The Buccaneers suffered their worst regular season home loss in 10 years when they were downed by the Baltimore Ravens Sunday, 27-0. Bucs head coach Jon Gruden talked about what went wrong in his team’s home opener and how the Bucs can rebound with a win against the Atlanta Falcons.
Gruden touched on these topics during his Monday morning press conference. These quotes are courtesy of the Buccaneers public relationship department.
Gruden on his thoughts after watching the tape of Tampa Bay’s 27-0 loss to Atlanta “Obviously, you have to take responsibility for it as a coach. And I am going to do that. I didn’t like the way we started the game. Historically, at least since I’ve been here, we have given up a field goal or a score in the opening possession, defensively. We make some adjustments, and I thought that’s what we did yesterday. We did make some really good adjustments and we played pretty doggone good defense after the opening possession. It was a long possession; it took 11 minutes off the clock. Basically 10, 11 minutes. I never felt throughout the course of the game that our communication, our decision-making, our tempo, is what we are looking for. Granted, Baltimore is an outstanding defensive team and a tough team to open with. Clearly they made us pay in some key situations. But ball security, the turnover battle, those are issues against a team like that you have to win, or you are going to lose.”
Gruden on the lack of playing time the starters received in preseason “We could make a lot of excuses. We’ve gone about the preseason very consistently, in the four or five years that I have been here. You could use that as an angle, or an excuse. But there was some physical play on the football field. It just wasn’t good enough, it wasn’t consistent enough. Particularly offensively. I thought our special teams played rather well. Outside of the first possession, I thought our defense did some good things. But offensively, turning the football over, the inability to sustain much, killed us.”
Gruden on what caused the problems with the team’s tempo “The tempo…it’s the communication, I think, that is somewhat concerning, and certainly Baltimore has a lot to do with that. They provide a ton of looks. They’ve been together, they’re a veteran defensive team and they’re outstanding, physical football players. Let’s not take anything away from them. But our recognition, our responses, weren’t quick enough, weren’t consistent enough against a team like this. Yes, we have guys playing for their first time at right guard and left guard and there are some inexperience issues. It’s Chris Simms’ first start on opening day, but it’s not his first start. There are some things we’ve got to do better and we’ve got to be accountable for that. I’ll take my share of the blame, gladly, but I’ll also say we’ve got to do a much better job being decisive, being quick with our decisions and explosive in our movements. Baltimore is a team that is hard to get a read on and they force you into some indecisiveness. When you do that against them, they are really good.”
Gruden on what the Bucs can do in practice to correct that “Well, obviously, we keep practicing. We played one game and it was not a good day. It was not a good day in my life. And I’m also proud to say that we did practice hard and we did blitz almost every single snap. We’re going to continue to work at that. It’s something we’ve been good at. It’s something we take a lot of pride in. We clearly didn’t do a good enough job, collectively as a football team, in that area. To compound that, when we did have some chances to make plays we didn’t make them. You’ve got to cash in when you’ve got a chance to make some plays.”
Gruden on the cause of the lack of defensive recognition by the offense “Like I said, we all share in that. We all share in that. Some of it I take responsibility for and Bill Muir takes responsibility for. The battery, the center and the quarterback, they obviously, at the end of the day have got to try to make sure everybody’s on the same page. Do we need to use an audible to get out of this protection because it is overloaded? Once again, Baltimore’s going to make you throw the ball, sometimes hot. Sometimes the ball has to come out because you can’t get a read every time. Sometimes that’s the only play, and if that’s the only play you make that play. But it was a tough game for us. It was very, very disappointing for every guy in that locker room. At the same time, it’s already been pointed out here that it’s the first time a lot of these guys have played 60 minutes of football. We’re hoping we can put the wheels back on here this afternoon, be honest in our critiques of each other and get ready for our next football game.”
Gruden on Atlanta’s defense against Carolina “Yeah, it’s pretty well-documented that Atlanta is a very physical defense. They’re talented, especially in the [Georgia] Dome. Everybody struggles protecting a passer in that dome with that noise. And that was before the addition of John Abraham. Abraham’s a great player. [Patrick] Kerney’s given us problems; he’s an outstanding rusher. They’ve added Grady Jackson, who’s a big presence inside. And Roderick Coleman’s one of the premier inside pass-rushers in the game. You put that all together with Keith Brooking and DeAngelo Hall, they’ve got the makings of a very good defensive football team. Yesterday, on the road to do what they did is quite impressive.” More from Gruden on the lack of defensive recognition “Again, I don’t want to address too many issues. There were times that we did, like I say, recognize the blitz and have people accounted for. But the protection didn’t happen. They are outstanding physical people and we’ve got to do a better job. That’s all I’ve got to say – we’ve got to do a better job. We did have four or five shots in the game to make big plays. The film doesn’t lie and we didn’t make them. If you don’t cash in, there are going to be some plays against Baltimore that are flat-out ugly because of the style in which they play. There are also going to be opportunities to make some plays, I do believe, and if you don’t make them you don’t make them. When you score zero points, clearly that was a big issue yesterday.”
Gruden on if the opportunity to rebound on the road from the 27-0 loss to the Ravens excites him “Atlanta excites me. That is a great place to play. You are going to see a team that is coming off of a tremendous win. This is a rivalry game; this is enough to get the average enthusiast excited. This is a very exciting opportunity for us. I am confident that our team will come back from a poor outing. They did last year after the New England game and I am confident they will do that again. We have to help them and we have to do our part, too, as a staff and that we are going to do.”