Critic's Choice

Pro Bowl safety says Bucs simply aren't a good football team. Coach Gruden agrees - to a point

Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden has had to have a thick skin this season. With a 5-9 record, he's getting criticized from all corners.

But it was defensive back Ronde Barber's comments that irked him a bit after Sunday's crushing 21-17 loss to the New Orleans Saints.

After the game, when the Bucs gave up 14 points in the final four minutes to fall out of the playoff picture, Barber, said the Bucs were simply not a good football team and that it put itself into the situation of being the first team in NFL history to have two consecutive losing seasons after a Super Bowl win.

Gruden responded on Monday.

"I don't think we are a bad team,'' Gruden said. "We obviously do some evil things. Great teams, playoff teams, don't do the things we've done this year.''

The Bucs suffered key fumbles and an interception in the red zone during Sunday's loss and, once again, penalties hurt the Bucs at crucial times. Barber's comments were made in a downtrodden locker room after the game, but they still stung Gruden on Monday.

"I take Ronde's remarks personally,'' Gruden said. "I think he's been on a great team; he's been on good teams and he's been on one great team, probably more than that…I take (the comments) personally. And I agree with him to a degree. Teams that squander an opportunity don't get into the playoffs.''

The Bucs host the Carolina Panthers at 4:05 on Sunday. Although the Bucs are mathematically alive for the final NFC playoff spot, they lose out on most tiebreakers.

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