Jon Gruden Transcript — Dec. 3

Here is the complete press conference transcript from Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden for Monday, Dec. 3, 2007:

Opening statement

I don't have any updates on the injuries at this point. We have several players that are being evaluated this morning and I'll do my best to update you on Wednesday.

Jon, Jeff addressed it but we have to ask. Is there anything structurally wrong with Jeff Garcia's back?

No. I've already made a statement there. There's nothing structurally wrong with Jeff Garcia's back. He has a sore body and we'll go from there.

What do you anticipate in terms of the quarterback situation? Is Jeff a consideration at this point?

Yes he is, and we'll see how it goes today and tomorrow. Players have tomorrow off. We'll see how he is Wednesday. We feel like he's making improvement. That's the good thing.

What do you feel like you want to see from him this week to be able to let him play?

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).

Talk a little bit more about what Luke McCown showed you yesterday in his play?

He showed me a lot of poise. That was a loud, difficult place to play for any quarterback. 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.

Jon, is this season taking on a quality where you're getting contributions from a lot of different guys, guys you weren't expecting at the start of the season. Is it a mentality where everyone is pitching in?

Well, we're building a team. We're building a football team. We had some draft choices, some young guys, and we've added some free agents. As I said several weeks ago, the train is back on the track and we still have a long way to go. There are some newcomers that have done a good job for us.

What does it say for this team to have plug in so many guys during the season and keep on going?

It tells you that they're pretty good players. It's a credit to them certainly. It's a credit to our coaching staff, Bruce Allen and our front office for finding us some good players.

Jon, given the lead in the division with four games to go, does that factor in at all with when you bring Jeff back? Would you be inclined to let him take his time?

No, he's a needed guy on our football team. 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.

Jon can you talk about Jerramy Stevens' catch in the fourth quarter?

He made a lot of big plays for Seattle during his time there, and we're trying to incorporate him more in the offense. I think that play he made yesterday just showcases his athletic ability and what he can do as a receiver. He's growing into the offense, I think, as an all-around tight end. He's improving as a blocker. He's worked hard since he's been here, he's a good kid and I'm happy for him.

Jon, have you and Luke talked about the mistakes he made yesterday, namely taking the sacks and the safety instead of getting rid of the ball?

I didn't have a lot to say about that given the situation. We'll talk today. Paul Hackett does a great job coaching Luke between series. I didn't say a lot to him, honestly, during the game. Obviously the interception was a miscommunication between he and Joey. I can't fault either of them for that. We have to do a better job as coaches of straightening that out. There were three or four plays he'll learn from, and there were 10 or 15 plays that he made that not a whole lot of guys have made around here lately.

Jon, has the issue of language on the sideline ever come up?

Yes it does (come up). I have a lot of work to do and I'm doing my best. I regret it. I'm not going to get into it any further other than that I embarrass myself, my mother and my family sometimes and I have to do a better job. I wish the camera would focus on the game, too, in all honesty. But I have to show more poise in those situations.

Jon, talk about the defensive performance, especially in the second half. After giving up a couple of big plays in the first half, they limited the Saints to 50 yards passing and got the three sacks. They seemed to come up big for you guys?

Our defense was tremendous. They got consecutive stops and gave our offense an opportunity to reload. We made a lot of different plays. We made some good rushes, we made some good gains up front. Our coverages were solid and I was impressed with that.

Jon, when a team gets into a situation when people they didn't expect are chipping in, they start tossing around the term "Team of Destiny." Do you believe in that as a coach?

To be honest with you, we've had some success lately. We've had some guys step up. Our football team has a lot of football character, passion and guys that love to play and compete. We have a healthy respect for this league and they know if they're not ready to play they'll be defeated and defeated soundly. So I don't think there's a lot of destiny talk when you're coming off a 4-12 season.

You mentioned some plays Luke made that not a lot of guys have made around here. What were some of those plays?

He had some explosive runs, scrambles. 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.

Jon, he was able to find a lot of guys, 10 different receivers. What does that say about his performance?

That's important. It shows that he understands where to go with the ball. He understands his complementary receivers, his check-down receivers. Most patterns that are any good have five eligibles built into the route because that's the most you can have. If you can use 10 different men on a given Sunday, you're doing a heck of a job seeing things and reacting to things and distributing the ball.

Earnest Graham had another 100-yard game. Is there anything more to say about what this guy has done for this team this season?

I'm really proud of him and thankful for him, obviously. What he's done statistically speaks for itself. There aren't a lot of backs in our history here that have done what he's done, rushing and receiving in their first seven or eight starts. He's been durable. He's protected the football. And what goes unnoticed sometimes is his ability to pick up blitzes. Just being an every down back, he's been outstanding for us.

Has the blitz pickup been the biggest improvement that you've seen?

To be honest with you, he's been good in all three areas when given a chance to play. Earlier in the season against the Rams we put him in late in the game and he made some plays there. We've all seen him in the preseason and talked about him in the preseason. It's probably a major error on my part not finding something for him to do before this season.

Talk about Gaines Adams as well. He had another game where it seems more and more like he's putting more things together and making plays.

He's very good. He's getting better and getting more and more confident with his game. He's a big part of our future. He has some real flash ability and he's putting it together now. He's putting a lot of different things together and it shows. He's getting off the ball well. Our games are improving to. His stunt game is improving. He's playing a six technique and he's getting better in his overall understanding of our defense. He showed great stamina and effort and made a couple of big plays yesterday.

On that subject can you talk a little bit about Jovan Haye's season?

He's had a very good season and I can't say enough about what he's done really as a run defender, as a high-effort player. He's given us some pass rush at a position where it's hard to rush the passer. He's a great guy. He's a great kid. He has a tremendous motor. He's a disciplined, fiery guy and we're happy he's here.

Is it nice to be standing up here talking about how well guys are playing? Last year that was a luxury you really didn't have.

I'd rather talk about good things than bad things. We're pleased with the fact that we're getting better and, as I said earlier, we're excited about the future.

Any idea when you would make the call on the quarterback?

We'll just see how it goes. Hopefully he can return and get a couple of good healthy practices in and he can resume playing.

Would he have to get in a couple of practices in, you think?

I'd like him to. 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.

Jon, if you do end up playing Luke again this week, are there challenges to a player's second start, as the Texans would now have some film on him that the Saints didn't?

I'm sure there are. He's still an inexperienced player. He has five career starts and we'll do the best we can to try and prepare him to play. It won't be easy. Houston has some really good defensive players and a good scheme.


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