Gruden press conference

Here are some of Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden's comments to the media from his Monday press conference:

On the performance of the offensive line:
"They're getting better. What they did yesterday was quite impressive at times, the run-blocking. I thought we might some nice pick-ups in the passing game, in terms of the blitz, as did our backs. The offensive line was good. The running backs, Cadillac, [Michael] Pittman ran hard, [Mike] Alstott ran hard. I don't think the line and the tight ends got enough credit, to be honest with you. [Anthony] Becht and Alex Smith, two newcomers here, also had a large say in our success yesterday. Mike Alstott and Jameel Cook, as lead blockers in our two-back sets, also did some really good things. So it was a collective effort, but the offensive line, as we've said all along, is a work in progress and so far we're improvement."

On how much Carnell "Cadillac" Williams is creating yards by himself:
"He's creating, there's no question, but he is getting some good looks. He hasn't been hit and stymied initially very often. We've been able to get him started, and at times getting him through the line of scrimmage is an outstanding thing for him because he's an exceptional runner. He deserves a tremendous amount of credit, but our offensive line has given him, I think, some consistent looks at the hole. He's been able to see the initial hole and he's been able to cut the ball back because of good back-side blocking. And when we get out into space, I've not seen anybody block by Michael Clayton ever in football as a wide receiver. He is a great blocking wide receiver. So it's a collection of efforts right now in the running game. We're very proud of what we've done for two weeks and we also realize we have a long way to go."

On how much of a surprise Williams has been, if any:
"Well, I would like to say that it's somewhat surprising that he's had this success, but we really felt that he was a great, great running back, to be honest with you. Tommy Tuberville felt the same way. Everybody I talked to in Alabama said, ‘This is the greatest running back in the history of high school football in Alabama.' Better than Bo Jackson, better than most of these guys have ever seen. I'm not saying he's better than Bo. I will not say he's better than Bo. But everybody I talked to said he's a hell of a back. ‘Get him on your team, somehow, some way." I think he's proven to everybody what he's all about. He's a great running back, he's a tremendous competitor, he's got great poise and stamina. We're really excited, obviously."

On winning back-to-back games, and the momentum starting to build:
"We don't feel that we were a bad football team last year, we were 5–11, but we went back and evaluated carefully, we thought we could have won nine or 10 games last year, easily. We felt we need to make some changes, we need to address some areas that obviously weren't very good, and we made every effort to do that and we will continue to add players to this team and I think gain steam as we move forward. It's a good feeling in that locker room right now. It's eye opening because we gotta go to Green Bay this week, we haven't won there (since 1989) it seems like forever since we won at Lambeau. So, we got a tough, tough challenge ahead of us."

On how much are you concerned about penalties:
"I'm very concerned, we don't hire officials for every practice and our training camp for any other reason than make it important. Seven penalties on special teams is unacceptable and certainly deflated us in terms of field position and Buffalo is a challenge in itself just to make a first down let alone when you're backed up because of penalties. There were some questionable calls that I'll get reviewed and get some information on from the league, but there were some careless errors that have to be eliminated or it will cost us games."

On what makes Green Bay such a tough place to play:
"Well, I coached for three years, so I can honestly say, maybe, I know something about it. It's just that they've had such great teams; they've had a quarterback who's not been chopped liver. That has a lot to do with their success. Just great tradition, arguably, that venue, in my opinion, if you're nostalgic or whatever your word is, if you love football, that's just a special place. The weather can be a factor with a team coming from Florida, obviously. I just don't know, I don't know what it is; it's just a special place."

On the offensive line performance with so many young guys:
"Just because they're young guys doesn't mean we're going to give them excuses, ‘Oh gee, you're 23 and only got two penalties today.' We're pleased with the progress we're making, we're not saying we're ready for Canton yet or Super Bowl XL or whatever it is. We are pleased with what is happening.

"There is an attitude there that is very good. It's what we want, the toughness, effort, the technique, the fundamentals are getting better. We are very physical, the left guard is a physical man from Wisconsin and the left tackle is a physical guy. The other side is playing well and Kenyatta Walker deserves a lot of credit. John Wade and Sean Mahan have been steady for us. The tight ends have been a major assistance in terms of what we got going."

On if the entire team can feed off of "Cadillac's" success:
"Yeah, I think so, especially if he's touching the ball 50 times in two games. Those kind of guys have a tendency to rev up the team and rev up the crowd and rev up the coach. He's a fun guy to have around. He certainly stimulates all of us. He's just a play away from making something big happen. Hopefully it continues, we're going to continue to feature him, as I said all along, provided his health is good."

On the use of the tight ends:
"Well, we knew if we were going to play a wide open offense against Buffalo it was going be blitz, after blitz, after blitz. We wanted to try and neutralize that and their team speed, to some degree. We tried to tighten the game down a little bit, get into some closer formations. We wanted to blitz them with some no-huddle and surprise. We also wanted to neutralize some of that great team speed they have with London Fletcher, (Takeo) Spikes and those two great safeties. So, we do that and made a personal challenge to ourselves to play a physical football game just like they're gonna play and will try and do some things that we know we can do well."

On being concerned about not capitalizing on turnover opportunities:
"Derrick's (Brooks) second play of the game would have been a great catch, that ball got in on him was a little bit inside and high but Ronde (Barber) got a chance, you know I thought there was an early whistle on our sideline against (J.P.) Losman on a scramble, which would have been a scoop and score. I'm excited that we were in position to make plays, were reading our keys, were getting jumps on the quarterback, we're reading his eyes; we're rallying to the ball. This defense to once again to be what I consider great, they've got to score and I think they know that. They're going to come into play real soon, we're going to need some defensive scores to win football games. We gotta start delivering."

On what has exceeded his expectations in the first two weeks:
"Obviously, there are people who are surprised that we are 2–0 and there are people, who I know, who were surprised we won five games last year. We've been able to make some field goals, which we are, two for two. That's an area we've been last place for the last two years, that too lifts our team after a long drive and we can make the field goal and make it a two possession game.

"I think there's a noticeable change on our team just in terms of the chemistry, these young players have added a lot here. We had 18 or 19 players last year that were signed to one year contracts and we had to do that in our opinion. It was a tough situation at times cause I don't think that there were people that were convinced that they were gonna be here for the long haul. With some of these young guys with five-year deals, there's no way out. Whether you want to admit it or not there is a lot of truth to that, that's why you need to draft well and continue to build through the draft."

On how much more comfortable he feels play calling with the success of the running game:
"Well, it makes it a lot easier. There have been times in my past where we have been really good running the ball and it's made play calling better because you're not in 3rd and 9's, 12's and 10's, you're in 3rd and 2's and 4's and there's just a lot more available for you to call. Running the ball is going to help us not only be effective in minimizing the third and longs. It's going to help us with some wicked play action passing and things of that nature."

On how much that will help the defense:
"I think that, Buffalo, a team that had only given up 12 points in the third quarter the whole year last year. To have a seven or eight minute drive early in the third quarter and you look up and there is only five minutes left in the quarter and our defense is really on the field for the first time, basically. If they're fresh and they're feeling good they're a dangerous handful to deal with. It goes hand-in-hand, you run the ball you're going to have time of possession and it is going to have a favorable impact on the defense, I believe."

On the impact of Chris Hovan and Anthony McFarland:
"Both those guys we didn't have last year and Ellis Wyms wasn't here. So, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that we're better right now up front with Hovan, with Wyms and with McFarland. Throw in Jermaine Phillips and Dexter Jackson who really weren't here most of the time last year and Juran Bolden, we're a better defensive team than we were a year ago. There's a lot of changing on both sides of the ball, these guys have rallied and come together for the first two weeks. Green Bay is 0-2 and the greatness of the Packers is going to come out Sunday in Lambeau and we have to be ready for it."

On Chris Hovan being a perfect fit for Monte Kiffin's defense:
"What Hovan is a physical one gap football player who has basically played the under tackle his entire career. We put him in there at nose with McFarland, you have two very active big people who can not only rush the passer, but can get off blocks and make plays for us. Those two guys have been a key to our run defense. Everybody has bought into the fact for us to thrive on defense, we have to shut the run down on first and second down and get the quarterbacks in some third and difficult situations."


Packer Report Top Stories