Tampa Bay wide receiver Keenan McCardell, who led the team in receptions yesterday with six for 63 yards and one touchdown, is listed as questionable for Sunday's game against Baltimore. He suffered a left quad strain during the Bucs' 26-20 overtime loss to the Saints. He will be limited in practice this week.
Bucs long snapper Mike Solwold is also listed as questionable for the Bucs-Baltimore game. He suffered a leg contusion against the Saints.
GRUDEN NOT THRILLED WITH BUCS' DEFENSIVE PERFORMANCE:
Tampa Bay's defense allowed New Orleans to convert 50 percent of its third downs on Sunday, which led to the Saints possessing the ball on offense for 40:41 vs. Tampa Bay's time of possession, which was 31:29. While he agreed the offense didn't help the defense out during the first half, Bucs head coach Jon Gruden said the defense just couldn't get itself off of the field.
"There's a lot of somber faces around here today," said Gruden. "This defense has tremendous pride. When you give up a 13-play scoring drive to start the game and that's followed by an 11-play drive, the offense didn't see the ball the entire first quarter really. I think our defense was frustrated a little bit by that. Some missed tackles were part of that. But we're not going to panic. We expect a lot more from them and we think we'll get that this week. But we're disappointed. I know they're disappointed. At the same time, we're capable of being outstanding on defense and I think we can show Buc fans that this week."
Gruden wasn't pleased with several areas on defense, but he seemed to be disappointed most in the team's tackling the most.
"I was not pleased with our tackling yesterday," said Gruden. "When the opposition comes out of the tunnel and takes the opening drives of each half for scores, that's very uncharacteristic of our defense here."
Tampa Bay's defensive front four was only able to sack New Orleans quarterback Aaron Brooks twice. In fact, the Bucs hardly were able to pressure Brooks, which is why he was able to pick apart Tampa Bay's secondary and throw for 251 yards.
"The standard here in terms of the pass rush is so high that yesterday was not nearly good enough," said Gruden. "Our players would be the first to agree with that."
GRUDEN BLAMES OFFENSIVE LINE, OTHERS FOR POOR PASS PROTECTION:
Tampa Bay's offensive line looked horrendous against New Orleans' relentless pass rush on Sunday. But Gruden said the offensive line's poor play wasn't the only reason Bucs QB Brad Johnson spent more time on the ground than he did standing up during the game.
"I thought Roman Oben really battled and played particularly well at times," said Gruden. "I thought Jenkins was solid. There were some breakdowns in pass protection that you can't just put on the offensive line. You have to talk to the tight ends and the backs. It's a collective effort. Again, the New Orleans Saints have a tremendous blitz package and we're you're behind in the down and distance like we were in the first half, you're going to get any blitz known to man when you play the Saints. Some are those are very hard to pick up."
Gruden said he expects teams to continue to unmercifully blitz Tampa Bay's offense until they can show the ability to make defenses pay for it.
"That's a possibility," Gruden said of teams continuing to blitz until the Bucs' offense proves it can pick them up. "But we made some big plays against the blitz yesterday. I was pleased. They (the offense) put 17 points up in the second half and 15 or 16 first downs in the second half, which was exciting. I think it's something we can build on."
One of the reasons Tampa Bay's offensive line has struggled has been due to the absence of starting right guard Cosey Coleman. The Bucs are hoping to get Coleman, who suffered a knee injury during pre-game warm-ups on Aug. 12, back sooner rather than later.
"He's a guy that was our starting right guard last year," said Gruden. "He was well on his way to being our starting right guard this season until he got hurt. He's a good player. We think he's a guy that we can build our line around for years to come. He's got to go out and show that he's physically ready to play and he's going to have to be violent inside. We're going to remain optimistic that he's going to be ready to play this week. But I don't want to put myself in a position where I can't back something up until I see that. We obviously need him."
LOOKING AT THE BRIGHT SIDE: >
Gruden mostly talked about the negatives that came out of Sunday's 26-20 loss to the Saints at his press conference on Monday morning, but he did mention a few positive things that caught his eye. Things that he feels the team can build on as they prepare to play at Baltimore next Sunday.
"The one thing I really learned about our football team is that they have great resolve," said Gruden. "That was a dramatic comeback. We had some chances in overtime. I was impressed with the resolve in the football team. I don't think we played our best football yet. With that being said, I think the Saints are a good football team and they'll win their share of games this season. We've got to learn from the mistakes that we made and realize that we are vulnerable. If you get a field goal blocked, a punt blocked and you give up big plays against our cover 2 (defense), which has never happened here, you have a good chance of being defeated. That was the case yesterday and we've got to learn from that. We'll play a lot better next week in Baltimore."
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