Gruden speaks, 3:51 p.m.
You'll read Gruden's quotes on Jeff Garcia and Bruce Gradkowski in the following two blog entries. But to read the entire press conference transcript, just click here. It's a premium service at Bucsblitz.com. We transcribe and publish every Gruden press conference because not every news entity does, and we think you should read everything the head coach has to say.
Gradkowski's the backup plan?, 12:10 p.m.
Bruce Gradkowski would likely be the starter if Jeff Garcia can't go on Sunday against New Orleans.
"Likely" is a good word, because Jon Gruden wouldn't quite commit to a contingency plan if Garcia can't play.
"All I'll say right now is that we have two quarterbacks that played extensively in the preseason and I thought both guys played well," Gruden said. "They've been here for a couple of years. We'll make that decision based on Jeff's situation."
Gruden is likely praying that Garcia can play so he's not forced into a choice between Gradkowski and Luke McCown. Gradkowski was 9-of-19 passing on Sunday for 106 yards, but the Bucs barely moved the football effectively with him under center. Garcia had to rush out in the fourth quarter and try to rescue the offense despite his injury. The Bucs gained a season-low 196 net yards on Sunday and couldn't manage a first down.
Gruden continued to talk about McCown and Gradkowski later in the interview, including his rationale for making Gradkowski the backup after the season's first week.
"Luke played earlier this season as you know against the Seahawks," Gruden said. "As the season has worn on, with the fact that Jeff has taken just about every snap on the practice field, we've relied on Bruce's game experience from a year ago as the No. 1 backup and that's been our rule for the last 11 games."
McCown went 1-for-4 for 9 yards against the Seahawks. Gruden said he would take everything into consideration in making a decision, including Garcia's health, Gradkowski's performance on Sunday and whether extended reps for McCown would make a difference this Sunday.
Gruden said the No. 1 priority for a backup that hasn't played a meaningful snap all season is to not turn the ball over. Gradkowski, at least, did that.
"That's the reason we won the game," Gruden said. "They turned it over repeatedly and we didn't. We won the game and they didn't."
Gradkowski talked in the locker room and said he expected Garcia to work as hard as he could to play on Sunday. He said a week to prepare would help his performance greatly if he has to play against New Orleans.
Gruden made the point on Sunday that Gradkowski, who didn't see many practice reps leading up to the Washington game, was put in a bad situation. But Gradkowski said that he knows a team's offense is graded by the play of its quarterback, no matter the situation.
"I think a lot has to do with the quarterback. When our offense isn't doing well I feel I need to make plays happen and Jeff is a guy that does a great job of that," Gradkowski said.
Garcia update, 11:26 a.m.
Bucs head coach Jon Gruden didn't have much more to say about quarterback Jeff Garcia and his injured back, which he classified as a deep back bruise:
"I know he's in a lot of pain right now," Gruden said. "He has a deep back bruise. His status will be day-to-day. That's the best I can do right now. We'll see where he is tomorrow and the following day."
Gruden was also asked how effective Garcia could be if he doesn't practice fully this week.
"There's no doubt that he can play with reduced reps," Gruden said. "But we practice guys to get them ready to play. I don't want to speculate at this point. He may be ready to go on Wednesday. He might not be. He may be ready to go against the Saints and he may not be. We'll see."
Gruden didn't want to compare Garcia's injury to a similar injury suffered by Brad Johnson in 2002 because every player responds to a back injury differently.
Garcia was not in the locker room on Monday. He'll likely surface on Wednesday for his normal press conference.
NFC playoff update, 10:39 a.m.
If the season ended today, the playoff seeds would stack up like this — Dallas, Green Bay, Seattle, Tampa Bay, the New York Giants and Detroit. The Bucs would host the Lions in the Wild Card round.
But a lot will shake out this week. First, the Cowboys and Packers play on Thursday night to likely determine who gets the No. 1 playoff seed. Then, the Bucs play the Saints on Sunday to see if they can completely distance themselves from the rest of the division. The Bucs, with a win, would have a three-game lead on the field with four games to play.
The Saints (5-6) need a win to remain the Wild Card hunt, which figures to come down to the final week for the No. 6 seed, as Detroit (6-5) still has a mean schedule and the Eagles (5-6), Redskins (5-6), Vikings (5-6), Bears (5-6) and Cardinals (5-6) are in striking distance.
The Bucs would need to finish with a better record than the Seahawks to claim the No. 3 playoff seed.
But we still have five weeks left and there's plenty of time for that to all change.
Gruden's transcript is up, 10:38 a.m.
I've completed Jon Gruden's postgame transcript from Sunday and he spoke candidly about Jeff Garcia bothering him during the game. He also ended the press conference with a flourish, thanks to an ill-worded (and slightly absurd) question from a reporter. Read the entire transcript, a premium feature, by clicking here.
Catch up at Bucsblitz.com, 10:35 a.m.
Looking for complete coverage of the game? Find it here at Bucsblitz.com. The defense had a great game, and I talked to the senior members of the defense, including Ronde Barber and Brian Kelly, about their critical plays in the contest. Read more by clicking here. Jeff Garcia's injury will be a big part of our coverage this week. You can hear from Garcia after the game, plus read how his injury impacted the offense, by clicking here. Did you miss the scoring summary from yesterday? Don't worry. We have our own summary, with complete offensive stats and grades for all key positions for the Bucs. Read more by clicking here. Plus, we're live at One Buc today to get you more updates on Jeff Garica, other injuries and how the team is preparing for a crucial game against New Orleans on Sunday.
Always a fun read, 10:34 a.m.
St. Pete Times columnist John Romano's "Gimme 5" column is always a fun read. Most of it is on Tampa Bay's win on Sunday. Give it a look at Tampabay.com.
Where's the improvement?, 10:32 a.m.
I realize it wasn't the ideal situation for Bruce Gradkowski on Sunday, but it appeared he regressed to last year's form, showing an inability to move the offense or hit Joey Galloway downfield. Of course, he didn't commit a turnover and on Sunday that was enough. Read more of Stephen Holder's article at Tampabay.com.
Here's a stunner, 10:30 a.m.
Tampa Bay's offense was unhappy with its lack of production. That's no big shock. But here's comment from guys like Alex Smith and Davin Joseph, just to confirm the obvious in this article at TBO.com.
Just like the old days, 10:29 a.m.
Of course, the defense brought it on Sunday against Washington, even when it got tired. The Tampa Tribune's Joe Henderson writes that it was just like the old days — a great defense bailing out an inept offense. Here's more at TBO.com.
Here's a big duh, 10:28 a.m.
Tampa Tribune columnist Martin Fennelly writes that the Buccaneers hinges on the health of one Jeff Garcia. If you watched Sunday's game, you understand. Fennelly outlines the issues in this column at TBO.com.