Jon Gruden Transcript — Dec. 31

Here is the complete transcript from Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden's press conference on Monday, Dec. 31, 2007:

On Arron Sears

He sprained his ankle and at this point we expect him to play. But we'll look at him a little bit more today and we'll update you on Wednesday.

On if B.J. Askew will play against the Giants

I think so, yes. We expect him to play.

On if it was an advantage to have an extra week to prepare for the Giants

Well, we really haven't had an extra week. We played Carolina yesterday. We didn't really slight our preparation for the Panthers at all, so I'll just leave it at that.

On what he watched more tape of on Sunday night, the Bucs-Panthers game or the Giants

Well, you always look at the game you just played. There are some corrections and things of that nature that we'll make. There were a lot of guys that really had an opportunity to play for the first time extensively. We wanted to see how they did, individually and collectively. We'll be working, like New York will, late into the night getting ready for this game.

On the Giants' defense, especially the defensive ends

Well, they get a lot of credit, and they should. They're great players. I think a new coordinator has come to New York and made a real impact. They have a great blitz package, very, very good, three-down, four-down, Justin Tuck is all over the place. I've got a lot of respect for [Antonio] Pierce, their linebacker. He's the ringleader, I think, of the defense. They all hit and they all play hard. It will be a challenge for us.

On where he thinks the Bucs are humming right now

I'm not going to make any statements in that regard. I'll just say we have a defense that statistically in the '07 season did pretty good. I don't know where they all ended up but it was pretty good. We had an offense that featured one of the top efficient passers in football, and we had a guy lead the NFL in yards per catch. We had a top 10 or 12 rushing game, statistically. We led the NFC in turnover ratio. We've got a kicker, [Josh] Bidwell, who downed it 30 times inside their red zone. And we've got a kicker that made 28 out of 33. So I think we're pretty darn good. I'm just concerned about the injuries, and I know everybody in the playoffs is humming. We're anxious to play. We think we've got a pretty good football team.

On the feeling of being in the playoffs

I think when you walk out of the dressing room last night you know 20 teams are done. There are 20 teams that finished it off yesterday and we're down to 12 today. If that doesn't get you excited, you're in the wrong profession. We are in a single-elimination tournament. We've all seen Villanova. We all remember Rollie Massimino. The underdogs do flourish sometimes. I'm sure we'll be a heavy underdog in this tournament, but we'll see what we get.

On Brandon Jacobs

He's not just a big back, he's as big a back as I've ever seen play. It's hard because of this guy [Plaxico] Burress standing out there. When you put him all by himself he's a matchup problem for everyone in the league. You've got to stop a lot of different things when you play the Giants, and certainly getting to Brandon Jacobs and doing the best we can to bring him to the ground is going to be a challenge in itself.

On Jeff Garcia's knowledge of the Giants

I saw Philadelphia play them this year and lose twice. This defense is completely different, they've made radical changes, not only in the structure of their defense but they made some key changes I think in personnel also.

On the importance of not practicing with the intent of resting players

It's exciting. Again, these last couple of games, we went in with specific game planning and we wanted to look at some of our roster. Fortunately, we can say that as we enter the playoffs, every guy on our football team has been active and played. If we need to pick one of these men to perform for us, hopefully they have some experience to rely on. It's always exciting to start the playoffs, we know we play Sunday at one o'clock, [and] it gives everyone amble time to prepare.

On the concern of injuries

We've had concerns all year, you know. We lost our quarterback and some running backs and fullbacks and left tackles, we've lost a lot of guys. Our receiving core is depleted but we hope to have some of these guys ready to go for New York. I think everybody at this point of time has had their share of injuries, but I'm done talking about the analyzing of the last two weeks and the injury status. We're going to go out and play and we'll give what we deserve.

On the effect of the powerful Giants pass rush

Significant. It's not just the four guys up front; it's the perimeter blitz package. They're a great overload blitzing team; you're going to see their cornerbacks have sacks, their linebacking corps has sacks — sacks are coming from all over the place. It's a credit to this scheme and to their personnel. They do an excellent job.

On how to prepare the young players for the playoffs

Show them a few clips of our Washington playoff a couple of years ago were we had a couple of key turnovers in the game. I just think we can analyze it to the point where we're not going to be ready to play. We have to go out there and do the things that got us here; play with some energy, play with a lot of confidence, and understand that it's a snap at a time football game, that's the way we do business here.

On WR Chad Lucas

He proved that he can make some plays and get down the field. I was pleased with what he did. This is the seventh or eighth different receiver that we've played this year. I was really proud of the effort he put forth, if we need him we're confident that he can go in and make some plays.

On the Giants' aggressive defense

They're the most aggressive I've seen so far. They take some chances and they're good. [Sam] Madison, they got the corner from Texas in the first-round, they're not afraid to come after you and cover you. They're a very good defensive team to say the least.

On having a veteran quarterback in the playoffs

It helps. I think experience is a great asset when you get into these kind of tournaments. Normally the guys that do well are the guys that have some experience at this.

On the Buccaneers and New York Giants defense

I would expect both defenses to be the story line, but you never know, that's why they play the games. Some of these games turn into shootouts, but it's going to be a highly physical game and we'll see what happens.

On Eli Manning being highly criticized

If you stay in this business long enough, you're going to take heat, but he's a young guy and he's playing in a tough place. He lost his tight end, Tiki Barber retired, I thought he hung in there and had a heck of a year, really.

On playing on Sunday

I was fired up to be honest with you. I didn't want to work late last night after the game, to be honest with you, I was pleased to get the Sunday game. I'm just excited to be in the playoffs, to be playing at home with the group of guys that we have this year, we're excited about it.

On not playing a night game all season

We appreciate that, we really do. I'm not a big night owl guy, and personally, I kind of like the way it worked out.

On comparing the 2005 playoff game to next Sunday

I think the guys that were there, Alex Smith, some of the rookies played. Cadillac was in the game, unfortunately Dan Buenning is not playing right now, Chris Simms is not here, there's experience that we can all draw from, but I think again the big thing is let's have a great week of practice, let's get to know the [New York] Giants and let's play our best football and that's what's going to keep us alive in this playoff tournament.

On Kevin Boss

Well, he was a great surprise story in the game the other day. He's a small college guy, he's got size. You know he's filling some big shoes, Jeremy Shockey's. I thought he did some good things as a run blocker and obviously in the red zone he's a big target. He runs friendly routes, the quarterback feels them and can read them quite easily and he catches the ball.

On playing in ideal weather

Oh we'll play anywhere, but we're excited to be at home. We just count our blessings to be in the tournament and (we want to) take advantage of this opportunity the best way we can. That's our intent.

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