Jon Gruden Transcript — Sept. 10

Here is the complete transcript from Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden's post-game press conference on Monday, Sept. 10, at One Buccaneer Place:

Opening Comments

"We have Carnell Williams with bruised ribs and his status right now for the game is questionable. Brian Kelly missed most of the second half with a groin strain and he is going to be questionable for the game Sunday against New Orleans. David Boston got hurt in pre-game warm-ups. It's a foot injury and we're going to list him as probable for this game. We'll get more information later. Obviously, we got in late last night. Patrick Chukwurah is still listed as out for the New Orleans game. We checked the film, it was a great way to start the game, we would like to get more done finishing drives. We got out of our own end a couple of times, moved the ball with authority. Early turnover on the opening possession was critical, fumble; we had momentum at the time. It is a poor way to start the football game but we overcame that. We had a couple plays in the kicking game that we said yesterday were very costly. Penalties to negate long returns, and set up field possession, and obviously our inability to cover a kick really turned the momentum in the first half."

On the passing game's late struggles

"I think the first two drives of the third quarter we started deep in our own end. We went deep to [Joey] Galloway on the second play of the second half, he did have some separation. We believe we went after the corner we wanted to go after; we just didn't get it done. Then on a third-down play we have [Michael] Clayton wide open. DT Rocky Bernard had some good middle pushes against us, and obviously Jeff had to drift out of there and couldn't see him, but we had a great look to Clayton on that possession. Then on the final possession on third-and-seven, I thought we had a pretty good look as well, and obviously Jeff couldn't see it. He was under duress at times. I give Rocky Bernard credit; he had some real good internal pushes against us, and forced our quarterback to flush a couple of times. Obviously, when Luke McCown came in the game he got us a couple of first downs. I thought he had a couple of opportunities to make plays. He didn't get to a couple of alternate receivers he should get to, in my opinion. At the end of the drive we still had a chance to score and make it a ball game with 4.5 minutes left. We fumbled the ball away at the eight-yard line. Their defense was pretty physical to say the least. They are a very good tackling football team. They played a lot of zone coverage. They got a good pass rush, it is good inside, and it is good outside. We did do some good things, but obviously there are some opportunities we did not take advantage of."

On the pass protection

"I think overall you would have to say it was average. I think a couple of the sacks we took weren't really sacks; the quarterback has got to get rid of the football, to say the least. Not just Jeff, but I think Luke has got to get rid of the football in a timely fashion to avoid those kinds of things. In a place where it is that loud you take a little bit longer in the huddle to make sure you have the play, you have the formation, and at the line of scrimmage it is a little bit harder to communicate. You're not off the ball as quick as you are maybe in some other places, and I have to give some of that credit to Seattle's defense. They play extremely well at home; they take advantage of the noise. I thought at times the protection was good; we had a couple of great pass protection downs. At the end of the first half, the last possession, it was poor, and a couple of times where we needed it, it wasn't good enough."

On G Davin Joseph

"We think he is going to be a heck of a guard. The guy he blocked on couple of those specific plays we are talking about, is a very good player. I have to tip my hat to DT Rocky Bernard; he is a very good football player. Davin had a couple of penalties, had a couple of pass sets that aren't good enough for a guy of that caliber. At the same time we've got to continue to see progress that he made and we will continue to work with him."

On if you have to prepare for next week's game thinking you will be without all the injured players

"Yes, I think you have to. Unfortunately, we are good at one thing right now offensively, and that's contingency planning. We have had a number of guys in and out of our lineups, the last few seasons. We are going to count on Cadillac Williams playing optimistically, but realistically we understand that he does have sore ribs. We will plan for the other guys to have a bigger role in the football game."

On the chances the team makes a roster move based on the injuries

"Possibly, but I don't want to speculate at this point. We will see how Carnell is later today and tomorrow. He has been evaluated, and he will be evaluated again. We will just have to update you here in the next 24 hours as to his status and what direction we are going in that front. We don't believe anything is broken. Bruised ribs are no fun for a running back in the opening game of the season. I think he had the same thing happen to him last year. We will get a good look at where he is later today."

On the injury to CB Brian Kelly

"Again, we didn't get back until three in the morning. A lot of these guys will get more specific evaluations with MRIs and so forth, later this afternoon. We will just be able to update you here in the next 24 hours, when we see the guys, and get the MRI results. Brian played really well in the first half and unfortunately he was unable to finish."

On RB Earnest Graham's ability to return kicks

"Well, we think he is a good returner, he is a good north-south runner. He has the ability to hit it. K Josh Brown is a great kicker; he can kick the ball extremely well. I thought for the most part he caught the ball, made good decisions, and got positive yardage. Torrie Cox is not with us at this point. With the injury status that we do have to WR David Boston, and a couple other players, Earnest was the best we had to go back there with."

On the analysis of the team's performance

"I think there are some good things on tape. We realize going to Seattle was going to be as stiff a challenge as we have all season. They have won three straight NFC West titles for good reason. They are a veteran team, and that is a very difficult place to play. Loud, very loud, and they are a very talented team, very talented. We loved the way we came out. We came out ready to roll. We were physical and fast, we had a lead. There were four or five big plays in the football game that they made and we didn't. In this league against quality teams like that on the road, you can't allow those big plays for them and you have to make a couple yourself. Penalties in the kicking game to negate explosive returns, big returns, by Ike Hilliard and Joey Galloway. One of them was a foul on Sabby Piscitelli that I don't believe is a foul and I think the officials will agree with that. We had a couple of turnovers, one on the opening possession and one at the end of the football game that possibly denied scores. We gave up two big plays on defense that you cannot do, on third-and-13 or third-and-14, and then obviously on another third down late in the game. I was pleased with the effort. It is unfortunate we lost a couple of key members of our football team when we did, but that is life that is part of our business."

On who will be tailback if RB Carnell Williams is not available

"If we obviously don't have Cadillac we will have to use [Michael] Pittman and Earnest Graham at tailback. You will see a lot more of B.J. Askew who played pretty well at fullback. We will update you on his status in a day or so, but at this time, he's questionable for the game and there's a chance he plays."

On rushing RB Carnell Williams back

"These are all things you have to weigh. I don't know a lot of backs that I've been around that ever feel good, after the opening game of the season. They have sore elbows, sore ribs, sore backs and they have sore legs, it's just a violent profession. Those guys get hit, I don't know if Shaun Alexander feels good this morning, he got hit a lot yesterday. If he can go, and the trainers feel he can go, he's going to go and we hope that he can."

On QB Jeff Garcia getting rid of the ball before getting hit

"He is a bit reckless sometimes when he plays, that's his style. Unfortunately, we didn't give him some real good looks in some critical third-down passing situations. I give Seattle a lot of credit, some of the guys Garcia made miss in the past, he didn't make miss yesterday. Their pursuit is tremendous. I have a lot of respect for [Lofa] Tatupu, more then I ever had. He's a great middle linebacker. He was responsible for a lot of the splash hits yesterday. He's a fine football player."

On the play of LB Barrett Ruud

"He did some great things. He made some sideline-to-sideline plays. He was physical in the hole. He showed up on first down, he showed up on third down, I was really pleased with the play of Barrett Ruud yesterday."

On T Luke Petitgout on being a pass protector

"When you're a left tackle, and you're playing in Seattle, it is going to be a challenge. I thought he did some good things yesterday in the run and the pass. I thought we came out and looked very good offensively in the first quarter. We had some real horrible field position, in a loud stadium, against a good opponent, unable to sustain some things and convert some third downs early in the third quarter hurt us. I thought [Luke] Petitgout did some good things. I was very pleased with Sears. He had a couple of explosive finishes. He is going to be a fine player, but it was spotty at times. We had some individual physical errors and a lot of that had to do with Seattle, as much as our men."

On the play of the safeties

"A lot of our rookies got to play. I thought Tanard [Jackson] from a run fit standpoint still has a couple things he has to clean up. Overall, the safety play was just okay. I'm not saying too much more than that. Tackling wasn't spectacular, but it was solid. I thought for the most part we played well on defense. We just gave up a couple of real big plays in some key situations, which hurt."

On defensive linemen

"We dressed seven defensive linemen like we usually do. We want to stop the run. We obviously didn't do a good job at that against Seattle last year. They were able to possess the ball and create some third-and-two's and three's, which is really in Hasselbeck's favor, he's especially good there. Spires and Carter gave us adequate pass rush and some good physical run stoppage. I thought those two played well. Gaines Adams came in and got some good looks for a rookie in his first start. We didn't see a lot of Greg White or Greg Peterson, but because it was so cool there, we didn't feel like we needed to go that deep in our rotation as maybe we will back here in Tampa."

On T Jeremy Trueblood "He pass-protected well yesterday. I was very pleased with him. He might be one guy that stood out the most in terms of individual play and in terms of his pass protection. His effort in the running game was excellent. He is making real strides."

On stalling drives

"I was mad, disappointed, and ticked off that we didn't make a couple plays there. I thought we had a good look on a third-and-two, on a scramble play, and for whatever reason we didn't throw the ball there, we didn't make a play there, that we usually make. I know the situation down there. We didn't have very good pass protection, and Jeff to flush. They were good drives, you feel good about that, you want to score touchdowns. We had a couple of third-and-shorts that were usually pretty good, that we weren't able to convert on."

On the biggest improvement the team needs to beat the Saints

"Well, the Saints are a very good team. They won 12 games, I think. Both these teams to start the season, it's a great measuring stick for us. I do see improvement. I think our football team sees improvement. We're a heck of a lot better team on opening day this year than we were last year. That first quarter and 75-80 percent of that game shows that. We've got to continue to improve in all areas. We've got to pass-protect in critical situations better. We've got to eliminate the big plays on defense. That's the thing we've done well here for years. Alexander got an explosive run late in the game on third-and-seven. They got a big play on third-and-13, and certainly they hit the long pass on third- and-five. We can't give up big plays defensively, and we need to score touchdowns on offense. That's what we need to improve upon. And we need to quit getting hurt. I brought my brother in to games now – he's a doctor, he's a radiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix. I've got to bring him in to our games now to help read X-rays. It's ridiculous. We get too many guys hurt, and that's something that's got to stop. That's one thing we've got to improve upon."

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