Jon Gruden Transcript — Dec. 10

Here is the complete transcript from Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden's press conference on Monday, Dec. 10, 2007:

Opening statement

I'd be happy to answer any questions that I can. Obviously, I'm disappointed in the outcome of the game, the players played hard, and we'll have some injury updates for you later in the week. We do have a number of players that we're concerned about.

On Luke McCown and security at quarterback

He did some good things yesterday, clearly there are seven or eight plays in the game that weren't as good as the others, but I'm really pleased at what he has done. He's handled a lot of football, some tough situations, and he's moved our football team. We've made a lot of first downs and I still think there is plenty of room to grow but I think what we all see is a big, athletic guy that has promise and has potential to be outstanding. I think that has been obvious in the last two football games. There is clearly work to be done, but we are pleased with a lot of things that he did do in the last two games.

On Galloway said certain plays won't be called if Ike's not on the field

I hate to be to deep in all of that, there is just certain instinctive traits that Ike Hilliard has that we try to magnify in certain situations. He's excellent, obviously, inside, he's a guy we've gone to in some key situations on third down and it's hard to practice a lot of our offense for everybody and there is a little package for Ike that we've worked on for a long time, unfortunately Mark Jones and Paris Warren are a couple guys we've been grooming to run similar types of routes as receivers are no longer with us. But there are some things that Ike does that we lean on and we'll have to train someone else here in a hurry if he can't go, but knowing Hilliard, he'll be ready to go.

On Earnest Graham's play and a few drops he had

Fatigue can certainly set in. I know I'm guilty of overworking him, but he gives our team the best chance to win right now. We're expecting a lot more from Michael Bennett. We need him to pick it up. We hope to get [Michael] Pittman back at some point soon. We've lost two halfbacks, and B.J. Askew was limited to a degree yesterday. With Mike Alstott gone also, we're limited in the backfield. We're also relying on Earnest to win games for us because he's not only an outstanding runner, but he's an excellent receiver and he's proven that. But he did have a couple drops yesterday, and that was uncharacteristic.

On third down defense and the conversion percentage

I think it's a combination of things. Yesterday we had numerous third down and twos, threes, a couple third-and-ones there where the percentage of conversion obviously is higher. We haven't played on third down as well as we've been accustomed to. The rush has to heat up, we have to force quicker decisions by the opposing quarterback, but our guys will get it straight. Our guys will improve that, but yesterday, clearly that was a downer.

On if he's disappointed with Michael Bennett's performance and growth

We are trying hard. As you know, we've always tried to be a team that featured two halfbacks at a time. There have been times where we've gone with our ‘three halfback at a time' attack. Right now, we haven't been able to probe some of those formations. We expect Mike Bennett to pick it up here down the stretch. We need him desperately.

On DE Greg White's progression

He clearly has become one of our top, if not our top pass rusher. He has a knack, he has a natural bend and explosion. It is big when you get inside penetration and the quarterback can't step up. A lot of times we were able to get some natural sacks where the quarterback would veer out away from the internal penetration. That is an area that changes games, those are impact, splash plays that create big plays in a football game.

On playing on the road

We had a great opening drive, two or three first downs to a third and two at their 34. We just weren't able to convert on third down. We had played well at times on the road, and we played well at times at home. There have been some games where we clearly haven't played up to the standards that we are looking for. That is why we keep working and keep playing.

On QB Jeff Garcia coming back and bringing a lift to the team

He brings a lot of lift. We really missed him for three games. He came out the first play or second play of the game against Washington, so we have really played three full football games without him, and that is a tough strain on anybody. We are eager to get him back and have him healthy, and ready to go play the way he has proven he likes to play; aggressive, creative, and competitively.

On the kick return for a touchdown

It was blocked well, we also obviously, didn't stay in our lanes, and we lost contain. The one thing we know about Andre Davis is that he has blazing speed. If you give him the corner he has great acceleration and we lost lane integrity as they say. That hurt us, bad.

On playing the Falcons next week

Chris Redman came in, during a tough situation against the Rams a couple of weeks ago and rallied them, and that is a credit to him. The thing that sticks out in my mind right now, particularly about Atlanta, is the aggressiveness in which they play defense. They are bombing people with different kinds of blitzes, all out blitzes at the five-yard-line, minus 20, spontaneously bombs, I mean blitzing from everywhere. Offensively, they have had some game time decisions at quarterback. I think Redman coming in and playing as he did last week gives them something to be excited about. We will see where he is tonight, obviously, versus the Saints on Monday Night Football.

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