Bucs News And Notes: Monday

December 16 – Will Tampa Bay right guard Cosey Coleman, who was benched during last Sunday's game against Detroit, start against Pittsburgh? Will the Bucs make any changes to its special teams coverage unit? What can the Bucs accomplish with a win against the Steelers next Monday night? Read about all of this and more in this notebook full of news and notes.

Tampa Bay starting right guard Cosey Coleman didn't particularly fare well against Detroit last Sunday. Coleman was penalized three times against the Lions, one for tripping and two for false starts.

Bucs head coach Jon Gruden and offensive line coach/offensive coordinator Bill Muir pulled Coleman out of the game after he committed his third and final penalty and backup C/G Todd Washington replaced him at right guard.

While Coleman returned to the starting rotation later in the game, some were wondering if Washington would start in place of Coleman against Pittsburgh next Monday night.

"No, we don't expect to.," Gruden said on Monday morning. "We expect Cosey to start and go wire to wire. We just felt at that time in the game, let's get him off the field and let him collect himself a little bit, and we'll send him back out there. He had a couple of series that were very un-Cosey Coleman-like. We just wanted to get him out of there for a minute. Todd pinch hit, took a bat for him, and we went right back to Cosey."

Tampa Bay's special teams kickoff coverage unit was horrendous against Detroit last Sunday. The Bucs allowed the Lions to average just over 37 yards per kickoff return on Sunday. They had several missed tackles, which is why Lions' KR Eddie Drumond had five kickoff returns for 197 yards (39.4 avg.). Detroit's other KR, Larry Foster, returned a kickoff 26 yards.

Needless to say, Gruden was not happy with Bucs special teams coach Richard Bisaccia's troops and he suggested the team might make some personnel changes in order to improve this unit's play.

"Well, it started off great," Gruden said of the Bucs' special teams. "We had a great opening kickoff (67 yards) by Aaron Stecker that really set the stage for the opening drive. After that, we kind of leveled off. I really don't know Drummond well, I don't know a lot about Drummond from Detroit, but I got to know him personally yesterday. I'm not satisfied at all. We let Detroit reestablish momentum when we worked hard to get it. A 10-0 lead, they get an 80-yard scoring drive of about five plays. We have a beautiful touchdown scoring drive to make it a 20-13 game, and like a shot of lightning it's an even game. Those are inexcusable errors. We're on top of that right now. We are missing some players. Losing Nate Webster, Ryan Nece, some key members of our teams at the beginning of the year may have hurt us a little bit in the last couple of weeks. We'll reevaluate who we're sending down on these kickoffs and the kind of results we're getting, that's for sure."

Tampa Bay will host the 8-5-1 Pittsburgh Steelers at Raymond James Stadium next Monday night. The game will have serious playoff implications for both teams, but the Bucs might have a little more incentive than the Steelers.

Not only can the Buccaneers win the NFC South Division by defeating the Steelers, but they can avenge its 17-10 loss to the Steelers in Ray-Jay last season.

As Bucs fans remember, Tampa Bay lost to Pittsburgh in ugly fashion, allowing QB Brad Johnson get sacked 10 times and allowing RB Jerome Bettis to rush for 143 yards on 17 carries.

Gruden said Monday that he'll throw that game film in for his team to watch just in case the players are searching for more motivation.

"Well, we get the last year Steeler game, honestly," Gruden said. "We put it on film, and we show them what occurred in Raymond James Stadium last year. They came in here, had 10 sacks, ran the ball extremely well. It will get our players' attention, they've got a short memory anyways. We're playing, let's be honest, for the NFC Southern championship at home on Monday Night Football. You don't have to be a great motivator this week. Our guys will be ready to play, and hopefully we'll be ready to play our best football."

By downing the Lions last Sunday, the Buccaneers clinched a playoff spot for the fourth consecutive season. While Gruden was pleased with his team's accomplishment(s), he said the Bucs had more work to do.

"It's a great accomplishment," said Gruden. "I feel it's a tremendous accomplishment to say that you've made the playoffs for four years straight. There has been a lot of change here, in the coaching staff and in the roster. We changed conferences, we changed systems, and to be an 11-3 team is what I'm most proud of for these players. They have all, to some degree, contributed to the success that we have. And we are going to need them all to contribute a little bit more, because we need to enjoy some more success, if possible."

Tampa Bay's defense, which was ranked No. 1 against the run before last Sunday's game, allowed Detroit to rush for 148 yards on 26 carries (5.5 avg.).

The Bucs' defense was thrown a curveball when Lions starting RB James Stewart was made inactive before the start of Sunday's game. Tampa Bay was forced to stop Detroit backup RB Aveion Cason, who carried the ball 10 times for 62 yards (6.2 avg.). Rafeal Cooper rushed eight times for 50 yards (6.3 avg.) and fullback Cory Schlesinger carried the ball six times for 31 yards.

Gruden said Monday that his defense's inability to stop Detroit's running attack was uncharacteristic of his team and thinks the fact that a good team like Pittsburgh is next on the schedule will refocus his defensive troops.

"Well, we haven't had many so-so efforts, at least since I've been in Tampa," Gruden said of Tampa Bay's defensive performance against the run. "The Buccaneers defense hasn't had many so-so efforts that I can remember. It's a very prideful locker room that we have. Some of those defenders were some sour grapes coming home last night. They felt they did not play up to their standards, obviously. I do believe they will rebound, they're going to have to. Pittsburgh is going to come in here and play a very physical brand of football. They're going to open it up and do the creative things they've done the last several years. Randle-El and all these quarterbacks that can play wide receiver, and all the things they represent. Defensively, this is as hard as it gets. This is a great defensive team that in the last two weeks has really limited opponents to almost nothing in total offense. It will be a great week of practice. It will be a very big game for us. We're going to turn the speakers up loud in Raymond James Stadium. Our crowd will be there, and we're going to need all their help."


Bucs head coach Jon Gruden on the 11-3 Philadelphia Eagles:

"They are winning ugly, though, I want to point that out," Gruden said smiling. "I see a lot of returns on defense. I see a lot of wild things happening. They are playing great football, from what I can see. I have a lot of respect for them and their capabilities are unique. But they are winning some not-so-beautiful games."

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