Jon Gruden Transcript — Dec. 21

Here is the complete post-practice transcript from Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden from Friday, Dec. 21, 2007:

Opening statement

We'll say [Patrick] Chukwurah is doubtful for the game. [Ryan] Nece and [B.J.] Askew are questionable. We've got some other men that are listed as probable.

On Chukwurah's difficulties this year with injuries

We need guys that play. If you can't play, you can't play. So we'll have to lean on somebody else to step up.

On if his team might overlook the 49ers because of their record

That's a simpleton's mindset, in my opinion. We have a plan in what we want to accomplish in the game. We've worked hard on the practice field and we have a lot of respect for the 49ers. I don't care what their record is. We'll leave it at that. We're going to go in and play our best football that we can.

On 49ers rookie linebacker Patrick Willis

He's great. I think he's a Pro Bowler. If that's the definition of a Pro Bowler, they're accurate there. He's a great player, instinctive, fast, and he'll tag you. He's the real deal. Great pick by the 49ers.

On the 49ers defense

Bryant Young is still a force, the middle linebacker, No. 52, is all over the place. They're a lot better on defense than people think. They've had some issues at quarterback and have struggled on offense, but defensively, every film you pick up, they have a 3-4 scheme on one snap, a 4-3 on the next down. Perimeter blitz kings of the NFL – corner blitzing, double corner blitzing, unorthodox style, especially in the third down situations. They're a good, physical, hard-nosed defensive football team.

On 49ers cornerback Nate Clements, if he's underrated

Not at $80 million. I don't know how you underrate an $80 million guy. He's a football player. He's an excellent cover guy when you ask him to cover. When they blitz him off the corner, he'll knock your helmet off. He's involved in run support and he's a very good tackler. He is a big, physical, high-quality corner. He's a standout in the league, as I see it.

On setting a physical tone early

We say that every week. It's an important part of winning football. We're going to try some things in the game and we'll see if we can pull it off. We realize it's a long trip out there and people say we haven't played well out there, but there have been times on film where we didn't deserve to win, either. We've got to play good to win in this league, and this is another similar occasion.

On any added importance for him returning to the Bay Area

Yeah, it really does. I was with the 49ers. It all started for me there. I had great memories – unbelievable memories of 4949 Centennial Boulevard. I just get a rush, to be honest with you, walking out on that stadium. There have been some of the damndest games that have ever been played in Candlestick. I don't know what it's called now. There's been some great memories, some traditional games there.

On if Christmas is a distraction

I don't know about that. I think every year, the holidays – Christmas is a big one. I think we all step back and sit down and think about Christmas, what the spirit of Christmas is all about. I think there's a certain time, when you step out of the building, you're darn right you honor Christmas, or you're not much of an American, or you're not much of a human, if you ask me.

On if he's noticed any difference on the practice field since the team has already clinched a playoff berth

We've got a lot of businessmen here. They know when the horn blows what to do. I think the big thing is you have to understand we are in the playoffs; we do have a home game. We don't know who we're playing, and we have two ballgames. Whether we choose to look at some guys, look at some different things, we'll see. But no, I've seen the guys go about their business as they always have.

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