Tampa Bay Buccaneers

09-29-2002 - Post Game Quotes

Head Coach Jon Gruden

(opening statements) "I'm really proud of our team, the coaches and players. We had a short week and a very physical game (on Monday). I thought our players came down here and responded very well. We overcame some adversity in this game, with the interception, and I thought we showed a lot of poise. I was pleased, obviously, with winning here today.

"I would like to send my best wishes, while I'm in Cincinnati, for the Buccaneers to Bob Huggins. He meant a lot to me and we'll wish him a speedy recovery."

(On the performance of the offensive line) "We got blitzed a lot today, that's an understatement. They came after us in base and nickel, internal zone blitzes, they came from the perimeter. I thought they protected at times very well and gave Brad an opportunity to make some big plays, particularly in the first half. There are still some things that we've got to do better to give him better protection, because he's proven, I think, that he can make the throws if he has a chance to stride through them. For the most part, there were some good things, but we still have some things we need to clean up."

(On the play of Kerry Jenkins) "I've never seen that as a coach, honestly. The guy has a legitimate cracked fibula. I tip my hat to him. He gets a game ball today. That's a signature that Kerry Jenkins has in this league. He's a guy that, if he was drafted, was a late draft choice. He's a man-made player. I don't know if he'll make the Hall of Fame, but he's making mine."

(On whose decision it was to let Jenkins play) "Well, you have to give everybody medical clearance, now. We're not trying to endanger anyone. Todd Toriscelli and our training staff felt that, if he could bear the pain, he could play and wouldn't suffer any more damage if he did play. It's a testament to a mentally tough guy who has a lot of pride."

(On giving Jenkins a rest when the game was in hand) "You ought to come down there and get him out of the game. We did get him out for the last drive, but this is not anything but a real tough guy. When it's time to play football, the guy wants to play. And he's going to play, and if you don't play him you're going to have to deal with that."

(On throwing the ball downfield) "We took some shots. I don't know what (Keenan) McCardell's yards per catch were today, but hopefully that's a sign of things to come. We saw a different kind of defense this week than last week, that's for darn sure. We saw a team today that obviously was intent on applying a lot of pressure, and we had to keep a couple guys in and try to generate some plays. That's usually how it is when you play a team that blitzes a lot. You make some big plays. Fortunately, we were able to overcome some turnovers by playing great defense and very sound special teams."

(On QB Brad Johnson performing against the blitz) "That's a strength of his. Here's a guy that will hold the ball and take a hit. That's the hardest thing to coach and you can't simulate that on the practice field, obviously, without hitting the quarterback. He has exemplified the true-grit type of quarterback, a guy who will stand in there and take a lick. He's shown the ability to audible and he's made some very, very good throws. And he got some help today – Keyshawn (Johnson) and Keenan, the two Keys, helped us out today."

(On the defense's play on the road again) "Very good, very good. We're excited about that and we expect more of that. We feel like we've got a very good defensive team and we've got a lot to prove with this squad. We've got a ways to go yet, but rallying for three consecutive victories after losing a tough opener…we all feel better about finishing the first quarter with a 3-1 record."

(On if he was surprised by the other scores in the NFC South) "No. It was pointed out to me at some point before the game that Detroit had won, but there are no surprises to me. There are no surprises to me whatsoever in this league. It's still too early in the year to watch. Just take the rear view mirrors off and concentrate on what's right in front of you or your going to get your block knocked off. That's just the philosophy that you've got to have today."

(On not shutting down the offense as much with a lead as he had in Baltimore) "We were seeing a different kind of defense today. These guys were not playing a zone concept, they didn't have the safeties 12, 14 yards deep. These people were coming and it's hard to run no matter what run you've got called. So we threw the ball and were able to make some plays. We did run the ball better today, and there were spots, especially on the opening drive, where we felt we had a little rhythm. Then we fumbled the football. But we ran for 100 yards, I'm told. That's a start. We're going to keep pounding that rock and by God hopefully we'll be better next week."

(On whether the first two touchdowns were against blitzes) "I don't even know if they blitzed on those two plays. I give Bill Muir and the offensive guys credit. We shifted on (Rickey) Dudley's touchdown. We caught them in a three-deep zone and Brad made a good look to Keenan McCardell on a double move to move the free safety and Dudley hit it. That's the speed that he brings to our football team, a guy that can legitimately get down the field in a hurry. If you have any error on your three-deep play, he can hurt you bad. I thought on the touchdown to McCardell, Keyshawn ran a hook route and the right corner jumped out and we got McCardell on top. We've run that play before but that hasn't been the read. We got the big play today when we needed it."

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