On McCown, 12:20 p.m.
As you might expect, head coach Jon Gruden had plenty of good things to say about Luke McCown's performance on Sunday against New Orleans, noting McCown's poise in the pocket despite nearly three years without a regular-season start.
"The Saints were really jacked up and were at full strength, getting Charles Grant and Brian Young back. I thought he showed tremendous poise, great command and he also made a lot of plays. So those three things stood out in my mind," Gruden said.
McCown went 29-of-37 for 313 yards, 2 touchdown and 1 interception against the Saints in his first start since Dec. 26, 2004.
He wasn't perfect. He took three sacks on Sunday, one of which led to a safety. On two occasions, McCown admitted, he should have thrown the ball away and didn't. He chalked it up to rustiness.
"Certainly, I know better than that," McCown said. "It's not something that I don't understand. It was a situation where I had gotten out of the pocket and they had covered down my first two options so I came to my backside progression. I was out of the pocket pretty soon and I was working with Jerramy Stevens on a scramble drill. I was waiting on a hole. I felt like I was going to get a hole that I could stick the ball into for a first down and I just waited too long to try and make that happen. Will Smith made a good play in that situation. I have to get rid of the ball in that situation. The clock has to go off."
Considering it was McCown's first start in a while, Gruden cut him some slack on Monday, focusing on what the fourth-year QB did right, including some big plays.
"He had some explosive runs, scrambles," Gruden said. "Where he's not just avoiding the rush and keeping the play alive, he's avoiding a rush and he's running for 15 or 20 yards. He had two carries yesterday for 34 yards. His quality throws to Joey Galloway, that 60-yard gain was a big-time play. It was a rifle, it was on the money. There were three or four other plays that he made, scrambling on a naked bootleg and hitting B.J. Askew with the defensive end right in his face. He showed some rare athleticism and play-making."
Gruden said he also appreciated the fact that McCown used 10 different receivers on Sunday.
On Garcia, 12:08 p.m.
Bucs head coach Jon Gruden said Monday that Jeff Garcia is a possibility to play this weekend against Houston.
Garcia missed the game on Sunday and Luke McCown put together a great effort in his place. But Gruden made it clear he wants Garcia on the field as soon as he can get him there.
"I just want him to tell me he's ready to go and then see him move around pain-free. Like I said, he's getting better and in the meantime we'll continue to work with Bruce (Gradkowski) and Luke (McCown)," Gruden said.
Garcia made a brief appearance in the locker room after treatment for his injury but did not talk to reporters.
Gruden made it clear that the Bucs' three-game lead with four games to play in the NFC South will have no bearing on when Garcia comes back.
"No, he's a needed guy on our football team," Gruden said. "We need to win another game. We're in the fight of our lives to win every Sunday and this week is no different. If Garcia is cleared to play, he'll play."
What will it take for Garcia to play? Gruden admitted he needs to see Garcia put in some practice time this week before putting him back in the starting lineup.
"I'd like him to," Gruden said. "I'd like to get him back practicing a little bit before we put him in a game. He's already missed one week of practice. We'll just take it day by day."
Injury update, 11:17 a.m.
Bucs head coach Jon Gruden didn't not update any injuries on Monday. I'll devle more into the QB situation momentarily, but Gruden refuted the rumor that there's more damage to Garcia's back than previously reported.
NFC playoff update, 9:54 a.m.
There's a little separation at the top now after Dallas beat Green Bay on Thursday. The Cowboys (12-1) are the top team in the NFC, followed by Green Bay (11-2), Seattle (8-4) and Tampa Bay (8-4).
The Bucs are all but locks to win the NFC South now that they have a three-game lead. The real question is whether they can overcome Seattle to claim the No. 3 playoff seed. That makes that loss in Seattle in the opener a big one.
But the Bucs should host a home playoff game in the Wild Card round, barring a complete collapse.
Waiting at One Buc, 9:53 a.m.
I'm a lonely guy right now. I'm the only one in the media room at One Buc Place. But that will chance shortly. Jon Gruden will speak at approximately 11 a.m. and then the locker room will be open to talk to players. Today's major issues are the status of Jeff Garcia and John Wade, the latter of which was hurt in the final minutes of Sunday's game. He was replaced by Matt Lehr. That could be a big blow, depending on the severity of the injury.
Catch up at Bucsblitz.com, 9:50 a.m.
Looking for complete coverage of the game? Find it here at Bucsblitz.com. You can catch up with the Bucs' 27-23 victory over New Orleans with our game story by clicking here. Joey Galloway had another sensational game against the Saitns. Go inside the numbers and get other notes about the game 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. And, see the best images from the game in our Bucs-Sainst photo gallery by clicking here.
Stevens gets it done, 9:50 a.m.
I'm sure there are some Bucs fans that have wondered what Jerramy Stevens is doing on the roster this season (much like Jeremiah Trotter). But you never know when a 6-foot-6 tight end is going to come in handy, and he did on Sunday in New Orleans. Ira Kaufman goes deep on Stevens' game-winning touchdown catch in this article at TBO.com.
Team of destiny?, 9:48 a.m.
I suppose we should start talking about karma after Sunday's win. I mean, when you look at it logically, how did the Bucs win that game down three points with three minutes to play? They shouldn't have, but they did. Roy Cummings outlines how it happened in this article at TBO.com.
He better accept the blame, 9:45 a.m.
The New Orleans Saints will very likely miss the playoffs, and in doing so they can partially blame their head coach, Sean Payton, and what can only be described as a hair-brained play call in the fourth quarter. A double reverse with the game on the line? What was he thinking? Find out more at Tampabay.com.
Getting on Mort, 9:43 a.m.
Both Jon Gruden and Jeff Garcia refuted a report that Garcia's injury is a hairline fracture in this article at Tampabay.com. A hairline fracture of "what" is never specified. This was actually an ESPN report in which Chris Mortensen said the Bucs "suspected" that Garcia had a hairline fracture, but the X-rays revealed no damage.
Going deep with McCown, 9:41 a.m.
St. Petersburg Times columnist Gary Shelton delves into Luke McCown, tracing the doubt and the uncertainty of his career from his last start in Cleveland three years ago to his rousing start on Sunday against New Orleans at Tampabay.com.