Why the Bucs have to go with Luke McCown
Jon Gruden’s Monday press conferences are almost more interesting by what he doesn’t say as much as what he does. All NFL coaches are pretty schooled in media-savvy these days and none of them are going to really go out on a limb and give anything away they really don’t have to.

But yesterday at New One Buc, Gruden did everything but announce that Bruce Gradkowski has much chance of starting as I have this Sunday in New Orleans. Which puts paid to the Saints’ proposed “17 men in the box” defense to counter the run game.

Bruce the Polish Pop Gun (Ron Jaworski of course being the Polish Rifle) is a known quantity now. So this leaves Luke “Feel the Force” McCown if Jeff Garcia cannot go on Sunday. At least you have a chance with McCown.

Sunday is a game that matters. Win this one and the Bucs would be three up on the Saints with four to play and with tie-breakers over them. It would put the Bucs at eight wins - can you honestly see Carolina or Atlanta even getting to seven by the end of the year?

So the division title is on the line. It would be a stumble if the Bucs lost in the Bayou, but not the end of the world. And when you have a fighter reeling on the ropes, you don’t go with your fourth-best punch and hang back in the middle of the ring waiting for him to recover.

Final note on Sunday
The ovation Jeff Garcia got when he came back in. Last time I heard one of those for a returning Buc QB was in 1997 in a nationally-televised Sunday night game against Miami. Trent Dilfer went out for a play to be replaced by Steve Walsh (who now lives in England by the way). Dilfer returned to a standing ovation from the appreciative crowd. Ahh happy days.

Monday Night Note
The Steelers won 3-0 on two from David Beckham and one from Pele. No seriously folks, the 3-0 scoreline reminded me of the 1982 “Snowplough” game when the Patriots beat the Dolphins on a fieldgoal by Englishman John Smith (pictured). The Pats had the snowy field cleared by a snowplough to make enough room for Smith to kick the only points of the game. Damn Patriots, always bending the rules!

Final final note on the weekend
14-2 in the prediction game last week (one of the two being Arizona that put me out of the survivor contest though) and nailed the Vikings' upset win in New York. Yes!! Where's that Pigskin preacher gone? I've got a can of Whoop-ass that I need to open in public!

Paul Stewart, November 2007