Jon Gruden Transcript — Dec. 17

Here is the complete transcript from Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden's press conference on Monday, Dec. 17, 2007, a day after the Bucs defeated the Atlanta Falcons, 37-3, a premium service of Bucsblitz.com:

On Sunday's game

It was a great win and a great accomplishment by our team.

On if the Bucs will rest players or try to win their last two games

Well, we want to win, and to do that you've got to play your best players. So we'll keep the schedule as is. There might be some opportunities to look at some players, although we've looked at just about every guy on our roster and then some. We're going to use everybody. We're going to use everybody on our football team but we're not going to change much here in the next two weeks.

On if he found anything more after watching film that stood out about Sunday's win

No. It was a very good team effort. The defense had 36 total plays; I think that's the fewest amount of snaps they've ever played. The combination of our ability to get off the field on third down...I believe Atlanta was oh-for-nine yesterday. Any time you can do that, especially coming off a game where we had given up 10 or 11 third-down conversions, it's a credit to Monte [Kiffin] and the defensive guys and the players. And offensively, we ran the ball 47 or 48 times. We were able to churn the clock. I was pleased with all three phases, honestly.

On how much it helped to get Michael Pittman back

Pittman helps us. He creatively became a fullback yesterday. He's a guy that can carry the ball, he can catch and he's a guy that we've used in the past as a joker, a guy that can line up in other formations other than the backfield and catch the ball. He's not 100 percent yet but he's closing in on getting back to normal health so that's a plus for us. We need him back badly.

On how many times he's watched tape of Micheal Spurlock's touchdown return

Oh, we watched it a few times this morning. That's a great play, and a great accomplishment to get that off Santa's wish list. For all the fans that were in the bathroom at that time – I know a lot of fans go to the bathroom when our kickoff return team gets out there; they're not expecting that – stay in your seats next time. We're really proud of Micheal Spurlock. The play was well-blocked and it was an impact play, to say the least.

On reserves stepping up this year

I think it starts with our rookie class. Gaines [Adams] has come in here and really picked it up and been a consistent and improving player. You put Greg White with him. I think the emergence of Jovan Haye as a three-technique, we've added three guys there with Kevin Carter that have really given us a different group up front. Barrett Ruud has solidified himself as a heck of a middle linebacker [in his] first year as a full-time starter. And Cato June came in here and has given us really good play. And Tanard Jackson has really been outstanding, a fourth-round draft choice. Brian Kelly's return, Phillip Buchanon's first full season as a Buc...we're just a better football team on defense. We're excited about that. [Jeff] Garcia's been great for us. Luke McCown, who missed last year with a knee injury, has played well in Jeff's absence. And our offensive line is improving. We've got the youngest offensive line in football and we're excited about the progress that we've seen. And Earnest Graham – you can't say enough about what he's done. Byron Storer yesterday – there's a lot of great stories. We still feel confident that we can win more games and we're going to continue to work towards that.

On being confident that reserves can step in

I credit Bill Walsh with that. When he did visit us he brought that up repeatedly – when you go in and replace a starter, you have to play as good or better than the guy you're replacing. That's something that we've talked about for a long time since he made that comment. Fortunately for us we've got, I think, some better players now than we have had here, not only front-line players but the depth of the team is improved. It's really a whole body of work that goes back to the OTAs and training camp. Guys have really worked hard to prepare themselves for these opportunities.

On the play of the offensive line

I'm impressed with them. As I say, I think the right side, we've got two great players there, two guys that are going to be seven, eight, nine, 10, 12-year starters, provided they stay healthy. I believe [Arron] Sears has had as good of a year as I've seen in football as a left guard as a rookie. He's got rare ability. I don't want to say too many nice things again about Donald Penn, because he can't take positive reinforcement. But those four guys have gotten better, and John Wade has been the key. He's delivering the ball and making the calls. He's a big part of it, too.

On the defensive line's play at this point after he might have been critical of them earlier for not getting enough pressure

Well, they're doing better, and if you watch the Giants, they're doing pretty well, too. That's what we're after – the best pass rush in football. I don't think our guys feel like I'm being critical of them. I'm trying to challenge them, in a positive way for the most part. That's the winning edge in pro football, in my opinion. If you don't get to the other team's passer, they're just too good. They just cut you up. They pick you apart. We've been better. We've clearly shown improvement. Greg White has burst onto the scene. Gaines Adams is a threat, and for that we're excited. But we do need that kind of pressure every week to have a chance to win, because that's what the great teams do.

On the defense's improvement from last week on third down conversions

We have a lot of pride on this team. I think they realize, they don't need me or anyone to tell them that their performance will ultimately determine winning and losing. If we give up 10 or 11 third down conversions, there's a good chance we don't win a football game. If we go a game where we don't allow a third down conversion, we're going to have a hard time losing. I don't think my challenges or any of those things motivated them, I think they're just good businessmen. They understood what needed to be done and they did it.

On winning a division championship after last year

It makes you feel good. You don't like the lows, but if you stay in this business long enough, you're going to have some peaks and valleys. It's a tough league, every body's good, and there are some circumstances that come about that are hard to overcome, but you have to be resilient, and you have to have a heck of a staff, and you have to have support, and fortunately, I've had great support from the owners, from the general manager and I've been fortunate to have really good coaches on my staff.

On playing on the west coast

Since the Super Bowl, we have not played worth a darn on the west coast. I don't know what it is. We've looked at the hotels that we've stayed in, if we leave on Friday or Saturday. We have not played well or coached well on the west coast and this will give us an opportunity to redeem ourselves.

On Jeff Garcia going back to San Francisco

Sure it's big for him. He's an emotional guy. He had an unbelievable run in San Francisco. I think he loved it out there, he's right from there in Gilroy, California. I'm sure it will be emotional for him, and it should be, it's a great feeling to go back where you came from and perform.

On the young team

Well, we feel pretty good about the future of the team. We feel pretty good about the future of our football team. Defensively, Sabby Piscitelli, he'll be our second round draft choice next year because he didn't play this year, and we feel pretty good about that. We'll see, we think that some of these guys have proven that they belong, that they can play at a high level, and we're going to continue to add to our defense because we clearly want to be great.

On Jeff Garcia coming back from his injury

I thought he played good. I thought he had a couple balls dropped, three or four passes dropped. They were in a blitz frenzy as we thought they would be early in the game. He made a great play on a fourth down conversion. I thought he played good, I thought he played well. He had an interception that was very uncharacteristic of him, but great to have him back, I thought he did some good things.


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