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T

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: October 26, 2006, 05:40:55 PM

Cut Bruce loose!!!


keeponbucn

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#1 : October 26, 2006, 12:21:31 PM

Sorry it's long. If you want just click the link........................


http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/bucs/home.htm


Don't let the last-second wins over Cincinnati and Philadelphia fool you, the Bucs have some serious holes to fill.
Not just the 2-4 record they continue to try and climb out of.

Heading into Sunday's game against the New York Giants at the Meadowlands, the Bucs are riding the emotion of Matt Bryant's 62-yard field goal on the final play to beat the Eagles 23-21.

But Tampa Bay has some big concerns.

Their defense is showing its age, having fallen to 27th overall and 30th against the run. The Bucs yielded more than 500 yards to the Eagles last week. In fact, they looked to have blown their third, fourth quarter lead when Brian Westbrook took a short pass from Donovan McNabb and broke five tackles on the way to a 52-yard touchdown with 33 seconds remaining.

But the Bucs are gritty, if not great.

Rookie quarterback Bruce Gradkowski engineered his second fourth quarter comeback in as many weeks to set up Bryant's improbable kick.

"Yeah, we lost some heartbreaking games, you know what I mean? We lost some heartbreakers," Bucs coach Jon Gruden said. "We could easily have four wins right now in my opinion. We've played a heck of a schedule, the hardest schedule in football, and we lost our quarterback, we lost our right tackle. A lot of things have happened to us negatively. It's a credit to our guys and our coaches for hanging in there. We'll see what happens in the end. But I'm proud of our guys, the way they fight. We've got a lot of fights left to fight, too, because we have a heck of a schedule left."

Gradkowski has taken a step back each game since his splashy debut in a loss at New Orleans three weeks ago.

But he has done one thing well — not turn the ball over. His four touchdowns and one interception have kept the Bucs in games.

"For a rookie quarterback, he did exactly what we wanted him to do, number one, which is move the football team," Gruden said. "You can't deny that for two weeks in a row he's made some dramatic plays himself to help us win games. A lot of people count yards. That's stat-counters and that's for agents and G.M.s and I guess incentives and contracts. But the top defenses are the defenses that turn the ball over, get the ball back and score on defense, in my opinion. Yards yielded is a nice stat that maybe helps some coaches get a raise, but at the end of the day there are a lot more meaningful stats than that.

"There are a lot of offensive stats that are just, I think, watered down a little bit with late yardage. The game is over. If you're not careful, you get caught worrying about statistics more than you do worrying about that scoreboard up there, which is really most important."

The Bucs are worried about more than the scoreboard. While the defense finally forced some turnovers last week, with Ronde Barber returning two interceptions for touchdowns, the tackling has been horrible.

The subplot of this game will be the final meeting of the Barber twins, Ronde and Giants running back Tiki Barber, who has announced his retirement effective at the end of the season.

Tiki leads the NFL in rushing and the Giants are coming off an impressive win at Dallas and look like one of the elite teams in the NFC.

But if the Bucs could find a way to win another game Sunday, they would improve to 3-4 and come home to face New Orleans, a team they should've beaten earlier this month.

It sounds ridiculous, but there is a lot of football left to play and the Bucs have a lot of prideful players, especially on defense.

Gruden keeps trying to pump his team up, telling them they aren't too many games out of the playoff picture in the NFC.

He's preaching the same message he did when the Bucs were 0-4.

"Nobody died," Gruden said. "Let's just keep things in perspective. We've got a good football team, we're working hard, good things are going to happen. I don't remember how I said it. We're not alone. There are a lot of people who are struck with adversity in life and in football and in this league, that's for sure. If you can hang in there, I said, look back in two weeks there will be two or three other teams in the same spot we're in right now. And that's the case again. You've got to be mentally tough, man. People are going to say things about you and you're going to be behind in the standings, going to be behind on the scoreboard. I say the heck with it — do what the Minnesota Twins did. Keep going out every night, playing, and see if you can catch up."

SERIES HISTORY: 16th meeting. Giants lead the all-time series 9-6 but the Bucs have won three of the last four games between these teams.

NOTES, QUOTES

—CB Ronde Barber and PK Matt Bryant were named the NFC's Defensive Player of the Week and Special Teams Player of the Week, respectively.

Barber returned two interceptions for touchdowns and Bryant kicked a game-winning, 62-yard field goal in the Bucs' 23-21 win over the Eagles.

"That's great," Gruden said. "Two rare feats in one game."

—CB Brian Kelly was placed on injured reserve with a degenerative toe injury. He has two years remaining on his contract but could be released after the season. "It's a big, big loss for us," Gruden said.

—QB Luke McCown is making progress. McCown, who tore his ACL in minicamp, is close to coming off the Physically Unable to Perform list.

"He ran two or three sets of plays today and I think that was good for him," Gruden said. "His mobility looks okay and I think his confidence level is the most important thing right now and it's coming back."

BY THE NUMBERS: This is the fifth meeting of Ronde and Tiki Barber in a game since they came into the league in 1997.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "For all those people that count yards, I think that's for losers, personally." — Bucs coach Jon Gruden.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

The Bucs signed DE Jovan Haye to the active roster. Haye entered the league as a sixth-round pick in 2005 draft by the Panthers. He played two games with Carolina and split time this year between the active roster and practice squad of the Cleveland Browns.

To make room for Haye, the Bucs placed CB Brian Kelly on injured reserve. The teams also signed CB Dion Byrum and G/C Jonathan Clinkscale to the practice squad. Clinkscale replaces Scott Jackson, who was signed by the Houston Texans from the Bucs' practice squad.


PLAYER NOTES

—CB Phillip Buchanon could be used as a punt returner again Sunday against the Giants. Buchanon was signed last week after being released by the Houston Texans and returned one punt against the Eagles.

—CB Juran Bolden is expected to resume the starting job at right cornerback now that Brian Kelly has been put on injured reserve with a toe injury. Bolden (hip) did not practice Wednesday.

—DT Ellis Wyms did not practice Wednesday. The Bucs already are thin on the defensive line after the trade of Anthony McFarland.

—CB Torrie Cox took reps with the first-team defense after Brian Kelly was placed on IR and starter Juran Bolden was out with a hip injury.

GAME PLAN: The Bucs don't have a lot to throw at the Giants.

With rookie quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, they've had to scale back the offense.

That means a lot of Cadillac Williams slamming into eight and nine-man fronts and Gradkowski dumping the ball to running backs and tight ends.

Tampa Bay's offense has scored 14 and nine points in the last two games. In fact, 10 of those have come on the final play of the game.

Until Gradkowski improves the passing game — he missed Joey Galloway on two deep throws last week — the Bucs offense will struggle.

"Mike Strahan, like Barber, he's great. He's not good, he's great," Gruden said. "He's a handful. We've got to do a great job of knowing where he is at all times. And Tim Lewis, their defensive coordinator, does a nice job. I'm impressed with their linebacking corps, and Sam Madison has really helped them. He's given them a really good corner who can shut people down. And Gibril Wilson, their young safety man is coming into his own, so they've got a lot going for them."

Defensively, Tampa Bay will have to live on forcing turnovers. The Bucs once proud defense looks old and slow and can't tackle.

Tampa Bay is ranked 30th against the run, and after six games, they don't seem able to fix the problem. That's bad news when you're playing against Tiki Barber, the NFL's leading rusher with 647 yards.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Giants WR Plaxico Burress vs. Bucs WR Juran Bolden. Burress leads the Giants with four touchdowns and will be looking to get deep and use his size.

—Giants RB Tiki Barber vs. Bucs CB Ronde Barber. Double trouble trying to keep the Barber twins straight. The obvious difference is the color of their uniforms. Always an entertaining battle when the two meet.

—Giants DE Michael Strahan vs. Bucs RT Jeremy Trueblood. Strahan needs one sack to break Lawrence Taylor's club record and he'll likely get it against the Bucs rookie.

INJURY IMPACT: CB Brian Kelly was placed on injured reserve with a degenerative toe injury. He missed four of the past five games. CB Juran Bolden (hip) did not practice and is questionable for Sunday's game. QB Chris Simms is out. Tight end Anthony Becht (foot), WR Mark Jones (hamstring), LB Shelton Quarles (knee), DE Simeon Rice (shoulder), WR Maurice Stovall (back), DT Ellis Wyms (ankle) are all questionable.


CadillacPower24_2006

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#2 : October 26, 2006, 12:33:55 PM

good article, not too much you can diagree with...

miamicanes04

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#3 : October 26, 2006, 03:13:45 PM

We are going to lose on sunday.


gone

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#4 : October 26, 2006, 04:18:59 PM

Wyms issue isn't good.

Time to let Grads open it up.  Stop protecting him so much, or he WILL turn into Shaun King...

Ladyfan

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#5 : October 26, 2006, 10:33:23 PM

It doesn't look good for bucs, but somehow I think we may win.  And  I'm not turning off the tv in the last 33 seconds like I did last week.!!!!!

Go Bucs.

Defense and Bruce's feet will win this game.  And some good field position from Bidwell.  And Caddy hitting his stride.

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