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[Bucs] Gruden Is Loud - With A Purpose

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  • [Bucs] Gruden Is Loud - With A Purpose

    By KATHERINE SMITH [email protected]
    Published: Oct 16, 2004

    TAMPA - Tim Brown remembers Jon Gruden walking onto the field for his first Oakland practice in 1998.
    He was the youngest head coach in the league - and arguably the loudest. The yelling was constant, Brown recalls.

    ``I remember thinking, he's 34 or 35 years old and he's just trying to prove something,'' Brown said. ``But I realized quickly that that's how this guy is. It's hard to fake what he has. What he feels for this game, there's no way to fake it.''

    That passion for the game sometimes results in a barrage of yelling, to the point where Gruden can lose his voice. It happened in New Orleans on Sunday when four quarters of cheering, screaming and trying to be heard in a loud dome took its toll on Gruden's vocal cords.

    ``I try to be enthusiastic and to be enthusiastic, you have to be heard sometimes,'' Gruden said. ``When you're coaching three different quarterbacks and a rookie flanker and you're excited about what's going on here, you sometimes tend to overdo it. I try not to push it too far.''

    Gruden knows he has to be careful to protect his voice. He keeps throat spray on the sideline. Mark Arteaga, the Bucs director of football operations who has worked with Gruden since 1998, tries to get him to use lozenges.

    ``But he's so impatient, he chews them up and swallows them before they can take effect,'' Arteaga said. ``He's not a good patient. He doesn't slow down and he talks a lot. He'll get involved in just about every meeting, every practice, period. He's just nonstop, going and going and going. He leans on the Chloraseptic spray. Cherry is his favorite.''

    Nelson Castellano, an ear, nose and throat specialist in South Tampa, said a person who continually screams and yells could eventually push their voice box to the point where serious problems can occur.

    ``What happens when you lose your voice, it creates stress where swelling occurs,'' Castellano said. ``Most times, the swelling is temporary, but it can become permanent.''

    People with voice problems can develop nodules and polyps and even bleeding in the vocal cords, Castellano said, but for the most part the damage is not irreversible.

    ``If it continues to happen, however, at some point it can become an irreversible situation,'' he said. ``At some point, if you continue to lose your voice completely, it can become altered. Then that person would not be able to raise their voice at all.''

    There are days, some of the players agreed, they wish Gruden would lose his voice. Assistant coaches could use a break, too. Running backs coach Art Valero hasn't lost his voice since joining the Bucs in 2002, but his hearing takes a beating at times.

    ``The guys that are on the other side of the [headphones], when he screams, we get the brunt of it,'' Valero said.

    There is a method to Gruden's madness.

    ``It's not just useless screaming,'' safety John Howell said. ``Some coaches scream just to hear themselves scream. He gets his point across. He just genuinely cares and wants you to get it down. He doesn't just scream to be a jerk; he's coaching. He's got a purpose.''

    And nobody is immune from a Gruden rant. Not even Brown, a 17-year veteran.

    ``I get it, but he's a little more lax with me than he is with some of the other guys,'' Brown said. ``Rookies get it bad.''

    Officials get it, too. Remember during Super Bowl XXXVII when Gruden screamed at an official, ``Are you out of your skull?''

    But Gruden also raises his voice in praise.

    ``It's cheerleading sometimes,'' Gruden said. ``It's telling someone `Great catch' or `Super play' or I have to yell out `Did you see that?' or `Get in the game. I want you to go here and you go over there.' Then I have to call the play to the quarterback, `Hey, watch out for that.'

    ``It's just what I do. I like to teach and you've got to communicate to teach.''

    Players say Gruden's enthusiasm is contagious. Even if they have to get an earful from him to catch it.

    ``The guy's a salesman,'' Brown said. ``Every time he opens his mouth, he's trying to sell something to somebody. He's trying to get you to see things through his point of view. The only way he can do that sometimes is to be a little more excited.''

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  • DJRamFan
    [Bucs] Barber Beats The System
    by DJRamFan
    By ROY CUMMINGS [email protected]
    Published: Oct 14, 2004

    TAMPA - Bucs coach Jon Gruden has been talking all season about finding a way to get cornerback Ronde Barber involved in his offense.
    As it turns out, the only thing Gruden had to do to get some offense out of Barber was leave him on defense.

    It may be more of an indictment of the Bucs offense than an example of the veteran's versatility, but Barber leads the team with two touchdowns.

    ``Hey, I'm just doing my job,'' Barber said. ``If you look at the board that lists our job descriptions on defense, it says score and get the ball back for our offense.

    ``I take that literally.''

    Good thing. If not for Barber's latest TD - a fumble return Sunday against New Orleans - the Bucs (1-4) might still be winless.

    Though their offense had its best game of the season against the Saints, it was Barber's second-quarter score that gave the Bucs a lead they never lost.

    ``It's plays like that that win you games,'' Gruden said. ``And in the last few years Ronde Barber has made a lot of them for us.''

    He's made eight to be precise - more touchdowns than any defender ever to wear a Bucs uniform.

    Nevertheless, Barber, 29, can't seem to shake the image of a player who excels only because he works well in the Bucs' zone-based system.

    The label ``system guy'' has hung with him like a shadow. If you need proof, check out the 2004 Sporting News Pro Football Scouting Guide.

    ``In any other scheme,'' the guide says, ``Barber would not be nearly as productive.''

    What's supposedly holding Barber back, according to the scouts, is the fact he lacks ideal speed and strength.

    But at least one former foe doesn't buy any of the knocks. Not anymore, he doesn't.

    ``In Oakland we didn't really hear that much about him, not even during Super Bowl week,'' former Raiders receiver Tim Brown said. ``All anybody ever really said was that he was a good corner.

    ``But since I've been here I've developed a whole new level of respect for him. ...

    ``There's more to being a cornerback than knocking down balls and that kind of stuff, you know, and he has it all. He has cover ability, he can tackle you, he has the ability to digest formations and play intelligent football.

    ``Believe me, I've been around a long time and seen a lot of guys and you see a lot of guys with one or two of those skills, but you rarely see guys with all of them. He's got all of them. And on top of that, he's tough as nails.''

    Mentally tough is what Bucs defensive backs coach Mike Tomlin calls Barber, who admits it took him a while to get over the knocks that scouts delivered in evaluating him.

    ``It used to...
    -10-14-2004, 05:26 PM
  • Nick
    McCardell to skip camp in protest
    by Nick
    Bucs Pro Bowler says he wants to be paid like the average No. 1 receiver.
    By ROGER MILLS, Times Staff Writer
    Published June 22, 2004

    TAMPA - He doesn't want to shatter the Bucs' salary cap. He isn't asking to be compensated like Terrell Owens, Marvin Harrison or Randy Moss.

    What Bucs receiver Keenan McCardell wants is to be paid close to the average of the league's No. 1 receivers.

    Now, he's about to make his point.

    After missing all 14 of the "voluntary" offseason team practices, McCardell said Monday he will not take part in the mandatory three-day minicamp that starts today. He said he will stay in Houston until the Bucs make him an offer he can't refuse.

    "I just want to be treated fairly," McCardell said from his Houston home. "When I signed (with the Bucs) it was to complement Keyshawn (Johnson), and even prior to his departure I was performing as a top receiver. And I'm still performing as a top receiver. I'm not trying to break the bank. It's fair for any employee in any line of work to get a raise when he gets a promotion or increased responsibility. ... That's fair."

    The veteran receiver, who has been silent about his contract situation since the end of the 2003 season, said he is making a stand based on his production and his work ethic.

    "I really think I'm a hard-working employee," he said. "I started from the bottom and worked my way to the top. I have never caused a problem in the locker room. I've been a consummate team player. I'm not trying to cash in on last year's season, I'm fighting for what's fair. I think the public would agree I was a Pro Bowl receiver and I deserve to be paid at least the average of the No. 1 receivers."

    McCardell, 34, has two years left on a four-year contract. He is due to earn $2.5-million this season and $2.75-million in his final year.

    McCardell's absence at this week's minicamp could cost him up to $1,000, the maximum fine allowed by the league's collective bargaining agreement. He could be fined $5,000 a day for any missed time at training camp, according to the CBA.

    "I understand that situation, I've been in the league long enough," said McCardell, entering his 13th season. "I'm fighting over a principle. What is fair and just, and sometimes you have to take some risks. Stand up for what you believe. ... I understand that there are negatives, including fines and other economic sanctions that go along with my situation, but I have to do what I know is in my heart."

    In keeping with team policy, Bucs general manager Bruce Allen does not comment on contract negotiations. McCardell's Las Vegas agent, Gary Uberstine, also wouldn't comment.

    Negotiations between Allen and Uberstine are ongoing with the hope of a resolution before July 30, when the...
    -06-22-2004, 07:44 AM
  • DJRamFan
    [Bucs] Bucs Ready To Prove They're Better Than 1-4
    by DJRamFan
    Published: Oct 16, 2004

    TAMPA - There is no denying the Bucs are 1-4, but ask just about anyone in their locker room, and they'll tell you that record is not an accurate reflection of their ability and that they're eager to show it Monday against St. Louis.
    ``We are 1-4 in reality but this is a chance to prove that record is not indicative of the character of this team and that we're in fact better than that,'' DE Simeon Rice said.

    Many Bucs said they want to prove that to the rest of the league, but some said it's more important to prove that to the players in their own locker room.

    ``Right now it's a matter of us proving to ourselves that we're better than 1-4,'' WR Charles Lee said. ``We know what kind of character we have in here and nobody is going to quit.''

    QB Brian Griese isn't about to quit. Not when he suddenly has a chance to take the starting quarterback job away from the injured Chris Simms, but he said he's most concerned right now with keeping the Bucs on a winning track.

    ``This is a team that's very hungry and one that understands that we've let an opportunity slip away,'' said Griese, who will make his first start for the Bucs.

    ``We also understand that it's early in the season and that no matter what anybody says, no matter what injuries we might have, that we can get back into this and do something this season.''

    MANY HAPPY RETURNS: Led by Torrie Cox, who ranks second in the NFC with a 26.2- yard kick return average, the Bucs have the fifth-best mark in the NFL.

    The Bucs punt return team hasn't kept pace. That unit ranks 29th in the league with a 4.3-yard average, and the decision to replace injured returner Joey Galloway with Tim Brown seems to be one reason for the low rating.

    Brown has stood back as the Bucs punt returner 11 times this season, but has only returned three punts, the longest for 8 yards. Brown has called for a fair catch on the others, a move that Coach Jon Gruden defended this week.

    ``In fairness to the punt returners, I have never seen guys punt the ball like they are punting it to us,'' Gruden said. ``Some of these are orbital, majestic blows and there is going to be no return.''

    Still, Gruden admitted that the Bucs believe they can do better on punt returns and said it may not be long before they start working someone else there.

    ``We tried to get Michael Clayton to do that,'' Gruden said. ``He is not quite ready for that, although he will be in time. You need a great decision-maker and a sure-handed man back there.''

    Cox is another possibility. Gruden said Friday that Cox has been working on returning punts and the Bucs may use him there if he proves capable of handling the ball without incident.

    THE GREATEST RAP OF ALL: Former league...
    -10-16-2004, 04:09 PM
  • DJRamFan
    [Bucs] The present is Griese's, if only for one week
    by DJRamFan
    By GARY SHELTON, Times Sports Columnist
    Published October 11, 2004

    NEW ORLEANS - Yesterday belongs to someone else. Tomorrow has already been promised.

    All Brian Griese has is today.

    For him, for now, it is enough.

    He does not instill faith, the way an old starter does. He does not carry hope the way a young one does.

    All Griese provided was a victory.

    For the Bucs, for the time being, it was plenty.

    When it came to saving the day, was anyone looking toward Griese? When it came to a lifeguard dragging a season out of choppy water, did anyone look his direction?

    In a season that came down to a choice of Brad vs. Chris, he was the overlooked quarterback. No one pleaded his case. No one called his name. He was just another son of another quarterback-turned-analyst, another passer who was interesting enough to notice but not inviting enough to debate.

    Until Sunday, that is, when Griese quietly and efficiently dropped his name into the Bucs' quarterback debate.

    Griese came off the bench to win the game for the Bucs on Sunday. On a team that has been erratic, he provided efficiency. In a situation bordering on chaos, he supplied calm. He was precise, poised, polished. In other words, against the Saints, he out-Bradded Brad.

    Considering that Griese had been stuck between forlorn and forgotten, he had a pretty spiffy day.

    Who would have figured Griese would steal the show? Sunday was supposed to belong to Chris Simms, boy wonder. Griese was just another unpicked player in the Dating Game.

    When the Bucs benched Brad Johnson earlier in the week, they looked right past Griese. Why not? In his career, Griese has been called everything but special. In the game of Who's-Your-Daddy, you would have expected Phil Simms, the old Giant, to have had the warm father-son chat on Sunday evening. Instead the call went to Bob Griese, the old Dolphin.

    For 20 plays, Simms looked like exactly the right choice. Of the Bucs quarterbacks, Simms has the most voltage, and there is something to his play that seems to energize his team. He moved well in the pocket, and he threw fastballs.

    Then Simms was sacked, and the muscles in his left shoulder were twisted into braids. That was when Griese rose from the ashes and said hello. He hit 16 of 19 passes, and he controlled the game like Bobby Fischer at a chess board.

    And now for the big question:

    Who starts now?

    If you are Jon Gruden, the answer lies in Simms' sore shoulder. If Simms' shoulder isn't damaged, it's an easy decision. You made it last week.

    Provided Simms somehow wakes up over the next few mornings and, whillickers, his shoulder is all healed, then he should start against the Rams. None of his 20 snaps against the Saints were an argument...
    -10-11-2004, 02:18 PM
  • DJRamFan
    [Bucs] Griese Is The Word At QB
    by DJRamFan
    By KATHERINE SMITH [email protected]
    Published: Oct 12, 2004

    TAMPA - Brian Griese walked into the Bucs' meeting room Monday and eased himself into a chair.
    The seventh-year quarterback was a little more sore than in past weeks after significant playing time in the Bucs' 20-17 victory against New Orleans on Sunday. Griese plans on being just as sore next week following the Monday night game at St. Louis, where he will get his first start as a Buccaneer.

    Griese came in at New Orleans after Chris Simms, making his first NFL start, went down in the Bucs' second offensive series with a sprained left shoulder. An MRI revealed no extensive damage that would require surgery, Coach Jon Gruden said Monday, and Simms is listed as doubtful for the Rams game.

    Griese, the former Denver and Miami quarterback who signed with the Bucs in March, wouldn't speculate if the starting job is now his to lose.

    ``I have no idea,'' Griese said. ``I just found out [Monday] morning that I was going to play this week, so I'm happy about that. I'm happy about the opportunity to go out on Monday night. What a great stage, so I'm just excited about that.``

    Gruden was noncommittal on how long Griese would remain the starter.

    ``We're just going to deal with the reality of business. Chris is hurt,`` Gruden said. ``If Chris had stayed healthy and played like he was playing, he would continue to be our starter. He's not healthy. He's hurt. Brian Griese did a heck of a job. He's starting.``

    Griese completed 16 of 19 passes Sunday for 194 yards, finishing with a passer rating of 126.8. He led scoring drives of 41 and 71 yards, the longer drive capped off with his 45- yard touchdown pass to tight end Ken Dilger.

    But the most impressive drive may have been the game's last, during which the Bucs converted two key third downs to run out the clock.

    ``I can't really say that in my years of coaching, that I have seen a guy come in, off the bench, and play that well in a situation where we really needed him to do that,'' Gruden said. ``He sparked us. He ignited us. He made some great plays in the game.''

    Griese likes the responsibility that comes with the quarterback role in Gruden's offense. That was evident during the Bucs' final drive Sunday when Griese threw on three consecutive downs and converted a third-down play with a 14-yard pass to Michael Pittman.

    ``I like how much the offense is put in the quarterback's hands,'' Griese said. ``They really require the quarterback to pull the trigger, put the team in the right play, to make the right reads and to win the game.

    ``I've been in places where games have been taken out of the quarterback's hands.``

    Though Gruden said a decision on who would back up Griese would be made later...
    -10-12-2004, 08:46 AM