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[Bucs] Bucs Ready To Prove They're Better Than 1-4

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  • [Bucs] Bucs Ready To Prove They're Better Than 1-4

    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 MVP Kurt Warner may be gone, but Torry Holt, Marshall Faulk and Isaac Bruce remain, and so does the moniker.

    The Rams offense is still referred to by many as the ``Greatest Show on Turf,'' and that clearly rankles at least one member of the Bucs offense.

    ``Anytime I step on the football field I want to have something to say about who is the best receiver on the field,'' Lee said. ``I always feel like I'm that guy, so I'm pretty sure that when we go up there this week there will be a little extra incentive for the receivers to do well.''

    IS IT IN THE GAME? It doesn't look good for the Bucs on Monday night. Not according to the folks at EA Sports.

    In a simulated preview of the game, Bucs K Martin Gramatica played EA Sports Madden 2005 on Xbox Live against St. Louis LB Robert Thomas and Thomas' Rams beat the Bucs handily, 30-7.

    Gramatica's big mistake came in putting S Dwight Smith back to field punts. Smith fumbled on his first return try just minutes into the game and the Rams quickly converted the turnover into an early 7-0 lead.

    The Rams had a 14-0 lead by halftime and rolled from there, eventually building a 30-0 lead on scores that included a 48- yard run by Faulk.

    BUCS BITS: Friday morning's heavy rains forced the Bucs to shave about 40 minutes off their workout at One Buc Place. The Bucs will be back on the field today for another walk-through. ... MLB Shelton Quarles returned to practice Friday and is still listed as probable for Monday's game with a quad strain. DT Ellis Wyms (back strain, probable) also practiced Friday.

    - Roy Cummings

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  • DJRamFan
    [Bucs] Game balls
    by DJRamFan
    By Times Staff
    Published October 11, 2004

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Brian Griese, Bucs quarterback: Sometimes, calm and efficient is better than flash and sizzle.

    Michael Pittman, Bucs running back: Bucs linebacker Derrick ) Brooks said it best, "In the end, he refused to go down."

    Jeff Gooch, Bucs linebacker: Shelton Quarles set a high standard. Gooch maintained it after Quarles got hurt.

    Chris Simms, Bucs quarterback: His starting debut was too brief, but he played long enough to give the Bucs the spark they needed.

    [Last modified October 11, 2004, 09:19:06]
    -10-11-2004, 02:27 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
  • DJRamFan
    [Bucs] Game Will Define Bucs' Character
    by DJRamFan
    By ROY CUMMINGS [email protected]
    Published: Oct 17, 2004






    TAMPA - Bucs defensive end Simeon Rice says the Rams won't recognize the Tampa Bay team that takes the field against them Monday night.
    ``They're not going to face the same team the rest of the NFL saw the first two weeks of the season,'' Rice said. ``They're going to be facing a team that's really on the rise. We're on a surge right now. We're gaining momentum.''

    Rice said the Bucs' victory against New Orleans injected new energy into the players on both sides of the ball and helped his team regain some of the confidence that was lost during an 0-4 start.

    ``We learned how to win last week,'' he said. ``Now we have to learn how to reproduce those things that made us winners. That's not always easy, but it's mandatory. This is a game that will [define] our character.''

    It could define more than that. Led by an aerial attack that is ranked third overall, the Rams have the fourth-ranked offense in the league. The Bucs' defense is also ranked fourth.

    But according to cornerback Ronde Barber, this will be the first time this year that the Bucs' third-ranked passing defense has been truly tested.

    ``This team's success hinges a lot on how well their receivers play against our secondary and that's a challenge we haven't had to face this year,'' Barber said.

    ``A lot of the challenges, in fact most of the challenges we've had, have come from the running game. We've got to stop the run this week as well, but we know the danger is in the passing game.''

    In a lot of ways, it's a new danger for the Bucs. Monday's game will mark the first time they have faced the Rams since Marc Bulger replaced Kurt Warner as the starting quarterback.

    The Bucs were 3-1 against Warner, who is now with the Giants, but you got the feeling from listening to Barber that matching that success against Bulger may be more difficult.

    ``The thing with Kurt is, he makes all the [Arena League] throws - all the underneath throws, the digs, the little glances, the slants, he threw all of those real well,'' Barber said.

    ``This guy, Bulger, he throws everything. He's effective with the outs, effective with the go- ball. He brings a little bit more to the table than the other guy did.''

    CLAYTON PROBABLE: WR Michael Clayton was added to the Bucs injury report Saturday with a knee injury. He is probable for Monday's game.
    -10-17-2004, 06:06 PM
  • RamWraith
    Bucs offense falls just short in loss to Rams
    by RamWraith
    By Jeremy Rutherford
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Tuesday, Oct. 19 2004

    It wasn't Steve Young and Jerry Rice out there Monday night, but the Tampa Bay
    duo of Brian Griese (No. 8) and Michael Clayton (No. 80) looked pretty sharp in
    the Bucs' 28-21 loss to the Rams.

    Griese, making his first start at quarterback for the Buccaneers, completed 27
    of 40 passes for 286 yards and two touchdowns. Clayton, the Bucs' heralded
    rookie receiver, hauled in eight catches for 142 yards.

    That anemic Tampa Bay offense that Buccaneers fans have watched all season
    played its most productive game. The 21 points and three offensive touchdowns
    were the most in six games for the Bucs (1-5).

    "We're not chopped liver," Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden said. "We're going to be
    better. I think the last three weeks we've played better offensively. It's just
    too bad that we don't get more out of our drives."

    Tampa Bay, which came into the game with the No. 25-ranked offense in the NFL,
    totaled 332 yards against the Rams.

    But the Bucs' undoing was two missed field goals by Martin Gramatica - from 35
    and 48 yards - and a costly fumble by Michael Pittman that resulted in the
    Rams' go-ahead touchdown.

    Adam Archuleta returned it 93 yards for a 21-14 Rams' lead.

    "We can't turn the ball over like that," said Griese, who completed his first
    nine passes Monday. "I thought we had a chance even at the end of the game."

    Griese threw an ill-advised interception in the end zone with 5 minutes 42
    seconds left in the game with the Rams leading by the final margin.

    Otherwise, the Bucs were a lot more effective than anyone anticipated.

    Griese played in relief of Chris Simms (shoulder) last week. He completed 16 of
    19 passes in a 20-17 win over New Orleans. His nine-for-nine start Monday gave
    him a stretch of 25 completions on 28 attempts.

    "He runs around, he makes plays, he made some great audibles, threw some timely
    beautiful passes on third down," Gruden said. "I don't know what I don't like
    (about Griese), that's a better question."

    And what's not to like about Clayton, who caught four of Griese's first nine
    balls, one for 44 yards. That set up a 5-yard touchdown pass to Pittman, giving
    the Bucs' a 14-7 lead.

    Clayton is "going to be a great player in this league," Gruden said. "He
    ignited us and made some big plays and was special."

    The Bucs thought they had made another big play at the end of the game. A long
    pass to receiver Tim Brown that set up the offense deep in Rams territory was
    ruled a fumble by...
    -10-19-2004, 02:13 PM
  • DJRamFan
    [Bucs] It's A Start
    by DJRamFan
    By ROY CUMMINGS [email protected]
    Published: Oct 11, 2004




    NEW ORLEANS - For the first time since December, a scoreboard clock wound down to zero with the Bucs holding a lead Sunday.
    You wouldn't have known it from walking through their locker room.

    The Bucs' 20-17 victory against the Saints produced the season's first collection of postgame smiles, but some frowns remained.

    ``It's hard to celebrate right now,'' linebacker Derrick Brooks said. ``There definitely are some heavy hearts in here.''

    The heaviest belonged to quarterback Chris Simms, who couldn't finish his first pro start after spraining his throwing shoulder on a first-quarter sack.

    As of late Sunday, no one was sure just when the left- handed Simms would be able to make his second pro start.

    Simms was saying he could return to face the Rams next Monday, but he still wasn't able to lift his left arm over his head when he said that.

    ``Do I think I'm going to be out a month? No, I don't think so,'' Simms said. ``With some heavy massage, I should be able to play next week.''

    Bucs coach Jon Gruden wasn't ready to rule Simms out of next week's game, either.

    ``He's day-to-day,'' Gruden said. ``That's really just about all I can say on the matter right now.''

    The good news is that X-rays came up negative. An MRI is scheduled for today to confirm the nature of the injury.

    The better news is that just about everything backup quarterback Brian Griese did after taking over for Simms was positive.

    In his first regular-season action as a Buc, Griese completed 16 of 19 passes for 194 yards and a touchdown and helped Tampa Bay (1-4) break a six-game losing streak. The Bucs won on the road for the first time since their last visit to New Orleans on Dec. 7.

    ``He did a heck of a job out there,'' Gruden said of Griese. ``He should be the story today.''

    He's certainly a big part of it. But so too is Jeff Gooch, the backup middle linebacker who did a credible job as a fill-in himself.

    Gooch replaced starter Shelton Quarles, who left the game in the first quarter with a quad strain, and led the defense with nine tackles.

    ``You really have to appreciate the work of guys like Brian Griese and Jeff Gooch,'' Brooks said. ``We had guys make some attitude plays today.''

    Cornerback Ronde Barber made one. He picked up a second-quarter Deuce McAllister fumble and carried it into the end zone for the Bucs' first touchdown.

    Fellow cornerback Brian Kelly, who picked off an Aaron Brooks pass to snuff out a late New Orleans drive, also had one of those plays. And so did running back Michael Pittman.

    On third-and-5 just before the two-minute warning, Pittman eluded three would-be...
    -10-11-2004, 02:09 PM
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