Jon Gruden Transcript — Dec. 23

Here is the complete postgame transcript of Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden after the Bucs' 21-19 loss to San Francisco on Dec. 23, 2007:

Opening statement

On behalf of our coaches and our players, we'd like to wish Bryant Young the best. I've been in the NFL for 17 years, and he is one of the classiest, great players I've ever met. The way he played today, Bryant, I'm glad you're retiring and I'm glad we won't have to see you anymore. Obviously, they got us with a surprise onside kick to start the second half. We turned the ball over deep in our territory and squandered numerous opportunities, but I'm proud of our football team. We had a lot of guys play today.

On benching a lot of the starters

It's a decision that we made when we won the division last week. We've had a number of injuries this year, and we've been able to overcome them and qualify for the playoffs. What we wanted to do today was get Jeff some work in the first half. I also wanted to take this opportunity to evaluate some of our other players. We're glad we did that and it will be a very similar case next week.

On Garcia getting knocked in the head twice possibly having to do with his departure

No, it was still part of the plan. We lost a number of receivers. Maurice Stovall got hurt during the game and Joey Galloway aggravated his shoulder early in the game. I thought Jerramy Stevens really stepped up. He's a guy that, as we enter the playoffs, we're going to need. I think a lot of things are behind him now and I think we all clearly see that he's a very good football player who can help us.

On Joey Galloway's injury

I don't think there's a lot of concern. It was more of a cautionary thing. But you can talk to Joey to be sure.

On Maurice Stovall's injury

I don't know if it's broken, but it doesn't look good. That's another big target and a big loss for our team. We'll update you as soon as we get the final prognosis.

On going into the playoffs with momentum

That's TV announcers talking about that. We have a lot of momentum. It's very hard to disagree with everybody that you should win your last two games if you can, and we tried today. We pay everyone on our team, our coaching staff is paid to win football games. I'm more concerned with finishing this season, playing a little better football that we did in the second half today.

On the offensive line playing most of the game

We only have seven active linemen. I don't know if you think we're going to substitute everyone, but we only have 47 guys. So there will be some guys that will continue to play and there will be some guys that will continue to sit.

On the offensive line's performance

Obviously it wasn't as good as it has been. I thought we put together some great drives and some explosive plays. We were unable to sustain the running game today, and a lot of that had to do with the 49ers and their activity.

On Greg White's health status

I don't know what Greg White's situation is, but we'll get to the bottom of it and as soon as we get the final verdict we'll let everyone know.

On Luke McCown

I thought it was sluggish to start with. The one thing that we have to clean up is the turnovers. He has to be more careful with the football. We turned it over deep in our territory two weeks in a row now with him as the quarterback, but I thought he picked it up late. On the road against teams that are talented, like everyone is, you have to take advantage of your opportunities.

On maintaining the season's momentum into the playoffs

No disrespect to TV, but there are so many people that are probably right or probably wrong. I want to go into the playoffs with the understanding that there's a good chance we'll have to play on a short week, maybe a Saturday. We need to have a healthy football team. We've had a lot of injuries already we're already had to endure. We're also going to take advantage of this game (SF) and the next ball game to get some players some valuable opportunities to play to see if they're part of our future.

On the dropped passes

We dropped some passes. There's no question about that. It cost us the game today. The one on the opening series, I think we had a wide-open target. We have to make the play, especially when you're wide open. We didn't do that. The next time we moved the ball very well. We were ready to roll, but we came down on the second possession and fumbled the snap. Those are the kinds of plays we certainly need to clean up.

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