Tampa Bay head coach Jon Gruden met with the media on Monday and updated the state of the Buccaneers. Gruden was very pleased with the team winning their third straight game and finishing the first month of the season with a 3-1 record. There were also a few more injuries that were the result of another hard fought victory.
"Sabby Piscitelli hurt his elbow," said Gruden. "There is some concern there. As soon as we get the information we'll let you know. That probably won't be for a few hours.
"Both Arron Sears and Jeremy Trueblood left the game. There are a lot of guys that are banged up. I'll update the official injury report on Wednesday."
Sears and Trueblood both returned to the game after leaving for a play. Gruden also discussed the status of a few injured Buccaneers who were not able to play on Sunday. Bucs guard Davin Joseph returned to practice last week but was held out of game action. After Joseph showed signs of progress in returning from a broken foot, Gruden was asked how close he was to completing his comeback
"Not close enough," said Gruden. "He practiced Wednesday and didn't feel great on Thursday or Friday. He's going to give it a go today and tomorrow, and hopefully he'll be on the practice field on Wednesday. We are eager to get him back. The same thing can be said for B.J. Askew and Joey Galloway."
One of the main topics of discussions on Monday was the play of starting quarterback Brian Griese. In the wins against Chicago and Green Bay, Griese threw a total of six interceptions, three in each contest. Griese is tied for the NFL lead in interceptions.
"There were certainly some tough plays to swallow," said Gruden. "We addressed that yesterday. One of them is a tipped pass. There was tight coverage every play against Green Bay. We got to get maybe better separation. Maybe we got to call better routes. But there was a couple tipped passes in the last two weeks that we really can't fault him for. There are a couple of interceptions that when you have a commanding lead, a 20-7 lead, that you got to think sometimes, you know get rid of the ball throw it away or go somewhere else. Those are things we are going to eliminate and work hard to do this week."
During his Monday morning press conference reporters questioned the turnovers, and if Griese's low rankings and high interceptions will catch up with the Buccaneers.
"You got some real good stats there, you know he is three and zero as a starter. How about that?" asked Gruden. "We played two very good defenses. We played the Chicago Bears on the road and he was the player of the week for us. He threw a couple interceptions yesterday, we can't have that, and he knows that. He's a fine quarterback for us. We are going to rally around and try and improve on his strengths, and try and clean up a couple of plays that have really hurt us the past couple of weeks."
One thing Gruden was happy about this week was the resiliency that the team has shown thus far in the season. The Buccaneers lost the lead in the fourth quarter, but responded by scoring 10 unanswered points to defeat the Packers 30-21. One week earlier, Tampa Bay erased a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter and defeated Chicago in overtime, 27-24.
"I am really proud of that," said Gruden. "We try to show them clips of old boxing matches where a guy is getting battered for eight or nine rounds and then finds a way. I try and create analogies to never quit. That is what Kevin Carter is all about, that is what Barber and Brooks bring here, even Brian Griese, he has a tremendous heart, football character. Earnest Graham, the offensive line, the defensive line, these guys have tremendous football character. If you watch the film, the effort is outstanding. We got way to many penalties again on offense; sometimes it is getting a little extreme. We have great football character, I am proud of these guys and that is one of the reasons why we have come from behind against two very good teams and won in the fourth quarter."
DEFENSE EARNS PRAISE After scoring their third touchdown in four games, the Buccaneers defense was getting a lot of praise from the head coach. Gruden discussed challenging the defense prior to the season to score when they get a turnover.
"You can tell they're trying," said Gruden. "Every time we get a turnover we're lateraling it. It looks like a volleyball game. They're taking it to heart. I get nervous. I think the great defenses, unfortunately today everybody judges an offense or a defense by total yards allowed or total yards gained. That to me is hogwash. I think the great defenses don't give up touchdowns in the red zone. They get off the field on third down. I think they create impact plays, whether it is sacks or turnovers. And I think the great defenses, at least the ones I've been around, they score themselves. We've got some guys back there that are very opportunistic. Ballhawks, the [Ronde] Barbers, [Derrick] Brooks, they've shown that for years here. But you see guys like Cato June and [Barrett] Ruud; I think this safety man we have, [Tanard] Jackson, is going to be a great ballhawking safety for years to come; obviously Aqib Talib and Phillip Buchanon. We have some playmakers back there and we're trying to emphasize getting turnovers and scoring, finishing the plays. We've got three defensive scores; I believe that's tops in the league."
Buccaneers defensive ends of Gaines Adams, Greg White, Kevin Carter, and Jimmy Wilkerson all had good games for the Bucs against Green Bay. Carter and Wilkerson recorded sacks, White forced a bad pass from Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers that was intercepted by Adams to secure the win.
"Well, it was a zone blitz and they didn't account for Greg White and he got there and forced an inaccurate pass," said Gruden. "Gaines Adams, I think, leads our team in interceptions. Hopefully, people start to recognize those two young guys a little bit more for the progress they've made, for the ability that they have, we're really high on those guys and they're getting better. I thought Jimmy Wilkerson had some nice individual rushes and I thought Kevin Carter had some as well." JACKSON BOUNCES BACK Rookie kick and punt returner Dexter Jackson had a much improved game on Sunday from his first three games as a Buccaneer. Against Green Bay, Jackson returned one punt for 19 yards, and returned three kickoffs for 100 yards. He averaged 33.3 yards per kick return with a long return of 45 yards.
"I think he did an excellent job," said Gruden. "He fielded the ball and showed some explosive movement up the field. I think he was decisive in his returns. As we said yesterday it is a work in progress, he is going to continue to get better. There will be some growing pains along the way, but that is a tough job. It is a hard way to make living and I know I wouldn't want to have that job. But he is doing better and better and he is working hard and it is a credit to him." QUOTE OF THE DAY Gruden after being asked about batted passes by the Packers defense.
"Well we were blitzed one time, I'll be honest with you. Charles Woodson came, we accounted for the blitz, picked it up and slid that way, and he jumped up and made a great play. We had an open look. We had a ball thrown to Warrick Dunn he was wide open inside. It hit the referee right in the head; at least we were on target with that throw," said Gruden with a laugh before continuing on.
"Green Bay is very good. I hate to break it to you. They are a final four team. Cullen Jenkins and [Aaron] Kampman they are outstanding players. I think when we got into an empty backfield set a couple of times, they launched the rush a little bit, and they timed their jumps perfectly on a couple of occasions."