Tampa Bay defensive end Simeon Rice had some harsh words regarding head coach Jon Gruden’s leadership and discipline. He recently voiced his frustration with the team’s 5-9 record through two local newspapers.

“A lot of it comes down to discipline,” Rice told the Tampa Tribune. “We’ve just kind of been existing, showing up on Wednesdays and going to practice and la-di-da, la-di-da. There’s been no real definition of attention to detail.”

Gruden, who met with Rice on Tuesday, responded to those comments after Wednesday’s practice.

“I talked to him about where those comments are coming from,” Gruden said. “I’m comfortable with our conversation. Again, I respect everything our players say. But I’m very comfortable with the way this program is being run, and I think he is also.”

Rice said his meeting with Gruden turned out to be a good one and hopes to put the Bucs’ losing season and his comments behind the team.

“We talked,” Rice said. “We are both on each other’s good side. It is not a Keyshawn situation going on with Jon. I don’t dislike him as a coach. I don’t think he dislikes me. It was just one take. It wasn’t even an introspective; it was a perspective. My introspective is a little bit more opinionated and I keep it to myself. That was just a perspective and it is over and done with.”

Gruden suggested that Rice’s comments were made from frustration that stems from the team’s losing season.

“I’ve talked to a couple of the players — all the players, honestly — and the’?re very frustrated at the way we just lost another game in a very similar fashion to the way we’ve lost several,” said Gruden. “I believe everything is in order here. We know what we have to do to turn this around, and it’s up to us to roll our fists up together and get that done.”

Gruden, who has also received criticism from former players like Keyshawn Johnson and Keenan McCardell, said he takes Rice’s comments into his decision-making process.

“I haven’t seen a lot of lack of effort or lack of discipline,” said Gruden. “I’ve seen a lack of coaching — a lot of those goes on me, as I’ve said all along. We’ve got to do a better job in key situations protecting the ball, protecting a lead and converting our opportunities. We have’?t done that well enough, and consequently we’re sitting at 5-9 oblivion.”

While he feels he deserves some criticism, Gruden said his focus will continue to be on turning Tampa Bay’s ship in the right direction.

“I deserve the criticism,” Gruden said. “A head coach is going to get criticized. I’m not the only one who is being criticized. You’ve got to be able to take the good times with the bad, you’ve got to have a thick, resilient skin. I know this, I’ve got a lot of friends of mine calling up and asking me why I’m so lax. Hell, I don’t know where that’s coming from. I have a hard time cooling out and calming down. People are going to say what they’ve got to say. You don’t have to agree with everything that’s said, either. Sometimes, things that are said may not be worded exactly the way they truly are, but I do respect what was said. And I respect what we have to do to turn this around. That’s what we’re out here working on doing.”

BUCS INJURY REPORT:
Bucs defensive ends Greg Spires (lower back) and Simeon Rice (hamstring), and defensive tackle Chidi Ahanotu (groin), are listed as probable for Sunday’s game against the Carolina Panthers.

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