Jon Gruden Transcript — Dec. 9

Here is the complete postgame press conference transcript of Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden for Dec. 9, 2007, after the Buccaneers lost to the Houston Texans:

on the outcome of today's game

The Houston Texans deserve a lot of credit today. They're a talented football team and we're disappointed, obviously, with the outcome of the game. We had two turnovers deep in our territory, one at the end of the game and gave up a 100-yard return, and really didn't get off the field very well on 3rd downs today. I'll be happy to answer any questions that I can.

on the possibility that Tampa Bay could still wrap up their division today

We are going to take care of all of those scenarios later. We didn't play enough today to win. The goal is not necessarily just qualifying for playoffs- the goal is to win a championship. We have to play better to do that. We lost a couple of players today and it's getting very difficult, but I'm proud of our team. We've won two out of the last three games with our backup quarterbacks and we're looking forward to (QB) Jeff (Garcia) returning next week against the (Atlanta) Falcons.

on his decision today to not play QB Jeff Garcia

I'm sure there has been a lot of debate and I have done the best I can to not let the whole world know what we are doing. It's hard enough to make a 1st down in this league, without everyone having your game plan. The medical people said that the injury would take two full weeks as you know, Garcia would tell you, he could've played. And he could have. He played against Washington (Redskins) after he got hurt, but the injury took two weeks to heal. We have to let the injury take its time to heal. When I walk in the building Monday, No. 7 will be back.

on the performance of backup QB Luke McCown

Luke has got to get rid of the football. There were some times when he needed to throw the ball away. Sometimes that's the best play you can make. There were four or five situations where that came into play today. When you get guys wide open, as we did in the 3rd quarter, you have got to make those plays. We had (TE) Alex Smith and then we had (WR) Joey (Galloway) on back-to-back plays and that would have tied the football game and get us some real momentum. There were some positive things and also some things to learn from.

on if they were able to bounce back from the kickoff return

We did bounce back from it. We bounced back with an immediate score and we got the ball back and we had two wide-open looks to tie it. That's the kind of football team we have here. We lost (WR) Ike Hilliard today, which really compromised us. He is a clutch, go-to guy for us on 3rd downs especially. We're searching right now to find out his availability for next week.

on his decision to go for it on 4th and 2 early in the game

Was it 4th and 2 or was it 4th and 1? I was right there and I thought it was a little bit closer to one. That's always one of the toughest plays in football. We were on the 34-yard line. Last week we kicked a field goal, it was a 52-yarder and we missed it. Today we had two shots and we felt pretty good about our short yard play selection. We didn't get it on 3rd down and we didn't get it on 4th down. I don't believe I would do any different there. We're not going to punt and we choose to go with two runs in succession that we thought would get it done. In fairness to (Texans DE) Mario Williams and (Texans DT) Amobi Okoye, they thought differently.

on the fumbled snap in the shotgun

Obviously, it was a blitz situation and it looked like we were changing the play. It's the first mishap we've had in the shotgun all season, but obviously, (center) John (Wade) and (QB) Luke (McCown) weren't on the same page in terms of their communication.

on the injury suffered by WR Ike Hilliard

I don't know exactly. He's had a number of nicks and nags here the past couple of weeks. He's the toughest guy that I've ever coached at that position. I don't want to take anything away from anybody else, but I'm concerned about his overall health right now. He's beat up a little bit right now, but we need him back.

on the Bucs pass protection

It's pretty good. At times we had some good protection. When there is a blitz coming there's going to be a free guy. You don't change the play. We just weren't able to recognize it a time or two. Let's give these Texans some credit- they're not easy to block, but I thought overall the pass protection was good enough. We just didn't make the plays.

on 3rd down conversions on both sides of the ball

We had a 3rd down conversion and we made the 1st down, but then fumbled the football. We had some opportunities to make some plays, but we overthrew a couple receivers. We had a couple of 3rd and extra longs, which are tough, but that's football

on if the possibility of clinching the division title comes into game planning

I just try not to get so wrapped up in playoffs and advantages and scenarios and things of that nature. As I said several weeks ago, we do have the train on the track again and we're competing every week. I'm proud of these guys and looking forward to getting our QB back for the rest of the season. Everything else will take care of itself. Our goal is to improve and clearly there were some areas today that weren't good enough to be a great football team. That's what this team here in the locker room wants.

on if his team has had a drop-off in focus

There's no drop-off in focus. We missed a couple of tackles. We missed a couple of open receivers. I'm not going to get into lack of focus. This team is working their tail off. I want to say that perfectly clear. If anyone deserves blame it's me.


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