is certainly more injured than Tampa Bay.

Chicago has lost quarterback Rex Grossman and safety Mike Brown for the season, just to name two starters. Grossman's injury was a killer, evidenced by Sunday's dreadful performance by backup Johnathan Quinn, who passed for only 34 yards in a loss to Washington.

"Yeah, it's the old Boston Red Sox mentality. Let's go Boston. Let's run the table," said receiver Tim Brown. "No one thinks you can, but if you take away three or four plays in a game that other night, we won that game by 17 points. As far as we are concerned, we have to just keep playing the kind of ball we are playing to minimize the mistakes. Not a lot of mistakes, but a couple mistakes and as well is our defense playing. It's not that big of a deal."

Following a bye week, the Bucs return to Raymond James Statdium against the Kansas City Chiefs. In fact, only two of the teams remaining on their schedule have winning records.

Sunday's game against the Bears has several interesting subplots. Former Bucs linebackers coach Lovie Smith returns to Tampa Bay. He still is fuming about the Bucs refusal to allow him to hire defensive line coach and close friend Rod Marinelli as the Bears' defensive coordinator.

"Obviously being a former assistant coach you're very sensitive about that," Gruden said. "Yes indeed, I came down here to Tampa Bay and wasn't able to bring anybody with me from Oakland. So when you get into the NFL you can have your own opinion. But it's hard to acquire coaches when you change jobs. I think every new coach that takes the helm at a new position can attest to that."

Also returning to Tampa Bay is Bears running back Thomas Jones, who is fifth in the NFC in rushing. Jones' career was resurrected by the Bucs, who acquired him in a trade from Arizona. But the Bucs let him get away during free agency and now Tampa Bay ranks 30th in the NFL in rushing offense.

"Thomas has done well," linebacker Derrick Brooks said. "I think he took advantage late last year of the opportunity he had last year to start. He was rewarded by being a feature back. I think that kind of helped us since we were kind of familiar with his running style and his ability. As opposed to other teams that haven't seen him play in the past two years."


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