Jon Gruden Transcript — Nov. 25

Here is the postgame transcript of Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden after the Bucs' 19-13 victory over the Washington Redskins on Nov. 25, 2007:

Opening statement

I'm really proud of our football players. Our kickers were outstanding today, Josh Bidwell and Matt Bryant. Our defense made a lot of plays; I give them a lot of credit. Certainly, the Washington Redskins were coming in here down 19-3, they deserve a lot of credit. They are a talented football team, and that is a big win for us. Obviously we struggled offensively with the three or four possessions we had in the second half.

On Jeff Garcia's injury

Well, I think it was the first play of the game. It was a lower back bruise. That is what we're calling it. He's tough as heck; he wanted to go back in and play several times. He just didn't have the mobility; he just didn't look right on the sidelines. It's a credit to him. He kept loosening himself up, he felt he could go in there and finish a football game. He's a tough customer. It was tough sledding today, obviously, and we hope to have him next week against the Saints.

On the decision to put Garcia back in the game

Well, Garcia gives us the best chance to win. Obviously, talking to the doctors and trainers, there was no way he could further injure himself and he performed a lot of things on the sidelines that proved to us that he could go in there. Unfortunately we tried to get him a completion or two and see where he was and Washington wasn't in the mood for that. They played very good defense. I think he'll be okay and we will update you here in the coming days.

On the Bucs defense

There's a lot to that. Kevin Carter had his 100th sack today. Ronde Barber broke a record for interceptions here. Brian Kelly is back on schedule with us, and he had his first pick in a long time. We mixed coverages and we had a legitimate rush early in the football game. They came in here a bit one-dimensional, throwing the ball; we knew that with Mike Sellers not here. We got some big plays, defensively. We capitalized on one with a touchdown and we knocked three field goals in with the other three, which isn't very acceptable, but it's a credit to our entire defensive team. We went deep into the roster today once again today with Ryan Sims and Patrick Chukwurah. It was an impressive performance to say the least.

On how tired the defensive players were

They were tired and I think they'll tell you. The opening drive of the second half, I think, took us off guard a little bit. They got Chris Cooley on a third-and-long play for a touchdown. The Redskins played great offensive football in the second half too. They were pretty darn good. They used all their receivers and they ran the ball to keep us honest and they made some plays on third-and-long to keep drives alive. They converted a fourth-and-one. We had a fourth-and-one stop. Our guys are tired and they should be.

On Bruce (Gradkowski) coming in cold against a tough defense

Well, the number one objective this late in the season, when you've been inactive that long, and I know it looked ugly because he missed a couple of open looks. But the No. 1 objective was not to turn the ball over and we accomplished that. I do think it's a difficult situation against a team like that to jump right in after pregame warm-ups and grab the bull by the horns again.

On his conversations with Garcia during the game

He wanted to play. I only go on the information from the trainers and the doctors. I told him to get away from me basically because he wanted to go in and play. I love the guy, I just can't tell you want it's like being around him. He's a never say die kind of guy. He felt the game kind of slipping away and his adrenaline was at an ultra high level. When he went down there on the sideline and executed some things we felt he could give our team a jolt or a lift and give us a chance to slam the door shut.

On the set of downs when the Bucs were backed up at their own end zone and it appeared Garcia was ready to go in

Yeah, I held him out and it was a tough decision. My only thing was Jeff gets into the game and we regulated things a bit to see where he was. I was concerned with more about his logic and how he would think. He's such a system guy, he's such an exact guy that I was worried he would be distracted by the back and not being able to function at the level he needs to function. A lot went into it. He's a big reason, along with our defense and our kickers, why we're still alive. But we still have a lot of work to do and you saw that today.

On LB Derrick Brooks' stop of Clinton Portis on 4th-and-goal from the Bucs 4 in the third quarter

It's great to have Derrick Brooks at this stage of his career playing and leading at the level he's playing at. I can't say enough about him and what he does for this football team. He and Cato June splitting time in the nickel Will gives us two active guys. This is a team and they're all about making plays.

On Maurice Stovall's special teams plays on Sunday

That's his new nickname — Gunner Stovall. He's magnificent. We'd like to see some of that on offense and we need to put him in positions to generate some plays and we think we will. We had his number called a couple of times but the protection wasn't right. He's just a force. He's very confident in his physical status and his ability to get off blocks and make plays. He's been stellar for us here the last three or four weeks.

On how key the New Orleans game is next Sunday

Well, they're all key. From here on out, and we only have five to go, every win is a precious victory. We have some health issues right now. I'm very concerned about our quarterback. We need him to win. We clearly need Jeff Garcia. Again, I'm very proud of our team. We've hung in there and won three games in a row. I don't know how we've won them. I can't even remember who we played last week. But we know we have our hands full with the Saints in the Superdome. They're a very talented squad.

On the difficulty the Bucs had running the football after the first quarter

Well, I think they (Washington) wanted to see Bruce throw it. We went through this last year, OK? We went through it last year. You can have all the game planning you want. But sooner or later they're going to jump down into a very difficult front to block and force us to make some plays in the passing game. We did not do that at an acceptable level and I take responsibility for that. I think Bruce, with the situation he was thrown into, did do some good things. But there's clearly some plays that he needs to make that he didn't.

On whether he wanted to get Bruce some experience while Jeff got his back problem sorted out

You're kidding me right, aren't you? I think that will be the end of today's press conference. Thank you.


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